CNN Crossfire host S.E. Cupp pushed back at criticism of the National Football League’s Washington franchise on Friday by insinuating it was a distraction from other issues facing Native American communities.
“Native Americans have real problems,” Cupp told Rep. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC). “Poverty, domestic abuse, high suicide rates.”
Cupp did not mention some House Republicans’ refusal to agree to expand the Violence Against Women Act to include those communities, instead playing a clip of Walter “Red Hawk” Brown rebuking President Barack Obama for weighing in on the issue and saying he would support changing the team’s name from “Redskins.”
“What’s offensive to me is this: we have 11 state recognized tribes,” Brown said in the clip. “And [Obama] hasn’t done one thing to get those tribes federally recognized.”
“What are you guys doing for the Native Americans that you care about, to eradicate a lot of the other issues that are weighing on their minds?” Cupp asked Norton.
“I can tell you what your side of the aisle is doing to them,” Norton responded.
“I asked you the question,” Cupp answered.
After briefly arguing with conservative radio host Larry Elder, Norton told Cupp, “This has nothing to do with the Congress of the United States. By your beginning this discussion with making it look as though the hometown team and the Congress are the same thing, you are indeed conflating the politics –”
“No, I’m saying that Native Americans have real problems that are being ignored,” Cupp said, interrupting.
“And you will find that, overwhelmingly, they vote for Democrats,” Norton answered.
Elder then attempted to link Stanford University’s football team changing its name from “Indians” to “Cardinal” in 1972 with the Bureau of Indian Affairs, a federal agency, retaining the word in its name.
“How come President Obama hasn’t done something about that, since he’s so sensitive to the concerns about Native Americans?” Elder asked Cupp’s co-host, Van Jones, before Norton pointed out that the American Indian Council, a not-for-profit group created by tribal communities, also kept the word in its name.
“We’re talking now about a slur,” Norton told Elder. “Now justify that.”
Jones then argued that it would be impossible to have a similar debate if a team named itself after slurs made against other communities, such as “the N-word.”
“You really think they’re the same?” Elder asked Jones, before criticizing Obama for inviting the Chicago Blackhawks to the White House after they won the Stanley Cup. Elder did not mention that the Blackhawks were named after Sauk Nation leader Chief Black Hawk, a fact the team acknowledges on its website, while also working in conjunction with Chicago’s American Indian Center.
“We’re not talking about Blackhawks,” Norton shot back, pointing her finger at Elder. “Redskins is what we’re talking about.”
Watch the discussion, as aired by CNN on Friday, below.