Dec 14, 2016 – Arsenal For Democracy Ep. 161

Posted by Bill on behalf of the team.


Guest Interview: Shakeia on Colin Kaepernick’s racial justice protests. Other Topics: Democratic legislative stunts that fall short. People: Bill and Jonathan. Produced: Dec 12th, 2016.

Episode 161 (52 min):
AFD 161

New Reading Materials (from Jonathan):

Senate Democrats Threaten a Government Shutdown, then Concede While Getting Nothing. What Message Does That Send?


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Music by friend of the show @StuntBirdArmy.

September 17, 2014 – Arsenal For Democracy 99


Topics: NFL, colleges, and handling assaults; Obama’s new Syria/ISIS policy. Content warning: Domestic violence discussion. People: Bill, Nate, Persephone. Produced: September 14, 2014.

Discussion Points:

– What role should institutions like the NFL and colleges play in investigating and punishing players and students for alleged domestic violence, sexual assaults, and other crimes?
– Is President Obama’s plan to strike ISIS in Syria really comparable to his airstrikes in Somalia and Yemen? Can it succeed?

Part 1 – NFL and Crimes Off the Field:
Part 1 – NFL and Violence – AFD 99
Part 2 – ISIS/Syria:
Part 2 – ISIS and Syria – AFD 99

To get one file for the whole episode, we recommend using one of the subscribe links at the bottom of the post.

Related links

ThinkProgress: The Most Discouraging Sentence in Obama’s Entire ISIS Speech
Arsenal For Democracy: Is Obama’s Anti-ISIS Operation Really Just Intended to Overthrow Assad?


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iTunes Store Link: “Arsenal for Democracy by Bill Humphrey”

And don’t forget to check out The Digitized Ramblings of an 8-Bit Animal, the video blog of our announcer, Justin.

June 22, 2014 – Arsenal For Democracy 89


Topics: Washington NFL trademark, U.S. oil royalties for American Indians, Turkey and Iraqi Kurdistan, and US/Iran in Iraq. People: Bill and Nate.

Discussion Points:

– Continued U.S. oppression of American Indians
– Will Iraqi Kurdistan declare independence with Turkey’s support?
– Should the US and Iran work together in Iraq?

Part 1 – Washington NFL trademark & American Indian policies:
Part 1 – Washington NFL – AFD 89
Part 2 – Turkey/Kurdistan:
Part 2 – Kurdistan – AFD 89
Part 3 – Iran in the Iraq Crisis:
Part 3 – Iraq – AFD 89

To get one file for the whole episode, we recommend using one of the subscribe links at the bottom of the post.

Related links
Segment 1

– Nate’s AFD Essay: “Washingskins”
– Greg’s AFD Essay: What took so long? Washington NFL team loses trademark for racial slur.
– DOI: Interior Considers Procedures to Reestablish a Government-to-Government Relationship with the Native Hawaiian Community
– DOI: Interior Announces Improved Valuation Method for Oil Produced on American Indian Lands

Segment 2

– AFD: Iraqi Kurdish PM calls for Sunni autonomy; Will Kurds leave Iraq?

Segment 3

– WSJ: Secret U.S. Plan to Aid Iraq Fizzled Amid Mutual Distrust
– AFD: Iran Supreme Leader not keen on working with US on ISIS


RSS Feed: Arsenal for Democracy Feedburner
iTunes Store Link: “Arsenal for Democracy by Bill Humphrey”

And don’t forget to check out The Digitized Ramblings of an 8-Bit Animal, the video blog of our announcer, Justin.


Greg had a great post the other day on the controversy surrounding the Washington football team’s long-standing “nickname” — Redskins. I’ve spent more time than is healthy reading internet comment sections on this issue, so I consider myself an expert on the arguments against changing the name. Most are as vacuous as they are willfully ignorant.

“But what about the Fighting Irish? Or the Vikings? Or the Celtics? We would have to change them too.”

