Using taking the knee to open up a culture war
My thoughts on how I feel about England players taking the knee, the gesture in general and booing fans …
I think taking the knee is a good measure to heighten awareness of racism in society. This is particularly so in the context of racist abuse that black footballers receive each week on social media.
I think fans who boo are racist, whether or not that is their intention. I have tickets for England v Scotland and am taking my grandson. His best mates are black and Asian and I wonder what message it gives him as an 8 year old. If I see someone booing, I would think about reporting it to the police as I think it is a racist act. There is of course a wider point around education but frankly those who boo are in my mind more likely to be around my age (52) than my grandsons age (8).
It is why I reported a fellow West Ham fan a couple of years ago who racially abused Son from Tottenham. It took a great deal of effort and persistence but eventually the perpetrator was dealt with by the police and West Ham.
I therefore think the point around education is perhaps overblown. For instance, society knows rape is wrong, and we need continued education around consent. But I don’t think a lack of education on consent could be used as mitigation in court. And so the same with racism.
What has been equally inexcusable is the glee with which certain senior politicians have used the booing as an opportunity to open up a culture war for supposed political advantage. Talk about following the way the wind blows rather than leading a country into what is right.