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Redskins name should stay, but personal attacks should go

Armstrong Williams | 10/24/2013, 5:46 p.m.
Armstrong Williams

Watching the current debate swirl around the Washington Redskins, I can’t help but shake my head. The issue of a name change is a tired issue that we have heard about before, yet something seems different this time, and much of that has to do with the liberal-leaning mainstream media jumping on the bandwagon to help fuel the fire.

The Redskins name should stay. The team has a historical attachment to Redskins that goes back over 80 years. The team has declared that its intention is to honor Native Americans and not to demean them, so we should take them at their word. If ever there were an example of political correctness run amok, then demanding the Redskins give up their name is it.

I respect Redskins owner Dan Snyder as a successful businessman, and at the end of the day, the team is his investment. It’s not our place to tell him how to run his business. He can call it whatever he pleases. If some people choose to be thin-skinned and take offense, then that is their problem.

But somewhere along the way, this issue regarding the Redskins also became about personal attacks, and that is a far more serious problem than some sports team’s nickname. The Daily Caller website ran a recent story that purported to be about the leader of the campaign to change the mascot, but it amounted to little more than a smear against him.

I have never met or even spoken with Oneida Nation representative Ray Halbritter, but I’m willing to bet that the Daily Caller reporter didn’t either. Certainly, the article gives no indication he did, with only a brief notice at the end that the Oneidas “did not return a request for comment.” Yet that did not stop them from publishing an “article” that relied on quotes from a detractor of Halbritter’s and “documents” that suggest he is not a legitimate member of the Indian tribe that he leads.

In the interest of full disclosure, I wrote about the Oneidas several months back when they expanded their growing enterprise with the opening of a new multimillion-dollar restaurant and entertainment complex. I praised their business acumen as an example of the kind of entrepreneurship that this country needs more of.

I happen to think that the Oneidas are wrong on this Redskins issue, and I disagree with them, yet I respect their view and the fact that they believe what they are saying. Hopefully they can respect my perspective as well.

What I find totally unacceptable is that the Daily Caller didn’t even attempt to make their case in support of the Redskins name, nor did they challenge any of the Oneida leader’s arguments. Instead, they went far outside the lines of what’s acceptable and tried to discredit him personally. Trying to sully a man’s personal reputation by challenging his authenticity and questioning his heritage is not journalism—it’s a low blow.

Unfortunately, this type of tactic has become the norm rather the exception in today’s cutthroat media environment and in this country. Don’t like the other side’s position? Attack them on personal grounds. Try to raise doubts about his or her legitimacy.