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Vast Majority Of Native Americans Not Offended By ‘Redskins’ Name, New Poll Claims

Washington Redskins Helmet

A new poll conducted by The Washington Post purports to show that the vast majority of those who identified as Native Americans said that they did not find the name “Redskins” offensive:

Nine in 10 Native Americans say they are not offended by the Washington Redskins name, according to a new Washington Post poll that shows how few ordinary Indians have been persuaded by a national movement to change the football team’s moniker.

The survey of 504 people across every state and the District reveals that the minds of Native Americans have remained unchanged since a 2004 poll by the Annenberg Public Policy Center found the exact same result. Responses to The Post’s questions about the issue were broadly consistent regardless of age, income, education, political party or proximity to reservations.

Among the Native Americans reached over a five-month period ending in April, more than 7 in 10 said they did not feel the word “Redskin” was disrespectful to Indians. An even higher number — 8 in 10 — said they would not be offended if a non-native called them that name.

The results — immediately celebrated by team owner Daniel Snyder and denounced by one prominent Native American leader — could make it that much harder for anti-name activists’ to pressure team officials, who have already used the poll as further justification to retain the moniker. Beyond that, the findings might impact the ongoing legal battle over the team’s federal trademark registrations and the eventual destination of the Redskins’ next stadium. The name controversy has clouded talks between the team and the District, widely considered Snyder’s desired destination.

“The Washington Redskins team, our fans and community have always believed our name represents honor, respect and pride,” the owner said in a statement. “Today’s Washington Post polling shows Native Americans agree. We are gratified by this overwhelming support from the Native American community, and the team will proudly carry the Redskins name.”

But Suzan Harjo, the lead plaintiff in the first case challenging the team’s trademark protections, dismissed the Post’s findings.

“I just reject the results,” said Harjo, 70, who belongs to the Cheyenne and Hodulgee Muscogee tribes. “I don’t agree with them, and I don’t agree that this is valid way of surveying public opinion in Indian Country.”

Two other key leaders in the name-change movement issued a joint statement that didn’t dispute the authenticity of the results, instead calling the responses from Native Americans “encouraging.”

“Native Americans are resilient and have not allowed the NFL’s decades-long denigration of us to define our own self-image,” wrote Oneida Nation Representative Ray Halbritter and National Congress of American Indians Executive Director Jackie Pata. “However, that proud resilience does not give the NFL a license to continue marketing, promoting, and profiting off of a dictionary-defined racial slur — one that tells people outside of our community to view us as mascots.”

They noted research that shows the harmful impact native imagery in sports can have on young Indians.

“Social science research and first-hand experience has told us that this kind of denigration has both visible and unseen consequences for Native Americans in this country,” their statement said. “This is especially the case for children, who were not polled and who are in a particularly vulnerable position to be bullied by the NFL. It is the 21st century — it is long overdue for Native Americans to be treated not as mascots or targets of slurs, but instead as equals.”

Since the nearly half-century-old debate regained national attention in 2013, opponents of the name have won a string of high-profile victories, garnering support from President Obama, 50 Democratic U.S. senators, dozens of sports broadcasters and columnists, several newspaper editorial boards (including The Post’s), a civil rights organization that works closely with the National Football League and tribal leaders throughout Indian Country.

Still, Snyder has vowed never to change the moniker and has used the 12-year-old Annenberg poll to defend his position. Activists, however, dismiss the billionaire’s insistence that the name is intended to honor Native Americans. They argue that he must act if even a small minority of Indians are insulted by the term — a dictionary-defined slur. They have also maintained that opinions have evolved as his unyielding stance has been subjected to a barrage of condemnation by critics ranging from “South Park” to the United Church of Christ.

But for more than a decade, no one has measured what the country’s 5.4 million Native Americans think about the controversy. Their responses to The Post poll were unambiguous: Few objected to the name, and some voiced admiration.

(…)

Even as the name-change movement gained momentum among influential people, The Post’s survey and more than two dozen subsequent interviews make clear that the effort failed to have anywhere near the same impact on Indians.

Across every demographic group, the vast majority of Native Americans say the team’s name does not offend them, including 80 percent who identify as politically liberal, 85 percent of college graduates, 90 percent of those enrolled in a tribe, 90 percent of non-football fans and 91 percent of those between the ages of 18 and 39.

Even 9 in 10 of those who have heard a great deal about the controversy say they are not bothered by the name.

What makes those attitudes more striking: The general public appears to object more strongly to the name than Indians do.

In a 2014 national ESPN poll, 23 percent of those reached called for “Redskins” to be retired because of its offensiveness to Native Americans — more than double the 9 percent of actual Native Americans who now say they are offended by it.

A 2013 Post poll found that a higher proportion of Washington-area residents — 28 percent — wanted the moniker changed.

(…)

The poll, which has a 5.5 percentage-point margin of sampling error, was conducted by randomly calling cellular and landline phones. It asked questions only of people who identified themselves as Native American, after being asked about their ethnicity or heritage.

Those interviewed highlighted repeatedly other challenges to their communities that they consider much more urgent than an NFL team’s name: substandard schools, substance abuse, unemployment.

