Defending stereotypes proof of their damage

Editor:

As usual, John Keisling ("Too much fuss over team names," Nov. 29) adheres to that conservative adage, "if you have no defense, make something up."

Just the fact that people feel the need to defend the use of racial stereotypes as team names gives testament to the damage that they cause, or have the potential to cause. But his defenses are half-assed at best, and have nothing to do with the real issue that many Native Americans are offended by these names, and there's no real reason why we need to keep them.

Mr. Keisling comes up with three reasons for keeping the names of the Redskins, Braves and Indians, which I would like to address. First, he says that "traditions are not easily broken," which is true, but since when is the name of a team such a "tradition"? If the Washington Redskins changed their name to the Washington Pumas, for instance, would people stop coming to games? Would Fulton-County Stadium be empty for every game if their team was the Atlanta Bulldogs? What tradition do you mean, John? I always thought that people watched sports for the sports themselves, not to see Chief Nocahoma.

His second reason is totally off the subject. He states that "Americans are far too prone today to demand the removal of obstacles instead of simply climbing over them." First of all, I'm not sure how this applies to team names, but in any case, who wouldn't feel that way? Why should people have to climb over any obstacle when it is in society's power to remove them? Why do we have to make people prove their worth, instead of just letting them just participate in society? And isn't it funny how white males, who basically have no obstacles in front of them, have this innate ability to say "But, it'll make a man out of them!" to those who do?

The third reason, that team names aren't "meant" to be insults, is specious at best. The fact that it does insult people should be sufficient to changing them. If you kill someone without the intent of killing them, they're still dead, and you're still going to be charged with manslaughter. But what exactly are these names supposed to mean, anyway? You give fine examples of what the animal names constitute, but what attributes can you give to the name "Redskin"? What fine qualities are contained in the Cleveland Indians' "Chief Yahoo"? And when is the last time you saw a Native American waving a Tomahawk?

John, get a life. It's only sports. And if some people are offended by these names, what's wrong with changing them to something that's inoffensive?

Milt Shook

Political Science Senior

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