Pop Quiz: Defending the Confederate Flag … or the Washington Redskins’ Nickname?

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell recently defended the Redskins nickname in a letter to Congress.

NFL commissioner Roger Goodell recently defended the Redskins nickname in a letter to Congress.

Whatever you think of the Washington Redskins’ nickname, one thing is certain: the language and logic in National Football League commissioner Roger Goodell’s recent letter to Congress defending the moniker sounds familiar. Very familiar.

In fact, Goodell’s arguments — and others for maintaining the Redskins’ status quo — are practically indistinguishable from arguments supporting the Confederate flag. How so? Take our below quiz to find out:

For each item, correctly identify the subject it refers to: Confederate flag or Redskins’ nickname?

1. The flag/nickname is a “unifying force that stands for strength, courage, pride and respect.”

2. The flag/nickname represents “proud Americans.”

3. The flag/nickname honors “courage and heritage.”

4. The “heritage” of the flag/nickname is “very honorable.”

5. “Neither in intent or use was the flag/nickname ever meant to denigrate … or offend any group.”

6. The “true meaning” of the flag/nickname has “nothing to do with racial hatred.”

7. “There’s nothing [about the flag/nickname] that we feel is offensive. And we’re proud of our history.”

8. The flag/nickname “means something more to us. Heritage, not hate.”

9. “Listen, [the flag/nickname] is part of our history and part of our heritage, and if you don’t like it you can go somewhere else.”

10. “We will NEVER change the flag/nickname.”

Answer Key

1. Redskins nickname. From Goodell’s letter to Congress.

2. Confederate flag. From a letter penned by Ben Jones, the actor who played mechanic Cooter Davenport on the “Dukes of Hazzard” television show. No, really.

3. Redskins nickname. From Goodell’s letter to Congress.

4. Confederate flag. From then-South Carolina state representative Joe “you lie!” Wilson in 2000.

5. Redskins nickname. From Goodell’s letter to Congress.

6. Confederate flag. From a 1996 speech by former South Carolina Gov. David Beasley.

7. Redskins nickname. From team general manager Bruce Allen.

8. Confederate flag. From a Facebook post by Lynyrd Skynyrd guitarist Gary Rossington in which the band backtracked from a previous pledge to stop displaying the flag at its concerts.

9. Confederate flag. From a Florida barbershop owner who flies a Confederate flag at his workplace.

10. Redskins nickname. From ALL CAPS-loving team owner Dan Snyder.

30 thoughts on “Pop Quiz: Defending the Confederate Flag … or the Washington Redskins’ Nickname?

    • Well, the next quiz will be “NBA player in a bad mood postgame despite a great shooting night, or someone getting bizarrely angry about an internet quiz?,” so you might be able to keep that streak going.

  1. I’m a Proud Southern Boy with a Confererate Flag and I love the Redskins! Don’t mean to offend anyone either, and my charity work says that loudly. But if you take offence, it’s your problem, not mine. In that case, get bent TWICE!

    • “If you take offense to my backwards racist behavior, it’s YOUR problem”

      Klan member? Or Redskins fan?

    • >”it’s your problem, not mine.”

      That’s basically the only argument that exists on your side of this “debate” (as if there were two valid sides).

      ‘It’s racist but I don’t care.’
      ‘If it hurts you every time you hear my racism, I don’t care.’

    • So you’d be OK if the Falcons changed their name to the Atlanta Crackers?

  2. The whole point is that socially acceptable behavior (and there will always be those who, for many different reasons, revel in flouting these behaviors) are socially constructed guidelines built up over many years. It takes organizing (often over many decades), clear analysis and cogent writing (none of which are calling cards of those in the defensive position) to bring these social changes about. Those crying “get bent” are, by this point, those who are getting bent out of shape by behavior that most in US society deem totally unacceptable. So, unless you can make a better case than the absurdities being proffered by defenders of the Washington name, you’re going to be spending a lot of time whining on the internet. You get to keep your beliefs and likes, because duh, but the name will be changing. And you’ll no doubt be bent out of shape by this. However, you already lost.

    • It’s funny that the people who are so against the nickname “Redskins” want to act like their so much smarter than everyone who disagrees. But you people don’t even do research! If you were so intelligent you’d educate yourself and realize that the name is not racist and does not have racist roots.

      As such, it isn’t going anywhere! YOU lost. Sorry that the name offends you for no reason.