There are several caveats regarding this poll that ought to be kept in mind prior to any discussion about its substance or the impact it might have on the ongoing debate and legal battle over the name of Washington D.C.’s NFL team. First of all, polls of discrete and relatively small ethnic groups is often difficult in and of itself due to the fact that it’s often difficult to find a sufficiently representative sample. According to current data from the U.S. Census, Native Americans represent about 1.4% of the current U.S. population.  That’s roughly comparable to the percentage of the U.S. population that claims adherence to any form of Judaism, another group that has proven difficult to poll accurately due to its small representation among the American population as a whole. Second, this poll was conducted over a period of several months, likely due to the fact that it took that long for pollsters to find a representative sample upon which to base their poll. As a general rule, pollsters try to keep their polls time limited to no longer than a week due to the fact that data that may not be “fresh” is being mixed with more recent data. Finally, there’s the age old pollsters problem that the poll is relying on a respondent’s self-identification as ‘Native American’ and there’s no way to be sure that at least some respondents are taking that designation to mean something other than what the pollsters intend it to mean. Notwithstanding all of this, though, results such as this are so overwhelming in one direction that it’s hard to completely dismiss them, and they are likely to be added to the ongoing debate both in Court and in the media over this issue.

This new poll comes at the same time that the Redskins are involved in a long-standing legal dispute with a group of Native American activists who have long claimed that team name is offensive and who have tried to use a variety of legal tactics to force the team to change the name. The most successful of those efforts so far involves an ongoing dispute over the Redskins’ trademarks and the effort to repeal them because of their allegedly offensive nature. Two years ago, these activists succeeded for the second time in convincing the Trial and Appeals Board of the U.S. Patent Office that the trademarks, which were granted some fifty years ago, should be revoked due to their offensive nature, a conclusion the board agreed with in a ruling issued in June 2014. As I noted at the time, this ruling was legally dubious both as a matter of existing trademark law and the First Amendment, which arguably prevents the government from denying a government benefit such as a trademark based on the alleged offensiveness of the mark itself. There is a long line of case law that establishes that offensive speech is still entitled to Constitutional protection, and this suggests that it is not permissible for the government to punish a trademark holder because their mark is “offensive.”  Notwithstanding these arguments, in July of last year a Federal District Court Judge in upheld the Trial and Appeals Board’s ruling based largely on the assumption that the trademark is indeed disparaging notwithstanding the fact that the only evidence the activists seemed to present in regard to that argument seemed to consist of self-serving statements from individuals that they had pre-selected. A poll such as this one suggests that a broader representation of Native Americans has a decidedly different opinion on the issue.

As things stand right now, the trademark case is apparently still on appeal before the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals and while it is too late for the Redskins to introduce new evidence into the record. Nonetheless, one wouldn’t be surprised to see poll results like these make their way into an appellate brief or oral argument at some point. It would then be up to the Court of Appeals to determine what, if any, weight to give to data such as this. In any case, of potentially more relevance in the pending appeal is a ruling issued by the Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit which held that those provisions of the law allowing the Federal Government to deny a trademark because it is ‘offensive’ or ‘disparaging’ are unconstitutional. This is the very provision of the law that the Trial and Appeals Board and the District Court rely upon for their decision against the Redskins, and while it is not binding on the Fourth Circuit it is at the very least the kind of persuasive authority that the Court will no doubt be asked to consider, and which could form the basis for an appeal to the Supreme Court in the event that the Fourth Circuit upholds the District Court decision. At that point, it would likely be up to the Justices to resolve what clearly would be a split in the Circuits regarding a significant issue in Federal Law.

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About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May, 2010 and also writes at Below The Beltway. Follow Doug on Twitter | Facebook

Comments

  1. bill says:

    i’m shocked this even made it in here! so i guess it was the chronically offended, vocal minority-“white guilt” crowd trying to sway reality their way again?!

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  2. Matt says:

    The natives I know don’t care. I’m not sure if I have enough native blood in me to “matter” but I personally don’t care either. We have far more important matters to worry about.

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  3. the Q says:

    This just in, the NFL just signed off on the name being changed to the Washington Hymies….as a poll of Persian Jews found zero offense to the name……

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  4. MBunge says:

    There are plenty of things that get derided as “political correctness” which are completely legitimate concerns when you get down to it but this Redskins business has never been about anything but upper-middle class white liberals preening over their supposed enlightenment.

    Mike

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  5. michael reynolds says:

    When reality conflicts with your ideology, choose reality. If Indians don’t care – and they sure don’t seem to – I fail to see why the non-Indian population should be worked up.

    I’ve tried many times to have this debate, (though not over this particular world) with various of my liberal friends and family. The obsession over names and pronouns is fundamentally magical thinking. The exception being the infamous n-word, which is too buried in hate and pain and death to be useful. Changing nouns doesn’t really do anything. Call a fish a cow and it’s still a fish.

    And imagining that these semantic fights are somehow making the world a better place, or helping the people directly involved is self-congratulatory nonsense. It’s almost completely wasted energy, and it’s bad tactics as well. Own the world, make it yours. Getting hysterical over terminology just signals a brittle weakness. You’re not gaining power, you’re surrendering it.

    In a rather more trivial line, it’s one of the reasons I don’t really like San Francisco and prefer LA despite the clear advantages of SF: San Franciscans think the word ‘Frisco is some sort of hate crime. Angelenos don’t give a damn what you call them. New Yorkers ditto.

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  6. Tyrell says:

    The main concern of most people is the length of time since the Redskins last won the Super Bowl.
    When most people hear the famous Redskins fight song the thoughts turn to a Hall of Fame roll call ! Of achievement on the field and off. Of plays on the field that amaze and inspire.

