OK... first, a warning: at the start, at least, I'm going to be writing about Sports (but only by way of analogy to what will- eventually- be the main point of this piece).
For the last several years, there has been controversy over the nickname of the NFL franchise representing Our Nation's Capital-- this being the Washington Redskins. Every year said controversy seems to reach a crescendo not too many weeks after the National Football League Draft of college players in late April and whirrs on, much like the sound of Annual Cicadas, through the summer at least up till the NFL season itself kicks off in early September (at which time the playing of games that count in the Standings of the Clubs seems to reduce this controversy to the proverbial "dull roar", though it never completely goes away before it seems to pick up again come the ensuing off-season).
The very reason for this controversy is, of course, altogether obvious: "redskin" being an ethnic slur utilized against- indeed, a most derisive term for- Native American 'Indians' (regardless of Tribe or Nation) here in North America.
The use of this nickname actually originated in Boston: before there ever were the (Boston, then New England) Patriots, a professional football club that only dates back to 1960, the NFL had previously awarded a franchise to the 'Hub of the Universe (or, at least, New England)' back in 1932.
This team was originally known as the Boston Braves in order to create a clear connection to one of the city's then-two baseball teams (a not uncommon practice back when- while it may seem hard to believe nowadays [what with the Super Bowl having, long ago now, well eclipsed Baseball's World Series as the premier sporting event in North America]- professional [American] Football was considered an at least somewhat unworthy variant on college Football every autumn, while Baseball was clearly what it still calls itself- the "National Pastime": for example, the Chicago Bears are so named in order to have created a strong association with Baseball's Chicago [bear] Cubs; when the NFL placed a team in Detroit in 1934, it called itself the Lions [because the city's Baseball team was, and still is, the Tigers], etc.)... indeed, the NFL Boston Braves played its first season at Braves Field (now my alma mater Boston University's Nickerson Field)!
But, for the next season , the NFL Boston Braves moved their venue to Fenway Park- home of the other Baseball team in 'the Hub' back then, the Boston Red Sox- and, with that, the team's name was changed to the Boston Redskins (thereby allowing the team to keep its 'Indian'-related logos from its one year as 'the [football] Braves', yes, but also to establish the new connection with the Red Sox-- get it?)...
after four more years in Beantown, however, the Redskins moved to Washington and, thereafter, would annually get to (to here quote from the team's own song Hail to the Redskins) "fight for old D.C.".
The nickname itself reflects an era in which calling Native Americans "redskins" hardly raised so much as an eyebrow (well... at least amongst those who were/are not Native American!-- though even those of Native American 'Indian' descent were not at all loath to join in: the first Head Coach of the newly renamed Boston Redskins- William Henry "Lone Star" Dietz- was himself a Native American [well-- at least allegedly: for there is much controversy even here, as recent evidence suggests that Dietz might actually have been a white man (albehe one with facial features easily allowing him to do so) masquerading as an 'Indian' in order to be able to attend the Carlisle (Pa.) Industrial School for Indians, where he would be coached by the legendary 'Pop' Warner and become a football teammate of, arguably, the greatest all-around athlete the United States of America has ever produced- Jim Thorpe (was actually was Native American); however, it should be noted that- if this all was mere pretense- Dietz maintained it to the end of his life (he died at age 79 in 1964) though he did clearly- and very early on-"fudge" his birthplace, claiming nativity on a Reservation in South Dakota when he was really born in Wisconsin [where his father would serve as an elected County Sheriff (thus, at best, Dietz was a so-called 'half-breed')])], yet Dietz reportedly dressed his leading Redskins players in faux feathered headdress and war paint in order to promote the team at the start of the '33 season [then again, we must remember that this was at the height of the Great Depression when there was, truly, "no such thing as bad publicity"!])...
and even *I* am old enough to remember American children (back when I was still a child) playing "Cowboys and Redskins" (when it wasn't called "Cowboys 'n' Injuns", where not the more grammatically correct "Cowboys and Indians"-- as if that made any real difference)!
But these facts do nothing to at all change the uglier fact that calling a Native American a "redskin" is very much along the same lines as dropping the dreaded 'N-word' on an African-American (even though some American Blacks- usually those who tend to be younger- seemingly have no qualms whatsoever about applying that same pejorative term to themselves).
