In light of the U.S. Trademark Office's ruling this week cancelling six U.S. trademarks for the term "Redskins" owned by Washington Redskins' owner Dan Snyder, on the grounds that patents were "Redskins" was "disparaging to Native Americans at the respective times they were registered, between 1966 and 1990, we thought we'd talk to real-life former Redskin Clint Didier, a Tea Party Republican running for the Washington state congressional seat being vacated by Doc Hastings (R-4), about his thoughts on the ruling.
(Technical note: The team can still use the name "Redskins," but since they no longer hold any patents on the name, so can any other entity that wants to use it.)
However, there has been significant pressure, including from Native American groups and many media outlets—including the Washington City Paper, Slate, and the Seattle Times—have announced that they will no longer use the name or will only use it when reporting on the controversy.
The Seattle Times explains its rationale, and quotes numerous Native Americans who consider the name a racial slur, here. Many civil-rights groups have likened the name to the N-word. And others have argued that members of minority or otherwise marginalized groups have the right to say what they consider inappropriate, even if that term or practice is part of another group's (in this case, the NFL's) "tradition."
Didier, who played tight end during two of the team's Super Bowl championship wins (1983 and 1988) doesn't buy any of that. Here's what he has to say.
I’m very proud to be part of the Redskins history, and I want it to continue, and I’m hoping Dan Snyder is going to fight this. Since when does the federal government that is supposed to be protecting our inalienable rights, have a right to come after someone’s property [i.e. the trademarks]?
Our Declaration of Independence originally included property. It was Jefferson who had it in there as "life, liberty, and property." And it was in a discussion a pretty intense discussion, that it was changed to "pursuit of happiness." But property is one of the inalienable rights.
As I've pointed out many times, the reason the Redskins got their name is because they had a coach and three players that were Native Americans. [Ed note: Questions remain over whether the coach when the Redskins got that name back in 1933, William "Lone Star" Dietz, actually had Native American ancestry.] It was derived after a native kidney bean.
Where’s it going to stop? There would be people to whom it’s very offensive to call a team the New England Patriots, the Cleveland Browns, the Atlanta Braves. When is this going to be addressed—rappers talking about the assault in all of their rapping, about killing, the way they talk about women? Should that be banned?
I live right off the Yakama Indian Reservation. All the Indian friends I have, and they’re good friends, have no problem with it. I have not talked to a Native American yet that’s offended by it.
All we’re doing is allowing a few to outnumber the many, because I don’t hear it out here [in Eastern Washington]. I don’t hear it from Native Americans.
I think this is contrived to take down a big power play against Dan Snyder based solely on the fact that he has contributed to some conservatives. [Ed. note: Snyder is a major Republican contributor.]
I think they’re going to lose a lot of money with the U.S. Patent Office pulling six patents. They’re not going to stop using the name Redskins. You’re just going to see more Redskins stuff [elsewhere] than you’ve ever imagined.