IF the England football team’s manager Gareth Southgate could talk once again to the grandfather whose memory and wartime service he sententiously invoked in his ill-judged and poorly argued ‘Dear England’ attempt last week to justify his players’ continued genuflection to the extreme-Left Black Lives Matter movement, he could be in for a shock.
I suspect the old boy might tell him that, whatever it was that he did his World War II military service for – whether trying to do his bit for the country and survive or just hoping not to let his comrades down – what it certainly wasn’t for was the abolition of capitalism, the defunding of the police, the destruction of the family as the primary non-State societal institution, and the overthrow of white supremacist patriarchy.
Yet however much Southgate, his cosseted, beneficiaries-of-capitalism millionaire players and his woke bosses at the FA might like to delude themselves otherwise, that’s the agenda to which they’re genuflecting. Their weaselly ‘the sentiment, not the movement’ excuse doesn’t hold up for one minute, and not only when there’s an almost wholly uncontentious and arguably even more effective alternative available in the form of the FA’s own linked-arms ‘Kick It Out’ gesture.
There’s also a helpful analogy from the past. Had Southgate been in the England team which infamously gave the Nazi salute in Berlin in 1938, would he have insisted that he wasn’t actually endorsing Lebensraum-by-conquest and the anti-Semitic Nuremberg race laws, but merely approving all those wonderful new autobahns?
The very idea is risible. The gesture is inseparable from the agenda, especially when the gesture itself, apart from its religious connotations, signifies submission, both historically and atavistically. To argue that it’s merely another form of the more unifying, alternative ‘Kick It Out’ message is disingenuous. The two gestures don’t have the same meaning, at all, and to argue that they do conveys either ignorance or a contempt for the public’s intelligence.
Yet it’s the latter which the football and broader ‘liberal’ establishments have chosen to double down on, to the extent of trying to either censor critics by attributing base motives to them, or even deny them the basic right of free speech to show their disapproval or express a dissenting opinion.
Mention on social media, as several people did (including, it must be said, yours truly), that while England continue to take the knee, you would instead be more inclined to favour teams that didn’t, is to attract accusations of either outright racism, lack of patriotism, or of being ‘Right-wing’ – the latter two being a particularly curious combination, when patriotism is usually damned by the ‘progressive’ chattering classes as an overwhelmingly ‘Right-wing’ phenomenon.
That six of the seven countries reported earlier in the week as not taking the knee however, are countries whose recent history includes living under totalitarianism, and can therefore arguably better recognise it when they see it, or that revulsion with the movement being supported can displace one’s normal sporting loyalty, or that critics whatever their view on the salient issue merely feel that politics should be kept out of sport altogether, appears to be a nuance too far.
Others have gone even further. As Gary Oliver described in his TCW article of 10th June, elements of the woke virtue-signalling football punditocracy are even calling for supporters to be denied access to games unless undergoing in effect compulsory indoctrination in BLM’s core ideology of Critical Race Theory; which, given the tight timescale, is equivalent to silencing.
The metropolitan-based mainstream media, unsurprisingly, appears near-unanimous in its endorsement of Southgate’s and his players’ attitude, despite the obvious flaws and illogical conclusions with which their arguments are peppered; presumably, the MSM has its woke readerships and audiences uninterested in football to satisfy.
But when football becomes a medium for impliedly threatening its fans’ right to something as fundamental as free speech, we’re entitled to ask if there isn’t a deeper factor behind it. For it seems clear this is no longer about just football per se, or even racism (or so-called ‘anti-racism’, given that anti-white racism of the BLM variety is now routinely described as ‘anti-racism’), but about free speech itself.
Never mind that The Spectator’s Rod Liddle has painstakingly explained how it’s the political baggage of hard-Left anti-capitalist Marxism and the rest of the BLM package that fans object to, along with the hijacking of the sport by Woke Corporatism anxious to demonstrate its virtue by hectoring its supporters out of their assumed neandertal wrong-think.
Facilitated and fuelled by the absence of crowds during Covid lockdown, the attempted colonisation of football by divisive political identitarianism has provided the latest excuse for the ‘tolerant’, ‘liberal’, progressive-cosmopolitan chattering classes to express their contempt for the masses while pretending to be high-minded about it. It has become the latest weapon in the oikophobic woke elites’ culture war against the uneducated, unenlightened plebs whom they cannot forgive for bringing about Brexit and installing the bien-pensants’ bogeyman Boris Johnson in Downing Street. Viewed through that prism, the attempted censorship becomes explicable.
It’s quite remarkable that so few seem to have noticed how football clubs, players, pundits and authorities are busy trashing and abandoning their traditional supporters in almost precisely the same way as the Labour party did theirs. Well, we know how unsuccessful that’s been so far, and it hasn’t run its entire course yet.
Finally, football’s 2022 World Cup is to be based in that bastion of human rights, Qatar, where women are second-class citizens who are lashed for comitting adultery, South Asian construction workers are treated in conditions almost as close to modern slavery as it’s possible to get, and homosexuality is illegal, punishable by imprisonment or even death.
No doubt our newly socially-conscienced international footballers, their coach and their governing body will register their abhorrence by ruling themselves out for selection? Don’t hold your breath.