This continuing controversy over the nickname of the Washington Redskins, however, has lately taken a rather bizarre turn:
for, this past 11 June, a letter to members of the Congress of the United States from NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell (himself the son of the late Charles Goodell, the man who- in 1968- was appointed [by then-New York Governor (and future Vice President) Nelson Rockefeller] to fill the vacancy in the United States Senate created when Bobby Kennedy was assassinated [the elder Goodell, as the Republican candidate for a full 6-year term in the Senate in the 1970 Elections, would- along with Democrat Richard Ottinger- lose to the Conservative Party's James Buckley, brother of noted (at the time) conservative publisher and broadcast commentator William F. Buckley]) was made public, one in which Commissioner Goodell defended the NFL's Washington franchise keeping the nickname 'Redskins'.
Goodell's letter was dated 5 June 2013 (by coincidence, the 45th anniversary of when Bobby Kennedy had been shot) and claimed that the nickname 'Redskins', as used by the football team, has a positive meaning distinct from any disparagement that could be viewed in some other context and, therefore, one not intended to denigrate Native Americans or offend any group and that, as such, instead serves as a unifying force that stands for strength, courage, pride and respect...
That last argument might be rather well made for, say, the Golden State Warriors of the National Basketball Association or Major League Baseball's Atlanta Braves (the same team- by the way- that, while still in Boston, had given the franchise now known as the Washington Redskins their original nickname [as already described above])...
even the Cleveland Indians might get something of a "hall pass" here (if only on grounds that one Louis Sockalexis, a Penobscot originally from Maine, had played baseball for the old [late 19th Century] Cleveland Blues [aka Spiders]- although the story that the team renamed itself the 'Indians' in order to specifically honor Sockalexis [who had died a little over a year before the change was made going into the 1915 season] is apocryphal [likely, the newly christened 'Indians' were simply "piggy-backing" on the success of the previous season's "Miracle" Boston Braves (there they are again!) who had won the 1914 World Series]; the older Cleveland club was alternatively known as the 'Indians' while Sockalexis played for them [though this was far more because the team's catcher happened to be one 'Chief' Zimmer (who was decidedly not Native American: he had gotten his nickname from his being the player-manager of a minor league team in Poughkeepsie called the 'Indians' back in the early 1880s)] and Sockalexis was memorialized in contemporaneous newspaper editorials at the time the present Cleveland team was so named)-- though such a "pass" should not include the Cleveland Indians' grinning, red-faced logo/mascot 'Chief Wahoo'!
However, no such argument as Goodell himself made can reasonably be sustained for a sports franchise sporting the nickname 'Redskins'!
This past week, Native American author Mark Anthony Rolo openly called Goodell's explanation "cowardly" and "an antiquated defense"-- and so this controversy- as it has for the past several years (as I've said)- rolls on!
To be fair, Rolo- like myself and many others- is not here charging that the name is being retained for reasons of abject racism... rather, it is another vice- abject greed- that is the more involved: that five letter word MONEY (simply put: the Redskins don't want to lose merchandising revenue which would be engendered by suddenly having to pull back all 'Redskins'-related jerseys, sweatshirts, coffee mugs, etc. and replacing them with same reflecting a new nickname-- however, the National Football League as a whole [a multi-billion dollar industry, after all] could certainly, if it wanted to, well absorb the resultant financial "hit"-- it just doesn't want to!)
But, regardless of the reaction (or not) of those who actually own the Washington Redskins, there is- to be here considered- the reaction of many of the team's own fans who don't want the nickname changed: besides not wanting to give up a nickname so long in use that has, as a result, come to most strongly identify those who cheer for, root on and otherwise support the team as- in this particular case- "Redskins fans", there are also complaints- by and among these many fans- about such as "being forced to bow to Political Correctness".
There is, after all, a longstanding element within American culture that can best be described as "if *I* choose to do it, fine-- but I'll be damned if I'm going to allow myself to be pushed into doing it!": it's an element that actually well explains, for instance, how the American Patriots could throw off the yoke (or so they themselves saw it) of the British Empire, yet so many of them could still, but a few years later, so willingly accede to a Federal Government in which many of the same "Imperial Prerogatives" were retained. The key difference was that the British Imperial System was to be imposed from "across the sea", whereas the American Constitution was devised "here at home" and, thereby, even its more negative provisions and possibilities could be overlooked, if only for a time (in addition, there was a mechanism provided therein by which those who were less enamored of the then-new Federal System could potentially gain power later on and, thereafter, "tweak" it in their own image-- something that could not have been said, by Americans, about Crown and Parliament at Westminster!)
