The Washington Redskins’ Thanksgiving tweet may have been well-intentioned, but it didn’t go over so well. Instead, many social media users called the team out for what may have been as little as poor planning, but struck some as a bad (and deliberate) joke, or outright racism, perhaps even rubbing the offensive (to many) name in the faces of viewers.
Check out the tweet and see if you, too, do a double-take.
— Washington Redskins (@Redskins) November 27, 2014
Yes- Happy Thanksgiving from the Redskins.
Now, how shocking this might be to you depends largely on your knowledge of two things: the name “redskins,” and the history of the first Thanksgiving.
As for the first, it’s been claimed that the name is intended to honor Native Americans. Be that intent as it may, if you’re actually seeking to honor someone, you generally try not to offend them in the process. Indian Country reports that the latest polls show 67 percent of Native Americans taking offense at the name.
That aside, let’s look at what that little Native caricature pictured as the Washington Redskins’ mascot would’ve thought of the first Thanksgiving.
It’s not uncommon for kids to learn in school about the first Thanksgiving and be told a tale of Natives and settlers sitting down together for a feast, but according to National Geographic, there are more inaccuracies in our childhood version of the story than just the food (which would’ve been deer, corn, and shellfish, by the way).
The short version is that things were tense. The settlers didn’t always treat the natives so well, and there was a lot of bloodshed. For some Native tribes, the modern Thanksgiving brings to mind massacre and loss more than friendship and sharing. They wouldn’t be likely to wish anyone a Happy Thanksgiving, so much as to call for remembrance.
Thus the controversy over the Redskins’ name, and especially over the Thanksgiving tweet. The social network quickly began to reverberate with retweets and responses to the Thanksgiving greeting.
The team’s social pages continued to share Thanksgiving wishes throughout the day, retweeted messages from players, and never responded to criticism for the tweet. The Washington Redskins’ Thanksgiving tweet is still up, and still has Twitter users shaking their heads.