In an interview with GQ (presented with the tagline “We keep getting older, and he just stays the same age”), Matthew McConaughey chimed in on the debate surrounding the name of the Washington Redskins football team:
What interests me is how quickly it got pushed into the social consciousness. We were all fine with it since the 1930s, and all of a sudden we go, “No, gotta change it”? It seems like when the first levee breaks, everybody gets on board. I know a lot of Native Americans don’t have a problem with it, but they’re not going to say, “No, we really want the name.” That’s not how they’re going to use their pulpit…
It’s not going to hurt me. It’s just… I love the emblem. I dig it. It gives me a little fire and some oomph. But now that it’s in the court of public opinion, it’s going to change. I wish it wouldn’t, but it will.
The poor thing! He’s going to lose some “oomph” because he can no longer treat a race of people as mascots for his football team.
But this gives me the opportunity to address an argument I didn’t address in my previous post on this issue. No, not the crap about “oomph,” I’m talking about the idea that because some Native Americans may not have a problem with the logo, that makes it all ok.
It should come as no surprise to anyone with a brain that no group of people is completely homogenous. Any given individual will have opinions and beliefs that differ from others in the group. But just because you can find a Native American who is fine with the name does not mean it’s not offensive.
In this case, we’re not even talking about one or two Native Americans objecting to the name. In fact, if it was only a few Native Americans, we probably would never have even heard about it. McConaughey seems to think Native Americans have this huge platform to speak from, like they all have the major news networks on speed dial for whenever they have something to say, but that’s just not true. They, like other minorities, have been actively silenced by the majority for a very, very long time. Maybe that’s why no one knew the Redskins name was offensive in 1930; the people who were offended weren’t allowed to speak. Even today, the fact that this issue is getting so much attention means that there are many people speaking up. Hell, the National Congress of American Indians even made a video against the name.
But no matter how many Native Americans are speaking up – one or a thousand – we shouldn’t be using the dissenting voices within a community (be they real or imagined) as an excuse to ignore the voices we don’t like. It’s not rocket science. A community is speaking out to say that a word is not only offensive, but is actually harming their ability to feel like an equal part of society. That should be enough.
Still, Matthew just knows in his bones that there are Native Americans who wouldn’t be such buzzkills. Who would let him keep his “fire” and “oomph” and racist logos. If only these people would use their platform to speak out on behalf of Matthew McConaughey’s oomph!