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Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Maureen Dowd, "Call an Audible, Dan": "What's in a name?" Actually, Quite a Bit

"What's in a name? That which we call a rose
By any other name would smell as sweet."


- Juliet, "Romeo and Juliet"

Well, Shakespeare's Juliet was wrong. Names are indeed capable of spurring racial prejudice and intolerance.

Perhaps unbeknownst to many Americans, a heated debate is raging on the other side of the pond over the use of the word "Yid" during Tottenham Spur football matches. As observed by Richard Ferrer in an article in The Independent entitled "Tottenham fans: Why get rid of Yid?" (http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/comment/tottenham-fans-why-get-rid-of-yid-8820085.html):

"Last week the Football Association warned fans that chanting the word 'Yid' could result in a criminal conviction.

Cue inevitable objections from Spurs’ self-styled 'Yid Army', condoning in a stadium what they couldn’t on the street – dressing prejudice up in a lilywhite kit and calling it camaraderie.

. . . .

Such stubborn stupidity goads opposing fans who need little excuse to lower themselves to the depths of racist abuse. Note Chelsea’s Yid-inspired version of 'Spurs Are One Their Way To Wembley': 'Spurs are on their way to Auschwitz, Sieg Heil, Hitler’s going to gas them again.'

A glance at Google reveals a litany of Yid-inspired abuse. West Ham fans sung Hitler’s name and made hissing noises – mimicking the gassing of Jews in the Holocaust – during a match at White Hart Lane last November.

The same month, Leeds fans took to Twitter to brand Tottenham player Adam Smith 'a f****** diving Yid slag'.

In December, Huddersfield Town fan Gareth Smith found guilty of making a Hitler salute during match with local rivals Leeds United."

So much for English etiquette.

Meanwhile, as noted by Maureen Dowd in her latest New York Times op-ed entitled "Call an Audible, Dan" (http://www.nytimes.com/2013/10/09/opinion/dowd-call-an-audible-dan.html?_r=0), a debate is raging over changing the name of the Washington Redskins. Dowd concludes her opinion piece by referring to the change of names of another professional sports team in Washington:

"Asked whether he would ever switch the Washington Wizards back to the Bullets, team owner Ted Leonsis was noncommital. The late Abe Pollin, the previous team owner, dropped the name Bullets in 1997 as a message against gun violence, saying it was in honor of his friend Yitzhak Rabin, assassinated with a pistol.

'My father was righteous, maybe even self-righteous,' my friend Bob Pollin, Abe’s son who is an economics professor, told me. 'He had a moral motive for doing this. Now some find the name Wizards wimpy. They think Bullets is cooler, as in Navy SEALs shoot bullets. But I take great pride in my father having done it.'

Snyder should change the Redskins name, he said, as 'an act of courage and a civic contribution.'

All you have to do is watch a Western. The term 'redskin' is never a compliment."

Dowd is right: Can you imagine walking up to an American Indian on the street and calling him/her a "redskin"? He/she would be sure to take offense. There is no place for any such appellation involving skin color. And if using the term "redskin" would be offensive on the street, there is certainly no place for it in a sports stadium, on a sports network, or on the sports page of a newspaper.

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