The Pigskins Shame Spiral is an occasional feature tracking developments related to the name of D.C.’s beloved football team.
Who? Conservative political commentator and failed presidential candidate Pat Buchanan.
Change the name? Hell no!
Why? There’s no crying in Indian country. “Hurt? Native Americans are ‘hurt’ by the [Pigskins]’ name?” Buchanan writes. “Years ago, I recall hearing a line I thought a magnificent tribute to the toughness, bravery and perseverance of these peoples that the Europeans encountered and fought on American soil for centuries. ‘There is no whine in the Indian,’ the writer said. What he meant was that these were people who stood, fought and died, and did not whimper…. Maybe just tell the Oneida crowd we know how excruciatingly painful it must be to have to hear ‘Hail to the [Pigskins]!’ but are confident they have the moxie and the manhood to deal with it.” (It’s a quote from a 1955 Zora Neale Hurston letter to the Orlando Sentinel responding to Brown v. Board of Education, though Buchanan doesn’t mention her.) Also, for some reason Buchanan opens his column with a recollection of the scene at Griffith Stadium as the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor. What that has to do with the name of the team that played there is never really made clear.
Shame Spiral rating: Shoulder shrug. Buchanan takes his defense of the name past where even team owner Dan Snyder‘s public rhetoric has gone; this argument boils down to, “Shut up and take it.” Both Buchanan and Snyder, though, wrap themselves in nostalgia as they wax poetic about how the name is really just a tribute to the fighting spirit of people whose extermination was once the nation’s public policy goal. “Washington was another city then, a deeply rooted city, not the cosmopolitan world capital of today where our multicultural elites all seem to come from somewhere else,” Buchanan writes, referring back to the 1940s, when his love for the Pigskins was forged. It is worth noting, of course, that that “deeply rooted” D.C. was also legally segregated. At any rate, an endorsement from Buchanan on an issue of racial sensitivity may not be the help Snyder was looking for.
Illustration by Jandos Rothstein