Thus, defending a nickname like 'Redskins' for a major league professional sports franchise in- of all places!- Our Nation's Capital is far less about racism than about purest American "cussed-ness"-- that is: stiff-necked resistance, stubbornness. But in order to maintain just such a position over time an "adversary" has to be defined so as to better gain allies to the "cause"-- and that "adversary" (often rising to the level of an "enemy") is that known as 'Political Correctness'.
'Political Correctness' first emerged (well ahead of the term used to describe it) in the immediate aftermath of World War II which, in retrospect (despite the mythos of a Father Knows Best image to the entire 1950s), had created a great deal of upheaval within the more traditional, pre-war American social fabric... simply put: once so "upheaved", it was rather difficult to tack the social fabric back down again. New roles had been found for- and new opportunities (opportunities shut off at society's own peril) potentially promised to- Blacks, women, immigrant "minorities" and, eventually, even gay men and lesbians, the bisexual and the transgender.
While it has proven most convenient to blame the so-called "long 1960s" (which began with the assassination of American President John F. Kennedy and the 1964 Presidential Election campaign just getting underway at the time and ended with the rise of the so-called 'New Right' in the late 1970s and the subsequent- even concomitant- election of Ronald Reagan as President of the United States in 1980) for all the social relocation, dislocation (and even mislocation!: conservative commentators have been beating up on "the Sixties" for decades now, if only because they- apparently- have nothing much better to do) that America is, pretty much, still dealing with now approaching the middle of the second decade of the 21st Century, the fact is that what the late comedian Allan Sherman called 'The Rape of the A P E' (A P E= "American Puritan Ethic") can first be discerned in and near the Theatres of War of 'the Big One (WW2)' and even amongst the women those men serving in those Theatres of War overseas left behind...
or, as I responded to my own Mom (when she so strongly expressed being not all that happy with having found the pile [and it was a rather small pile!] of Playboy magazines in the back of my bedroom closet at home while I was away at college in Boston back in the mid-1970s) "Hey! It's not my generation that has the wherewithal to spend all that time and money inside the Playboy Club in [Boston's] Park Square!!"
The very vocabulary describing those seeking better treatment while they themselves engendered the American Civil Rights Movement (which can be said to have truly begun when the derring-do of the Tuskegee Airmen eventually begat Desegregation of the U.S. Armed Forces [itself occurring shortly after Jackie Robinson "broke the 'color barrier' " in, first, minor league (in 1946) and then Major League (in 1947) Baseball: the fact that the NFL Los Angeles Rams had at least two African-Americans play for that team in 1946 and not be so widely noticed nationwide again shows that, back then, pro Football was nowhere as high in either popularity or stature as today (as for college Football: public colleges and universities in the South couldn't legally desegregate and, of course, private institutions of higher learning did not yet have incentive to do so)]) is virtually an historical tour of the very process 'Political Correctness' itself brought about long before it even had a name: as the once-acceptable 'Colored' yielded to the more high-sounding 'Negro', which was still too uncomfortably close to the 'N-word' so that it- in turn- gave way to 'Black' and then such combinations as 'Afro-American' which, once it became "too 1970s", transmogrified into 'African-American'...
by now, 'Negro' has long raised at least one eyebrow on the face of the hearer (or reader), 'Colored' is (clearly) downright insulting (although 'Person of Color' is acceptable, albeit in certain contexts and only when applied to all non-Whites generally) and- as for the 'N-word' (at least when not in the mouths of infra-hip African-Americans themselves)- well--- just ask celebrity chef Paula Deen how using that word (even a quarter century ago during a rather stressful situation) might work out for you nowadays!
The term 'Political Correctness' entered the mainstream of American vocabulary largely in the mouths and minds of its detractors around the time Reagan first became President. Reagan's own politics and presidential policies can best be described- in analogy to that "muscular Christianity" of an earlier day (and which still influenced the 'Middle America' in which Reagan was raised around the time Reagan himself came of age in the early 1930s)- as "Muscular Conservatism": it was rooted in an almost unfettered Optimism (in contrast to his predecessor Jimmy Carter's [in?]famous mid-July 1979 "Malaise Speech" [though, in fairness to Carter, he never actually used the word therein: rather, "malaise" comes from a description of it by Ted Kennedy [already, at the time, considering a run against Carter for their Party's presidential nomination, as described elsewhere on this website-- President Carter himself, meanwhile, spoke of a crisis of confidence... a crisis that strikes at the very heart and soul and spirit of our national will... in the growing doubt about the meaning of our own lives and in the loss of unity of purpose for our nation. The erosion of our confidence in the future is threatening to destroy the social and political fabric of America]); but Reagan's Optimism was solely on American terms and, therefore, was very much within the realm of so-called 'American Exceptionalism'.
