Which brings us to football, and specifically the practice of taking the knee before matches. This should not be controversial, but has become so, not least because shameless (and universally white) opportunists out there on the right pretend that the practice has something to do with Rotten Lefties™, while some less principled politicians have declined to give the practice their unambiguous support. Let’s start with the reason for doing it.
After England manager Gareth Southgate had confirmed that this was an anti-racist move, Channel 4 News host Krishnan Guru-Murthy summed up: “The England team couldn’t be clearer : taking the knee is about challenging racism and expressing solidarity with those who’ve suffered it. It isn’t about supporting the politics of some BLM activists. So if you want to boo (it’s a free country) just be clear what you are booing”. Got that?
Sadly, some people out there have not, not least the loathsome Toby Young, taking time off from pretending the Covid-19 pandemic isn’t really happening to bleat “Fans booing players taking the knee aren’t booing the cause of anti-racism, but a divisive, hard left, neo-racist organisation called BLM. If the England players expressed their support for the cause of anti-racism in another way - linking arms, for instance - no one would boo”.
Following Tobes’ mighty white lecture on what constituted racism came washed up not-at-all-hip-and-no-longer-young-gunslinger Tony Parsons. “I have loved Gareth Southgate since he scuffed that penalty but I am sad that the [England] manager can’t understand where those boos come from - desecration of the war memorial to our dead, the loathing of violence inflicted on police and their horses, and a nut job Marxist ideology”. Wrong.
Anyone else fancy a little deflection? Former minor thesp, not very good chanteur and DOA politician Laurence Fox certainly would. “If any knockout game in the euros remains a draw at full time, the result could be decided by a penalty kneel out. Each teams selects five players to do their most virtuous kneel. The team that gets the least boos wins”.
But he didn’t get it either. Nor did self-promoting TalkRADIO host Julia Hartley Dooda, who, after having the reason for taking the knee spelt out to her, declared “Nonsense. The booing of players taking the knee is motivated by football fans who'd just like to enjoy a good game of football with having to be lectured first about how they're all nasty racists by virtue signalling millionaires”. Here endeth the lesson. Cos she doesn’t want to learn it.
As Paul Bernal put it, “If you boo England players taking the knee, you’re a racist. If you condone the booing, you’re a racist. It’s as simple as that”. Gary Lineker, who has seen what England players who are not white have had to put up with in the recent past, mused “If you boo [England] players for taking the knee, you’re part of the reason why players are taking the knee”. It’s about racism. And saying that it should finally be shown the door.
White people lecturing everyone else about what racism is, or is not, carries on. What is worse is that those doing the lecturing show no sign of learning. That’s not good enough.
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