Top Reform bodies renew call for Redskins to change name, logo


Two top Reform movement groups reiterated their call on the Washington Redskins NFL franchise to change its name and logo.

“’Redskin’ is a racial slur that references the deplorable treatment of American Indians that has been a significant part of this country’s history,” Rabbi Jonah Pesner, who heads Reform’s Religious Action Center, said in a letter delivered Monday to the franchise’s headquarters by “Change the Mascot,” a group advocating for the change.

“The logo, seemingly attempting to draw upon the archetype of an Indian warrior, blatantly mocks a culture that struggles to survive,” said the letter, addressed to Dan Snyder, who is Jewish, and who in the past has called on Jewish groups to defend him against what he perceived to be anti-Jewish slurs.

Also writing to the team was the Reform movement’s Central Conference of American Rabbis.

“The intransigence of Redskins ownership is appalling, particularly in light of the tremendous offense that Native American Indians continue to experience as a result of the team’s inappropriate, insulting name,” said the letter signed by Rabbi Denise Eger, the CCAR president, and Rabbi Steven Fox, its CEO.

Reform bodies have advocated for a change of name for the team for decades. The Anti-Defamation League has also repeatedly called for a name-change.

U.S. Patent Office cancels trademarks of NFL’s Redskins


The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office has canceled the federal trademarks for the National Football League's Washington Redskins because they disparage Native Americans, the agency said on Wednesday.

The decision by a Patent Office administrative tribunal followed years of criticism of the Washington club by Native Americans and others who say the name is a slur.

Five Native Americans had petitioned to overturn six Redskins trademarks, and evidence showed that “Redskins” was disparaging of Native Americans, the Patent Office said in a statement.

“Thus, the federal registrations for the 'Redskins' trademarks involved in this proceeding must be canceled,” the agency said.

The decision can be reviewed by a federal court. The ruling does not mean that the trademarks can no longer be used by the NFL club, only that they are no longer registered, the statement said.

A Redskins spokesman could not be reached immediately for comment.

Team owner Daniel Snyder has defied calls for 14 years to change the club's name and logo, which dates from the 1930s. The franchise has come under increasing fire over the name.

Half the U.S. Senate, all of them Democrats, last month urged the NFL to endorse a name change for the franchise. Senator Maria Cantwell, a Washington Democrat whose name led the letter, called the ruling a “landmark decision.”

“I hope that all the business decisions at the team will be made with the understanding that this is no longer a business case and we will get off of this slur of a name that we need to change,” she said on the Senate floor.

President Barack Obama also has weighed in, saying before the ruling that if he owned the team he would consider changing the name.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said in January that most football fans and Americans supported the Redskins keeping their name.

The named petitioner in the case, Blackhorse v. Pro Football Inc, is Amanda Blackhorse, a Navajo psychiatric social worker.

In a USA Today profile this year, Blackhorse said she had considered what she might say to Snyder if she ever met him.

“I’d ask him, ‘Would you dare call me a redskin, right here, to my face?’” she said. “And I suspect that, no, he would not do that.”

The plaintiffs had largely made the same argument as those who filed a trademark suit in 1992. The Patent Office canceled the trademarks in 1999, but the decision was overturned on appeal.

A judge ruled in that case that the petitioners had waited too long to assert their rights after the first Redskins' trademark was issued in 1967.

Redskins’ owner suing paper for defamation, claims anti-Semitism


Washington Redskins’ owner Daniel Snyder has filed a defamation lawsuit against an alternative D.C. newspaper, claiming in part that the paper’s depiction of him was anti-Semitic.

Snyder, who has owned the National Football League’s Redskins since 1999 and also owns the Six Flags amusement park chain, filed a $2 million lawsuit Wednesday against Atalaya Capital Management, which owns the Washington City Paper. The suit claims that the paper defamed Snyder in a November cover story that featured an encyclopedic account of how he has allegedly mishandled both his football team and his business.

Among Snyder’s complaints in the suit are that the paper has run some 50 columns attacking him since he bought the Redskins, and that the latest, written by Dave McKenna, included an anti-Semitic depiction of him in a photograph. The picture, which obviously was doctored, showed a headshot of Snyder with a devil’s horns and goatee scrawled over his image.

“Simply put, no reasonable person would accept the publication of these types of false, malicious, and/or defamatory statements about them or their spouses,” the lawsuit says, according to NBCWashington.com. “Nor would any reasonable person tolerate an anti-Semitic caricature of himself or herself prominently displayed on the front pages of a newspaper containing false and malicious allegations.”

The City Paper has denied that the image was anti-Semitic.

“The story didn’t mention Snyder’s religion at all,” it wrote on its City Desk blog Feb. 2. “And the illustration is meant to resemble the type of scribbling that teenagers everywhere have been using to deface photos for years. The image of Snyder doesn’t look like an ‘anti-Semitic caricature’—it looks like a devil.

“But we at City Paper take accusations of anti-Semitism seriously—in part because many of us are Jewish, including staffers who edited the story and designed the cover. So let us know, Mr. Snyder, when you want to fight the real anti-Semites.”

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