On athletic team names

 

Dear Editor:

 

Ruben Navarette, Jr. improperly compares naming an amateur sports team with a word sometimes used for the Palestinian resistance to foreign occupation with the nickname of the Washington football team, saying that both are innocuous (Op-Ed, Jan. 3).

 

Apart from the fact that most of the world outside the U.S. believes that the Palestinian cause is just, the term intifada has a broad base. It is derived from the reflexive/medio-passive form of the Arabic verb nafada [the d is dad, not dal; strictly speaking, it should be printed with a diacritical dot under it], shake off, shake out, thus itself meaning shiver or tremor. It is understandable that Palestinians would use it to describe their effort, but I seem to recall that one American professional team (I forget where) is actually called the earthquakes, and no one cares. So Navarette is certainly right that intifada is harmless.

 

Washington football is another story. The teams nickname never meant anything but a slur against Native Americans, designed to portray them as bloodthirsty savages, until the teams apologists cooked up the idea that it connoted courage. It is just as offensive as employing the n-word to imply that African Americans are genetically inferior.

 

In short, intifada is appropriate; the r-word for a football team is not. Indeed, the Post should stop printing it in the Sports section (or elsewhere) and get behind the movement for the team to change its name.

 

Sincerely,

 

 

(1/3/04)

 

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