To the editor:
I am not a Washington Redskins fan. But I say it’s about time various groups stopped taking aim at D.C.’s football team. Mayor Vincent Gray has attempted to lure the burgundy and gold back to the District with a stadium deal — if they’ll change their name.
Meanwhile, a group of American Indians just argued before the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board against the longstanding, and registered, moniker, ostensibly because they find it disparaging. A win would give them a piece of the Dan Snyder revenue pie. The lack of outrage against equally offensive branding — Indians, Braves, etc. — without trademark protection is telling.
Let’s say the case makes it all the way to the Supreme Court. By then — noting tastes change over time — the sobriquet may not be all that politically incorrect to the complaining population or a significant portion of the general public.
There is an argument to be made that the trademarks, which in some cases date back to the late 1960s, already have acquired a distinctive secondary meaning as a sports brand. They may be historically flattering and revering rather than suggestive of a connection between the three-time Super Bowl champions and American Indians, which brings the latter into disrepute.
This is a football team, uniting in entertainment a town most recently known for divisiveness and sanitized, superficial speech in a country that touts its liberty, freedom and equality abroad — but increasingly just pays lip service to it within. This lawsuit is really about money, and more specifically, reparations. It’s the right city to look for that, but the Redskins are the wrong defendant. Time heals, if you let it.
- Karen Ann DeLuca