Jeb Bush Defends Racist Name of Football Team Whose Owner Backed Him With Big Bucks

ZUMA/Ryan McBride

For indispensable reporting on the coronavirus crisis and more, subscribe to Mother Jones' newsletters.


Jeb Bush weighed in on the continuing controversy over the Washington, DC, pro football team’s name this week, saying he supported owner Dan Snyder’s refusal to abandon it, despite years of repeated calls to do so from Native Americans activists.

Mother Jones, like some other publications, does not refer to the team by that name.

“I don’t think it should change,” the GOP presidential candidate said during an episode of Sirius XM’s The Arena this week. “But again, I don’t think politicians ought to be having any say about that, to be honest with you. I don’t find it offensive. Native American tribes generally don’t find it offensive.”

Adding that he witnessed a similar “flap” with Florida State University’s team name, the Seminoles, the former Florida governor conceded that he may not understand all aspects of the debate.

“It’s a sport, for crying out loud,” Bush said. “It’s a football team. Washington has a huge fan base—I’m missing something here, I guess.”

It’s worth mentioning Snyder donated $100,000 to the Bush-supporting super-PAC Right to Rise back in June.

Bush’s remarks this week align the presidential hopeful’s views with a long list of Republicans who are also unable to grasp why the moniker may be an offensive term for many Native Americans. For many activists, Snyder is the unofficial face for keeping the name intact.

“We will never change the name of the team,” Snyder told USA Today in 2013. “As a lifelong [redacted] fan, and I think that the [redacted] fans understand the great tradition and what it’s all about and what it means.”

Bush’s stance on the Washington football team comes fresh off his eyebrow-raising comments about black voters receiving “free stuff,” resurrecting a damaging trope that depicts African Americans exploiting welfare laws.

Thank you!

We didn't know what to expect when we told you we needed to raise $400,000 before our fiscal year closed on June 30, and we're thrilled to report that our incredible community of readers contributed some $415,000 to help us keep charging as hard as we can during this crazy year.

You just sent an incredible message: that quality journalism doesn't have to answer to advertisers, billionaires, or hedge funds; that newsrooms can eke out an existence thanks primarily to the generosity of its readers. That's so powerful. Especially during what's been called a "media extinction event" when those looking to make a profit from the news pull back, the Mother Jones community steps in.

The months and years ahead won't be easy. Far from it. But there's no one we'd rather face the big challenges with than you, our committed and passionate readers, and our team of fearless reporters who show up every day.

Thank you!

We didn't know what to expect when we told you we needed to raise $400,000 before our fiscal year closed on June 30, and we're thrilled to report that our incredible community of readers contributed some $415,000 to help us keep charging as hard as we can during this crazy year.

You just sent an incredible message: that quality journalism doesn't have to answer to advertisers, billionaires, or hedge funds; that newsrooms can eke out an existence thanks primarily to the generosity of its readers. That's so powerful. Especially during what's been called a "media extinction event" when those looking to make a profit from the news pull back, the Mother Jones community steps in.

The months and years ahead won't be easy. Far from it. But there's no one we'd rather face the big challenges with than you, our committed and passionate readers, and our team of fearless reporters who show up every day.

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our newsletters

Subscribe and we'll send Mother Jones straight to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate

We have a new comment system! We are now using Coral, from Vox Media, for comments on all new articles. We'd love your feedback.