By now, media professionals and social-media activists have had a day and a half to digest the four-page letter Dan Snyder issued late Monday. American Indians who’ve campaigned against the name of the NFL franchise Dan Snyder owns — the Redskins — are understandably greeting the Washington Redskins Original Americans Fund as a cynical effort to deter criticism of the team’s name.
Snyder had to expect that the National Congress of American Indians would protest the move and call on him to “change the name of the DC team and prove that the creation of this organization isn’t just a publicity stunt.”
He had to expect that the Change the Mascot campaign spearheaded by Oneida Indian Nation Representative Ray Halbritter would object. Halbritter said in a statement that he is “hopeful that when [Snyder’s] team finally stands on the right side of history and changes its name, he will honor the commitments to Native Americans that he is making.”
Snyder might even have expected to see Halbritter on TV, speaking with Lawrence O’Donnell, or perhaps Kevin Gover, National Museum of the American Indian, discussing the team’s name on All In with Chris Hayes.
And if he is a Twitter guy (somehow we think he is not), Snyder could have expected the #NotYourMascot activists to call BS on his Foundation. They’ve been tweeting selfie photos with dollar bills taped across their mouths with the hashtag #Not4Sale
Snyder could have expected some people would be skeptical of or offended by his attempt to pacify some Natives with money to justify holding on to his team’s racist slur of a nickname. But did he expect that anyone would believe he is doing the right thing, for the right reasons? If so, he miscalculated.
Judging by commentary in the mainstream media and sportswriting blogosphere, nobody was fooled. The formation of the Original Americans Fund (OAF, as it’s being called) is a flea-flicker that didn’t flick. A fumblerooski that turned out to be just a fumble. A Statue of Liberty that is waist-deep in sand.
Here’s Keith Olbermann on the “OAF”:
And that’s not all. Click through to the next page to read 11 cutting comments from skeptical writers and bloggers.
What they’re saying in the mainstream media:
From “Charity won’t keep the Redskins’ name from being offensive” (Washington Post Editorial Board):
“We take Mr. Snyder at his word that he doesn’t see the name as a slur. It has a storied tradition, polls show it retains many supporters, it is not intended to wound. None of that changes this fact: You would not, by any means, call an Original American a ‘Redskin’ to his or her face. Why not? Because it is a slur — a hurtful, demeaning label.”
From “Dan Snyder wrote another awful letter” (Tim Baffoe, CBS Chicago):
“It’s pretty amazing that Daniel Snyder made his fortune in marketing, for he’s the public relations equivalent of butt cancer.”
From “Washington Football Team Starts Charity, Is Absolved of Racism” (Matt Connolly, Mother Jones):
“Good news out of Washington: Local NFL team owner Dan Snyder reflected on the challenges facing Native Americans, and, in a letter released Monday, promises to change the team’s n— Wait, sorry. Snyder actually defends the team’s name as ‘rooted in pride.’ After traveling the country and hearing from tribal leaders, though, Snyder says the real problem is that keeping the team’s racial slur name is just too small an honor.”
“The Washington Redskins Original Americans Foundation … is perhaps the most uncharitable name ever conceived for a charitable group, something akin to calling your organization “Kikes United Against Anti-Semitism.” If you want my money, he’s saying, you’re going to have to choke down my nickname along with it. This is the essence of Dan Snyder: He can’t do good works without shoving his badness in your face.”
From “Dan Snyder can’t buy his way out of bigotry” (Will Bunch, Philly.com):
“Even if Snyder gave up every dollar in his bank account and moved to the reservation, the name of the Washington team would still be a bigoted — and completely unnecessary — slur against Native Americans. We already have a ridiculous wealth gap in this country — are we really going to let our billionaires now buy the privilege to be racially offensive if they want to be? I hope not.”
From “Dan Snyder Thinks You’re Stupid” (Tomas Rios, Sports on Earth):
“Prepare yourself for the shock of the following statement: It turns out that super-rich racist white guys can never admit to being wrong about anything ever forever. In Snyder’s case, it’s his quixotic quest to prove that it’s OK to own a football team named the Redskins, which, according to his letter, is a totally cool slur to use around Native Americans.”
From “Latest Nickname Outreach is a Step, but Without a Direction” (Mike Wise, Washington Post):
Helping the neediest in Indian Country is, on its face, a good thing. If only it came with no strings attached. If only it happened organically and not because of an owner’s desire to keep the name of his football team, to keep his heritage.
From “Redskins’ owner helps Native Americans yet clings to racist team name” (Scott Martelle, L.A. Times):
“But Snyder still needs to change the name. All the money and foundation work in the world won’t alter the racism behind the word ‘redskin.’ … Years ago, Coleman A. Young, the first African American mayor of Detroit, said something to the effect that the victims of racism, not the perpetrators, are in the best position to recognize it.”
From “Daniel Snyder’s philanthropy serves himself, not Native Americans” (Chris Strauss, USA Today):
“Snyder’s sudden philanthropy doesn’t alter the fact that many people still consider Redskins to be an epithet. He may be able to silence some of his neediest critics with this move, but the growing chorus of opposing voices that don’t need his charity aren’t likely to be quieted.”
From “Dan Snyder’s Latest Charity Stunt Is a Noble Distraction” (Matt Cohen, DCist):
“Let’s get serious: this is pretty much a shameless publicity stunt to distract people from the mounting pressure to get him to change the name. The thing is, if giving lots of his own money to Native American communities is what it takes to try and distract people from the name-change issue, then let him do it. … It’s only a matter of time until Snyder is forced to change the name, so why not get him to squeeze out as much money possible for a noble cause until then?”
From “Dan Snyder’s Latest Fumble” (Carter Eskew, Washingon Post):
“The effort has the earmarks of a classic PR play when you don’t want to change the offensive behavior: shine the light elsewhere, expose another problem, listen, learn and offer a gesture to solving it. It’s a common strategy, but Snyder’s execution was typically ego-centric. … Snyder’s grandiose condescension is not a solution to the offense of the team name. What he should have done? Announced the foundation and the name change. That would have brought him and his team the honor he so craves.”