The Washington Redskins continue to come under pressure to change their moniker, which many have deemed offensive to Native Americans, this time via a new bill introduced by a California democrat, according to Travis Durkee from Perform Media.
Rep. Michael Honda introduced what he has called “The Non-Disparagement of Native American Persons or Peoples in Trademark Registration Act.” If passed, the hope is that it will force Redskins owner Dan Snyder’s hand, as Snyder has been defiant in the face of league pressures to change the name.
“It is unbelievable to me that, in the 21st century, a prominent NFL franchise is calling itself by a racial slur. Team names should not be offensive to anyone. Allowing trademark protection of this word is akin to the government approving its use. Removing that trademark will send a clear message that this name is not acceptable.”
The bill would label the term “redskin” as a disparaging term, thus disqualifying it from trademark approval under the Latham Act. Honda had previously co-sponsored similar legislation in 2013, according to Mollie Reilley of the Huffington Post. Last month, Acting Assistant Attorney General Joyce R. Branda spoke on behalf of the Justice Department, who has vowed to intervene on behalf of the Latham Act to clear up any ambiguity regarding the current wording of the legislation.
“The Department of Justice is dedicated to defending the constitutionality of the important statute ensuring that trademark issues involving disparaging and derogatory language are dealt with fairly.”
Snyder, citing contradictory public polling that favors the Redskins moniker, has vowed to “never” change the name of the team. While 26 House Democrats co-sponsored Honda’s bill, following 50 senators who in May urged NFL commissioner Roger Goodell to force Snyder to change the name, not one of them was Republican. Even President Barack Obama told the Associated Press in 2013 that he would “consider changing it” if he were team owner Snyder.
The team originated in 1932 as the Boston Braves before changing their name to the Redskins in order to attempt symmetry with the Red Sox. The team moved to Washington D.C. five years later. In the 1940s, the team came under scrutiny from the National Congress of American Indians, who created a campaign to eliminate negative stereotyping of Native American people in the media, eventually focusing on Indian names and mascots in sports. The team would have their trademarks invalidated in 1999 before having them reinstated upon appeal. The trademarks were invalidated again last year before being reinstated upon pending appeal.