It, indeed, relied heavily on traditional American concepts of such things as Manhood, to which 'Political Correctness' itself seemed something of a threat: while what was being lumped under the rubric 'Political Correctness' certainly had its positive side (for a man reporting what another man- during a private conversation in the Men's Washroom- might have said about either a "bitch" or a "babe" who happened to be a fellow co-worker to higher-ups could get the man who said such things in serious trouble, even fired! [whereas, only a few years earlier, this was, more than likely, still well part and parcel of 'slap on the back' "good ol' boy" discourse around the office water cooler or in the coffee break room at the factory or warehouse, even when overheard by women]), it also had its negative (that is: fearful, to a generation of men trying to best make their way through its 'shoals', 'eddies' and even 'rapids' and 'whirlpools') side (I mean: how might a woman in the workplace react to an offhand comment that she "looks nice today"? Quite a lot, of course, depended on the attitude towards such things of the particular woman in question!).
It didn't help that many of the proponents of 'Political Correctness' themselves all too often took things to a logical (yet, at times, bizarre- even crazy) extreme (largely because those left of Center to Left, politically, now feared- with the election [and then re-election] of Ronald Reagan- a move, by American society, backwards to those same early 1930s in which Reagan had first reached adulthood): an 'extreme' in which someone could, perhaps, even be expelled from (an at least publicly-funded) college or university for openly taking positions that were seen as too conservative (on grounds that this was potentially creating an atmosphere in which others not nearly so conservative might find it too uncomfortable to even learn). Here using, as an example, the same issues seen in my preceding paragraph, a man who truly believed that a woman should stay at home to take care of the kids while the man went out to work as the "family breadwinner" might even risk having to give up his college scholarship because there would be plenty of women on campus- women who were there precisely to gain the knowledge they would need in a future career outside the home- who might see such an attitude, in and of itself, as threatening-- even downright hostile...
which only further fueled the flames (like the proverbial "gasoline on the fire") of those most vehemently opposed to what they perceived (sometimes rightly, but often wrongly) as 'Political Correctness' gone amok. In all too many ways, this battle is (now more than three decades later) still being joined here in America.
But the main objection to 'Political Correctness' nowadays among those who don't much like being told they have to be so "politically correct" is that these find themselves more and more being "called out" for their lack of such 'Political Correctness' (when, not all that long ago now, someone who might have been offended by just such a lack would simply have put his/her out-of-joint nose in the air as he/she silently walked out of the room [and the numbers of those so offended would, in the not too distant past, have been a lesser percentage of those invited into the "room" in the first place than might well be the case today!])-- and, if a "line in the sand" is to be drawn against 'Political Correctness' in the early 21st Century, doing so in defense of the nickname of one's favorite sports team seems just about the last- as well as safest- place to do just that (if only because Sports fandom is itself "tribal" [yes, there's a reason- in clear imitation of Native American practice- it's called, for example, 'Red Sox Nation'!]: thus, being- in the instant case- a Redskins' fan cuts across all sorts of demographic [political, racial, gender-based, etc.] boundaries-- I mean: hasn't a Black guy even been seen, in file footage of the stands during Redskins' games, in full (albeit faux) 'Indian' feathered headdress?)...
problem is: it might well also be the last, safest refuge of the abject scoundrel!
To be fair, most Redskins' fans aren't complaining about 'bowing to Political Correctness' as much as they might merely be claiming that using the nickname 'Redskins' is altogether harmless (after all, an argument that any and all offense caused by the use of 'Redskins' is at all purposeful on the parts of those attending- or at least watching [on TV] or listening [via radio or online audio streaming] to- the team's games is rather hard to make where we are now going into the 81st season that particular nickname has been in use!)...
but is the use of 'Redskins' really so harmless?
In addition, this is very much the 'symptom' of a greater 'disease' in early 21st Century American society: in the case of the average Redskins' fan, it may simply be due to one's failure to (if one will here pardon the metaphor) "walk a mile in another man's moccasins"...
but what about those cases where there is no interest- let alone real incentive- to so "walk in another's moccasins"? What about when those walking in their own "moccasins" are not so well liked, let alone all that welcomed?
Putting this question another way: what if harm is actually intended-- where offense is, indeed, purposeful?
