Rush Limbaugh, who will blame Barack Obama for anything and everything, is blaming the president for the Washington Redskins’ lost trademark. To be clear, the term “redskin” is a racial epithet, and has been considered a racial epithet for a long time. Limbaugh, however, thinks that Obama overstepped his bounds in revoking the trademark, and that this has apparently never happened before. In fact, it appears that he thinks the controversy surrounding the Redskins name is something new that wouldn’t happen if Obama weren’t in office.
The move won’t force the team to change its name, although they probably will because they no longer have exclusive rights to the name or the logo, meaning they could lose money on merchandising. According to the decision, a large segment of the Native American population — approximately 30 percent — find the term to be disparaging.
Limbaugh thinks that this decision is akin to the federal government taking away people’s doctors, and also compared it to Obama unilaterally shutting down all coal-fired plants “in the name of a hoax, global warming.” A little while later, he says:
“So you go ahead, you cheer, and a lot of people are, you go ahead and cheer the stripping of trademark rights of the Washington Redskins at your own risk. I know some of you might be saying, ‘Well, what about the Florida Seminoles?’ What about the Runnin’ Rebels? That’s a team mascot name. That probably offends a lot of northerners. The Runnin’ Rebels? How about the Fighting Irish?
I know what you’re saying, ‘Rush, nobody’s complaining about those.’ That’s right, not yet, is the answer. You let them get away with this, and this is not the end of anything. This is not the solution to some cultural problem resulting in the consistent, constant pain of being offended felt by a few people. This will be the beginning — I should say, actually, the continuation of even more all-out assaults on private property rights if they offend anybody that’s enshrouded in political correctness, is a leftist or believes it and simply wants to deny you what is yours.”
Limbaugh is either closed in a more opaque bubble than we originally thought, or he’s willfully ignorant, because outrage over team names and mascots have been going on for a long time. First of all, UNLV’s “Runnin’ Rebels” isn’t a derogatory term referring to a race of people. It refers to UNLV’s emergence as an basketball power, once in the shadow of its bigger, older brother, the University of Nevada-Reno. In effect, they “rebelled” against UNR. However, that name has not been without controversy. They first used a wolf in Confederate-type clothing as their mascot, which the student body voted to change to a soldier of the Revolution later on, which evolved into a pioneer figure. Eventually, they went with “Hey Reb,” and both the name and mascot symbolize southern Nevada’s discontent with ongoing dependence on Reno.
Florida State University has been embroiled in controversy for their use of the name “Seminoles,” though the university has an agreement with the Seminole Tribal Council for that. The Seminole Nation, most of which lives in Oklahoma, and not Florida, opposes the name and wants the university to get rid of it.
The University of Illinois was forced to do away with Chief Illiniwek back in 2007, but they were allowed to keep the name “Fighting Illini” as referring to the state, and not the tribal nation. They were under sanctions from the NCAA because of Chief Illiniwek, and could not host post-season games. That controversy had been going on for nearly 20 years.
The University of North Dakota faced similar pressure from the NCAA for their “Fighting Sioux” nickname and logo. The NCAA told them they could keep them if they got approval from the various Sioux tribes in the state, but when one failed to give their permission, North Dakota’s board of education decided to do away with the name.
Fans of the Cleveland Indians have been upset about that team’s logo for some time. In fact, many fans have taken to stripping Chief Wahoo off their Indians attire. Earlier this year, one fan said he wouldn’t be surprised if a similar movement takes place with the Washington Redskins. Native Americans are unhappy about the logo also, to the point of protesting outside of Indians’ games. While the Indians have taken to replacing Chief Wahoo with a red letter “C” on their uniforms, they haven’t officially retired him.
The Stanford Cardinal used to be the Stanford Indians. They dropped their mascot in favor of one of their colors for a nickname, and adopted the Stanford Tree as their mascot. In 1970 (1970!!) a group of Native Americans petitioned Stanford to change their mascot and their nickname. In 1972, 55 Native American students presented a petition to the university’s ombudsman, who turned it over to the university’s president, about discontinuing their use of the Indian mascot and nickname. In 1981, they officially became the Stanford Cardinal.
USAToday did mention that PETA has weighed in on the use of the word “Gamecocks,” for a nickname at both the University of South Carolina and Jackson (Ala.) State, because it comes from a horrible and abusive blood sport in which animals are maimed, and die, for people’s financial gain.
One has to wonder just how Limbaugh could possibly be unaware of all of that. He thinks the Redskins controversy is new, is one of the first (if not the first) of its kind, and that it’s Obama’s fault.
Something else Limbaugh is apparently unaware of is the fact that this is actually the second time the Patent and Trademark office has cancelled the Redskins’ trademark. The first time was in 1999, but an appeals court overturned that decision in 2003. President Obama said that, if he owned the team, he’d change the name, and 50 members of Congress sent a letter to the NFL asking them to force a name change, but neither of these actions can actually do anything. They just express sentiments.
So this is nothing new, and has nothing to do with Obama, whatever Limbaugh wants to say. He’s clearly not paying any attention; the Patent and Trademark Office’s decision was in response to a case before the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board, Blackhorse v. Pro Football Inc. The case itself was symbolic because cancelling a trademark doesn’t force a name and logo change. This wasn’t done on a whim. It wasn’t an order from Obama. It’s not something that happened suddenly, with no warning. But Limbaugh, in his ongoing witch hunt against liberals, will never see that.
Listen to Rush Limbaugh’s rant.