Column: Snyder’s self-aggrandizing as usual, but he’s doing some good

Dan Snyder never has purely altruistic motives, WTOP\'s Rob Woodfork argues, but his foundation will provide real help for real problems. (AP Photo)

What do you think of Dan Snyder’s decision to start a new foundation related to Native Americans? Post a comment in this story, comment on WTOP’s Facebook Page or use #WTOP on Twitter.

WASHINGTON — Once again, the topic of the name “Washington Redskins” is making headlines. This time, the discussion has resurfaced in response to owner Dan Snyder making this letter public to essentially pat himself on the back for not patting himself on the back for doing something good.

In the letter, Snyder reveals that he traveled to 20 states and visited 26 Native American reservations to “listen and learn first-hand about the views, attitudes, and experiences of the tribes.” He added that he was so touched by their plight that he started the Washington Redskins Original Americans Foundation and essentially handed the keys to Native American leadership.

Some folks may not have even read that part because Snyder led with a polite way of saying he’s still not changing the team name, saying it “captures the best of who we are and who we can be, by staying true to our history and honoring the deep and enduring values our name represents.”

Personally, I’m still not sold on “redskins” being a blatantly racist term. Ultimately, words only have as much power as we assign them, and research I’ve seen on the term is that its origins are innocuous.

However, the meaning of words evolve over time (how different is the word “gay” now than it was 60 years ago?), and if “redskins” has become universally offensive, it’s time to move on from it.

Regardless of what we think of the name or Snyder himself, some genuine good is getting done here. The numbers he cites in the letter are real. The plight of Native Americans isn’t fictitious or exaggerated. It’s serious stuff.

But it’s Dan Snyder, the man everyone loves to hate. There would be way less vitriol aimed at just about anyone else making this gesture.

To me, such vitriol is misguided. Anyone with an ounce of common sense and a general knowledge of Snyder’s track record knows his motives can’t be 100 percent selfless. But many positive movements have been borne of less-than-pure intentions.

Some of us need not look any further than our own mirror to see someone who gives to charity more for the tax break than the helping hand to those in real need.

Abraham Lincoln didn’t issue the Emancipation Proclamation because it was the right thing to do on behalf of slaves. He did it to preserve the Union.

Obviously, the name of a football team doesn’t equate to the freedom of an entire race of people. But the point remains: No matter how little we think of Snyder — or how pretentious and self-aggrandizing his letter is — he’s doing the right thing by creating this foundation.

Even Batman knows that.

We can hope Snyder changes his ways and the team’s name another day. Today, let’s just be glad he’s doing something to help people in dire need of it.

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