I have been quite dismayed by the booing of England’s footballers for taking a knee before recent international friendlies and hope this fan behaviour does not extend into their Euro 2020 (2021) campaign (although I rather suspect it will). Gareth Southgate is quite right in his support of his players for making this stance against racism, and I was pleased to read that Eddie Jones has urged supporters to show respect to England’s rugby players should they choose to follow suit in this summer’s Twickenham internationals.
My view is that, when players take the knee, they are not doing so necessarily in support of the “Black Lives Matter” political movement itself. As I have previously said, in its simplest form taking the knee is a gesture of support for those who seek equality and justice and the acknowledgement from those in power that “black lives do matter” when, historically, it is clear that they haven’t mattered and, to many, still don’t. Taking a knee is a simply a stance against racism and to abuse players for taking this stance you are, in my opinion, making yourself part of the problem.
However, let’s just say – for argument’s sake – that the players are actually taking a knee in support of the BLM political movement. What exactly are they supporting?
BLM is, as far as I can see, a political and social movement that protests against police brutality and racially motivated violence against black people and advocates an end to white supremacy. What, I ask myself, is so objectionable about that?
I hear the spurious argument from time to time that, in taking the knee, players are being naive and that they are in fact supporting a Marxist political movement but I see no evidence of that whatsoever. Yes, it may well be that some of BLM’s membership are Marxists, but equally I am sure that – as with other broad movements – plenty of their members are capitalists, socialists, feminists, misogynists, methodists, chiropodists, philatelists, etc…etc…etc
Nevertheless, again for argument’s sake, let us just imagine for one minute that BLM is, in fact, a Marxist organisation. As far as I can make out, a Marxist is someone who supports the political, economic, and philosophical ideas of Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels, the ultimate goal of which is a classless society with fair distribution of goods. Now, while I can see that such a philosophy might upset certain folk at Twickenham (if you are inclined to accept that stereotype), I would suggest that most would agree that a classless society is a worthy enough ideal in itself, no? And yes, I am being slightly facetious here and am ignoring the violent revolution bit, but my point is that the vast majority of people who use the word “Marxist” to attack BLM haven’t the first idea of what Marxism actually is.
Anyway, musings aside, I come back to the basic premise here that sportsmen are perfectly entitled to take a stance against racism and that taking a knee is a perfectly legitimate way of doing so. Of course, as a fan, you have a right to object, but in doing so I do believe you are demonstrating why such a stance by the players is so necessary.
And the fact that so may folk get so upset about this gesture by the players suggests to me that, ultimately, it is having the desired effect.
Total Flanker – the older I get, the better I was
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