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  4. An ESPN poll revealed that NINE percent of Native Americans are offended by the Redskins nickname. That should put the issue to rest/

  5. Actually, the Confederate flag isn’t a particularly good compare the Redskins name to, if only because it has a potential positive connotation…it was the flag painted on one of the most iconic cars in entertainment history….the General Lee. Yes, General Lee was the leader of the Confederate army, but there is some evidence to suggest that Lee himself was opposed to black slavery, and that the flag and the Confederacy’s stance was at least as much about rebellion against the government as it was a pro-slavery stance. Continuing in that vein, The Dukes of Hazzard themselves were anti-authority figures, and their problems were with the white lawmen of Hazzard County, not other races. So if you’re going to make that comparison, it can be interpreted that the stance Daniel Snyder is that of rebellion, not racism.

    It has nothing to do with what “society” deems socially acceptable or not socially acceptable, because those making the argument about what “society” says are only speaking on behalf of the urban elitist vocal minority. It’s a word. That’s it, that’s all. The only way in which a word becomes offensive is if it is interpreted as offensive, which means that any word in an isolated context is not offensive. If I say s**t, f**k, or a$$hole, these words are taken as offensive by those who associate them with various connotations, not because they are offensive. In other words, a word is only offensive due to context.

    Redskin is one of those words. Most NFL fans don’t care. Most natives, as the person who mentioned the ESPN poll pointed out, don’t care. Most people, who aren’t NFL fans, don’t care. Again, it’s a word. That’s it, that’s all.

    This is why the nickname isn’t going to change any time soon…there isn’t a rational, reasonable, logical argument in favor of a name change. There’s no profit motive to do so. The NFL isn’t going to gain fans by changing the name to the Washington Presidents or Senators or Congress or anything else they change it to. Fans aren’t going to leave in droves because this “story” is just now coming to light. So what logical reason is there? The only reason of any sort provided is that it’s “OFFENSIVE”, which is both subjective and emotional. Until someone comes along and gives a logical reason (or the US government oversteps its bounds and forces Washington to do something about the name or risk federal punishment), it’s not going to happen, nor should it.

    • Evidence that Lee was anti-slavery huh? Sure, why not. Revisionist history is always better with confirmation bias to support it.

      Nobody is trying to debate profanity here – that causes offense for an entirely different set of reasons. Pejorative terms associated with race are offensive not just because it’s societal, but because of the dehumanizing connotations inherent in using the term. If I call you a redskin (or any of the other terms roughly equivalent for other races) I’m not honoring your heritage. I’m classifying you as different from me, and therefore of less worth.

      Most NFL fans don’t care because people like being ignorant. Being ignorant means they don’t have to change. That doesn’t mean they shouldn’t change. Most Native Americans (I assume) don’t care because why should they expect the US to suddenly start trying to treat them properly after 200 years of abuse?

  6. if the name Redskins is offensive then you can find the name Chicago Blackhawks offensive too because that team is named after a brave Indian
    chief Chief Blackhawk .However Blackhawks is all right but Redskins is not

    • “The flag represents ”proud Americans” who wanted to leave America.”

      Untrue: They didn’t want to leave America: They wanted their own State’s Rights as opposed to the Federal Government pushing unwanted federal regulations onto them that they didn’t feel was necessary. The same thing is happening today: Too much government intrusion and regulation taking away power from the States. The Constitution allowed for a LITTLE (“small”) government, with anything not granted to the Feds to be left for the States to create and enforce.

      Just to set the record straight.

      • The right to do WHAT? That’s the problem with the moronic states’ rights argument. WHAT did they want the right to do?

  7. Kudos to Dan Snyder for getting something right.
    At least while everyone’s gunning for the Redskins, the Indians, Braves, Blackhawks, and Chiefs won’t be under attack. Or are they OK because Ted Turner isn’t racist? In which case it’s not the name, but a thought crime that you are upset with, and the Clippers need to change their name right away.

    And when are they going to change the name of Illinois. How about Barakois? Or is that too close to Iriquois?

    • Well, that was quite the incoherent rant.

      First of all, the Indians, Braves and Chiefs names have most certainly come “under attack” at various times. In fact, each of them has downplayed or changed their mascots in recent years in response to complaints. Don’t know about the Blackhawks. Secondly, the existence of one offensive thing isn’t justified by the existence and seeming tolerance of others. Third, there’s a huge difference between a name created by one people to disparage another (“Redskins”) and using the actual name of the people, or at least what was thought to be that actual name (“Illinois”).

