Longtime Democratic California representative Henry Waxman is retiring at the end of the year, and wants to make sure he doesn’t leave Congress without addressing an important longstanding liberal priority: the name of the Washington Redskins.
In a letter to Republican Energy and Commerce Committee chairman Fred Upton, Waxman calls for the committee, of which he is ranking member, to hold a hearing “to examine another instance of racial insensitivity in professional sports” following the Donald Sterling incident.
A hearing ought to be held because, in contrast to the way the NBA addressed Sterling’s comments by banning him for life, the NFL has “condoned and defended” the “derogatory term” that is the team’s name.
The NFL benefits from various tax policies and FCC rules, making the team’s name a an issue for the federal government, he writes.
“As the Committee with primary jurisdiction over professional sports, we could play a constructive role in challenging racism by asking [team owner Dan] Snyder and [NFL commissioner Roger] Goodell to explain in a public hearing how their actions are consistent with the public interest,” Waxman concludes.
The 20-term congressman isn’t seeking reelection this fall, one of several longtime Democrats retiring this cycle.