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  7. wr says:

    @michael reynolds: “In a rather more trivial line, it’s one of the reasons I don’t really like San Francisco and prefer LA despite the clear advantages of SF: San Franciscans think the word ‘Frisco is some sort of hate crime.”

    Michael, you’ve really got to start hanging out with some people who aren’t made of straw. In all the years I lived in the Bay Area — about two decades’ worth — I never met a single person who gave a damn about “Frisco.”

    Unless they came from a low budget 1950s movie, that is.

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  8. Just 'nutha ig'rant cracker says:

    Hasn’t this issue expired in the “fifteen minutes of fame” sense? Sheet!

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  9. barbintheboonies says:

    I`m a proud part native American and consider this an honor of bravery and strenth

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  10. Lahar says:

    These days when I think of Frisco, I think of the town north of Dallas. I went to high school near San Francisco so many years ago – we rarely called The City by the name Frisco then… . BTW, no one calls it “The City” anymore, either.

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  11. Jenos Idanian says:

    Oh, no! If good people can’t get all offended and outraged and angered on behalf of other people, how can they possibly virtue-signal now wonderful and conscientious and sensitive and good they are?

    But if you’re looking for something interesting to discuss, Doug, a federal justice in Texas just got so fed up with the Department of Justice constantly lying and deceiving him, he ordered Justice Department attorneys to take annual ethics classes.

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  12. Slugger says:

    This is a testable hypothesis. There is a bar in Madras, Oregon, a few miles from the Warm Springs Confederated Tribes rez. Let’s go there after 9:00 PM on any Friday and use that term face-to-face with people. I guarantee you will not encounter any effete liberal-leftist of dubious sexual orientation there.

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  13. Modulo Myself says:

    The main lesson of this is that a select group of football fans are drama queen idiots. The term ‘Redskins’ is an infinitesimal part of the genocide committed against native americans. It’s a joke compared to the dead and the stolen land.

    But it’s even more meaningless as the name of a football team. But Redskins fans are basically of the opinion that their entire team is worthless minus the name. Why get drunk and fat and put a pig’s nose on your face if you can’t cheer for the Redskins?

    If you had to select which group to give disease-coated blankets to, which would you chose?

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  14. An Interested Party says:

    I guarantee you will not encounter any effete liberal-leftist of dubious sexual orientation there.

    Certainly such people are also capable of defending themselves…

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  15. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Modulo Myself:

    The term ‘Redskins’ is an infinitesimal part of the genocide committed against native americans. It’s a joke compared to the dead and the stolen land.

    This – exactly this. To hold this proposed name change up as some sort of soothing balm for one of the worst crimes ever committed by this country is to cheapen the staggering magnitude of all that happened to these people.

    In other words, it’s about assuaging white guilt – it has little to nothing to do with how Native Americans might feel about it.

    When these people who are all up in arms about the name of a football team leave lily white suburbia, head to a reservation and start trying to tackle the endemic problems of alcoholism, economic stagnation, something like a 33% high school drop out rate and (while it has declined) a still frightening teen pregnancy rate, then I’ll take their umbrage seriously. Until then, it’s a bunch of bored housewives engaging in protest tourism.

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  16. Tyrell says:

    @Modulo Myself: The name is not a big deal to me. I have suggested a few options: Generals, Brigade, even just Washington. The big deal to most people is what the owner is putting on the field.

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  17. Jc says:

    I am a Redskins fan but hold no strong feelings either way. A referendum by full blooded native Americans would be sufficient to me. That said, I would have no problem calling a Native American a Cheif, a Brave, a Seminole, an Indian, but I would never call them a Redskin. So I can understand why people would like the name changed. If it does change, ok, but make it something representative of the DC area, not something stupid like “Wizards”

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  18. Rafer Janders says:

    Unlike most of the idiots posting above, I actually have Native American family: my adopted brother, in-laws and nephews are Native American from Oklahoma. Every single one of them is offended as hell by the Redskins name, and every single one, if you walked up to them and called them a Redskin to their face, would at best curse you out and at worst lay you out (and since half of them have done multiple tours in Iraq and Afghanistan, they’d be more than capable of it).

    But, like most of the effete idiots like Michael Reynolds and HarvardLaw above, I know that none of those morons would actually have the guts to do so, despite the hot air they like to puff out.

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  19. Andre Kenji says:

    My Native American Blood is from the South America, not North America, English is not my Native Language, and sorry, but I think that the name of the NFL Franchise in the city of Washington DC is offensive.

    The team might be called by this name. But I´m not saying it.

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  20. michael reynolds says:

    @Rafer Janders:

    What in hell are you ranting about? Are you saying the poll is b.s.? Then say it. Did I threaten to go to Oklahoma and insult your relatives?

    As for me being “effete?” Really? An effete high school drop-out who waited tables for a decade, cleaned toilets for two years and has a criminal past?

    Look the word up. Then use it.

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  21. michael reynolds says:

    @wr:

    You know I actually live in the Bay Area, right? And have lived there at two other stages in my life?

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  22. Rafer Janders says:

    @michael reynolds:

    Are you saying the poll is b.s.? Then say it.

    Yep, its b.s.

    As for me being “effete?” Really? An effete high school drop-out who waited tables for a decade, cleaned toilets for two years and has a criminal past?

