As the chorus grows louder in favor of changing the name of the Washington Redskins, which many find offensive, conservative commentator Charles Krauthammer has joined their ranks.
The syndicated columnist came out in favor of the change during a debate on the topic on Fox News’ Special Report With Bret Baier.
Krauthammer said he didn’t feel particularly strongly about the issue, unlike NBC broadcaster Bob Costas, who said during this week’s broadcast of Sunday Night Football that the name was an “insult” and a “slur,” or conservative columnist George Will, who said during the Fox News debate that he didn’t believe “a substantial portion of the Native American community” was offended by the name, so it should remain.
“I don’t think there’s any intent of malice, there’s no intent of a slur, and there is 80 years of history,” Krauthammer said. “But words have histories of their own, and they evolve.”
Krauthammer noted that the word “negro” was once the preferred term for black people and was used 15 times by the Rev. Martin Luther King in his famous 1963 “I Have A Dream” speech.
“Fifty years later, because of its own history, having to do with Black Power and a complicated history, it’s become a word that is patronizing,” Krauthammer said. “You would never say there are 30 Negroes in the U.S. House. You wouldn’t say that.”
He said the word “redskins” has evolved similarly as sensibilities have changed and is now considered by many to be a slur.
“Growing up, I used to use the word, ‘gyp,’” Krauthammer said. “I never knew until I became an adult that it was a shortening of ‘Gypsy,’ and I didn’t take a poll of Gypsies at that point to see how many are offended. I stopped using it. It’s very easy to do. It has nothing to do with the sensitivities of a mass of people. It has to do with simple, elementary respect. You don’t use that word if you can avoid it.”
Although team owner Daniel Snyder had said in May that he would “never change the name. It’s that simple. NEVER — you can use caps,” he has since appeared to soften his position.
Snyder sent a letter to season ticket holders last week saying that he respected the opinion of those who were offended by the name, but he reiterated his intention to leave it in place.
“We cannot ignore our 81-year history, or the strong feelings of most of our fans as well as Native Americans throughout the country,” Snyder wrote. “After 81 years, the team name ‘Redskins’ continues to hold the memories and meaning of where we came from, who we are, and who we want to be in the years to come.”
The issue has taken a partisan tone lately, with President Barack Obama saying he’d “think about changing” the name if he were the team owner.
Conservative talk radio host Glenn Beck called Costas “a sanctimonious piece of crap” for stating his views on the name, and a Fox News panel questioned whether enough people were offended to warrant a change.
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