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I agree with Gerald Pressman (Cheap Seats, “The R Word,” 4/27) that the name Redskins constitutes an ethnic slur. But changing an institution that identifies Washington and brings its diverse citizens together is not easy.
I have a proposal to satisfy both sides: Keep the name Redskins, but change the mascot to the red-skinned potato. This allows us to continue the tradition but eliminates the ethnic association. And the proposal has other virtues as well.
First, if we want to celebrate the deep “roots” that the football team has in our local community, what better symbol could there be than this large and popular vegetable?
Second, it perfectly complements previous nicknames for the team. Just as we had the Hogs making way for John Riggins, we could have the Spuds setting up a defensive line that will mash opposing quarterbacks and rushers. And does anything go better with pork sausage than home fries?
Third, switching symbols expands the merchandising opportunities for Mr. Snyder and the team. Imagine all the new potato-logo caps, sweatshirts, and jackets that the team’s fans will need to stay up-to-date.
Fourth, instead of being besieged by advocates for Native American rights, the Redskins could enlist them into the ranks of the team’s supporters. According to the National Potato Promotion Board, the Incas first cultivated the potato more than two thousand years ago.
So, with all of these advantages, let’s do it. Sliced or diced, broiled or boiled, “Hail to the Redskins.”
(Oh, I almost forgot the last advantage: If the owners and players find it a little uncomfortable to be thought of as vegetables, perhaps they’ll understand what Pressman is complaining about.)
Silver Spring, Md.
Dictatorship of the Proletariat
I much enjoyed Mark Jenkins’ perceptive review of Cynthia Eller’s new book, The Myth of Matriarchal Prehistory (CityBooks, “The Earth-Mommy Track,” 4/27), but let me offer one small correction. It is not quite accurate to say that Karl Marx “dug the Great Goddess” idea. Marx was interested in prehistory as the very earliest “stage” of the unfolding of history that had resulted in the modern world. The most definitive “Marxist” statement on these matters was made by Marx’s longtime collaborator, Friedrich Engels, in The Origin of the Family, Private Property, and the State. Engels argued that early prehistory people lived in gender-equal bands, with males and females mating freely and the resulting children considered the offspring of the entire group. Property was also common to the entire group, and a loose collective leadership directed affairs.
Because “fertility”of the earth to produce food and of humans to produce the next generationwas critical, it seems likely that motherhood was, indeed, considered sacred, but so were a lot of other natural elements that were not understood.
For Engels, history began when human technology produced tools, animal husbandry, agriculture, and an economic surplus. Men became acquisitive and greedy and refused to share freely. Private property was born. This was followed by the evolution of an inheritance motive: Men wanted to be able to leave their private property to their own unique biological offspring. The monogamous, patriarchal family then emerged, with women falling into the roles of producers and nurturers of children for a single dominant male. The males had seized control and “enslaved” the women. Private property gave rise to disputes and the need for a central authority to protect it, and the state followed from this need.
Obviously, this is a somewhat oversimplified version of the development of human societybut still an intriguing one. The independent role of the mother goddess is not important; religion, like the entire social structure, is determined by the underlying technology on which everything else rests.
Warren C. Robinson