    Um, yeah, and so? And now you ponce on about what your driver told you, how expensive your cigars are, and how terribly concerned everyone at your writers’ conference is about whatever your latest hobby-horse is. Just because you were a loser once doesn’t mean you get to coast on that forever.

    Think you’re gutsy? Walk up to my brother and call him a redskin to his face. You’d never dare.

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  23. Rafer Janders says:

    @michael reynolds:

    You know I actually live in the Bay Area, right? And have lived there at two other stages in my life?

    And so have I, and yet just like wr I’ve never met anyone who thinks “the word ‘Frisco is some sort of hate crime.” But then perhaps our circle of acquaintance wasn’t as…brittle as yours appears to be.

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  24. Rafer Janders says:

    @michael reynolds:

    As for me being “effete?” Really? An effete high school drop-out who waited tables for a decade, cleaned toilets for two years and has a criminal past?

    Michael, let me give you some advice: this obsession of yours over names and pronouns is fundamentally magical thinking. Changing nouns doesn’t really do anything. Call a fish a cow and it’s still a fish. Call you a drop-out convict who made a series of very bad choices and you’re still effete.

    And your imagining that these semantic fights are somehow making the world a better place, or helping you is self-congratulatory nonsense. It’s almost completely wasted energy, and it’s bad tactics as well. Own the world, make it yours. Getting hysterical over terminology like “effete” just signals a brittle weakness. You’re not gaining power, you’re surrendering it.

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  25. Kylopod says:

    @the Q:

    This just in, the NFL just signed off on the name being changed to the Washington Hymies….as a poll of Persian Jews found zero offense to the name……

    Interesting analogy. As an American Jew born in the late 1970s, I must say I don’t think I’d have ever heard of the word “Hymie” if not for Jesse Jackson’s infamous remark.

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  26. Rafer Janders says:

    Resolution of the Cherokee, Choctaw, Chickasaw, Creek and Seminole Tribes calling for an end to the “Redskins” name below, on the grounds that ‘”Redskins’ as the name of a franchise is derogatory and racist.” But what would they know, right?

    http://www.changethemascot.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/11/Intertribal-Council-of-Five-Civilized-Tribes-Washington-Sports-Team-Resolution.pdf

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  27. Rafer Janders says:

    The Navajo Nation Council has adopted a bill opposing the use of the name redskins, a term that the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples has called a “hurtful reminder. . .of the long history of mistreatment of Native American people in the United States.”…..“”I think the actions of our council clearly show that [members] recognize the negative impacts such derogatory names cause for our people and also for Indian country.”

    Read more at http://indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com/2014/04/11/navajo-nation-officially-joins-fight-against-redskins-mascot-154423

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  28. Rafer Janders says:

    The National Congress of American Indians (NCAI), the oldest, largest and most representative AmericanIndian and Alaska Native organization, has passed several resolutions calling on the elimination of the useof racist stereotype images, logos and mascots in sports, including the Washington NFL team mascot.

    http://www.ncai.org/policy-issues/community-and-culture/anti-defamation-mascots

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  29. Rafer Janders says:

    United South and Eastern Tribes (USET), an inter-tribal organizations with 26 federally-recognized Tribal Nations, passed a resolution “Calling on the National Football League to End the Use of the Washington, D.C. racially offensive slur Team Mascot Name” at 2013 annual meeting.

    http://www.changethemascot.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/11/2014-015-Washington-mascot.pdf

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  30. Rafer Janders says:

    As NFL executives arrived in the nation’s capital for their annual fall meeting on Monday, the Oneida Indian Nation held a symposium in town to discuss their campaign to find a new name for the Washington Redskins after 80 years. “We are asking the NFL to stop using a racial slur as the name of Washington’s football team,” said Oneida Indian Nation Representative Ray Halbritter.

    http://www.cnn.com/2013/10/07/us/washington-redskins-name/

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  31. michael reynolds says:

    @Rafer Janders:

    Under what conceivable circumstances would I walk up to anyone and call them by their race, let alone a colloquialism for their race?

    Are you drunk?

    As for “Frisco,” shall we Google?

    https://www.tripadvisor.com/ShowTopic-g60713-i30-k914185-Why_we_don_t_call_it_Frisco-San_Francisco_California.html

    http://www.urbandictionary.com/define.php?term=frisco

    http://www.sfweekly.com/sanfrancisco/dont-call-it-frisco-if-youre-old-and-white/Content?oid=2828709

    1) As for “my driver” (a college kid driving the van for the conference) I referenced him because he was the source. We’re supposed to do that, right? It served the double purpose of explaining why I was posting at bizarre times of day – I’m off in ANZ. And the point was not that my Kiwi driver was the forerunner of anything, I was using it as an illustration of a mindset. So: an idea (a sort of nihilism) that I properly sourced, while at the same time adding information that would explain why I was out of time-synch.

    2) When have I bragged about the cost of cigars? I have on occasion complained about it, though down here in Australia, at my poncey writers conference where I’m swanning around, um, I don’t know, whatever your fantasy is*, the cigars really are shockingly expensive.

    Why do you insist on acting dumber than you are, Rafer? You’re like the left-wing version of Guarneri. Look, you want me to poor-mouth, play a role, pretend to be a struggling artist so you’ll feel better? No. I do my best to tell the truth, to be honest, not to pretend. When I was poor, I said I was poor. When I was briefly rich, I said so. Now I’m wealthy-adjacent or something and I say so. Wait a while and I’m pretty sure I’ll be poor again, and I’ll say so. Is there some income level I should pretend to have so you’ll be happy?

