Friday, August 9, 2013

The Magazine Formerly Known as Slate

This is the last Nuking Politics article that will refer to the online current affairs and culture publication as “Slate” (unless we forget and do it anyway).

Slate has announced that it will no longer refer to the east coast NFL team as the Washington Redskins, due to the word’s disparaging connotations. The word I am referring to is, of course, “Washington.”

Seriously, the magazine’s editor, David Plotz, whose last name happens to be Yiddish slang for being aggravated to the point of exploding, says that for decades, Native American activists and others (read community organizers) have been haranguing the Redskins to change their name.

The publication will henceforth refer to the team as the “Washington NFL team,” or “that team with a name that some say is inherently offensive and must change, because we pompous high-hats need to complain about something in our futile struggle for relevance.”

The premise behind this cause is that if you are a historically oppressed minority, your primary duty is to protest any perceived affront. If you don’t, then you are subject to a number of egregious infringements — such as being elected to the U.S. Senate in a state named after its indigenous population, while maintaining, despite all evidence to the contrary, that you are of Cherokee Indian heritage.

This is not an isolated problem. Sports teams across the country are facing mounting pressure from various interest groups to ditch their offensive monikers. For instance, natives of a certain North Atlantic island are rightfully dismayed at the use of a mascot depicting a mythical, vertically challenged, stereotypically bellicose caricature.

And how about the mascot of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln? Herbie Husker is a pasty white figure, sporting a red work shirt, blue jeans, work boots, and a red cowboy hat emblazoned with a large “N.” N? What’s that supposed to mean?

This guy looks about as much “like America” as President Obama’s cabinet.

It is in this spirit that I must protest the use of the word “Slate” as a title, especially for a publication known for its progressive bent. Some of the first adjectives that come up in a thesaurus search as synonyms for slate are “dark” and “inky.” Go ahead and look at some photos of Slate’s editors, and tell me if those words come to mind.

If you’re looking for ethnic diversity, a better choice might be the roster of any NFL team.

Instead, I suggest that the magazine choose a more appropriate name. I’ve already submitted a potential logo.


You’re welcome, Mr. Plotz. Now go and sin no more.


  1. it occurred to me that the Redskins should seek an injunction against Slate reporting on them. if Slate singles them out by not using the full, correct and legal name, this is clearly bias and racial discrimination.

    also, the Nebraska team you cite was once known as "the bug eaters".FYI

    1. The Bug Eaters handle would surely be embraced by those who believe that, short of human extinction, such a regimented diet would be the next best measure to save the planet.

  2. “that team with a name that some say is inherently offensive and must change, because we pompous high-hats need to complain about something in our futile struggle for relevance.”

    I don't know, Les...

    I think THAT name is brilliant. I'm gonna call them that from now on :)

    1. Thanks! Yes, or we could always go with TTWANTSSIHOAMCBWPHHNTCASIOFSFR -- as in "What's the over/under on the Steelers/TTWANTSSIHOAMCBWPHHNTCASIOFSFR game?"

    2. Obviously, the justified paragraph style was not programmed with such convenient initialisms in mind.