Racist Mascots - Why Do They Still Exist?

Monday, November 19, 2012

Today I experienced a moment of extreme discomfort.  I was listening to the radio, as I do while I work, and the guy doing the sports news said, in reference to Thursday's football game between Washington and Dallas, "The Redskins will be coming over for Thanksgiving."

I don't think the gentleman meant to conjure images of smallpox-infested blankets and genocide, but there it was.  Isn't it time we got the offensive name of this franchise changed?

Political correctness can sometimes go overboard.  Another D.C.-based sports team bowed to pressure to change their name from the Bullets to the Wizards some time back, and the move struck me as silly.  Kids won't know that bullets exist now that we've changed the name? 

But you know what?  The name change didn't hurt anybody.  With the Redskins, we're dealing with institutional racism.  There's no upside to retaining a constant reminder of the terrible way settlers treated the natives when they arrived on this continent, and there's no downside to erasing this embarassment.  Sometimes being politically correct is just plain correct, and this is one of those cases.

A Preemptive Concession

Monday, November 5, 2012

Tomorrow, Americans will go to the polls.  In nearly every race, there will be one winner and one or more losers.  In many of these cases, a little more than half of the people will be happy, and almost as many will be disappointed (or worse).

It's a byproduct of democracy.  The most lopsided victory (in terms of the popular vote) in U.S. history happened in 1920, when Warren G. Harding defeated James M. Cox, 60.3-34.1.  Thirty-four percent is not a small number - over 9 million people voted for Cox!  There were certain counties in South Carolina where every single person that voted cast their ballot for him.  I imagine that if Facebook existed in 1920, November 2 would have been a busy night, what with 9 million people threatening to move to Canada while 16 million others yelled at them to get in line and support the President.

Take a look at the concession speeches given by John McCain (2008) and John Kerry (2004).  Here's what jumps out to me: both candidates are gracious to the point of being almost unrecognizable.  I can't help but think that both men would have done better if they had displayed this side of themselves before the votes were tallied, but when you're behind in the polls, the political playbook says you must go on the offensive to motivate your base.  These men failed, so they each gave speeches about the need for unity and cooperation.  These speeches were promptly ignored by the respective parties, with one audience even booing the speaker. 

Either Barack Obama or Mitt Romney will be probably declared a loser tomorrow night.  Roughly half of the country will be upset about this news.  The same goes for the many Senate, School Board, Railroad Commissioner, and Justice of the Peace races going on everywhere.  I'm personally most worried about the Senate race in Texas, where it looks like my preferred candidate will lose, but there are other races where I'm happy about where the polls currently stand.  There's a chance that I will be disappointed and perhaps even depressed about the results tomorrow night.  If I don't set standards for myself on how I'll behave when that happens, I may say or do something I regret.  So I'm making the following campaign promises.  You can consider this my preemptive concession speech, in bullet form.

  • I will not suggest that people in my country or state or polling district are mentally or morally deficient because my candidate lost.
  • I will not direct anger, no matter how righteous I believe it to be, at politicians or voters.
  • I will not launch a scorched earth campaign against the winning politician simply because I disagree with him.
  • I will continue to strive to think critically about issues, and place my reasoning above party loyalty.
Will you join me?

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