Tag Archives: racist

Chelsea FC: Fighting Racism in Football

Everyone I’ve spoken to who has had any links to Chelsea Football Club has told me that John Terry is a nasty piece of work – a thoroughly unpleasant man – but nobody goes around wildly accusing England players of racism without evidence and proof.

Now Terry is in court in London defending himself against a racially aggravated public order offence – in short he has to defend himself against calling QPR player Anton Ferdinand ‘a f****** black c***’ during a game last October.

Terry says he is angry, he can’t even believe the accusation, yet lip-readers watching video of the incident almost vouch that these were his words – much of the dispute in court is over the short periods of time when Terry’s mouth is not visible. In court Terry has defended himself by saying that his words were down to confusion – Terry was verifying to Ferdinand (by repeating the words) that he had not just called Ferdinand that – seemingly verifying what the lip-readers have claimed was said.

Terry was being wound up by Ferdinand – but did it warrant a racist response?

Let’s take a look at the vision statement of Chelsea FC:

Chelsea’s vision statement that underpins everything we do is that by 2014 we strive to be recognised internationally as the world’s number one football club.

This applies to all off the field activities, as well as on the field, and therefore applies to fighting racism and discrimination and promoting integration and social inclusion.

Chelsea is committed to providing each employee, potential employee, customer and service users equality of opportunity in all the things we do.  We will ensure that equality practices are integral to every process and create an inclusive and positive environment for all. 

Interesting? Fighting racism underpins all the things we do. Unless you happen to be one of the most visible employees of Chelsea FC… Look further down a few lines in the Chelsea Strategic Overview and you will find this:

Chelsea Football Club practices a zero tolerance policy towards racism at Stamford Bridge and takes a leading role in all the major anti racist campaigns such as Kick Racism Out of Football, Show Racism the Red Card and all UEFA backed Europe wide campaigns.

Terry may yet be declared innocent by the court, but if he is found guilty of a racially aggravated offence in a court of law then will Chelsea ask him to leave the club? Probably not – he might even be championed as an anti-racism ambassador.

A less visible employee of Chelsea FC would have been fired immediately for uttering a similar statement in the office, but players appear to operate using a different set of values.So do all the fine anti-racist sentiments such as ‘kick it out’ and ‘equal opportunities’ in the Chelsea vision statement mean anything?

Not really; they mean nothing at all and may as well be deleted from the club website.

Chelsea v Roma

Photo by Ryu Voelkel licensed under Creative Commons

Downfall on a Croydon tram

You know that an online meme has truly gone viral when someone does a Downfall mashup, and so it is that the recent Emma West ‘racist woman on a tram’ video can now be seen in a new version with Hitler – the source video got past 12m views in a few days before the person who uploaded it decided to delete the video. You can still see it all over YouTube though as other people uploaded copies.

It is an embarrassment to watch. West is clearly drunk, or using something you can’t buy at Boots, and making it all worse, she is carrying a young infant who seems oblivious to the foul language and threat of violence. She has now been remanded in custody to January 3rd by magistrates in Croydon – with the order to keep her behind bars apparently for her own safety.

When you take into account her accusation that someone on the tram comes from Nicaragua, though they are quite obviously not from Central America, it descends into idiocy. Just with the added foul language for good measure.

Most reactions to the video have expressed outrage. The UK is a modern, forward-thinking, liberal society that despises this casual racism. At least, this is the intelligent, educated, liberal reaction.

England is also a country where, just a few days ago, police questioned the captain of the national football team over alleged racial abuse of fellow professional footballers on the pitch.

Emma West doesn’t allow her targets to be limited by race; she appears to despise anyone who isn’t English – particularly the Polish – apparently demonstrating that cultural racism very clearly still exists in the UK.

British people know this anyway. The hard working, mostly Christian, white-skinned Poles have faced a negative reaction from the British as their numbers have increased since EU expansion in 2004. Anyone with a slightly longer memory, or appreciation of British history, would know that there were 16 Polish fighter squadrons within the RAF during World War 2, with squadron 303 at Northolt being the highest-scoring fighter squadron in the RAF. But do the ignorant worry about history?

