We're All Redskins Now
Conservatives should be disabused of any notion that the recent revocation of the Redskins’ trademark by the US Patent Office had anything at all to do with the disparagement of Native Americans, real or perceived.
On the contrary, the exercise in political correctness is not about aggrieved Native Americans. It’s about the power to redistribute wealth and to eliminate private property. Essentially, the Left has declared that no person’s or company’s trademark (or patent) is safe. Get together a group of lawyers who are experts in victimization and who have access to some aggrieved group, find a trademark name -- or even an invention -- offensive and go at it. Now everyone can have a chunk of the Redskins franchise. It’s been equitably redistributed among the masses -- if any of the proletariat actually wants to risk being called “racist.”
It should be noted the real issue for the Left is not that the Redskins trademark is egregiously offensive. The real issue is about the power to control any entity that will not adhere to the current politically correct commandments. It is about targeting anyone who has bad, bad thoughts. For instance, companies with perfectly innocuous trademark names like Chick-fil-A and Hobby Lobby have as their CEOs people who think, according to liberals, “disparaging thoughts.” Therefore, those companies also should be driven out of business and their CEOs turned out to beg on the streets or forced to enter thought reform classes.
The contrived controversy over the term “Redskin” indicates the devolution of the law into linguistic analysis. Somewhere, everywhere, there is a Stasi-like human being in the IRS or the NSA who is poring over every word any given person is saying. Actual transgression of or actual guilt before the law? Jettisoned as inconsequential. Guilt is affixed because of a word or thought deemed unspeakable or unthinkable by leftist thought police who analyze every twitch of vocabulary in order to find transgression. Every word of a conservative is parsed as carefully as preachers search for the meaning of holy writ.
In brief, the Left has abrogated to itself -- to mere humans -- the god-like power to declare a person or persons guilty on the basis of one, solitary misspoken word; one suspect trademark.
It’s all very dangerous stuff.
For one thing, playing linguistic footsie with words like “offensive,” “disparaging,” “racist” and “hater” means those words take on the same amorphous meaning as certain words used in the Soviet Union (and Maoist China) to get rid of political opponents. Certain vague, all encompassing terms were used against innocent citizens in order to give the government the authority it wanted to attack, arrest and send millions to the gulag.
“Hooligan” was one such term. It was employed with great effectiveness to incarcerate just about anyone the government wanted to get rid of.
As Brian Lapierre wrote in his abstract, “Making Hooliganism on a Mass Scale,” in 1956, the Russian government decided to crack down on what it called its accelerating “hooligan” problem by handing out sentences for the crime of hooliganism to a huge number of people. He writes:
“With the passage of the 1956 RSFSR petty hooligan decree, the state created a less serious form of hooliganism and a less serious form of hooligan punishment in order to combat this multivalent criminal category's most minor and mundane manifestations. The petty hooligan decree, by watering down the definition of hooliganism, transformed the commonplace borderline behaviors of the everyday into imprisoning offenses. By defining deviance downward, it made millions of ordinary citizens, whose behaviors would earlier have escaped punishment, into hooligans; exposed them to police power that was often arbitrary and unregulated; and dragged them through a degrading detention process. The petty hooligan decree shows us that 1956 was more than a year of liberalizing political reform. It was also a time of increased prosecution, coercive refashioning and aggressive state intolerance towards an expanding array of outsider identities.”
Two other favorite terms during the Stalin era were “undetected criminals” and “wreckers.” The search for “wreckers (saboteurs) resulted in show trials of engineers, who were deemed “enemies of the People”—another favorite catchall phrase now summed up by the current Left by the term “Republican.” It seems the entire GOP is filled with “arsonists,” “jihadists” and “terrorists?” In fact, though most did not know it, the military is loaded with evangelical Christians who are also “terrorists?”
It is scarcely a stretch to see that the words “racist,” “hater,” and even “offensive,” and “disparaging” can be and are being used to condemn masses of basically decent folks who are for the Left, “undetected criminals.”
All the above is nothing new, of course.
The Prophet Isaiah was quite familiar with those who targeted the innocent with frivolous accusations. And he had strong words of condemnation for them.
He wrote there were those “who with a word make a man out to be guilty.” In other words, there were people who caused a person to be indicted because of one word. The accusers were ready to defraud the innocent with meaningless arguments, making a man an offender for a mere word—a word inadvertently spoken without any intent to harm; or a word without any bad meaning.
The result was that any person could be condemned on frivolous pretences; actually, for nothing at all.
What Isaiah had to say about those who condemned the innocent for a mere word applies to the manufactured Redskins non-controversy. By using the now catchall word “racist,” or some other vague word like “disparaging,” the Left seeks to destroy the entire franchise by making it essentially worthless.
The Redskins controversy is not the first time the tactics have been employed; and doubtless, it will not be the last. But if history is any indicator of where such tactics lead, the targeting of the innocent for a mere word is a sure sign of tyranny.
It must be stopped.
Time to go on the warpath.
Fay Voshell is a frequent contributor to American Thinker. Her articles have appeared in National Review, PJMedia, RealClearReligion and other online publications. She holds a M.Div. from Princeton Theological Seminary, where she received an award for excellence in systematic theology. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org