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Ken Lipshez

Stop moaning about logos and start governing

I’ve never been a Washington Redskins fan and I never will be, but I suddenly feel a kinship with those guys wearing hog snouts and female garb in light of the recent developments.

In fact, I even woke up humming, “Hail to the Redskins.”

Senators like Harry Reid of Nevada and our own Chris Murphy and Richard Blumenthal signed legislation demanding that the Redskins change their name. I was hoping they meant the “Washington” part, but that obviously wasn’t the case.

In an era I never could have contemplated on even dark, rainy nights, people who are supposed to be trying to represent their constituents in an effort to make life better in our nation are actually immersed in the notion of changing a sports team’s nickname?

Our bridges crumble, our health care system is in disarray, young people are killing each other because it’s OK to do on video games and in the movies, we reduce services that are working and desperately needed, and here are Murphy and Blumenthal fanning the flames of absurdity with the inane notion that the Redskins’ owners are intolerant because of a nickname established 80 years ago.

Let’s assume the minority of those who actually care win the battle, place a hammerlock on ‘Skins owner Daniel Snyder and rescue those Native American victims who suddenly feel insulted by a notion that was instituted to pay tribute to their bravery and strength.

Where does the nickname nonsense go from here?

Let’s take a close look at the NFL team I do root for: the New York Giants. Is it intolerant to the uncommonly big people we’ve known like Andre “The Giant” Roussimoff, Ted “Lurch” Cassidy, Peter “Chewbacca” Mayhew, Richard Kiel (Burt Reynolds’ defensive end in “The Longest Yard), Wilt “The Stilt” Chamberlain, Gheorghe Muresan, Yao Ming, etc.?

Why don’t we change the team’s nickname to the New York Six-Footers?

Conversely, I haven’t heard a groundswell to do away with the youth football division known as Midgets? I googled Midget Football and didn’t find any protest movements on the part of those afflicted with dwarfism.

And Mr. Murphy, what is your opinion of the nickname that appears to reflect on folks of your ethnicity in much the same way Redskins do to Native Americans? The Notre Dame Fighting Irish, as if you don’t know, features a caricature of a pugnacious leprechaun that may be construed by some as a racist statement, kind of like the people who have turned on the Cleveland Indians’ flag-bearer, old Chief Wahoo.

Not me, mind you. It makes me think of the “Fighting 69th,” the New York City-based regiment that made the Union proud during the Civil War. It also has been immortalized in a wonderful movie starring the pugnacious Irish actor James Cagney and, Senator Murphy, in song by a popular Boston-based rock band, the Dropkick Murphys.

Trust me, Senator Murphy, I don’t mean that as a political statement.

Regarding nicknames, I covered the Farmington High Indians for many years and back in the early 1990s. A particularly left-leaning, despotic principal demanded that the school give up the Indians mascot and logo. He provided two options: either stop using it,or change it.

He had already taken it upon himself to have janitors whitewash an artistically rendered logo that adorned the gymnasium wall, created diligently and lovingly by a Class of 1980 grad.

I received a call from a distraught athlete/Student Council rep who urged me to be in the school courtyard Monday morning, 10 a.m. A protest that proved democracy was still alive and well crushed the principal’s vendetta and helped usher him out the door.

When Southington teams and their followers next go to Farmington, they can think about two things:

1) Farmington remains the Indians, a tribute to the Tunxis tribes that lived along the shores of the Farmington River before and during the arrival of European settlers.

2) A generic Indian logo was hastily transcribed on the gymnasium wall.

Senators, if the State of Connecticut, suffering acutely from one-party domination, was in tiptop shape, perhaps turning your thoughts to sports mascots and logos would be permissible.

If the highway infrastructure was sound, if the I-84 project in Cheshire had been completed without epic mishandling, if you could find a way so that motorists from New York and Boston passing through could contribute to the general fund instead of the double-taxing us on gasoline, then petition until your hearts are content.

Perhaps Snyder can change the nickname to Senators, but that’s already been tried. It comes of no surprise that team has been relegated to scrap heap of history. Now let’s see if we can prevent our state and country from being so relegated.

So let me hear it now, boys. Clear your voices and sing that catchy tune that I hope we don’t hear too often during games next fall.

“Hail to the Redskins, Stand by your game. Hail to the Redskins, Reject the notion you must change your name.”



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