Ever since the 9/11 attacks now almost a dozen years ago, I have received at least a dozen e-mails (all from fellow Americans of mine) claiming variations on the theme "You're not even allowed to make fun of Islam [or its Prophet Muhammad] anymore!"-- around half of these, to be sure, came into my Inbox within weeks of the eruption of the controversy surrounding the Danish cartoonist Kurt Westergaard's depiction of (most controversial) Muhammad wearing a turban in the form of a bomb about to go off back in the Fall of 2005 but I received at least one of these (which I will refer to shortly) as recently as but a few months ago.
I have always patiently responded to each and every such e-mailer that *I* know of no statute- Federal or State (and, by implication, local)- in these United States of America that specifically prohibits someone from (in general and all things being equal) denigrating, making fun of, attacking (whatever!) either Islam in general or its Prophet Muhammad in particular. Indeed, just such a general statute would be patently unconstitutional!
Here in the United States, we have Freedom of Speech and Freedom of the Press (each of which is concomitant with the other)- enshrined not only in the so-called 'Bill of Rights' appended to the Constitution of the United States, but also in the Constitutions of the several States of the American Union (in various forms)... we also have Free Exercise of Religion (also known as 'Freedom of Religion') enshrined in same.
It, therefore, follows that- here in America- you don't have to like someone else's religion and, further, you can say (or write) that you don't like it and, yes, you can even do so using satire and sarcasm, parody and even bad poetry and, certainly, illustration...
however, you are not free from doing so responsibly, nor (and more to the point of this very piece) are you free from the ramifications of your having done so!
Mr. Westergaard is himself under the protection of the Danish Government (in fact, the very security that was put in place in his own home as a result of the controversy surrounding his cartoon likely saved his life when an axe-wielding attacker broke into his home a few years back now)-- one has to fairly wonder if the Federal Government of the United States (or, for that matter, the government of the relevant State of the Union) might do so much for a political cartoonist (or other journalist) on this side of the Atlantic! But Westergaard's own situation well makes the point, even here in America: you might well be free to speak or write-- but someone might well want to do you harm as a result, perhaps even kill you...
simply put: before you speak or write, do one other thing-- THINK!
Indeed, that is what the Constitution and laws of this country expect (which is precisely why there is, for instance, potential civil liability for Slander or Libel): however, if you are killed by someone who didn't happen to like what you have said or written (whether it is about Religion or not), please Rest in Peace knowing that those who committed the homicide are themselves criminally liable.
The most recent e-mail I received decrying "not being able to make fun of Islam and its Prophet" here in the United States claimed to be coming from a "devout Christian" who, further, opined that "it appears Muslims are utterly unable to take a joke" (this e-mailer had, by the way, also referred to the protests, throughout much of the Muslim world, against the so-called Innocence of Muslims video trailer posted, last year, to YouTube [beginning with protests against same in Cairo, Egypt on the same day- 11 September 2012- the American consulate in Benghazi, Libya was attacked and the then-U.S. Ambassador to Libya, Chris Stevens, was killed]). I replied, via e-mail, that this e-mailer's point might yet be well taken (even though I myself begged to disagree) if he could, somehow, convince me that he himself also thought, say, a band called 'Flaming Gay Jesus' was itself quite funny...
he never answered me (perhaps now, with this posting, he will).
It has been nearly a decade now since I wrote, first, a Commentary re: the Abu Ghraib Prison Incident and then, but a few days later, another piece in connection with the beheading of the American Nick Berg by Jihadist extremists...
I was rather harshly criticized, as regards the latter piece, for (among other things) suggesting that America- by answering (as I myself put it) to a "Higher Authority"- somehow also justifies a certain cultural, where not also religious, superiority (when all I was really saying, in a nutshell, was- as I told that particular critic- "If you are going to profess it, you'd better be living it!" [in this case, the profession of "all" having been "endowed... with unalienable Rights"]); as for the former piece, I was even accused of "aiding and comforting the enemies of our Nation during a time of war" where not also (if only potentially) Sedition!
Be these as they may, I still stand by what I wrote back then (both in those two Commentaries, as well as in my responses to those resultant 'vox Populi's).
Simply put: I cannot understand the mocking of Islam or its Prophet Muhammad (or, for that matter, any other aspect of that religion)... I mean: to what end?
