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As a resident of the Washington, D.C. area since the 1970s, I have been consistently dismayed that so much of the civic culture of my adopted hometown is built around a sports franchise whose nickname is a clear racial slur.  The fact that Washington is the capital of the world’s beacon of inclusion and democracy makes the persistence of the Redskins name even more embarrassing.  It was offensive in the 1970s, and should have been changed then, in which case it would now be a vaguely-remembered piece of sports trivia.  That fact that it is still here in 2014 is astonishing and appalling.  

Those who profit from the name have come up with a stunning variety of rationalizations, but the most stunning of all is their contention that this epithet is somehow a “term of honor.” They even got some judge to endorse the idea at one point.  The NFL echoed it again this week.  

The intent of the team's name has always been to present a strong, positive and respectful image.

--NLF Spokesman Brian McCarthy

OK, here’s how to knock that one down, and I am hoping someone in the DK community will take on the challenge, since I don’t have the skills to do it myself.  Put together a short compilation video documenting the use of the word “redskins” in Hollywood western films and TV shows from the 1930s to the 1950s.  I am convinced that a two or three minute video could put to bed for good the idea of “redskins” as a term of honor.  If fact, if anyone can come up with an example of “redskins” used in an honorable or praiseworthy way, I would be anxious to see it.

For starters, I recently caught on TCM the 1956 feature film version of The Lone Ranger.  I counted three highly uncomplimentary uses of the word.  If I recall correctly, there are also examples in the John Ford cavalry westerns (Fort Apache, etc.).  

Is there some western film buff with good editing skills out there?  Take up the challenge and shoot down this “term of honor” nonsense once-and-for-all.        

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Comment Preferences

  •  For those who think the term is honorable,... (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Pirogue, AZsparky, sponson, Meteor Blades

    I propose the following non-scientific experiment. They are to visit a Native American Pow Wow, or a reservation, and holler out "hi there you redskins." The participants in this experiment can then report to the world what sort of reaction they received.

    Just another underemployed IT professional computer geek.

    by RhodeIslandAspie on Fri May 23, 2014 at 09:51:12 AM PDT

  •  here are a few sources on the term (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    sponson

    http://www.npr.org/...
    http://itre.cis.upenn.edu/...
    http://people.ischool.berkeley.edu/...

    You may be able to locate some primary sources which are not available online

  •  I think this is an excellent idea but (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    sponson

    of course the main problem will be to locate those instances in movies where the word is used.

    I have a suggestion that might be of help on that score. Linguists scan online movie subtitle files* for word frequency studies. Some of them collect and scan large numbers of movie subtitle files to catalog frequencies. Here is a link to one group. In this particular database they found the word "Redskin" 13 times and "Redskins" 18 times. I am not sure if that is an overlap or separate uses and I am not sure if it is an absolute or relative number (i.e., instances per million words). At any rate this database is available on line but does not give  the names of the movies. It is likely the organization will have that information or will be able to give you help in finding it out.

    * I am not sure exactly how this works but apparently files are available with subtitles for many or most movies that can be played on media where the film is available but subtitles are not supplied. Anyway they access these files and compile their data from them.

    "PLEASE STOP EATING ANIMALS" Fourth Grader's Crayon Poster.

    by Pirogue on Fri May 23, 2014 at 10:41:40 AM PDT

  •  Movies from the 1920s through the 1970s... (2+ / 0-)

    ...(although a few better films were made starting in the late '60s). Images of media Indians started with Buffalo Bill's Wild West Show in the 1880s. One of the first completely bogus stereotypes was that of Indians in full war bonnets riding around wagons in circles whooping and getting shot off their horses. For the record, Plains Indians did not fight that way, but in the confined space of the makeshift arenas of the Wild West Show, this kind of display was one that worked for the paying audiences. The movies then picked up on it.

    Don't tell me what you believe, show me what you do and I will tell you what you believe.

    by Meteor Blades on Fri May 23, 2014 at 11:38:21 AM PDT

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