A George Washington University law professor has a psychological explanation for why Washington Pigskins owner Dan Snyder and fans of the team’s name are unable to see why the moniker is so offensive.
John F. Banzhaf III writes in an article in Indian Country Today Media Network that Snyder and others suffer from cognitive dissonance—-the psychological term applied to the “mental strain which can result from trying to simultaneously harbor two competing inconsistent beliefs.”
“To relieve the mental distress from the conflict, sufferers often change one belief – kidding themselves into disbelieving something which is obviously true, and replacing it with a belief which is clearly false,” Banzhaf writes in the article, titled “How Fans Convince Themselves ‘Redskins’ Isn’t Racist.”
Indian Country Today Media Network is owned by the Oneida Indian Nation, one of the most visible organizations lobbying for the team to change its name.
According to Banzhaf, longtime fans have invested so much emotional energy in the team that they find it difficult to accept they are promoting a racist name. He compares them to addicted smokers—-people who sometimes convince themselves that smoking isn’t harmful to their health because they are unable to quit.
But there is a solution to this cognitive dissonance: People just need to become aware of the effects of cognitive dissonance.
“With this understanding, fans may more clearly see that, whatever the term may once have meant to them, and however sincere their belief in the name used to be, it has now changed,” Banzhaf writes. “Even right thinking people once used terms like ‘coloreds’ for blacks, and often referred to their secretary as ‘my girl.’ Today these uses have largely changed, because the connotations of those words have changed, and right thinking people simply don’t use them or support their use.”
Problem solved. Now all someone needs to do is convince Snyder that his deep love for the team has blinded him to reality. There’s no way this has anything to do with money.
Photo by Darrow Montgomery