Last night on Monday Night Football, the ESPN crew couldn’t stop praising the loud, engaged home crowd at the Kansas City Chiefs’ Arrowhead Stadium. They opened the game with a ceremony where running back Christian Okoye, “The Nigerian Nightmare”, pounded on a giant drum as tens of thousands of Chiefs fans cheered on. The crowd, many of whom wore feathers and American Indian-themed garb, chanted and did the Tomahawk Chop. They were so loud that, if you believe these measures, they set the new Guinness World record for loudest crowd roar, surpassing the Seahawks.
It was a pretty awesome (in the traditional meaning) scene, unless you were a New England Patriot or a Patriots fan.
But I gotta ask, where’s the outrage from the politically correct?
Bob Costas? Phil Simms? Keith Olbermann? Don’t you have anything to say about this?
There’s plenty of controversy about the Washington Redskins’ name. Rob Tracinski and Bill Voegeli have both written about the history of that controversy for us. My own view is that its lack of unpopularity or prioritization among Native Americans is a reason not to change the name. Sally Jewell, the U.S. Interior Secretary, recently noted this:
That was the estimation of Interior Secretary Sally Jewell, whose department oversees the Indian Affairs federal agency, when she was asked about the controversial brand in an interview with ABC News. “Personally, I think we would never consider naming a team the ‘Blackskins’ or the ‘Brownskins’ or the ‘Whiteskins.’ So, personally, I find it surprising that in this day and age, the name is not different,” Jewell told ABC News’ David Kerley. But Jewell qualified her comments, adding that in her own conversations with tribal leaders, it’s not an issue they bring up with her. “So, my personal views are not necessarily reflected in the tribes that I talk to. It isn’t high on their agenda,” she said.
My suspicion is that the biggest reason that the activities of the Kansas City Chiefs and their fans don’t merit the media outrage that the Redskins receive is the relative geography and prominence of their franchises. As I wrote at the time of the patent office controversy:
That being said, the trendlines of politics are such that I expect a name change to be inevitable in my lifetime because of where the team is located and the pressure exerted by our ruling elite. One of the big lessons of life in the Obama era is that it’s important to avoid the attention of the ruling class – lest you be audited, harassed, or generally become a hot topic of media conversation as a proxy for some other battle. There’s a reason this is happening to the Washington Redskins and not the Cleveland Indians or the Chicago Blackhawks or the Florida State Seminoles. If you live within the consciousness of a critical mass of people in power for whom all life is politicized, you will be made to bend to their will, by whatever means necessary. The last thing in the world you ought to want is for President Obama to be asked his opinion about your enterprise, and then have those around him work to make that opinion a reality.
That’s why it’s important to learn how not to be seen. We are a country now where perceptive people develop skills to go unnoticed by the imperial center. Survival now means avoiding having DC and its cohorts notice you at all costs. In this town, they understand that freedom of speech sounds like a good idea, after all, right up until the point where someone’s feelings are hurt. So in retrospect, if the Redskins wanted to remain the Redskins, they should have just left town. The Richmond Redskins would have done just fine. Either that or draft Michael Sam.
If you want to avoid generating outrage, the further you are from Washington or New York, the better. If you want to wear a headdress, chant, do the Tomahawk chop, and bang that giant drum, do it away from the centers of power.