The Redskins petition – and what it does (and doesn’t) mean

25 May 2014

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It was interesting to see that 49 United States senators signed a petition pointing out that the nickname of the NFL’s Washington Redskins is racist and urging the NFL to push the team to change their name. (Yes, I know that the graphic above says 50, and that it’s been reported in the news as 50. I’ve seen the petition and counted the signatures; it has 49 of them.) My immediate reaction was that this was a pretty damning indictment – nearly HALF the U.S. Senate saying you should do something is a pretty strong hint.

But then I looked into two things: the petition, and the signers. First of all, the petition is completely non-binding – it only “urges” Roger Goodell and the National (dramatic pause) Football League to “endorse a name change.” It only carries what I believe in legal circles is called “the force of moral suasion” – and given that these are politicians we’re talking about here, I don’t know how much moral force that really carries.

And second, there’s the matter of who signed it. There’s an online copy of the petition (you can take a gander at it here), showing specifically who put their John Hancocks on this piece. I recognized a lot of the names immediately … but I also realized a lot of big senatorial names weren’t on it. And the more I started looking, the more I started suspecting what might be missing … Read the rest of this entry »


The race war, at home

24 July 2010

I may or may not be dealing with a delicate parental situation.

Yeah, I need to unpack that statement.  Here’s the deal.  My daughter Charlotte has been making friends around the neighborhood this summer.  Among those friends are a classmate from last school year, Daniel, and the two kids next door, whom we’ll call Vera and Jose (not their real names).  They’ve had a lot of fun running around our yard or going up and down the block on their various wheeled conveyances.

Recently, though, a rift has appeared — between Vera and Jose, and the rest of the group.  Jose has picked up a habit of using foul language, and Vera can be pretty harsh in dealing with other kids.  But that’s not the major issue.  The major issue is their (and their family’s) treatment of Daniel.

Now, Daniel is a nice boy — maybe a little intense and bossy, but that’s a good balance for Charlotte (who can often be the same).  By and large, he’s quiet, polite and doesn’t cause anything resembling trouble.  But you’d never know it from how the next door neighbors treat him.  At one point, he was simply banned from playing in their yard, no reason given.  Later that changed, but then Vera and Jose weren’t allowed to go over to his house (that may still be in effect, I’m not sure).  And last weekend, Vera and Jose were grounded … for allowing Daniel to join them in their swimming pool.  Again, no reason was given.

I have a guess as to what the reason might be … and I really, really hope I’m wrong.  You see, Daniel is black …

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The UN: at cross-purposes with itself

20 April 2009

There are times when you see things being done in a manner so clearly ridiculous, so antithetical to the goals the actions are supposed to achieve, that you wonder how anyone could deceive themselves into it. I guess we all do it from time to time, but some seem to adopt it as a lifestyle, and when you observe them you’re left wondering what (if anything) is going through their heads. People who cuss and rage at their kids because they think it will teach them to behave … folks who run up debt on their credit cards to try and achieve financial freedom … politicians who lie to protect themselves so they can keep their positions as “public servants” … you get the idea.

Reading the news yesterday, I ran across a textbook example of this, an event that is almost guaranteed to achieve the exact opposite of the ends it’s supposed to. It’s the United Nations’ Durban Review Conference on Racism, which began today in Geneva, Switzerland.

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