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Redskins debate -- if team gets new name it's gotta be good

As a Washington Redskins fan here is my biggest concern about the controversy over their obviously insensitive, racially charged name. The new name will suck.

I have good reason for this concern.

My favorite basketball team once had a memorable name – Bullets – tied to the team’s history in Baltimore, a town where actual canon balls and bullets used to be made. Now my team has a name with no tradition, no ties to Washington, D.C. and does not inspire fear in any opponent – Wizards.

No sports team that has changed its name to get away from similar disputes over American Indian imagery has ever lost a dime.

If the Washington football team gets a new name it has got to be better than ‘Wizards.’
Changing the name is not a big deal to me. I like football. I have lived in Washington, D.C. for over 30 years. So, the team based in the Washington area is the team I am going to follow even if I often call them a bunch of “Under-performing, Can’t Run, Can’t Throw or Catch, Over-Paid and Silly People.”

But I know that is not the official name of the team.

No sports team that has changed its name to get away from similar disputes over American Indian imagery has ever lost a dime – including major college sports teams such as Stanford, Marquette and St. John’s.

Their name changes aggravated some alumni and traditionalist but it had little impact on fans. They root just as hard for the Stanford Cardinals and the St. John’s Red Storm. In fact, sport business agents point to a surge in sale of shirts, jackets and stickers with the new name and logo.
And my instinct is to oppose anything being championed by the Politically Correct (PC) Police.
In my 2011 book, “Muzzled: The Assault on Honest Debate,” {http://www.amazon.com/Muzzled-Assault-Honest-Juan-Williams/dp/0307952029/ref=sr_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1360962235&sr=1-2&keywords=juan+williams+enough} I argued that Political Correctness (PC) is corroding our democracy by preventing people from saying what is on their mind. Telling people to ‘shut-up,’ does not allow for an honest, respectful exchange of ideas.

In "Muzzled," I wrote about the PC crusade to change the names of sports teams because they are deemed to be offensive to American Indians. I cited the Redskins an example. But the Kansas City Chiefs, the Atlanta Braves and the Cleveland Indians are other major sports teams that have been pressured to change their names or logos.

I’m sympathetic to the calls to change the Indians logo because the imbecilic, cartoon grin plastered on Chief Wahoo’s face is designed to caricature and stereotype Native Americans in a way that is inherently offensive.

NBC Sportscasters Bob Costas weighed in on the controversy on Sunday night football.
"Think for a moment about the term 'Redskins' and how it truly differs from [other team nicknames based on Native American images]," Costas said. "Ask yourself what the equivalent would be, if directed [at] African-Americans. Hispanics. Asians… When considered that way, 'Redskins' can’t possibly honor a heritage, or a noble character trait, nor can it possibly be considered a neutral term.”

"It is an insult, a slur, no matter now benign the present-day intent," Costas declared.

But defenders of the ‘Redskins’ name, particularly team owner Dan Snyder, argue the brand is not meant to demean or mock Native Americans. They claim it is about honoring positive traits – strength, honor, perseverance, courage and community.

The name “isn't just where we came from -- it's who we are," Snyder said in a recent letter to me and other season ticket-holders. "The name was never a label. "It was, and continues to be, a badge of honor."

Back in May, Snyder told USA Today Sports: "We'll never change the name. It's simple. NEVER -- you can use caps."

Cool down, Dan. It is not that big a deal as long as you find a good name to replace the old one. I’d even prefer that you keep the Native American reference since this area of the country was home to several tribes.

So here are my suggestions for new names: “Tribe”; “Nation”; “Rebels”; “Potomacs” and “Native Americans.” Can we smoke a peace pipe on that one? Or is that politically incorrect, too?

Juan Williams is a co-host of FNC's "The Five," where he is one of seven rotating Fox personalities. Additionally, he serves as FNC's political analyst, a regular panelist on "Fox News Sunday" and "Special Report with Bret Baier" and is a regular substitute host for "The O'Reilly Factor." He joined Fox News Channel (FNC) in 1997 as a contributor. Click here for more information on Juan Williams

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