Feds throw foot­ball party, ban Red­skins

In­vite: Noth­ing ‘deroga­tory’

The Washington Times Weekly - - National - BY JOHN SOLOMON

When the U.S. La­bor Depart­ment’s Cen­ter for Civil Rights wanted to cel­e­brate its ac­com­plish­ments, its man­agers threw the staff a foot­ball-themed tail­gate party in the of­fice park­ing lot.

The in­vite, dis­trib­uted across the agency’s of­fi­cial email sys­tem, had all the rah-rah of a play­off game. “Cel­e­brate a cham­pi­onship year!” it de­clared.

Even the reg­u­lar of­fice dress pol­icy was re­laxed. “Show your team spirit and wear your fa­vorite sports or club theme gear and come and enjoy tail­gat­ing fa­vorites like dips, chili, chicken wings, na­chos and more game-day grub,” the in­vite said.

There was only stip­u­la­tion: no Wash­ing­ton Red­skins jer­seys, para­pher­na­lia or mem­o­ra­bilia.

“It has been re­spect­fully re­quested that employees vol­un­tar­ily re­frain from wear­ing cloth­ing or other sports mem­o­ra­bilia that pro­mote Wash­ing­ton D.C.’s pro­fes­sional foot­ball team, the Red­skins, or other teams that use names, char­ac­ters, etc. that may por­tray Amer­i­can In­di­ans or other cul­tures in a deroga­tory man­ner,” said an as­ter­isk-marked note at the bot­tom of the in­vi­ta­tion.

An email from an of­fice man­ager went into greater de­tail about the ban, while for­ward­ing the in­vite.

“While I rec­og­nize the vary­ing opin­ions sur­round­ing the name of the Wash­ing­ton D.C. foot­ball team, as a civil rights of­fice, I ask us all to be par­tic­u­larly sen­si­tive to names, sym­bols, etc., that may be con­sid­ered of­fen­sive based on race, eth­nic­ity, sex, etc.,” the email read.

“Please join me in pro­mot­ing an in­clu­sive en­vi­ron­ment for all employees and be con­sci­en­tious about how we rep­re­sent our val­ues as a civil rights of­fice.”

The email in­cluded links to state­ments op­pos­ing the Red­skins logo from the So­ci­ety of Amer­i­can In­dian Gov­ern­ment Employees (SAIGE) and Blacks in Gov­ern­ment (BIG).

The two fed­eral worker groups have asked the Of­fice of Per­son­nel Man­age­ment to ban the use of the Red­skins name or para­pher­na­lia at gov­ern­ment ac­tiv­i­ties and to con­duct train­ing to ed­u­cate fed­eral work­ers on why the team name is “racially of­fen­sive.”

The La­bor Depart­ment in­vite was sent to The Wash­ing­ton Times by a reader who works for the agency who found that the en­tire event took po­lit­i­cal cor­rect­ness to a new level.

La­bor of­fi­cials con­firmed the in­vite and the event, which occurred Fri­day. They said no tax dol­lars were spent on the tail­gate party and that the agency does not have a for­mal pol­icy on the Red­skins team name.

“The Civil Rights Cen­ter is a small of­fice, and the food was paid for by the man­agers, out of their pock­ets,” spokesman Stephen G. Barr said. “There is no DOL pol­icy on sports teams.”

A spokesman for the Red­skins had no im­me­di­ate com­ment.

Democrats, in­clud­ing Pres­i­dent Obama and Se­nate Mi­nor­ity Leader Harry Reid, have pub­licly urged Red­skins owner Daniel Sny­der to change the team name, a move the NFL owner has re­jected.

The team has per­formed ex­ten­sive char­i­ta­ble work on In­dian reser­va­tions and brought forth many Amer­i­can In­di­ans who says the team name is ac­tu­ally a source of pride.

The fight over the name has headed to the courts, where the Red­skins have lost an early round.

A panel of the Trade­mark Trial and Ap­peal Board ruled 2-1 ear­lier this year that the name is of­fen­sive to enough mi­nori­ties to strip the team of its fed­eral trade­mark pro­tec­tion. A fed­eral judge in July up­held the rul­ing.

The team is ap­peal­ing in a move that could take the dis­pute all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court.

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