We live in strange times
Why are they strange? Well, our culture is dominated by political correctness. And that political correctness dominates the way we think..and the way we judge.
The Suarez-Evra case was always going to blow the lid from the proverbial coffee jar. In the UK we take race about as seriously as any nation on the planet. We have laws that protect our citizens against having their colour or creed used against them. Of course, racists still exist on this island nation..Racism is terminal and has no cure…but we do our best to suppress it. We take its wind from its sails. The fight against it should be something we are proud of. Tolerant Britain is more than just a mindset. It’s an achievement. An achievement many other first world countries can not claim as their own.
As a person that was given this colour by the DNA mixing of my parents, I have indeed been subjected to a myriad of racism over the years. I am 35 years old. And most of that racism I suffered happened as a kid in the 1980s. We would all agree that the face of racism has changed since then. Our modern culture’s ambition to police our morals more than say…our banks, has led to the big cornerstones of discrimination (racism, sexism, homophobia, etc) to be put in a definable box. This allows us to control it. And if you are directly effected by these things, this can only be a good thing.
So the questions pop up: What exactly did Suarez call Evra? After the Uruguayan alluded to the language he uses and that is “normal from where I come from” you don’t have to be a rocket scientist to guess. The FA commissions evidence will soon be released and we will all know. But in this tabloid headline driven heart of England…the question has morphed into: Is Luis Suarez a racist?
My opinion is that Luis Suarez is not a racist. He probably never has been…and probably never will be.
But that is NOT the issue here.
The charge to answer here is not of Suarez’s philosophy on race. It is whether he used Evra’s race against him on the football pitch to gain a psychological edge. As the FA have given the Liverpool player an 8 match ban, I would say its pretty conclusive that question has been answered in full.
People blur the lines of what being a racist truly is…and I find it’s the white population that doesn’t fully understand this more than those in the direct firing line (note: you can also be racially abused if you have a white skin colour. It’s not exclusive to our darker skin tones) The indigenous population as a whole are thoroughly disgusted by racism of any form…but this outrage smashes the technical principles of what defines a true racist. So if you use terms of race as Suarez has…or as Ron Atkinson grossly did…then you are automatically a racist…like if you kill someone with a knife, you are automatically a murderer. I’m sorry, but the two are not definable by the same means.
Race can be used against you in so many ways. But the most common way is to belittle you. In a situation of ‘heat’ it is not uncommon for one or both parties to overstep the line, once the insults start flying. It takes a bigger man to not partake or retaliate. So when the race card is used by someone that automatically makes them racist? No. It makes them ignorant. They may not ‘hate’ that race. They may not blink twice as they pass a black man in the street. But through opportunism and maybe even a lack of intelligence..they will strike out in the worst form possible. This is not racism. Suarez insulted Evra to get under his skin. To wind him up. That doesn’t make him any less guilty of the charge in hand. In fact it proves that charge. But the line of what is racism and what isn’t, is a shade of metallic grey as opposed to black or white. Like if you use the term ‘gay’..are you directly homophobic? Of course not.
What is the most dangerous thing about all of this case is the general apathy and malaise from some sections of the public on the subject matter. ‘Evra has got form’, ‘It’s a storm in a teacup’, ‘ Suarez is a good bloke’, ‘it was all a bit of banter’ & ‘football isn’t the same as any other work place’ …..all of these are excuses. This is not a matter of football. This isn’t about the obvious rivalry of United and Liverpool. If this happened in any other workplace or scenerio, the nation would be up in arms. Remember Jade Goody and Shilpa Shetty?? (was Jade a true racist? No..but not to speak ill of the dead, she was certainly ignorant) It would lead to a dismissal and a firm conclusive end. As much as footballers wish to believe they are exempt from normal society (driving their Aston Martins around at 120mphs) they most certainly are not when it comes to race. Football also believes that homosexuality doesn’t exist. ..And thank God women don’t play the game eh?! Imagine the problems in the changing rooms?
Liverpool’s statement is the epitome of everything that is wrong in the game..and thankfully the boot is not on the Man Utd foot, because today I would have to slam my football club. If you think Suarez is innocent then defend the man in the correct manner. Do not release an emotive statement of how Suarez can’t be a racist because he’s mixed race…because he’s got colleagues he has never been racist towards…that Evra can’t be trusted…it is all complete smoke and mirrors, and deflects away from the only question at hand that is…Did he use racist language? As I’ve said the charge isn’t about whether Suarez is a racist. Already this has turned into ‘Its because we are scousers’…Dalglish has whipped up the situation with a ‘Lets not let Luis walk alone’ tweet. Not ‘Lets find out the truth’. The statement and Dalglish’s position are all designed to get the fans riled up and firing. Racism is being used for football’s own pathetic means. If Ferguson had done that on this subject matter I would be truly disgusted. No wonder why the homosexual footballers of our nation wont come out of the closet. Our game stinks of hypocrisy.
This for once is not about Mancunians or Scousers. Or about black people or white people. It is not about real racism, or gas chambers, or genocide, or extreme xenophobia created by the austerity our countries are going through right now. It is about whether one bloke overstepped the mark…in what is deemed a nasty and unacceptable manner. But nasty and unacceptable in Uruguay?? Well this is England. Suarez works in England. He lives in full-time residence in England. He pays taxes to the British government. If someone called me a name referring to my race I would happily report them…and im delighted Evra did the same. The bad side of me would want to also remove their teeth…and im very happy Evra didn’t do that…because that’s what Suarez would have wanted. Eric Cantona was racially abused by a fan and paid for it with the best part of a year of his career. In 2011 I would rather a player took the proper channels and risked the ridicule Patrice will now suffer, rather than Kung Fu kick an ignorant and unintelligent person in the face.
To close, I touched on Ron Atkinson earlier. Big Ron championed the black footballer. Ask John Barnes and he will tell you how not racist the former United manager is. But Ron used a racist term. He got caught out. People will automatically assume that Atkinson is a massive racist, dancing around his home in KKK gear he got mail order…burning crosses in his back garden. As we know this is not true. Ron’s ultimate punishment is the stigma that sticks when you are associated with racism…whether you are a fully fledged member of the BNP or not. Suarez’s punishment is the same. When his eight games are done, people will look back in years to come and say ‘that is the bloke who racially abused a fellow pro…but thankfully we live in a country that rejects such things and punishes accordingly’
That is Suarez’s true sentence. And if you do the crime…you have to do the time.
We all have freedom of choice. Suarez chose what came out of his mouth. Liverpool fans may try to defend him with their faux reasonings, but at the end of the day….this is a very simple case to answer. I’m proud of Patrice Evra…that he didn’t turn a blind eye. And for once im proud of our FA…Why? Well… what did the Spanish FA do when their manager racially abused Thierry Henry? The FA have made the type of statement that Sepp Blatter couldn’t give a monkeys about in his ivory tower, where racism does not exist.
Racism will never walk alone. Because we will always be there to fight it. Luis Suarez needs to take his medicine like a man.