A Washington Post editor said Monday that the Texas Rangers team name “must go.”
On the same day that the National Football League’s Washington Redskins announced it would do away with its 93-year-old team name, Global Opinions editor Karen Attiah said that the Major League Baseball team must deal with “the violent and racist implications of its name.”
“To know the full history of the Texas Rangers is to understand that the team’s name is not so far off from being called the Texas Klansmen,” Attiah wrote in an op-ed for the liberal newspaper.
Attiah, who grew up in Dallas, reminisced about going to Rangers games with her father as a child, but said at the time she didn’t know the Rangers “were a cruel, racist force when it came to the nonwhites who inhabited the beautiful and untamed Texas territory.”
The Texas Rangers were unofficially created by Stephen F. Austin in 1823 as a statewide investigative law enforcement agency, headquartered in the capital of Austin. The Rangers stopped the assassination of President William Howard Taft and pursued such outlaws as Bonnie and Clyde. More than 120 have died in the line of duty.
Attiah, who said she is part of a Ghanaian immigrant family and calls herself a “black Texan,” said “the first job of the Rangers … was to clear the land of Indian for white settlers.”
That was just the start. The Rangers oppressed black people, helping capture runaway slaves trying to escape to Mexico; in the aftermath of the Civil War, they killed free blacks with impunity. “The negroes here need killing,” a Ranger wrote in a local newspaper in 1877, after Rangers fired on a party of black former Buffalo soldiers, killing four of them and a 4-year-old girl. A jury would later find that the black soldiers “came to their death while resisting officers in the discharge of their duty,” an unsettling echo of the justification for modern-day police killings.
The editor cited a new book, “Cult of Glory: The Bold and Brutal History of the Texas Rangers,” in which author Doug J. Swanson wrote, “In service to Anglo civilization’s slow march, they functioned as executioners. Their job was to seize and hold Texas for the white man.”
The Post writer isn’t the first to call for the Texas Rangers to change their name. After a Chicago Tribune piece last month, the team made a statement.
“While we may have originally taken our name from the law enforcement agency, since 1971 the Texas Rangers Baseball Club has forged its own, independent identity,” said the team statement. “The Texas Rangers Baseball Club stands for equality. We condemn racism, bigotry, and discrimination in all forms.
“To help bring about meaningful change, we are committed to listening to and supporting our communities of color. … We go forward committed to do even more, with a renewed promise that the Texas Rangers name will represent solutions and hope for a better future for our communities,” said the team.
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