Brian Birdnow

The current politically correct imbroglio over the Washington Redskins and owner Daniel Snyder’s stout refusal to appease the bloodhounds on his trail by surrendering will probably soon pass, regardless of the eventual outcome. The demands of the modern 24-hour news cycle guarantee that this will not last too long. This mini-controversy does, however, serve to illustrate the nature of the manufacturing of public opinion by the standard bearers of cultural liberalism and their allies in the mass media, circa 2013. Simply put, the Left decides that something is “offensive” and uses its media access to declare this object impermissible, or “out of bounds” to use a gridiron term. The media then goes to work and, through relentless pressure, convinces huge numbers of people that the media view is the only legitimate vision, thereby silencing opposition.

Consider the current controversy over the Washington Redskins. The political correctness police have been on this so-called issue for a number of years. Those readers with long memories can return to those thrilling days of yesteryear, namely the early 1990s. The Left raised a ruckus in those years over the Kansas City Chiefs, the Florida State Seminoles and the Atlanta Braves, respectively. Most Americans, with the exception of certain craven university administrators, dismissed this tempest as a classic example of self-conscious political correctness, complete with the requisite dollop of preening moral superiority that characterizes these exercises. The matter then rested, albeit uneasily, for roughly twenty years.

Now interested people can sense an indecisive NFL commissioner who is susceptible to pressure, and might cave on the issue. President Obama got into the act last week and suggested that the Redskins should change their nickname because, “…it offends a sizable group of people.” Since the Left now has the official sanction of their leader this becomes a crusade. The mass media will take up the issue, framing it as a morality play with those who insist on the Redskins changing their nickname cast as the heroes, and the die-hards who cling to tradition characterized as the villains. The media echo chamber will attempt to quell dissenters by hurling invective and abuse in their direction, thereby intimidating most people into silence. The Left will deal with the last holdouts by isolating them and letting them no that they are no longer invited to the party.

Brian Birdnow

Brian E. Birdnow is a historian and teaches at a university in the St. Louis area.