The Irish faced a similar reaction many decades ago as they came to the UK looking for work. Landlords considered dogs and blacks to be just about as welcome as the Christian, white, Irish workers.

Racism isn’t always about the colour of your skin or the God you worship.

Within the British Isles we have often mocked each other in jokes. The drunken Irish, the stingy Scots and so on, but when a video like this achieves such notoriety in such a short period of time it would appear that something else is going on that exceeds mild stereotypes. That John Terry himself can squirm behind excuses such as ‘the context in which certain remarks were made’ shows how little the establishment really cares about true racial harmony in Britain today. Is ‘tolerance’ still the rather pathetic objective here?

The truth is that without migration the UK would never be able to boast the music of Morrissey or the Beatles. The chicken tikka masala might never have become the favourite dish of the nation – offering solace to all those who can’t manage a vindaloo. And Damien Hirst might never have started chopping up cows in the name of art.

The value migration brings is acknowledged by most, and the most recent explicitly anti-migrant political movement, the British National Party, was roundly defeated in the 2010 general election.

But the white working class fears migrants because of the perception that they steal jobs – it’s that simple. They like Irish beer and Indian (usually it’s actually Bangladeshi) food, but they don’t want foreigners coming and taking their jobs.

And jobs are where the political debate is at right now. Unemployment is soaring. The economies of Europe are collapsing and the OECD predicts that the UK will soon enter a new recession with more than 3m unemployed – that’s at least 400,000 more people without a job than right now.

If the government doesn’t grasp that this lack of employment opportunity is going to be a tinderbox that tests multicultural Britain to the limit then I suggest that ministers get on a tram and start talking to people – admittedly difficult when they are not even talking to each other because of Europe. But, don’t forget to carry a swear box.

Hitler In Hell

Troy Davis – the confusion

As I write these words, the execution of Troy Davis has been temporarily delayed. Perhaps he will still die this evening at the hands of the Georgia State justice system. Perhaps he will live on to fight his case.

I’m only blogging to make a couple of quick points, because the online comment about the Davis case is getting overwhelming – and even a couple of short points are too much for Twitter:

  1. I agree that the state-sponsored killing of citizens is wrong, even if they are found guilty of a crime, however the for/against death penalty argument is entirely tangled up with people calling for Davis to live, to the point that many are now suggesting it ‘doesn’t matter’ if he is guilty or not. The family of the man he allegedly murdered in 1989 would beg to differ.
  2. I would normally trust Amnesty International in cases like this, but there is quite a lot of online debate and reports from the District Attorney’s office suggesting that the Davis case has been thoroughly re-examined and the guilty verdict is only standing after a long period of checking and checking again. Who do we trust? I don’t personally know the intimate details of the case, so is the DA or Amnesty right on this?

Whatever happens to Troy Davis tonight, the outrage over his fate will at least encourage some people to investigate the unfairness and racial bias of capital trials in the US. And I don’t mean unfairness in that state-sponsored killing is unfair… if US states insist on capital punishment then the very least they should do is to apply it consistently and fairly.

I hope he manages to cheat death tonight, but I also hope that he is an innocent man with a court verdict that still has not been proven beyond reasonable doubt. If Amnesty has stirred all this up after a thorough investigation by the DA then it would make me inclined to ignore any of their future appeals.
Oppose the Death Penalty for Troy Davis aka “Tricia Wang _831143653_ac668b67cd_o _Ascgen _Rasterbator _GIMP”

The Met get their men, at last…

To say that justice was not done back in 1993 when black teenager Stephen Lawrence was murdered in London is an understatement. It is to the credit of the Metropolitan police – written off as institutionally racist during the investigation into this case – that they have now charged two suspects with the murder.

It’s eighteen years since the crime and Stephen Lawrence was just 18 when he died. The suspects in the 1996 trial were obviously guilty as far as the general public were concerned – their criminal families were even caught trying to nobble the jury – but the judge could not sentence them without reasonable doubt.

