When white columnists like Mike Wise or Robert McCartney write about the Redskins nickname, a whole bunch of Skins fans say they aren’t interested in hearing from the guilt-ridden liberal white media, that this isn’t their cause. When media members covered the Smithsonian symposium on Native American nicknames in sports, a whole bunch of Redskins fans said they were only interested in hearing from actual Natives, and not “activists.” When a Native American congressman from Oklahoma said the nickname was “very offensive,” a whole bunch of Redskins fans said he was only saying so because he was a Cowboys fan.
So here’s four-time PGA Tour winner Notah Begay, a full-blooded Native American (and new member of the NBC Sports and Golf Channel broadcast team.) I do not know what NFL team he roots for, nor his politics, but he was part of ESPN’s look at the Redskins name issue on Outside the Lines last week.
(Full disclosure: Two different ESPN bookers asked me to appear on the show and defend the team name. I told them both that I don’t really have a strong opinion on the issue one way or the other. But I helped put them in touch with Son of Washington blogger Ray Smith, who wound up appearing on the show as a defender of the nickname. He was heavily outnumbered.)
“If you ask me, it is offensive,” Begay said midway through the segment, when asked about the Redskins name. “And I think it’s just a very clear example of institutionalized degradation of an ethnic minority, that being the Native American people. To classify it as simply a matter of political correctness only seeks to trivialize it a little bit, to an extent that it undermines the very human foundation of the people itself. I mean, if you look further and deeper into the issue, it’s about the culture, it’s about the identity, it’s about the history of our people. And that in and of itself is something that I think needs to be looked at further.