Magic and PR are the same: Both rely on the audience being stupid. A magician and a PR flack both stand in front of a crowd and shout, "Here, let me show you how stupid I think you are!" The magician does it to entertain, so the insult isn't worth registering. The PR flack just thinks you're stupid. Well, at least that's what Washington Redskins owner Dan Snyder and his PR flacks think.
A rising tide of decency has placed Snyder in the unfamiliar position of public accountability because -- and prepare yourself for the shock of the following statement -- it turns out that super-rich racist white guys can never admit to being wrong about anything ever forever. In Snyder's case, it's his quixotic quest to prove that it's OK to own a football team named the Redskins, which, according to his letter, is a totally cool slur to use around Native Americans:
"I've been encouraged by the thousands of fans across the country who support keeping the Redskins tradition alive. Most -- by overwhelming majorities -- find our name to be rooted in pride for our shared heritage and values."
Yes, the super-rich racist white guy has decided for us that "redskin" is a perfectly acceptable slur that Native Americans love. If the prior choice of words seems offensive, consider which words are causing you offense. Anyway, this is all quite the trick to pull off, so Snyder's belief in your stupidity has compelled him to hit you with some grade-school misdirection. Armed with his self-aggrandizing conclusion after touring 26 tribal reservations covering 20 states, Snyder would also like to draw our attention to the outcome of the United States' centuries-long campaign of genocide and dehumanization against Native Americans.
As if to demonstrate how detached he is from any sense of irony, Snyder rattles off the same statistics that Native American advocates have long cited to demonstrate how casual use of the redskin slur reflects the entrenched marginalization of Native Americans. Predictably, it took Snyder -- a dim simulacrum of a thinking, feeling human -- the experience of seeing it for himself to feign the concern that he has happily ignored.
With this newfound performance of concern comes a commitment to supporting the Native American community. Snyder's Original Americans Foundation has already donated more than 3,000 cold-weather coats to tribes:
"'It's been one of the coldest winters on record,' Lower Brule Sioux Tribe Vice Chairman Boyd
Gourneau told me. 'The entire Tribe is so appreciative of the coats we received for our youth
and elders. It's been such a great relationship, and we hope it grows.'"
Did you see the trick? Snyder got Native Americans to go on record defending him, even as he refuses to stop calling them redskins. He gets away with this because rich people can buy many coats, and Native Americans are freezing to death. A fresh charity deduction on his taxes is all it costs someone of Snyder's wealth to secure allegiances, and that's not a judgment against the tribes accepting his charity. Native Americans were quite nearly wiped out by our government and then placed in far-flung segregation as every promise made to them was cruelly broken in plain sight. You don't have to tour the country to know that society has been rigged against anyone living on a tribal reservation. The redskin slur is a nasty ode to that legacy, but there's no turning down charity when you're freezing.
ESPN's Bomani Jones compared it on-air to Nino Brown handing out turkeys on Thanksgiving, but Snyder's game reeks more of Bill Gates pledging a fortune to education programs for the disadvantaged while also decrying imaginary mass welfare fraud by the disadvantaged. It's the same old "Here's A Check, Now I Can Say Whatever I Want" brand of philanthropy that is a disease unique to the super-wealthy.
Still, Snyder is offering charity to people who need it, so perhaps he deserves some slack. No, he doesn't, stupid. Dan Snyder is blithely using his $1.7 billion plaything to insult a brutally marginalized people and waving it all away by tossing a few gold coins to the crowd, turning to the camera and deadpanning, "Yeah, but that backflip though." He's buying his way out of admitting he's wrong -- this is the depth to which Snyder will sink so he can evade blame for perpetuating the documented bigotry and dehumanization responsible for the issues facing Native American communities today.
Dan Snyder wants you to believe he cares about Native Americans while calling them redskins. He believes you're stupid enough to fall for this. So, the question remains: Are you?