    *Actually hiding in my room and binge-watching Vikings on Netflix. https://twitter.com/MichaelGrantBks/status/733419651653230592

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  32. michael reynolds says:

    @Rafer Janders:

    Under what conceivable circumstances would I walk up to anyone and call them by their race, let alone a colloquialism for their race?

    Are you drunk?

    As for “Frisco,” shall we Google?

    https://www.tripadvisor.com/ShowTopic-g60713-i30-k914185-Why_we_don_t_call_it_Frisco-San_Francisco_California.html

    1) As for “my driver” (a college kid driving the van for the conference) I referenced him because he was the source. We’re supposed to do that, right? It served the double purpose of explaining why I was posting at bizarre times of day – I’m off in ANZ. And the point was not that my Kiwi driver was the forerunner of anything, I was using it as an illustration of a mindset. So: an idea (a sort of nihilism) that I properly sourced, while at the same time adding information that would explain why I was out of time-synch.

    2) When have I bragged about the cost of cigars? I have on occasion complained about it, though down here in Australia, at my poncey writers conference where I’m swanning around, um, I don’t know, whatever your fantasy is*, the cigars really are shockingly expensive.

    Why do you insist on acting dumber than you are, Rafer? You’re like the left-wing version of Guarneri. Look, you want me to poor-mouth, play a role, pretend to be a struggling artist so you’ll feel better? No. I do my best to tell the truth, to be honest, not to pretend. When I was poor, I said I was poor. When I was briefly rich, I said so. Now I’m wealthy-adjacent or something and I say so. Wait a while and I’m pretty sure I’ll be poor again, and I’ll say so. Is there some income level I should pretend to have so you’ll be happy?

    *Actually hiding in my room and binge-watching Vikings on Netflix. https://twitter.com/MichaelGrantBks/status/733419651653230592

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  33. michael reynolds says:
  34. Rafer Janders says:

    Well, I guess that all of the efforts above by the Oneida, Navajo, Cherokee, Chickasaw, Choctaw, Seminole, Creek and other tribes of the Indian nation to change the name of the DC team because it’s a racial slur must be about assuaging white guilt, huh – and have little to nothing to do with how Native Americans might feel about it?

    Oh, wait.

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  35. Rafer Janders says:

    @michael reynolds:

    Is there some income level I should pretend to have so you’ll be happy?

    I’ll tell you again, this obsession of yours about what people call you is fundamentally magical thinking. Changing nouns doesn’t really do anything. And your imagining that these semantic fights are somehow helping you is self-congratulatory nonsense. It’s almost completely wasted energy, and it’s bad tactics as well. Own the world, make it yours. Getting hysterical over terminology like “poor” or “rich” or “wealthy-adjacent” just signals a brittle weakness. You’re not gaining power, you’re surrendering it.

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  36. michael reynolds says:

    @Rafer Janders:

    Dude, drink some coffee. You’re making even less sense than usual.

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  37. Rafer Janders says:

    @michael reynolds:

    I mean, that is….a lot of words complaining about being called names by someone who’s just written a lot of words about how being called names doesn’t matter.

    And it was so easy to set you off! I knew that being called “effete” would bother you, and that you just couldn’t stop yourself from responding, thereby putting the lie to the position you’d just previously stated about how “getting hysterical over terminology just signals a brittle weakness.”

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  38. Lahar says:

    @michael reynolds: Loved reading through these links. Thanks. BTW, no one in my family who still live in the bay area and who have lived there for generations would ever call it Frisco. Just is not done.

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  39. James Pearce says:

    “An even higher number — 8 in 10 — said they would not be offended if a non-native called them that name.”

    A result like that should make you question the accuracy of this poll. Sounds like they polled a lot of Ward Churchill types, mostly white “Indians” who might consider being called a “redskin” a confirmation that some distant relative was on the Dawes rolls.

    I’ll buy this though:

    Those interviewed highlighted repeatedly other challenges to their communities that they consider much more urgent than an NFL team’s name: substandard schools, substance abuse, unemployment.

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  40. John Peabody says:

    Heh, the headline say “New Poll Claims [that Native Americans are not offended]. Here’s a little lesson in how the media (even OTB) can unconsciously sway readers before the article begins. Why not ‘new poll says’, or ‘new poll states’, or ‘new poll finds’? In the other direction, try ‘new poll proves’, or better yet, ‘definitive poll finally proves’? Every news outlet has a slant, well-intended or not.

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  41. wr says:

    @HarvardLaw92: So basically no one should ever try to change anything unless they’re prepared to change everything?

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  42. wr says:

    @Jc: ” If it does change, ok, but make it something representative of the DC area, not something stupid like “Wizards””

    How about the Washington Citizens Denied the Same Level of Representation as Every Other American Because Republicans Are Afraid They’ll Vote for Democrats?

    I think it’s got a ring to it…

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  43. wr says:

    @michael reynolds: “You know I actually live in the Bay Area, right? And have lived there at two other stages in my life?

    I do know that. And I still call BS on your “Frisco” thing.

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  44. Jenos Idanian says:

    Need… More… Popcorn!!!

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  45. wr says:

    @Jenos Idanian: And Yoohoo. I mean, you don’t want to forget the other half of your balanced diet.

