The Daily Show‘s bit on the meeting of die-hard Redskins fans with Native Americans who oppose the use of the epithet as a football team’s name was disappointingly tame. Where were the high emotions, the tears, and the outrage of those poor beleaguered fans who found themselves “ambushed” by those who find the name deeply hurtful and insulting? Where was the woman who called the police on the show, as reported by The Washington Post?
Even so, as I watched, I couldn’t help but be amazed at intransigence of the team’s fans. Especially knowing that even blood-thirsty ancient Romans showed more sensitivity to naming conventions in similar situations.
Turns out, ancient Romans had no qualms about changing the names of gladiator types if some of their own citizens found the names insulting or demeaning. In other words, guys who disemboweled men for kicks and giggles were more respectful than the clueless “Caesar” (Dan Snyder) of today’s Washington football team.
I discovered this surprising Roman “sensitivity” while researching my novel set in a struggling gladiatorial school. There used to be a gladiator-fighter type called “Samnite.” Rome defeated Samnium in central Italy in the fourth century BCE. Soon after, Romans mocked the vanquished Samnites by having gladiators dress up like their defeated warriors. The “Samnite” became an official gladiator type. In other words, it became the Washington Redskins of the ancient world — a deeply offensive, derogatory epithet to a certain portion of the population.
…Go here to finish reading this on The Huffington Post…