Twitter, Facebook, and without a doubt, the comment sections under news articles erupted last night after what appeared to be a disingenuous display of appreciation for an honored group of Native American veterans during the San Francisco Washington NFL matchup.
Suzan Harjo wrote this for ICTMN, “The Red*kins’ “honoring” of Navajo codetalkers consisted of four frail veterans standing in the end zone and receiving a round of applause. Three of the four Navajo elders wore Red*kins jackets, with the new-clothes price tags still hanging at their wrists. These seniors probably thought this was another in a long line of recent recognition of their WWII achievements some 70 years ago, rather than any implied endorsement of the team’s name.”
And Monday Night Football spectators, at home, or at the game, noticed the same thing. Dennis Welsh’s comment on Facebook got right to the point.
"How long can the owners of the Washington Exploiters go!!! Now they are exploiting honorable, elderly, native, heroic veterans like the Navajo Code Talkers!!!"
More reactions on Facebook ranged from the reasonable to, perhaps, the unreasonable.
DeLon Chavez asked a valid question, “It is a very cold night there. Maybe they just needed a jacket to stay warm while they were on the field?” But only two “likes” came of it.
Deborah Parker’s comment earned four “likes.”
“I'm not buying tonight's honoring as genuine whatsoever. I, however, give much respect to the Navajo Code talkers. They fought for justice & peace. The naming of the Redskins team was not done with respect & continues to remind us of a horrific history."
“We can't assume the code talkers are in resistance or up to speed with the Mascot issue, but it seems the Rdkns [sic] tried to validate themselves by having the code takers at their game and wearing their jackets. Those who have controlled the media have misled the worlds view on indigenous history & culture…DigitalSmokeSignals.com," Myron Dewey wrote.
And even the cynics showed up.
“Watch for Pow Wow dancers at halftime at the next game. These are low lifes [sic],” Stephen Conn commented. "They might as well put cigars in the [sic] hands," was how Orlando McCabe Jr. chimed in.
On Twitter, the Nation didn’t fall for Snyder’s “honoring” either. “Redskins owner Dan Snyder uses one of the oldest tricks in the racism handbook.” The Wire tweeted, “The Washington Redskins love Native Americans, can't you tell?” And the DCist's tweet said, “The Washington football team honored four Navajo Code Talkers last night and it was, uh, awkward.”
The Washington Post’s article simply mentioned that the Redskins honored members of the Code Talkers Assocation. That was also their headline. But, it still generated comments that questioned whether or not the veterans were part of a Snyder PR stunt.
“Why weren't these 70+ year olds NOT with Mr. Snyder when the game started??!! Oh, right…just a PR ploy, and he was done with them,” said an outraged Busdriver420.
NavajoNDN wrote, “I along with other Navajos are Redskins fans. My Grandfather who was a Navajo Code Talker was a Redskins fan till the day he passed on. (Johnny Alfred is his name if you want to google it.) This is an honor that is long overdue and also that the media likes to try and bend the truth that REAL Natives are not offended by the name just because NObama [sic] say something people jump to it. I am alos [sic] Related to Peter MacDonald he is my Nali. Semper Fi. This just open people's eyes.”
Lummsy wrote, “Those Redski…errr Injun…err Indian….errrrrr…Native….errr Aboriginal People look happy to be there or at least their wives/daugthers/whomever look happy (Note to self: Always resort to the Canadian way of speaking. Less likely to offend the most sensitive and gentle readers).”
Deadspin’s Sam Eifling put the men’s appearance on the “Redskins” FedEx Field in this context, "The NFL has been honoring veterans' service this month. The Redskins' decision to feature the Navajo Code Talkers was seen by some as a public relations move at a moment when many people are calling for the Redskins to change their name. Because it's frickin' 2013, and they're still calling themselves the Redskins, which is a name that, were it to be proposed for an expansion team, would earn the person who suggested it an instant sh**canning."
A bulk of the 162 comments that Eifling’s story brought in were a mixed bag.
Coach DLev19 told Eifling to, well…
“I am Native American. Cherokee to be exact…Here is my stance, I find it highly offensive that, mostly white people and African American folk, most of which from the NAACP who have no "skin in the game" are only trying to advance their own causes and political views, attempting to tell MY people what is offensive and what is not. Most of you are ignorant white folk who find it convenient to take up 'our' fight to advance your own political views. THIS is what is truly offensive. Not what you view as offensive to my people. Why not try to help the overwhelming alcohol dependency use that plagues our reservations?”
The Redskins lost again, 27-6.