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  46. Lit3Bolt says:

    The accusations of this issue being merely about assuaging white guilt of a prancing hysterical liberal stereotype sound a lot like the projection of a bunch of self-serving white dudes who are eager for any fig leaf to completely abdicate themselves of responsibility and absolve themselves of any white guilt.

    Shout out to James Pearce‘s measured take: I think all of this viewpoints have an element of truth, and Native Americans aren’t exactly thrilled that it takes a debate over a sports team for someone to ask their opinion, but consider any news story that shines a spotlight on them a mixed blessing from a nation that has mostly forgotten they exist.

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  47. KM says:

    @michael reynolds:

    . The exception being the infamous n-word, which is too buried in hate and pain and death to be useful.

    I must disagree with this; plenty of slurs have the weight of legalized hate and a history of tragedy and death but we as a nation tend to focus on that specific one. Either one’s stance is a hateful word is inherently hateful from past usage (and thus not fit for public usage) or words have only the meanings we ascribe to them (thus can be reclaimed, lessened or altered). Singling one out as the exception to the rule is a metaphorical slap to those who’s history of institutionalized oppression isn’t as well documented or publicized.

    Quite frankly, it’s nostalgia and nostalgia alone that’s making this an issue. If it were a renamed building or street the level of give a damn would be roughly zero. Since it’s a sport team, however, all the warm irrational fuzzies are coming out and suddenly we need to respect tradition and the feelings of the fans. It’s a damn name – it’s not going to affect their playing one iota. What does it hurt to change to name to show more respect? For those who claim they don’t care. then what does it matter if the change happens for the benefit of those that do? It’s come down to basic manners (and customer service) at this point: if you know something is rude and could bother someone, stop doing it.

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  48. Jc says:

    @wr: lol. I kinda like “The Washington Gridlock” or “Washington Federalists”

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  49. Andre Kenji says:

    Racial slurs are extremely offensive, all of them. Even racial slurs used against Whites are offensive. “Gringo”, widely used against White Americans in Latin America is offensive and should not be used.

    It´s a matter of respect, of decency, not of ultra sensibility. And I´m far from being the most friendly guy to SJW types.

    The history with Native Americans in the United States(That were never really treated as part of the History of the country) is horrible. That makes any slurs against them even more questionable.

    Snyder should talk with the tribes to find a way of honoring Native Americans in the team´s name without using racial slurs. It´s a matter of basic decency.

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  50. Han says:

    They surveyed 504 people over the course of four months? That’s four people per day. Something seems rather odd about that.

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  51. An Interested Party says:

    Wow, already 50 comments on this thread…perhaps the issue isn’t as minor as some people think it is…

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  52. Kylopod says:

    @Andre Kenji:

    Racial slurs are extremely offensive, all of them.

    Yes–but there are degrees to these things.

    I think of that incident where President Reagan told a joke about the Irish and then remarked, “See, I can tell that, being Irish.” The idea that people have permission to tell jokes bashing their own group but not someone else’s is an old one. (The site TV Tropes includes this idea in the general category of “N-Word Privileges.”) But somehow I suspect that if Obama were caught telling a black joke, it wouldn’t seem quite so benign.

    The fact is that, while any slur can be hurtful, there are gradations to how offensive it seems depending on how badly the group has been persecuted. What made Reagan’s joke seem so innocuous was not so much his own ancestry but the fact that Irish have become so thoroughly assimilated and accepted into the white mainstream that racism against them today seems more preposterous than offensive. I was once listening to a joke tape, and it had a series of jokes based on the premise that Iowans are stupid. It was obviously using Iowans as a stand-in for what had previously been occupied by Poles, blondes, and others, and they chose Iowans because it seemed so totally random and out of left field that the obvious point was that they wanted to preserve the form of that type of joke without the political incorrectness.

    What gives the N-word a unique status among slurs in the US is that blacks have been treated uniquely badly here. Asians and Jews experienced persecution in this country, but they didn’t come here in chains, they didn’t live under Jim Crow, and they aren’t disproportionately at the lowest rungs of the economic ladder today.

    The problem is that if there’s any group in America whose treatment has been comparable to blacks’, it’s Native Americans. But a lot of Americans don’t know that because there are so few Native Americans left and they aren’t much of a focus in our culture. So to many Americans, anti-Indian slurs don’t have the same bite as they ought to.

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  53. Andre Kenji says:

    @Kylopod:

    Yes–but there are degrees to these things.

    Yes. Racial are an extension of discrimination, not something unrelated to it. Racial slurs are offensive because they are related to a History of Discrimination and oppression.

    On the other hand, racial slurs, even racial slurs like “gringo”, that are aimed against Upper Income Whites, are used to discriminate. When a bunch of poor Brown folks in Latin America calls a very privileged White Male from United States or Europe as a “gringo” they are saying that he is a different from them, that he does not belong to the group and that he is the other.

    That´s why racial slurs are always horrible, and they should be avoided.

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  54. Mister Bluster says:

    Tonto, our lives are in danger
    We got to get away if we can
    Tonto just looked at Lone Ranger
    What you mean, we, white man

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oWuMevc6G4w
    Thank You Oscar Brown Jr.
    RIP

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  55. rodney dill says:

    @An Interested Party: The insignificance of this topic is ….YYUUUUUGGGGE

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  56. Mister Bluster says:

    Washington Bullets transition to Wizards

    In November 1995, owner Abe Pollin announced he was changing the team’s nickname, because Bullets had acquired violent overtones that had made him increasingly uncomfortable over the years, particularly given the high homicide and crime rate in the early 1990s in Washington, D.C. It was widely believed to also be related to the assassination of Pollin’s longtime friend, Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin.

