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The Schmooze

NFL Owner Enlists Wiesenthal Center After Being Ridiculed

For Washington’s alt-weekly City Paper, it was a clever, if childish, way to indicate a deep dislike of Redskins’ owner Daniel Snyder. For Snyder, it was “blatantly anti-Semitic,” his lawyers say. And now, the wealthy Washingtonian is suing City Paper for an unflattering article whose accompanying photo was “defaced by a schoolyard scribble of horns, a unibrow and a kind of devil beard,” The New York Times reports.

Snyder and his lawyers “brought out the big guns on this charge,” the Times wrote, “enlisting the Simon Wiesenthal Center to demand that City Paper apologize for the image, which it said was ‘associated with virulent anti-Semitism going back to the Middle Ages.’” But heavyweight First Amendment attorney Floyd Abrams, retained by the City Paper team, called the lawsuit “so self-evidently lacking in merit and so ludicrous on its face that it is difficult to imagine that it was commenced for any reason but to seek to intimidate,” The Times reported.

Pundit Jeffrey Goldberg, writing in the TheAtlantic.com, agreed. “This is almost unbearably stupid,” he railed. “The image isn’t anti-Semitic, at least not to anyone who has ever gone to grade school and/or has scrawled on a magazine. Why the Wiesenthal Center would take on the ridiculous Daniel Snyder as a client is unfathomable. Unless it’s not. So far, at least, his name does not appear on the Wiesenthal’s board of directors.”

Citing the contentious history of the football franchise’s name, The Washington Post’s Courtland Milloy even challenged Snyder to put his money where his mouth is. “I know history matters. But we’re talking about devil doodle, Dan, like the scribbling on newspapers made by people biding time in a toilet stall. Forget about it,” Milloy wrote.

“Now, start loosening up your throwing arm. On the next play, hurl that offensive ‘Redskins’ name out of bounds the way a quarterback would to keep from being sacked. Bench the faux Indian mascot, while you’re at it.”

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