In what seems like the greatest Saturday Night Live sketch never written, Sarah Palin has leaped to the support of Mike Ditka in a battle against the forces of darkness threatening to strip the Washington Redskins of their team name.
Now, you're probably sick of hearing about the Redskins name battle, and we get that. So we'll give you two choices regarding this article. The "Too Long; Didn't Read" version is this: Sarah Palin and Mike Ditka like the Redskins name the way it is. There you go. You can bail out right now if you want, no hard feelings.
Still with us? Cool. Let's roll. The way Palin inserted herself into the Redskins controversy was a classic example of how the political media whips up a non-issue into a frothing partisan-tinged fight, then reacts with feigned horror and disgust to that exact fight that it just created. Here, let's walk through it, via The Washington Post. First, Ditka spoke out in support of the Redskins name in an interview with RedskinsHistorian.com:
“What’s all the stink over the Redskin name? It’s so much [expletive] it’s incredible. We’re going to let the liberals of the world run this world. It was said out of reverence, out of pride to the American Indian. Even though it was called a Redskin, what are you going to call them, a Proudskin? This is so stupid it’s appalling, and I hope that owner keeps fighting for it and never changes it, because the Redskins are part of an American football history, and it should never be anything but the Washington Redskins. That’s the way it is."
He went on from there, but you get the idea. Ditka was reacting to the recent decision by Tony Dungy and Phil Simms to stop using the word "Redskins" in their commentary. Some might say that when people who actually played the game of football, and won Super Bowls while doing so, are taking a new stand against an old belief, it might be time to re-evaluate your own position, but hey, Ditka is allowed to believe whatever he wishes to believe.
But here's where the story jumps the rails. Rush Limbaugh caught wind of Ditka's statements and leaped to the defense of Ditka -- or, more properly, used Ditka as yet another reason to attack the supposedly liberally-infested America:
“There’s a myth that everybody wants [the name] changed," Limbaugh said. "There is a myth that numbers, millions of people are routinely/profoundly offended by it. None of that’s true. Again, we’re dealing with a politically correct minority intent on having their way, and Ditka is just speaking up for people who say, “What the hell is this? There’s no real issue here! Nobody’s really upset. There’s more important stuff going on. Leave it alone! Hope the owner hangs in there.' Anyway, he works at ESPN, but I don’t know… I mean once this gets out, he’s at least gotta be suspended.”
Limbaugh parted ways with ESPN himelf for exactly this kind of fact-free straw man argument a few years back. (Note that if even 1 percent of America is offended by the name, that would in fact be "millions of people.")
However, in this case, ESPN will be allowing announcers and commentators to make their own decisions on whether to use the Redskins name. (In fairness, Limbaugh was speaking before ESPN made that statement. But Ditka, several days out from his statements, remains unsuspended and un-fired.)
Anyway, NewsMax jumped in with a headline that expanded Ditka's remarks broadly enough to run Refrigerator Perry through: "Rush Limbaugh: Ditka May Be Fired Over Redskins Remarks." Palin saw THAT headline and reacted, noting that "Coach Ditka may actually get fired for exercising America’s First Amendment." On Facebook, Palin wrote:
"Nothing should surprise us lately; but when the Politically Correct Police bust Ditka, they hope the silent majority will cower under leftist control. My goodness, Ditka merely spoke his mind. This accomplished and esteemed coach knows there are big issues to be addressed in America today; there’s no intent to offend by referring to a team by the name they’ve proudly worn since day one and chose with pride in our native ancestry and obviously had absolutely no intent to insult; and the liberal media’s made-up controversies divide our country. The government’s intent to force any owner of anything, in this case an NFL entity, to change a name is the antithesis of the American way of working through differences. Ditka said he actually likes the Washington Redskins, and he’s a man full of commonsense [sic] and admired patriotism."
She ends with the kind of of joke your uncle tells at Thanksgiving, about how the only offensive part of the team name is "Washington." This is a football story, so we're not going to deconstruct Palin's buzzword-laden stew except to say, very gently and with all due respect, that believe it or not, some real live common-sense patriotic Americans might actually believe differently on this issue. It's true.
Also worth noting: Ditka later elaborated, saying his problem was primarily with agitators unconnected to the name trying to change it. "If an American Indian says it’s offensive, that’s fine," Ditka said. "I’m all for changing it." Interesting twist to this argument, yes?
However, Palin, Limbaugh and Ditka are right about one thing. There are more important issues to be solved in Washington. Like, who's going to start at quarterback, Kirk Cousins or RG3?