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WILLIAMSBURG, Va. — One of only two Native American members of Congress said that the Washington Redskins should change its team name because it is racially offensive to the minority group.
Rep. Tom Cole, R-Okla., an enrolled member of the Chickasaw Nation, said on Thursday that he finds the name, a racial descriptor for indigenous Americans, deeply offensive and feels strongly that it should be changed.
“Come on. This is the 21st century. This is the capital of political correctness on the planet,” he said. “It is very, very, very offensive. This isn’t like warriors or chiefs. It’s not a term of respect, and it’s needlessly offensive to a large part of our population. They just don’t happen to live around Washington, D.C.”
He noted there is precedent for changing a name: The Washington Bullets changed its name to the Wizards out of sensitivity to the high rate of murders in the city. Other offensive ethnic terms attached to team names would not be tolerated, Cole said, so neither should this.
“It’s a great football team with a great football tradition, and it shouldn’t have a name that’s derogatory to Native Americans attached to it,” added Cole, who said he roots for the team’s chief rival, the Dallas Cowboys.
Cole was for a long time the only Native American in Congress. That changed this month when Rep. Markwayne Mullin, R-Okla., a member of the Cherokee Nation, was sworn in.
The Redskins has long drawn consternation for its name, but the controversy has been given a new life since the team drafted star quarterback Robert Griffin III and made a playoff run this season.
Still, Cole said he doesn’t plan to push the issue, saying instead that it is up to the ownership of the team to make the decision.