  8. What might be a closer analogy might be the name “Rebels” as applied to sports teams. The term “Rebels” conjures up the image of the Veterans of the armies of the Confederate States of America 1861-1865,. and was once utilized with pride by many sports teams. Historically,, Confederates were not rebels in fact, but secessionists. “Rebel” was originally a pejorative term, but came to be embraced by many Southerners, partly in remembrance of the first rebels, their fathers and grandfathers of the American Revolution, and partly in begrudging bitterness in their own defeat. No one seems to be denigrating the New England “Patriots” who are more closely commemorating true rebellion.

    Recently, the attack on the use of Rebel as a team name has been skewed by much the same Political Correctness as applies to the Redskins and is bound up with general Confederate issues. So, too, is the symbol of the honorable, patriotic Confederate Veteran: the “Soldier’s Flag”, the “Southern Cross”, aka the “Confederate Battle Flag”., or popularly, just the Confederate Flag.

    The demonization of the Confederate Flag really began with the 1991 national resolution by the NAACP that Confederate symbols were “an odious blight on the universe”. Odious means hateful. The NAACP therefore adopted, as a national policy, approval and promotion of Hate Speech against all Confederate symbols, including, but not limited to, the well-known Confederate Battle Flag, also known as the Soldier’s Flag, or the Southern Cross..

    Since 1991, the NAACP has engaged upon an intense campaign against the Confederate flag, and has often successfully co-opted many in the Academic and Political communities with its disingenuous Political Correctness. In fact, the 1st Amendment to the US Constitution is supposed to support free speech against the “heckler’s veto”; and laws against Hate Speech such as that of the NAACP and others are becoming more prevalent.

    The many fine folks of the Sons of Confederate Veterans and United Daughters of the Confederacy constantly work with intelligent, open-minded citizens and communities to rehabilitate and re-establish proper understanding for the Confederate Flag . When the Confederate Flag resumes its proper place in the mainstream of society as a frequent, familiar, and respected feature of the civic landscape, it will cease to be a bogeyman exploited by the extremists of the KKK and NAACP.

    Only Confederophobes with self-serving agendas of divisiveness and misinformation try to denigrate the Confederate Flag. with base allegations and ad hominem arguments insulting to the intelligence of thinking persons everywhere.

    The question of the names of sports teams follows much of the same lines, it is true. Some pertinent questions might be asked.:When did the politically correct party-line start to be concerned? Who were the instigators? What agenda did they have? Whose interest does it serve? As has been suggested, many teams’ names like the Florida State University Seminoles are genuinely appreciative of their namesakes, and are appreciated by those whose identity is so honored. Teams’ names, even anthropomorphic animal names, generally want to be associated with the virtues of tenacity, bravery, ferocity, and valor, especially on the field of battle or natural struggle. Surely no one wants their own name or namesake associated with cowardice or dishonor If the name Redskins did not evoke the martial virtues, rather than any negative connotations, it would not have been selected in the first place. The devolution of intelligent discourse into rants driven by Political Correctness is no reason to kowtow to those who patently seek to mislead the “low-information” public out of questionable motives.

    Redskins, Rebels, and The Confederate Flag – it’s time for a “Symbol Rights’ movement.

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  10. interesting comments.. good points and counter-points all around.. the bottomline is that a rational case for either position can be made, and justified. it so happens the so called majority – i.e. people who have had absolutely nothing to do with the native american experience – feel that the name is just fine. and most of the opposers, well most of them are bandwagoners latching on to the “cause”-of-the-day. so in the end, i say apply the “do the right thing” rule and change the doggone name. its just a name as someone has said before. i am a redskins fan, have been for 30years or so, and yes it’ll feel strange to have a different name.. honestly speaking i dont know if i’ll be as into the team as i am and have been.. but its the right thing to do. that to me is reason enough.

  11. As a Dutch-American I find “Knickerbockers” highly offensive. Time for the Knicks to get a new name.

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  13. As I understand it, the name came from an Indian tribe in what is now Rhode Island that used to paint their faces with red river mud prior to battle. They were known as fierce warriors, and were given this name by other tribes. Probably early Giants fans.