Before world war two, Tottenham, in north London, was disproportionately Jewish. It is a poor area. Since the war, Jews tended to move upward, and black and Asian immigrants took their place. It also has a football team.
At one time, fans tried to put black (or French, or Argentinian) players in rival teams off their game by chanting racist insults. More recently, some fans have chanted anti-racistinsults at players who have been charged with racism. It’s all about doing whatever you can to hinder the other team. It’s not about racism; it’s about winning.
But the football authorities cannot see it like that. A black footballer is an employee, and is as entitled to protection from abusive customers as an employee of a bank. So taking out civil, not criminal, proceedings, against abusive fans is part of clubs’ obligations to their employees. It is reasonable to bar fans who chant offensive slurs at black players from attending games.
Shouting the n-word at French-African footballer Thierry Henry is clearly grounds for exclusion. But what about calling him a ‘frog’? I don’t think so. It’s all about history. Britain hasn’t oppressed the frogs for centuries, and besides, it was a fair fight.
OK, so what about ‘anti-semitic’ chanting toward Tottenham Hotspur fans? This has been going on for decades, and nobody took it seriously. Tottenham fans call themselves ‘yids’, and wave Israeli flags. Even when rival fans sing songs about Auschwitz and make a hissing sound like gas, no reasonable Tottenham fan complains. Whereas Afro-Caribbeans and South Asians have sometimes been victims of racial violence in England during the last fifty years, this is not true of Jews. West Ham fans are not about to put anyone in a gas chamber. It’s all a – admittedly, extremely tasteless – joke.
But political correctness knows no limits, as the history of the Soviet Union shows. Once you let a bunch of humourless bureaucrats tell you what you can say, they will try to extend their power. Following the suspension of Chelsea captain John Terry for an unproven allegation of racist language, Britain’s black lawyers’ association and other ‘anti-racist’ organizations decided to see how far they could push it. Supported by the Community Security Trust, they demanded that the authorities clamp down on ‘anti-semitism’. They didn’t say anything about the Israeli flags.
Following last Sunday’s game at Tottenham, several West Ham fans have been charged with thought crimes for participating in the traditional banter.
The vast majority of Tottenham fans aren’t the slightest bit offended by songs suggesting that Hitler is going to gas us. We revel in it. Winning is all that matters.