Slate, the online media outlet owned by the Washington Post Company, announced on Thursday that it will no longer refer to the “Redskins” NFL team with that particular name, which some people, including Native Americans, have called offensive. Slate joins several other media organizations that have announced the same decision.
Slate’s editorial, penned by the site’s editor, David Plotz, begins with this blunt declaration: “This is the last Slate article that will refer to the Washington NFL team as the Redskins.” Later Plotz writes, “While the name Redskins is only a bit offensive, it’s extremely tacky and dated—like an old aunt who still talks about ‘colored people’ or limps her wrist to suggest someone’s gay.” Plotz notes that while the Post Company owns the site, the two entities “have always been editorially independent.” Still, he says, “as a Post subscriber, I wish they would change” and also stop using the name.
Team owner Dan Snyder has been more than adamant that he won’t change the name, despite growing verbal protests. In May 2013 he told USA Today, “We’ll never change the name. It’s that simple. NEVER—you can use caps.”
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell has backed Snyder. In a June letter to the Congressional Native American Caucus, Goodell said, “For the team’s millions of fans and customers, who represent one of America’s most ethnically and geographically diverse fan bases, the name is a unifying force that stands for strength, courage, pride and respect.”
Other media outlets that have announced they will not use the Redskins name include the Washington City Paper, DCist, the Kansas City Star, the Oregonian, and writers from Buffalo News and Philadelphia Daily News.
Plotz says the Slate decision is unlikely to rock Snyder or the NFL. “When we stop using the name ‘Redskins,’ hardly anyone will notice.” But, he wrote, “changing how you talk changes how you think.” As an alternative, Plotz says the site will likely use either “Washington” or “Washington’s NFL team” when doing stories.
Asked about Slate’s decision, a Redskins representative merely replied, “No comment.”
The Redskins play their first preseason game of the 2013 season Thursday night in Nashville against the Tennessee Titans.