By Ken Reed
John Banzhaf, a public interest law professor at George Washington University, is campaigning to force Dan Snyder, owner of the NFL’s Washington D.C. franchise, to change the team’s racist and derogatory name. Banzhaf is focusing on utilizing broadcasting law as the primary tool to force Snyder to change his team’s name. However, he’s also running a powerful public relations campaign against Snyder and his NFL franchise.
This past weekend Banzhaf publicly wondered why Snyder isn’t dealt with a manner similar to Paula Deen, the author and cooking show host who was fired last week by the Food Network for admitting she used the N-word previously in her life.
In a press release, Banzhaf wrote, “Celebrity chef Paula Deen admits that she used the word N*ggers ‘a very long time’ ago in strictly private conversations, and she, like so many others, is immediately banned from broadcasting, but team owner Dan Snyder is not only responsible for the repeated use of the word ‘Redskins’ on hundreds of radio and TV stations, but is so proud of it that he publicly vows he will ‘NEVER’ change the team’s name. Why? What’s different?”
Those are two very good questions.
Banzhaf points out that Jimmy “The Greek” Snyder, Don Imus, Juan Williams, Pat Buchanon, and others, have been suspended or fired for their use of racial slurs, yet Snyder is, for the most part, treated with kid gloves.
“… Snyder is proud to continue using a word which three judges found to be ‘a derogatory term of reference for Native Americans’ and tends to bring them ‘into contempt or disrepute’; which the D.C. Metropolitan Washington Council of Governments condemned as ‘demeaning and dehumanizing’; which both chairmen of the Congressional Native American Caucus, and other members of Congress, blasted as ‘offensive epithets, disparaging to Native Americans,’ and ‘racial slurs’; which several states have found too offensive to be permitted to be used on personalized vehicle license plates; and which has been denounced and condemned as the most racist of all terms relating to Indians … by dozens of leading organizations representing American Indians,” wrote Banzhaf.
Snyder has certainly dug in his heels by saying he’ll “never” change is NFL team’s name. But his statements and actions have only served to increase the pressure on him.
Washington’s NFL franchise will eventually be known by a different name. And Banzhaf’s work on this issue will help ensure that change takes place sooner rather than later.
— Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of FansPrint
- League of Fans is a sports reform project founded by Ralph Nader to fight for the higher principles of justice, fair play, equal opportunity and civil rights in sports; and to encourage safety and civic responsibility in sports industry and culture.