He's desperate, Dan
To no surprise at all, this doomed initiative has come from the Mail on Sunday’s not even slightly celebrated blues artiste Whinging Dan Hodges, pontificating “Many players and many fans want some sort of anti-racism statement at the start of games. Many fans do not back taking a knee. So we simply need a new anti-racist symbol that people can unite behind. Not one imported from the states, but one everyone can have ownership of”.
A preposition being something you should never end a sentence with. But he had more in the same vein. “It's not about ignoring their choices. They want to make a clear anti-racist statement at the start of matches. The problem is - as we can see - TAK is being conflated with other issues around the wider BLM movement. That's creating unnecessary division and diluting the message”. And, sadly, there was more still.
“I think people are conflating support for the players at the end of a successful tournament with support for Taking A Knee. And I don't think they're the same thing. I think there is a dangerous division over this. And I don't think we can or should ignore it”. And, as Jon Stewart might have said, two things here. One is that the reasoning behind taking the knee has been set out by England manager Gareth Southgate already.
And it has nothing to do with “other issues around the BLM movement”. Nothing at all. It is a straightforward statement of solidarity against racism. Then, Two, we get to Hodges flaunting his white privilege: telling black footballers how they should protest, and pretending that there may be some kind of protest more acceptable to Himself.
However, and here we encounter a significantly sized however, Desperate Dan and his fellow mighty white pals within the Pundit Establishment do not, repeat do not, REPEAT DO NOT, get to lecture people who aren’t white about racism - and how people who aren’t white mark their protest against racism. Like Hodges would not (hopefully) even think of lecturing Jews about perceived anti-Semitism. You just don’t do that.
What Hodges is doing here, consciously or otherwise, is to try and bend others to the iron will of the Rothermere press: “I say, black chaps, your anti-racism protest is making my boss’s dinner party guests uncomfortable. Now look here, we can’t allow that, can we? So tone it down, there’s a good chap. Maybe express your objection some other way”.
Except, of course, there will never be a way to protest against racism that meets with the approval of those in the Northcliffe House bunker. Moreover, the fact that taking the knee is making Hodges, and most likely his fellow pundits, and editors, uncomfortable is the best reason why it should continue. Because it should make them uncomfortable.
Ultimately, it is not for representatives of a newspaper group with a grim track record of bigotry to lecture anyone else about how they should protest that bigotry. But if mere footballers wrest control of the agenda from our free and fearless press, that would end the press’ power to bully and control - for good. And that’s why Hodges is running scared.
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