In short, the scientific evidence at that time was just not good enough for a safe conviction even if every copper in London knew in their bones that they had caught the right guys. So it’s pleasing to hear that the boffins have improved their analysis of the evidence and found compelling new evidence that should be heard in court – leading to the arrest of these two suspects, one of whom has already stood trial for the murder back in the 90s.

Because the double jeopardy rules have changed – it used to be impossible to be tried again for a crime you were previously acquitted of – they are now going to have to stand trial at the Old Bailey for the murder of Lawrence, with the CPS presenting fresh new evidence even after all this time. These sweeping changes to the criminal justice system in the UK were made largely because of the Stephen Lawrence case.

This reopened case is important, not least because it may finally achieve justice for the Lawrence family, but also because the reputation of the police service in London was dragged through the mud after this case collapsed. The police were accused of being racist Neanderthals, not much better than the murderers, and certainly not bothered about the loss of a black kid from a rough neighbourhood.

It took a long time for anyone to acknowledge that Stephen Lawrence was a talented kid with a good school record and no criminal record and he was working hard to become an architect. The Royal Institute of British Architects now holds an annual prize in his name and memory.

Justice won’t bring back a murdered individual, but in this case it can remove the bitterness the family – and nation – feels that these thugs got away with it for so long. It also goes some way towards rehabilitating the reputation of the Metropolitan police, who have never quite got beyond the ‘Gene Hunt’ school of policing in the opinion of most middle-class Londoners.

I wont forget this case myself because I was at the 1998 inquiry in person as the London representative of Amnesty International. As the five accused men left the inquiry, a sea of hundreds of – mostly black – Londoners closed in and pelted them. Being close to the front of the crowd, half the missiles were raining down on me and the people nearby!

At one point, I looked up and a steel ladder was flying overhead… Some of the accused men actually traded punches with the crowd, with the police desperately trying to prevent a full-scale riot in Elephant and Castle.

Let’s hope that this time, the Met get their men. It’s been a long time coming.

The Old Bailey

En-ger-land! En-ger-land!

Just take a look at the Evening Standard today. Do you think Currys would have wanted their ‘England’ campaign placed right next to a full page story about nationalism, the British National Party, and why voters in Dagenham are fed up of immigrants?

Currys 'England' ad

You fascists are bound to lose

I spent hours this evening editing a video about the BNP. I hope you like it.

BNP Leader, Nick Griffin, on Question Time

So it finally happened. Griffin faced the BBC audience.

David Dimbleby was well briefed and quoted several of Griffin’s more outrageous remarks at him. The panel raged and gave their all. But somehow at the end of it all I felt disappointed.

I was keen to see Griffin on Question Time. I felt that the only way to show how odious he really is, would be to get him up there on the BBC and to repeat back some of his own lines. Yet, when it actually happened it looked like gang of bullies beating a feckless child. He responded to every claim; he repeated untruths and half-truths.

But at the end of the day, although the panel was right to attack him, it just looked like a bunch of liberal bullies beating up on the racist.

I don’t personally feel any sympathy for Griffin because of this. He deserved every verbal attack the panel gave him, but it demonstrated the fatal flaw of the mainstream parties. Every mainstream party representative argued on racism as a moral issue. It’s just not right to be racist. Griffin argued his own racist views on practical issues such as jobs, housing, and benefits – and his concept of ‘indigenous’ rights.

There are a huge number of myths perpetrated about the number of migrants to the UK that actually “steal jobs” or “go top of the list for housing”, but if Griffin continues to perpetuate the image that he is the only one prepared to do something about it, and the other parties just stutter on about how racism is nasty and wrong, then he will pick up support. The mainsteam parties need to offer better information, not just indignation.

I think the net result of Question Time was that the people who always hated the BNP, hate them just as much as before. Those who were undecided, unsure, or just don’t really trust or engage with politicians – they probably like Griffin a lot more after seeing the mainstream parties attack him on BBC1 tonight.