This one is my favorite. As if there’s no difference between mascots named for the predominant ethnic group in the area and a racial nickname for the sports team in a capital that once carried out an active policy of ethnic cleansing against that racial group. As someone with Norwegian, Irish, and Native American ancestry, I am particularly amused by these comparisons. No Minnesotans of Swedish origin are up in arms about being compared to their Viking ancestors. Sure, they did a fair share of pillaging, but Vikings had democratic assemblies and were among the most advanced seafaring civilizations of their era. Boston Celtics? The history of the basketball team cannot be told without contextualizing it within Boston’s identity as an Irish city (for better and for worse). Fighting Irish is a similar situation. It was coined by a member of Notre Dame’s own football team and embraced by the Irish Catholic student body, unless there’s a massive uprising against it we’re not hearing about.

“But Indians support the name!”

Then they’ll point to some ten year old poll and talk about how there are Redskin team names on Native American reservation. Oh, ok. No problem then. I guess the fact that some Natives don’t care negates those that do. I’m pretty sure that’s how it works. Just like if your black friend lets you say slurs, you’re free to yell them around other black people and then name your business a racial slur. No problems there.

“Uhhg it’s the LIBERALS trying to PC everything up.”

Ah, the old P.C. canard. I prefer to think of this issue less as enforcing “politically correct” terminology and more making sure none of our sport teams are named something blatantly racist. When the Redskins were founded by vile racist George Preston Marshall, the term Oriental was in vogue to refer to Asian people. Does that mean we should name a team the Orientals? What about the Coloreds? That word and a few others were pretty popular around that time to refer to black people. Dan Snyder, owner of the Redskins, is a Jewish person. I wonder if he would appreciate a team named the Hebes (or worse) with a hooknosed Jew clasping a bag of gold. I know for sure the Washington Darkeys wouldn’t fly today, but this is essentially what we are talking about: an antique word, a relic from an era where pasty scientists obsessively studied the differences between the “races” and learned men established white dominion over the language.

“Don’t be weak and choose to be offended.”

This is perhaps the stupidest. First of all, you don’t really choose to take offense. But second of all, I don’t think Natives are “offended,” so much as sick of the bullshit. I know a decent amount of Natives, most of whom grew up on/close to a reservation. I once asked a friend of mine about the name Redskins and he replied,  “It’s not that it’s offensive — it’s just really dumb.” He went on to describe numerous different ways a team could honor Native Americans without going right to skin color. This guy has also paler skin than I do, but grew up in Oklahoma in a Native family. Just demonstrates the name is inaccurate in addition to stupid.

“It’s not racist! The Redskins are named after their Indian former coach”

This ones complicated and involves draft dodging. The Redskins were founded in Boston and originally shared a field with the Boston Braves baseball team. When they moved to Fenway Park, home of the Red Sox, the name was changed to Redskins. Marshall was quoted at the time saying the name change was to avoid confusion with the other Native-referencing team, NOT because a coach was Native. It is also not at all clear the coach Marshall referenced, Willie “Lone Star” Deitz, was actually a Native American. Deitz was put on trial and briefly imprisoned for draft dodging WWI by claiming he was a Native American. The jury could not conclude he knowingly lied about his heritage, but a number of discrepancies in the Deitz family’s testimony, as well as his interactions with his supposed sister and her Sioux tribesmen, suggest otherwise. So not only is this origin story not true, the supposed Indian coach likely wasn’t a Native.

“There are bigger issues we should be concerned about”

The history of the United States is a road paved with Native American bones. Since coming to this continent, Europeans have cleansed Natives from their lands, reneged on treaties, massacred Native women and children, conducted biological warfare against them. Many Native Americans live today in extreme poverty, while rape and sexual violence are epidemics on reservations. These are obviously much more pressing issues than a stupid team name. But the name Redskins remains a window into an epoch (one not yet entirely over) where racism was blissfully casual and the Washington football marching band wore headdresses and played “Dixie” before the anthem. Perhaps it is a fitting name for Washington D.C.’s team after all.

What took so long? Washington NFL team loses trademark for racial slur.

Past Arsenal For Democracy co-host Greg on the significance of today’s trademark ruling against Washington’s NFL team.

This morning, the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) ruled in favor of Amanda Blackhorse, a psychiatric social worker and Navajo woman who, along with four other Native Americans, challenged the “Washington Redskins” trademark in court this Wednesday. The ruling cancels six federal trademarks registered by the professional football franchise from Washington, D.C. between the late 1960s and 2000.

