Senator Jeanne Shaheen (D., N.H.) joined 49 of her colleagues last week in signing a letter denouncing the Washington Redskins’ team name as “a racial slur.” Now, the first-term senator, who is facing a competitive reelection campaign, is getting local heat — not only for wasting the people’s time on a trivial matter but for trying to tiptoe around whether New Hampshire’s own “red” teams should submit to renaming.
A handful of Granite State high schools feature names such as Indians (Sanborn Regional High School), Tomahawks (Merrimack High School), and Sachems (Laconia High School). The Belmont school board will vote Tuesday to decide whether the Belmont High School Red Raiders must change their team name. Spaulding High School in Rochester, N.H., also carries the “Red Raiders” moniker.
At a public forum last month, locals expressed a desire to keep the Red Raiders name. Since then, the student council has presented a case to change the mascot and logo, which is of an American Indian in a headdress.
When asked about Shaheen’s stance on the Belmont name, a spokesman for the senator offered a nuanced explanation of her decision to stay out of the debate in her own state while weighing in on an NFL team in the nation’s capital.
“She believes schools and local communities should decide whether or not they change their mascots,” spokesman Shirpal Shah told the Concord Monitor over the weekend.
Professional teams are a different story though, and Shaheen signed on to the letter because she thought it was “the right thing to do,” Shah said.
The New Hampshire Republican State Committee jumped on Shaheen for her apparent double standard and questioned her decision to weigh in on the Redskins issue. “Instead of even trying to address the enormous challenges facing our country, Senator Shaheen is taking orders from her liberal party leadership in Washington and wasting her time lecturing an out-of-state NFL football team,” chairman Jennifer Horn said in a statement.
“Senator Shaheen is also reminding Granite Staters how grossly out of touch she is by implying that students and alumni who support New Hampshire high school teams with similar names are insensitive,” she added.
New Hampshire Republican Senate candidate Scott Brown also questioned Shaheen’s priorities, stating that while it is important “to be sensitive to the issues,” there are bigger problems facing the country than the name of a sports team.
— Andrew Johnson is an editorial associate at National Review Online.