When people point out that racism is an integral part of every facet of American society, very few individuals who adhere to the mainstream ideology believe this to be true. In fact, many will fight that idea with every breath in their bodies.
However, just because they chose to put up a legal fight doesn’t mean that institutional racism is not a cancer that infects every facet of society. It simply means that such a thing is so inherent to the American cultural structure that it’s very difficult for them not to put up a fight in the name of patriotism. They don’t know any better.
The recent dialectic over the racist origins of the Washington Redskins’ moniker is just such a situation.
The Redskins were founded by George Preston Marshall, a vehement segregationist, in 1932. For most of the team’s existence, there hasn’t been a peep out of anyone regarding changing the name to something less racist. However, that conversation began in earnest in the ’90s. Over the past five years since current owner Dan Snyder purchased the team, that conversation has gained more steam.
In 2014, the United States patent office cancelled the Redskins trademark registration, saying on the grounds that the name was disparaging. We knew this Snyder wasn’t going to go quietly due to the depth of his pockets and the shallowness of his perspective on why it’s simply not a good idea.
On June 19, the United States Supreme Court sided with Snyder, stating that a 71-year-old trademark law barring disparaging terms infringes upon free speech. Yup, according to the ruling, every American has the right to disparage any ethnic, religious or racial minority they so chose.
“It offends a bedrock First Amendment principle: Speech may not be banned on the ground that it expresses ideas that offend,” Justice Alito said in his opinion for the court.
So, from what I’m able to surmise, the First Amendment gives everyone the right to be a racist. It doesn’t matter that racist speech, trademarks or mascots offend a certain segment of society and embolden the weak-minded to act out. The First Amendment gives them every right to do so. ‘Murica. Gotta love it…or not.