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Tonto and the Lone Ranger Debate the Washington Redskins Name

The pressure is building for the Washington Redskins to drop the name “Redskins” because it’s widely considered offensive toward Native Americans. We invited Tonto and the Lone Ranger to argue each side of the name controversy. Below is the transcript of this special panel debate.

Tonto: Kemo Sabe, the Washington professional football franchise using the name Redskins is offensive to me and my people.

Lone Ranger: Whatever.

Tonto: The name is a reference to indigenous Americans — regarded as a racial slur by many.

Lone Ranger: The name Redskins is also regarded as neutral by many, including three predominately Native American high schools that use the name for their athletic teams. Red Mesa High School, in Teec Nos Pos, Arizona uses the name and has 98% Native American enrollment. So there.

Tonto: Well, Kemo Sabe, the United States Patent and Trademark Office has canceled the team’s trademarks on the basis that the name is “disparaging to Native Americans.”

Lone Ranger: Oh, yeah, well legendary former Redskins coach Joe Gibbs stands by the name. He said, “It was always prideful, it was courage involved. We have a song, ‘Hail to the Redskins,’ and so everything, everything about that name has been positive for me and my past.”

Tonto: Interesting, Pale Face. However the word refers to the scalped head of a Native American sold for cash. Is that what is so “prideful?”

Lone Ranger: Please, friend, hear this: An April 2013 Associated Press poll shows that nationally, “Redskins” still enjoys widespread support. Nearly four in five Americans don’t think the team should change its name, the survey found. Only 11 percent think it should be changed, while eight percent weren’t sure and two percent didn’t answer.

Tonto: Did they ask any Native Americans?

Lone Ranger: No comment.

Tonto: According to a Pew study from 2013, at least 76 media outlets won’t use the name, including the San Francisco Chronicle and Slate, along with writers Peter King and Bill Simmons.

Lone Ranger: Left-wing crazies sucking up, my red-skinned friend.

Tonto: And, white man, according to Wikipedia, at the high school level, 28 teams in 18 states have dropped the “Redskins” name during the past 25 years, voluntarily or as a result of a combination of state legal action or protests from Native American groups. However, there remain 62 high schools in the United States that continue to use the Redskins name.

Lone Ranger: What’s next, partner? Scandinavians offended in Minnesota? Feline activists in Jacksonville?

Tonto: Well, Kemo Sabe, at the least, the politicians should be embarrassed about the “Washington” part of the name.

Lone Ranger: Agreed.

Tonto: Let’s ride, Masked Man!

Lone Ranger: Hi ho Silver…er…I mean, Metallic Light Gray Equus Ferus Caballus…away!

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