In his speech before the 2008 Republican National Convention, former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani- himself an unsuccessful contender for the very presidential nomination being conferred on John McCain at that fete in St. Paul, Minnesota- claimed that [f]or 4 days in Denver [where the 2008 Democratic National Convention had been held the week before], Democrats have been afraid to use the words 'Islamic Terrorism'... Who are they insulting if they use the words 'Islamic Terrorism'? They are insulting terrorists!...
But what does insulting terrorists actually do? Wouldn't it be, as a matter of course, much better to thwart them, where not also (if we can) outright defeat them?!
As for 'Islamic Terrorism': isn't terrorism, in fact, terrorism (whether 'Islamic' or not)? Why the term 'Islamic Terrorism' in the first place?-- why not 'Jihadist Terrorism', instead of a term that- intentionally or not- equates Terrorism with Islam as a whole?
And how does hurling insults and epithets at the general Muslim community- terrorists or no- at all well fit into any and all of this in any event?
It is, in the main, all 'Action confused with Accomplishment'...
feel better after having done so? Fine-- but you certainly are no safer from terrorist attack now than you were before so doing!
Fact is: one cannot peruse the Qur'an and/or the Hadith (including, say, the Traditions of An-Nawawi)- or, for that matter, any other scripture or 'quasi-' or 'proto-scripture' within Islam (such as the legendary Masnavi of the Sufis)- and, thereby, determine what an individual Muslim, anywhere on the Globe, believes or does (or does not do) anymore than anyone can read the Christian's Holy Bible and make the same determination as to what an individual Christian might believe or does/does not do (after all, there are active members of the United Methodist Church in which I myself was raised who are strongly supportive of Gay Clergy and others just as active in same who are not [and this within but one denomination (if not within but one single congregation of same!)]). Such an attempt to divine Belief from Scripture alone is known as Scriptural Determinism and is, indeed, one of the worst methodologies to apply to that field of study known as Comparative Religion!...
for, in reality, Islam- like Christianity- is a complex religious system (that is: when taken as a whole) with hundreds of millions- nay, a billion or more- adherents (in, however, different gradations of so "adhering"): just like Christianity, it embraces a wide (virtually worldwide) geographical extent- encompassing many different Nations, cultures and even Civilizations (those that I myself have termed 'World's on this very website ; [indeed, much of what I wrote about in the piece accessible via this link can be seen of late on the streets of Cairo, as well as other cities, in Egypt: where Secularists (among others) once supportive of now-former President Muhammad Morsy turned on him because of his own- and his Muslim Brotherhood's- much greater attentions paid to Islamism per se than to the needs of the Arab Republic as a whole (which, in turn, only serves to bolster the very points I am now in the process of making)])- and is, again like Christianity, divided into more than one "branch", each with what can fairly be described as their own (here utilizing Christian terminology by way of analogy) "denominations", "sects"-- and, yes, even "cults" (for what else is Al Qa'eda, its minions and its 'wannabe's, really?).
So, when one insults and/or mocks Islam, just which "Islam" is so being insulted and/or mocked?
Yet, one hears the same arguments in many such instances as are put forth by many a Redskins' fan defending what is, no doubt, an altogether offensive team nickname-- this being: "I refuse to bow to Political Correctness"-- in essence: 'yeah-- I know I shouldn't be so offensive, but- damnit!- I'm not going to give in to those who are telling me not to be!'...
especially when those saying (where not also shouting), in response, "Hey! Stop offending (whether "me" or "others")!!" are seen as merely enforcing this very 'Political Correctness' (without at all taking into account the feelings of those so saying and shouting).
Doubtless, there will be those having read this far who will see me as significantly "over the top" in my so having compared, herein, the defense of a sports team's offensive (at least to some) nickname to the purposeful insulting of an entire religious community-- and, yes, there is admittedly a difference in degree, although not in kind!
Furthermore, if you might want to offend Muslims and/or denigrate Islam (or, for that matter, the Prophet Muhammad), you are certainly free to do so on these shores (just don't do it around the office water cooler or in the coffee break room at the factory or warehouse if your boss happens to be Muslim [or if you aren't even sure what religion your boss might practice!]-- once more, you are not free from any and all ramifications of your own free speech!) or, for that matter, if having your favorite NFL team continue to utilize a nickname that offends more than few Native Americans doesn't at all bother you, then so be it.
However, if- in your own heart- you know it's wrong, someone else having told you (if not time and time again) it's not only wrong but also not "politically correct" doesn't suddenly make it right!
More importantly, one has to well discern what might actually be accomplished by taking either tack I am herein decrying (if not even both of them)...
if it, in the end, does nothing, then what- really- was the point?