Thursday, February 10, 2011

Redskins owner Dan Snyder is suing the Washington City Paper For Drawing him in an Anti-Semitic Way

Dan Snyder is suing The Washington City Paper because “In its cover art, the Washington City Paper depicted the Jewish Mr. Snyder in a blatantly anti-Semitic way, complete with horns, bushy eyebrows and dollar signs.”  The image can absolutely be construed as Anti-Semitic, but I find it interesting that when it comes to his own self-interest, that Snyder can determine an injustice, however, when it effects his pocket book, continuing to profit from the racist name i.e. The Washington Redskins and the logo, he sees nothing problematic. Oh the irony, it burns.

First nations people have been fighting through the court system to try and have the name of the team changed because they feel it to be "a racial slur." 
[In 2009,] the court agreed that the seven Native Americans waited too long to challenge the trademark first issued in 1967. They initially won — the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office panel canceled the trademarks in 1999 — but they've suffered a series of defeats in the federal courts since then.

U.S. District Judge Colleen Kollar-Kotelly overturned that decision in 2003 in part because the suit was filed decades after the first Redskins trademark was issued. The U.S. Court of Appeals then sent the case back to Kollar-Kotelly, noting that the youngest of the plaintiffs was only 1-year-old in 1967 and therefore could not have taken legal action at the time. (source)
The court has been far more interested in trademark and copyright, than the fact that the name redskin is a slur and is damaging to Indigenous people. Just walking down the street, they can be racially assaulted by people wearing Redskins merchandise.  The name itself is used repeatedly in discussions of the team, thereby denying the impact that such a slur must have upon the racial group it specifically 'others.'  

Interestingly enough, the piece in which the image was printed listed grievances with Snyder, however there was not one mention of the way that he continues to profit from racism by not changing the name of team of the logo itself.

  • charging fans to attend and park at the team’s practices,
  • firing coaches whom he previously said would have a long tenure,
  • irrational spending habits including the signing of aging and sometimes out of shape players already past their prime,
  • hiring cronies to make player personnel decisions,
  • hiring members of the Washington sports media who covered the Redskins to work for Snyder’s broadcast network,
  • selling beer in the rest rooms at the Redskins stadium,
  • prohibiting fans from bringing signs critical of Snyder into the stadium,
  • removing the Redskins’ longtime play-by-play radio announcer,
  • suing a 73-year-old season ticket holder who couldn’t make the payments on her tickets contract,
  • selling September 11 commemorative products, and
  • having trees protected by the National Park Service cut down at his Maryland home for an unobstructed view of the Potomac River
Arguably, criticism stemming from profiting from racism, would be a far more substantive and reasonable charge.  Ignoring this issue, once again creates the struggles of Indigenous people as invisible, though they have invested over 18 years in legal battles to force a change. 

I am in no way suggesting that an Anti-Semitic drawing of Snyder is appropriate because he profits directly from racism, but I do think we need to begin to understand that one minority group attacking another supports the idea that none of us is entitled to equality and justice. We have a tendency to become self interested when we take on social justice, and this means that we are often purposefully unaware of how our actions are divisive and hurtful to other communities. In Snyder's case, he is absolutely aware that owning a team named The Redskins is problematic, and yet has made no effort to change.  If we ignore and justify the pain that we cause others, how then can we be surprised when those same reductive tactics are aimed at us?