    A contest was held to choose a new name and the choices were narrowed to the Dragons, Express, Stallions, Sea Dogs, and the Wizards. On May 15, 1997, the Bullets officially became the Wizards. The new name generated some controversy because “Wizard” is a rank in the Ku Klux Klan, and Washington has a large African American population.
    WikiP

    But it’s all right now, I learned my lesson well
    You see, ya can’t please everyone, so ya got to please yourself
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rFugRFKqjFg

    Thank You Ricky Nelson
    RIP

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  57. KM says:

    @Kylopod:

    The problem is that if there’s any group in America whose treatment has been comparable to blacks’, it’s Native Americans. But a lot of Americans don’t know that because there are so few Native Americans left and they aren’t much of a focus in our culture. So to many Americans, anti-Indian slurs don’t have the same bite as they ought to.

    It’s all about how much attention you can bring to your cause. Everyone’s heard of Save the Whales or Pandas but have you ever heard of Save the Vaquita (a porpoise)? It’s the most endangered cetacean in the world with less then 100 left. Who’s stumping for them?

    If there’s no social mechanism to keep attention focused on a problem, it quickly becomes NBD-amirte to the majority of people. It’s common knowledge in the United States that the n-word is, well, the n-word – censorious even in print. It’s heavily socially reinforced with trangressions being called out left and right. There is no such mechanism for Native American insults

    It’s interesting to note this is happening elsewhere. I give you the Lancaster Legends from Lancaster, NY. Recently the students voted to change the name from the Lancaster Redskins and it passed the school board with unanimous consent. It’s proving to be so contentious with the locals the young logo designer’s safety was threatened and it’s a become a rallying point in the local board elections. It’s mostly parents and older generations who are “hurting and angry and disappointed about the change”. Hurting over a name change, something the actual students and players wanted. Irrational sentiment preferred over what the wishes of those it affects…. sounds familiar huh?

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  58. Tyrell says:

    @Mister Bluster: I read an article awhile back that showed how up to half of major league sports names could be offensive to someone. I guess some day that it will come down to sports teams named after geometric shapes, minerals, or the scientific elements (titanium sounds nice). It all comes down to a few people making some noise. What about the majority ?

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  59. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @wr:

    Not at all – I’m just wondering why they’re so concerned with this relatively meaningless thing while the last stage of Native American genocide is playing itself out on reservations.

    It’s not that they’re wrong for trying to change the name; it’s that they’re pretty unlikely to go any further about addressing the serious problems. Assuming they get the name changed, they’ll likely pat themselves on the back and congratulate themselves for being so concerned about Native Americans, then go back to watching Survivor. Meanwhile, back on the reservation …

    I take issue with it mostly because it’s IMO so transparently self-serving.

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  60. Mister Bluster says:

    @Tyrell:..What about the majority ?

    Majority of NFL players? Why don’t U ask them?

    At the start of the 2014 season, NFL surveys revealed that the league was approximately 68% African-American and about 28% white, with the remaining 4% comprising Asian/Pacific Islander, non-white Hispanics, and those preferring a Mixed Race category.

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  61. bill says:

    @Rafer Janders: so they’re part of the 10% that’s offended- tfb….and who the hell uses “redskin” as a slur towards indians anyways?! what is this, 1950 or something?
    it’s like “cracker” to white folks- it’s non-offensive at all, it’s kinda funny/lame too. i mean really, that’s the best slur blacks could come up with for white folks?!

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  62. wr says:

    @HarvardLaw92: “It’s not that they’re wrong for trying to change the name; it’s that they’re pretty unlikely to go any further about addressing the serious problems. Assuming they get the name changed, they’ll likely pat themselves on the back and congratulate themselves for being so concerned about Native Americans, then go back to watching Survivor. Meanwhile, back on the reservation …”

    Sure. Except maybe one out of what — 500? 1,000? — will come away from the experience educated and empowered and determined to actually try to do something about bigger problems. Many successful activists start with something small, something others describe as meaningless and self-serving. But you’ve got to start somewhere… and some people learn and grow.

    It seems to me that the wise and sophisticated people around here spend a lot of time making fun of people who are trying to make the world a better place — at least as they see it — instead of just watching Survivor. The ones who don’t bother, who never stop watching Survivor? Somehow we’ve decided those guys are superior to those who try, or who try and fail, or who try and are misguided, or who try and try again.

    It’s what I find so poisonous about the sneering at “social justice warriors.” It’s using the fact that some people with causes are annoying to declare that anyone trying to address any wrong in the country is just some silly hippy loser. (Unless of course they’re protesting that billionaires pay too much in taxes — then they are True Americans.)

    I’m so tired of the sanctimony of the sophisticated and the middle aged.

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  63. wr says:

    @bill: “it’s like “cracker” to white folks- it’s non-offensive at all, it’s kinda funny/lame too. i mean really, that’s the best slur blacks could come up with for white folks?!”

    Hey Stupid,

    The derogatory term “cracker” doesn’t refer to those little animals your mommy lets you eat when you get cranky. It refers to the guy who was literally cracking the whip over human beings who had been enslaved.

    Do you have any actual knowledge about anything?

