Not content to let Daniel Snyder's office hog all the screwups, the Washington Redskins Cheerleaders have pulled their own social-media blunder by posting to Instagram pictures of the sexualized faux-Indian getups that their ancestors wore in the 1960s.
These were the uniforms of the "Redskinettes," a trademark that was one of the six that the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office declined to renew last week — on grounds that the terms and imagery were considered "disparaging to Native Americans." ("Redskinettes" has been out of use for some time — the cheerleaders are now called the "First Ladies of Football.")
Given current events, the optics, as they say, are bad. The team continue to host a clinic in, as they say, not getting the memo.
There was a memo, wasn't there? A memo summarizing a meeting of some sort, with slideshow presentations and perhaps a list of topics to avoid? When your sales pitch, to a public that is buying it less every day, is that your team name "honors" Native Americans, everyone at the organization should be on the same page. Here's what that looks like:
Hey gang, let's not do any of these:
Let's not reference racist team owner George Preston Marshall. He is just not doing us any favors at this point (nor is that darn Nazi picture!!!) so let's pretend he never existed. And that stadium deck named after him? Let's come up with a new name.
Let's never use the word Redskins to refer to the people in question. See, the Redskins are the team, and the team is a tribute to the people, but the people are not Redskins. In fact, let's also avoid calling them Native Americans or American Indians, because that sort of demonstrates that there are other names they prefer. We're just going to go with "Original Americans" because it's none of the above. Got it? Original Americans.
Let's not take our case to Twitter, which is teeming with clever people who will run circles around our fans, who try to win arguments by saying "HTTR!" a lot.
Let's not use the old "but they're doing it" excuse — especially if the "they" is a high school football team in Ohio. Remember, we're in the big league now, we need to act like it. That's not a metaphor — we really are in the big league.
Let's not suggest that we aren't changing our team name out of stubbornness. There's a bad history in America of people holding onto things out of stubbornness (segregation, etc.) and we don't want to be part of that. Got it? We are not stubborn. Never say "NEVER." And please, please do not put it in caps.
Let's not use the following words: Tradition, history, culture. Of course, we think there's a lot of all three in our 92 years of pro football existence, but some people take a longer view. Some people, you tell them "We are proud of our history," and they think you're talking about really old stuff. You end up in an argument about whose history is older than whose, and there is really no point to that.
Let's not suggest that we aren't changing our team name because we have good lawyers. Legal department, please take note.
Let's not appear to be sneakily buying off some of the people in question.
Let's not appear to be using the elderly as props.
Let's not draw any attention to Chief Zee, cartoony old posters and game-day programs, or the sexy Pocahottie-style Redskinettes. We know all of these things honor the people in question — the problem is, the people in question don't know it. They see a picture of, say, a hot young non-Original American girl in a fringed miniskirt, wearing her hair in braids, with a feather sticking up, arms crossed like in the old movies — they just don't get it. They don't get that they're being honored. So let's just not draw attention to this sort of honoring. It is not being appreciated.
— end memo —
By the way, this is the second time that the Pocahottie Redskinettes outfits have shown up in the First Ladies of Football's Instagram feed. In April, they posted a version of this 1962 photo: