The other day I sat down at my laptop determined to write a long and rambling blog.
I had the subject matter all sorted in my head, the rough text I wanted to write, the tone I wanted to use and even the conclusion I wanted to reach. Unusually for me (sic) I had even done some research and had various quotations cut, pasted and highlighted in yellow at the top of the blank page ready to be used as and when I needed them.
Even as I sat down, I knew this was going to be a controversial read of the type for which blogging was invented. It is after all the perfect tool for those of us who are keen to get our opinions out into the public domain but who are not clever or lucky enough to have a newspaper or magazine column through which to do it. But then, as I prepared to construct the perfect opening line, it happened. A little ‘ding’ went off in my right ear. Well it’s not actually a little ding. If you’ve ever heard an old fashioned typewriter as the rail nears the end of the page, that’s what I hear.
And it’s always my right ear. I don’t know why as it’s actually the weaker of my two ears, but this is a largely irrelevant point. The important point is that the ding is a warning. A warning that I’m either about to write or say something which either I shouldn’t say at all or which I need to consider very, very carefully.
Quite why this happens is a mystery but be it sixth sense, guardian angel or simply something which happens with old(er) age, as someone who is prone to letting their opinions get the better of them, I’m bloody glad it does. It has certainly saved me from dropping myself in serious shit on more than one occasion.
Not because I don’t necessarily subscribe to whatever it is I was/am about to write, but because I have learnt the hard way that in these politically correct times there are lines one should be wary of crossing. If the media fascists can bring down fabulous (if contentious) radio journalists like Jon Gaunt and James Whale for making on-air statements which ‘they’ considered unacceptable, just think what they could do to someone like me who barely registers on the media radar yet is still has a desire to make an impact with a wider audience.
Make no mistake, it’s incredibly difficult to forge a career in the media but it’s the easiest thing in the world to kill one.
It could of course, be argued that this is cowardly. And that maybe, as someone who is known for having what could be considered controversial opinions about certain subjects I should actually be more forthright in the things I have to say. After all, as anyone who has ever read one of my books will know I’ve never really been that concerned about what people think of me and I’m more than happy to debate my opinions when challenged. Furthermore, like it or not I do have a profile of sorts and for some reason there seems to be plenty of people interested in the things I have to say. Some would even argue that as a writer, I have a duty to the people who have purchased any of my books and who have subscribed to some of the opinions I have put into print, to drive forward and help right some of the things I complain so vehemently against.
To be honest, I have a lot of sympathy with that. In my book Rebellion I made the point that I was humbled by the passion shown by some of the people I’d featured in that book, inspired as they had been, to battle an injustice. And let’s face it, there are more than enough issues impacting on football never mind our once glorious country which demand a response. Not a response from someone mindful of their profile or their career, but from someone who merely has something to say and feels the need to say it. Which brings me back to the matter of the aforementioned ding.
You see reading back over my notes, I can see why I need to be wary but a big part of me is also saying ‘fuck it. Just write it and be damned’. And for once, whilst I’m going to give it nod of thanks, I’m going to disregard the ding and dive straight in.
I have, in the past and on more occasions than I care to remember, been accused of being racist. Often theses accusations will be based simply on the fact that I have a shaved head, am fat and follow football. Three things which make me the stereotypical right-wing thug so beloved of the media. Others factor in the fact that I write about hooliganism, have written about the extreme right-wing or am a fan of Lady Thatcher and a lifelong Tory voter (not any more mind, but that’s another story) to reinforce the notion that my politics are firmly in the neo-Nazi camp.
This is of course, total bollocks and I’m not even going to waste the battery on my laptop trying to defend myself because I don’t need to. If you need to know where I sit in the political arena and especially with regard to racism, read my book Kicking Off because it’s all in there.
The problem is that for many people the fear of being accused of holding racist views is a fear too far and even being linked with someone who might is regarded as a high risk (ask Ron Atkinson). Equally, Like all fascists (and that is what they are as far as I’m concerned) the supposed anti-fascist brigade know that fear is their greatest weapon and the racism accusation card is the H-Bomb in their arsenal. One they are quite happy to throw around seemingly willy-nilly because they know that no one would dare challenge them.
The consequence of this of course, is that it stifles debate which is undoubtedly the whole idea. However, whilst researching both my book ‘Kicking Off’ and the forthcoming movie about Afghanistan, I encountered vicious racism aimed at the black community from within the black community, even more aimed at Muslims from Sikh’s (and visa versa!) and plenty aimed from within pretty much every ethnic group directed at us ‘white’ folk yet we rarely if ever hear of that in the mainstream media. Does that make it any less illegal? Of course not. So how can it be allowed to continue?
The authorities, the media and especially the anti-racism brigade would argue that this is not the case but this is clearly untrue and we’ve recently had as cast iron proof as you can possibly get.
Consider this; an England player is sitting at Wembley during an international fixture and tweets a ‘joke’ about the visiting fans and the idea that the game is actually an immigration trap and the stadium is surrounded by officers who are ready to sweep up anyone who shouldn’t be in the country after the game. When he is challenged, he complains that it was merely a ‘joke’ and that people should have a sense of humour.
Now, suppose said ‘joke’ had been tweeted by Wayne Rooney for example. Can you imagine the reaction? The press would have gone apoplectic whilst the anti-racism and anti-fascist groups would have been screaming for his head. And quite rightly too.
But supposing the ‘joke’ had been tweeted by one of England’s black players. Should the reaction be any different? Of course it shouldn’t, but it was. For this is exactly what the odious Carlton Cole (and there’s a bloke you wouldn’t want your daughter bringing home!) did during the game against Ghana.
Fair play to the FA (and there’s a sentence I never thought I would write) who immediately hit Cole with a charge of improper conduct but where was the clamour for his head in the press? Where were the usual rabid statements from ‘Kick Racism out of football’ or the various organisations who only recently were all over the press screaming blue murder because there have been no ethnic minorities in ‘Midsummer Murders’ or salivating at the realisation that Zenit St Petersburg have never signed a black player?
They were nowhere, that’s where and that was totally and utterly wrong. Racism is abhorrent in all its forms but guilt is not the sole preserve of the Anglo-Saxon community and if you are genuinely serious about combating it then that simple statement has to be fundamental to your approach because until it is, not only can you never actually solve it but you have absolutely no right to preach to anyone else about how they act and what they do in their own country.
If ever there was a subject about which this country needs a free and open debate it is the issue of racism. For until we have that debate, we cannot possibly have a level playing field and that is all anyone really wants. It’s also what this country desperately needs because until every citizen irrespective of colour, religion or background feels confident that should they have cause for a race related complaint then it will be treated fairly, justly and equally, all you are doing is storing up more and more resentment and an increasing sense of unfairness and intolerance. The sad reality of that is that such feelings can and do only ever lead in one direction. Toward the right.
And who in their right mind would want that.
Kicking Off, how hooliganism and racism are killing football, is available via amazon. Just click right here.
2 thoughts on “Shhh…. it’s a blog about racism!”
Dougie- I just read your blog.
IF I CONSIDERED YOU A RACIST, I WOULD NOT ASSOCIATE WITH YOU IN ANY WAY.
As YOU know I am a “FORMER” racist skinhead, & work & speak out against racism on a regular basis. Me being who I am, and looking similar to you “Big, fat, & bald,” I sometimes run into the same issues as you do. The only thing I can do to prove that I no longer hold racist views is by the way I live my life, the work I do, & how I treat others. During my presentations, I often speak of racism and bigotry as a disease that is not exclusive of any one ethnic group. This is a simple fact, especially these days.
We had a large school group arrive after telling us they had a problem with racism on campus. They sat about 4-5 young Caucasian students in the front row, after assuming they were the culprits. What had happened was this handful of students had approached the school administrators because they were alarmed after finding leaflets on campus & wanted to help stop any further actions by the far right group who had left them. Had the school administrators listened to the students, they would not have looked out of touch with reality. However, they did learn a lesson that day. Listen to young people when they approach you, they are not all knife wielding hoodies.
The hardest part of my work is when I am approached by parents who bring me their children who have been looking at white power websites saying, “my child is racist-fix it.” There have been numerous occasions when these young people are of mixed ethnicity, even Jewish kids who have been dubbed racist by their parents or social workers. These issues often occur as a result of being taunted or bullied by Hispanic, or African American students. They are not always “truly” racist; they are just dabbling, or simply reacting in anger, or trying to cause upset & get revenge.
The main problem I have with this is that it appears to be a double standard, which the far-right extremist groups clearly recognize, and use as a tool for recruitment.
Until “ALL” acts of racially motivated speech, violent crime, & bullying are treated the same regardless of the perpetrator’s ethnicity, we will continue to be plagued with these problems. No matter who the perpetrator is, Racism is racism. If it is a duck quacking in your face, it is a duck. Don’t treat it like a swan! The problem of racism, bigotry, and homophobia MUST be dealt with on all fronts. I agree that there needs to be an open “Dialog” regarding this issue. But it NEEDS to be done with “True” respect for each other’s opinions. As far as I am concerned, anything in the extreme is potentially dangerous, politically, socially, and even biologically.
Thanks for that Tim. Absolutely agree with every word. Double standards are the biggest obstacle anyone can have to either fairness and equality.