The Kelly File reacted to a letter by 50 U.S. Senators urging the N.F.L. demand the Washington Redskins change its name. First, guest Ben Shapiro whitesplained to Native Americans this should be "about a hundred on the list of issues facing Native American communities today." Later, host Megyn Kelly “asked” Shapiro for his thoughts on Congress “trying to, sort of, curtail the speech rights, basically of a professional football team.”
You may recall Ben Shapiro is the guy behind the bogus accusation that Chuck Hagel, then the Secretary of Defense nominee, accepted money from a group called “Friends of Hamas.” He’s also one of the guys behind the big Hannity “race tape” “exclusive” – revealing who then-law student Barack Obama hugged in 1990. The one that quickly became a Twitter joke. And the one that Shapiro complained the rest of the media was too lazy to uncover.
Not surprisingly, host Megyn Kelly mentioned none of that. Why cast any doubt on Shapiro’s upcoming scold of Native Americans? In addition to sportscaster – and Fox News contributor – Jim Gray (a man with a controversial history of his own), the lone voice advocating for the name change was Simon Moya-Smith, of Indian Country Today. He explained that the term “Redskin” is a “dictionary-defined slur.” He added, “So I don’t know where the debate is.”
Kelly asked, “You don’t see any distinction what’s in somebody’s head and what’s in somebody’s heart? Do you think that the team owner of the Redskins is a racist man?”
She showed no such skepticism with Shapiro when he condescendingly lectured Native Americans – and suggested they have no business complaining about anyone else but their own shiftless selves:
The political games that are being played here are absolutely ridiculous. The fact is that 49% of Native American kids were not graduating high school. As of 2010, only three were going on to college, only 10% of those were graduating in four years. And the Senate is focused on the name of the Washington Redsakins – as though that’s the biggest problem facing the Native American community? The name of the Washington Redskins is about a hundred on the list of issues facing Native American communities today.
It was just the same sensitivity we saw on Fox toward African Americans after George Zimmerman was acquitted - i.e. none. Fox made a point of using that time of anguish in the black community as an(other) opportunity to malign people of color.
Moya-Smith said, “Racial slurs toward Native Americans haven’t been rubbed out. …People think it’s OK to denigrate Native Americans because it’s ‘their tradition.’ What about our tradition?”
Again, Kelly deliberately cast doubt on his contention. She asked, “What does it mean to denigrate? Just to say the word? Because let’s take the N-word for example. If it’s uttered by certain people, it’s considered grossly offensive. If it’s uttered by certain people – rappers, for example – it’s not considered offensive. So the Washington Redskins – that name was born at a time that it wasn’t found offensive, and most of the fans don’t find it offensive, most of the nation doesn’t find it offensive. Now, today, you tell me some – some portion of folks do find it offensive. So what makes a name truly derogatory or not?”
Gray said the design and name were originally approved by the National Congress of American Indians. He didn’t mention that as far back as 1988, that same group was protesting the name. Gray also said he could guarantee that if they were naming the team today, it would not be named “Redskins.”
Which kind of made Moya-Smith’s point.
But Kelly turned to Shapiro for more attacks on those who want it changed. This time, Kelly came up with her ridiculous accusation that the senators are trying to stifle free speech.
Ben, what do you make of the fact that, that Congress seems – they have no problem, apparently, with trying to, sort of, curtail the speech rights, basically of a professional football team, based on their definition of what’s right and what’s not right.
Predictably, Shapiro took the bait:
It’s absolutely absurd. Congress shall make no law abridging the freedom of speech. Certainly, the spirit of that law would suggest that senators should not spend their time sending letters to private organizations about how they speak.
He went on to accuse the senators of calling for the name change “to distract from other issues.”
Well, of course it’s not as important as a tape of Obama hugging someone 20-plus years ago. But the fact of the matter is that the senators wrote a letter to the NFL. There was no law passed nor introduced.
You might say they were engaging in their speech rights.
But, like so much of the contemporary right-wing as presented by FoxNoise, it’s “My victimization is more important than yours.”
Something tells me that a certain group of people would be demanding Senate action to “curtail the speech rights” of a sports team.
Incidentally, shouldn’t the PLAYERS of the team have as much say in the matter? I seem to recall hearing/reading that a number of players on the Washington team want the name to be changed. It seems to me that FoxNoise and its kkkrew are only interested in the “speech rights” of the owner rather than the workers (aka “players”).