Racism, Football and You

By now, every possibly drop of coverage has been wrung out of the Spain-England racism story, and with good reason -- it's a horrific situation based out of one of the most vile of man's failings. However, in the wake of all this, let's not all pile on Spain and the Spanish, and assume that they are the only villans here. Like almost anything else in life, it's not that simple.

First off, despite how hollow and insincere it sounded from the Spanish FA's press liaison, I really am willing to believe that the racist chants came from a minority, and don't reflect the nature of their nation as a whole. I think it's ridiculous to call a nation racist...racism doesn't know any borders. No abstract idea does...the idea of "nation" is an arbitrary one. In our short-attention span age, we've already forgotten what happened to the English team in Macedonia, the Lazio fans unravelling racist banners over in Italy. Are the Macedonians and Italians evil too? If these are racist nations, show me one that isn't.

The thing is, racism is everywhere. Anywhere that men draw breath, there will always be people who feel the need to exclude others -- racism, though a practice built on exclusion, is actually an inclusive practice. It is designed to and thrives on the idea that "we're together because we're not (insert color here). It's ultimaately not surprising that football ends up serving as a lightning rod for this kind of behavior...what is more inclusive than being a sports fan and supporting the same team? In the passion and fervor that sports (especially this one) fosters in people, it ends up not being all that shocking that racism becomes a bit more blatant than it would in other avenues. When 55,000 people are singing about two or three people (separated by the fences and security guards)...man, it sure is easy for those brave thousands to make monkey noises at the two guys down on the field. If Mr. Racist (in Spain, or Macedonia, or the United States, or Australia, or Uganda or...) sees someone of the color they hate (make no mistake...racism goes in every way possible...not just white on black) in a restaurant somewhere, he's not going to make a fucking peep, is he?

I think that when given a hard look, we really are better off than we were in 1950, far better off than we were in 1850, light-years better most likely than in 650. We at least make the pretense in most cases of understanding and caring about one another. And, while FIFA should absolutely punish the Spanish FA for letting this happen, the Spanish FA isn't the barrier between us and a racism-free world...best to be absolutely honest about that.

The barrier between us and a racism-free society is...well...us.


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