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  64. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @wr:

    I left room for those few in my original comment, and those few impress me, but I think you’ll probably agree that the vast majority of folks engaged in this are, in the end, doing so for reasons of self-congratulation.

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  65. Lynn says:

    Houska: Regardless of WaPo Poll, Native Mascots Hurt Our Youth

    http://indiancountrytodaymedianetwork.com/2016/05/19/houska-regardless-wapo-poll-native-mascots-hurt-our-youth-164543

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  66. Tyrell says:

    @Mister Bluster: That is kind of what I was trying to point out.

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  67. Tyrell says:

    @Lynn: @KM: A few years ago the school board decided to change the mascot name of the high school that I attended. The name was in honor of Native American courage, strength, and athletic ability. They did this without asking the input of former and present students, teachers, principals, athletes, and booster clubs. Evidently a few people had complained or some school board members lost all reason. This ill advised, misguided decision ended up costing the taxpayers thousands of dollars that it took to change scoreboards, signs, emblems, and other mascot materials. The athletic booster clubs and alumni felt slighted and ignored in all of this. Their participation and help in school events fell off. The school’s athletic program has been in decline ever since. There is a lesson there somewhere

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  68. Tillman says:

    @Andre Kenji:

    “Gringo”, widely used against White Americans in Latin America is offensive and should not be used.

    Really? Could’ve sworn that wasn’t derogatory…

    Oh, it’s not necessarily offensive in Mexico but go any further south and it just means “white foreigner.”

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  69. Davebo says:

    @Tillman:

    I didn’t think Gweilo was derogatory when in Hong Kong and China. I was wrong.

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  70. Rafer Janders says:

    @HarvardLaw92:

    but I think you’ll probably agree that the vast majority of folks engaged in this are, in the end, doing so for reasons of self-congratulation.

    You know, someone with your documented history of vile racism on this site shouldn’t exactly be lecturing others on what those who are trying to combat racism feel.

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  71. HarvardLaw92 says:

    @Rafer Janders:

    Says the guy calling others effete. You’ll have to pardon my lack of concern about your opinion.

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  72. Mikey says:

    @Jc:

    If it does change, ok, but make it something representative of the DC area, not something stupid like “Wizards”

    Well, the Wizards used to be the Bullets…

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  73. Lynn says:

    @Tyrell: “A few years ago the school board decided to change the mascot name of the high school that I attended. The name was in honor of Native American courage, strength, and athletic ability. ”

    What was the name?

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  74. wr says:

    @HarvardLaw92: “t I think you’ll probably agree that the vast majority of folks engaged in this are, in the end, doing so for reasons of self-congratulation.”

    Not for a second. Partly because I’m not a mind reader. I can’t pretend to know what people are thinking. And the fact is, there are always multiple motivations for anything we do, including some we don’t really understand.

    But most I won’t agree because I don’t care about intentions. I care about actions. A doctor who flies to Africa to help eradicate Ebola because he’s always wanted to be famous is still a doctor risking his life to save others. A congressman who votes not to fund the fight against Zika because he truly believe Baby Jesus weeps at budget deficits is still risking uncountable microcephalic children. Intentions don’t matter.

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  75. Mikey says:

    @Andre Kenji:

    “Gringo”, widely used against White Americans in Latin America is offensive and should not be used.

    You know where I got called a “Gringo?”

    Rome.

    I was a bit surprised.

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  76. Tyrell says:

    @Lynn: Warriors

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  77. Andre Kenji says:

    @Tillman: @Tillman: Oh, it’s not necessarily offensive in Mexico but go any further south and it just means “white foreigner.”

    In Brazil is not offensive per se. But it´s generally used to treat White Europeans or White Americans(That are vulnerable to muggings) as different from other people. It´s generally used to refer to people outside of our social cycles. The gringo is always the *generic* “White Foreigner”. People don´t say that their husband is a gringo, or don´t refer to their “gringo” friends.

    There is a story that once Joao Gilberto asked Tom Jobim to say to Stan Getz, in English: “Say to this gringo that he is stupid”. And Tom only said to him: “Stan, Joao is saying his dream was to play with you”.

    That´s why even “benign” racial slurs are pretty offensive.

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  78. Lenoxus says:

    It’s pretty clear to me that the name should stay so that the resultant controversy will bring much-needed attention to Native American issues. Surely even Republicans would vote for actions that would help Indian communities, if such a vote could be combined with sneering at liberals who dislike a sports team name.

    Heck, let’s keep the Confederate flag everywhere it still flies so that criminal justice reform can finally happen. “You want to take away the flag?” conservatives will say. “Screw you, we’ll make cops wear body cams now! You want to rename Nathan Bedford Forrest High School? Screw you, we’ll enact slavery reparations!”

    That’s totally what’s gonna happen if the name doesn’t change.

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  79. jukeboxgrad says:

    someone with your documented history of vile racism on this site

    Newcomers who don’t know what you’re talking about might be interested in reviewing a summary of his comments about the “natives,” who are “shiftless” and “lazy.”

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  80. Lynn says:

    @Tyrell:

    You see the term “Warriors” and the term “Redskins” as equivalent?

    SMH

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  81. Tyrell says:

    @Lynn: No, but evidently someone did.

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  82. bill says:

    @wr: i asked some black friends where/why they got the term- they said “because you’re white, like crackers….” and no, i could care less about the origins of a lame anti-white slur that’s not offensive to me….stoopid is more like it.

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