Blackhorse, et al. challenged the trademark under Section 2(a), 15 U.S.C. §1052(a) which prevents the issuance of trademarks that “may disparage or falsely suggest a connection with persons, living or dead, institutions, beliefs, or national symbols, or bring them into contempt, or disrepute.” That the name “redskins” is disparaging has been fairly well established over the past several decades–the USPTO had already cancelled the “redskins” trademark in 1992 because of its disparaging nature, a decision that was only reversed in federal appeals court because of a technicality–and does not warrant reexamination here (you either get it or you don’t). More telling are the USPTO’s selections from this enormous evidence body of evidence:

Some highlights from the official 177 page opinion document include…

Offensive cheerleaders

Offensive marching bands

Offensive programs

Multiple dictionary definitions.


And many more.

Far from tyrannical (as some in the #tcot echo chamber on Twitter have suggested today), this decision is well within the purview of the federal government, the guarantor of Intellectual Property. Protection of intellectual property, that is, in a manner that prevents individuals from using others’ proprietary ideas to make money, is not an inalienable right. The government has not banned Washington’s football franchise from calling themselves the “Redskins.” Instead, they have reevaluated the value of protecting such a trademark and determined that its harm (the marginalization of an entire race) exceeds its benefit (preventing individuals from profiting from ideas that are not their own).

It is unlikely that this decision alone will precipitate a name change. The team will, undoubtedly, appeal the decision and there is a chance an appeals court could once again rule in its favor. However, the movement to change the name is near critical mass. Now that the USPTO will no longer enforce the “Redskins” trademark individuals are free to create their own Redskins merchandise to sell for profit.

In fact, they have always been free to do so, but the Washington Redskins now have fewer tools at their disposal to go after trademark infringement. Which is not to say we condone or recommend such an action. Not only is still remarkably offensive, but Washington Redskins owner, Dan Snyder, has never been one to shy away from a lawsuit.

Unfortunately, loss of revenue from unofficial merchandise sales are probably of little concern to an organization worth a reported $1.7 billion. Yet the USPTO decision is one of great symbolic importance and illustrates an ongoing trend: if public opinion continues to move against using an obvious racial slur as a mascot, Washington owner, Dan Snyder, may need to reconsider the declaration he made in May 2013:

“We’ll never change the name…It’s that simple. NEVER — you can use caps.”

AFD 73 – Michael Sam, Uganda legislation

AFD-logo-big-newLatest Episode:
AFD 73 – Michael Sam, Uganda
New episode: Nate and Greg join Bill to discuss Michael Sam as well as Uganda’s anti-gay push from US evangelicals.


Note: This is the full 43 minute version of this episode. The air version this week only included the first segment. We’ll be returning to full-length episodes on air next week.

Related links:

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52s the Mike

michael-samThe prospect of an openly gay NFL player has been bubbling just under the surface for nearly a year. When the crazy Manti T’eo fake girlfriend story exploded, some asked if it was some sort of cover for him being gay (though Manti said he was FAR from it). Former Raven’s linebacker Brandon Ayanbadejo said he was in talks with four players to come out of the closet during the 2013 season. But over the course of the season, no such announcement came and we were left to wonder why. Supposedly one older free agent, who had made private announcements to friends and other teams, subsequently could not secure a job. Many have speculated that this story refers to former defensive back Kerry Rhodes, who fits many of the reported details.

Then there’s the curious case of superstar quarterback Aaron Rodgers, who gave an interview saying he “really, really likes women” after internet rumors put him in a relationship with his roommate and personal assistant of four years. I’m not usually one to give credence to sketchy gossip sites, but some of Kevin Lanflisi’s tweets made this story seem plausible at the very least. I’m honestly not sure about what other interpretations there are for a tweet of Lanflisi and Rodgers sitting on beach chairs with the text: “I know the truth. I’ve seen it. There’s no guilt. I’m bought. Owned. His. Free.”

But instead of speculating on current players, the NFL now has to face the reality of an openly gay player in the 2014 NFL draft. Mike Sam is a Defensive End/Outside Linebacker out of Missouri and he gave an interview this weekend to ESPN.

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