The air is thin and the climate cold atop Moral Mountain. It’s inhabitants stay warm by gathering under smugs, sorry, snugs, and basking in the warmth of their moral superiority. Monday night was a good one for them. The England football team played a game in Eastern Europe (I didn’t watch as I still haven’t recovered from the World Cup) and, while the victory was convincing, the story after the game was all about the racism of the home fans.
The dwellers atop Moral Mountain were outraged. How dare the Montenegro fans make monkey chants! That’s abhorrent! And abusing Sterling is bang out of order mate. He’s one of our own! He’s come full circle. Yeah, he had his problems, and it was probably his fault that we got knocked out of the World Cup. And remember that time he bought his mum a sink? That was pretty bad to be fair. And that time he turned up late to training? That was disgraceful. Although not as bad as the time that he was causing school shootings with his tattoos. And what about…
(That thread is up to 38 different examples)
I was on a podcast recently (which you can listen to here), where I talked about the problem with the term ‘racist’ in 2019. As a term, it ceases to have value if we use it only to define the very worst examples of it. The treatment of the black England footballers by the Montenegro fans and the English outrage over their treatment is a classic example of this. How many of the journalists that were choking in their opprobrium last night are part of the horde that have created a hostile environment for the same footballers they were rushing to defend? This happens every generation. If you did a list of most hated English footballers over the last 20 years, you would find names like Ashley Cole, Sol Campbell and Raheem Sterling on it. What did they do to become so universally loathed? Was it because they moved clubs, as so many would like to use as the reason? No. I think there are many reasons, but most of them find race at their core. Ashley Cole, probably the only unquestionably world class player of the laughably titled ‘golden generation’, married singer Cheryl Tweedy. She was twice named FHM ‘Sexiest Woman Alive’. I don’t want to get all Shakespearean, but I wonder if the thought of the black ram tupping a beautiful white ewe was a greater catalyst for the hatred he received than the fact that he moved football clubs.
Campbell is outspoken (often a coded word that means uppity, with all of its historical connotations) and extremely confident in his own abilities. For these transgressions and many others I’m sure, he struggled to gain a foothold in football management, despite being an objectively world class player in his prime, which is often the main qualification that teams look for. As for Sterling, I wrote about him and his treatment in detail here.
It is easy for the inhabitants of Moral Mountain to hear monkey chants and make pious sounding chants that protest the vile treatment. They find it more difficult to speak about the literal group of self-titled ‘Grand Wizards’ in the Conservative party.
I’m pretty sure this group did not have an obscure WWF wrestler in mind when they came up with this name. Where else in history have a group of people given themselves the moniker ‘Grand Wizards’? Google, can you help me out, perhaps with an image that makes it clear who used this term first?
I’m sure it is just coincidence that a group of MPs that represent a party ‘riddled with Islamophobia’, a party that treated black citizens that had come over as part of the Windrush generation shamefully, chose a name that is synonymous with white supremacy. Or maybe we can find another reason to explain it away and cast doubt on those pesky claims of racism.
Excellent. As long as there is no intended connection to anything else, that’s all that matters, right? The stress of trying to have racist things acknowledged as racist is a cause of much anxiety for people that suffer from it. It is also tiresome. I can’t count the number of stories I have heard where someone has been subjected to racism and then been told that the racist thing that happened to them wasn’t racist at all. And if it was racist, there was no intended connection to anything else…The emotional energy that is required to prove something that should be self-evident is exhausting. All I want in the discussion on race is some consistency. When England’s football fans are angry at racist chanting, I need them to (*extreme black woman voice*) keep that same energy when other flagrant examples of racism happen. Otherwise, the impression is given that their antiracist stance is mere posturing. Whilst I’m sure that is not the case, the inhabitants that live atop Moral Mountain should be careful: the fall into Moral Morass is steep and ugly.