By: Stuart White 12-11-2020
UK FA Chairman Greg Clarke resigned this week because he used the term “coloured” to describe black , Asian and minority ethnic people. He also said that “different career interests” led south Asian people to choose careers in IT over sport. He described a gay player coming out as a ‘life choice’ and recounted an anecdote about girl footballers being afraid to be hit by a ball. All of this was just too much for the politically correct police and so he resigned with an apology and statement which included “my unacceptable words...i am deeply saddened that I have offended...”etc. The fact that when Clarke was talking about “coloured” footballers he was condemning the trolling of these ‘ethnic minority’ footballers on social media but the context in this case was irrelevant. He has been publicly humiliated and shamed on the front pages of every national newspaper in the UK. Paying the price for some poor choice of words - ‘Coloured’ is out and ‘Person of Colour’ is in – semantics rule, ok!
It’s all too common these days. Everything to do with women, gays, race etc have become hot-bed issues that we have become incapable of thinking about, never mind speaking about. The problem is that there is one dogma one day and then the next year there is another and it is almost impossible to keep up. When Clarke worked in the US he was told to refer to blacks as coloureds and for a while nearly everyone spoke about gays and life choices but you see these are no longer in vogue, no longer allowed and because Mr Clarke didn’t get the memo or forgot. he is annulled.
You may recall the story of 18 year old American high school student Keziah Daum, who received a backlash for posting photos of herself dressed in a red qipao, a traditional Chinese dress, on prom night. After she posted them online, thousands criticized her choice of wardrobe, accusing her of appropriating the Chinese culture, given she is not of Chinese descent. What was simply a young girl who liked a dress and the look – more appreciation than appropriation – went viral on the internet. Another example was James Damore, a programmer at Google, who was sacked for writing a memo suggesting that some jobs in tech appeal more to men than they do to women!
While examples illustrate this culture which has developed, especially in the last couple of years, of ‘cancelling’ people – careers are coming to an end or people are being ostracized because they have thought about or said something wrong, usually anything to do with race, gender religion or politics. It’s what Douglas Murray in his book ‘The Madness of Crowds’ calls ‘the tripwires of our age’.
Setting aside the fact that the older people can’t keep up, our young people are learning that they live in a society where they can be cancelled immediately. One wrong tweet or a poorly thought-out post on Facebook and in a heartbeat their career or social standing can instantly end. And it’s not just today. Something that you said in 2000, a costume you wore at a Halloween party sometime or a casual using of the word ‘faggot’ when you were younger can all be brought up today to still be held against you.
We are supposed to understand the trans movement which for most of is difficult, not to mention binary and non-binary and the possibility of offending if we don’t refer to him or her, as it or them, or they. And this thinking is not limited to our universities – it’s everywhere now - at our places of work and in our homes, backed up with some big stages to promote it, such as most of Hollywood. These impossible-to-keep-up-with demands make us petrified to offend anyone which results in us censoring ourselves before someone else does it for us.
The last few years have been specifically prickly when it comes to women. They are breaking the glass ceiling everywhere and so they should as they had to overcome many ingrained prejudices. All of those equality issues started as legitimate human rights claims but then as Murray states in his book, ‘not content with being equal they have started to settle on the unsustainable positions such as ‘better’. The problem for the rest of us however is that if your foot even brushes against the freshly laid tripwire you are labelled ‘bigot’, ’homophobe’, ‘sexist’, ‘misogynist’, ‘racist’, and transphobe.’ What is the point of making the relations between the sexes so fraught that half the male species could be treated as though it is cancerous, having to put up with terms like ‘mansplaining’, ‘toxic masculinity’ and so on?
I am not suggesting that we stop the fight for any of these things. I am just concerned about the over -correction. I did not find Clarke’s comments offensive, outdated yes, but not enough to be sacrificed at the FA alter because of the issues going on in UK football today or its history with it not being an inclusive sport. I don’t support conducting a witch hunt as if to prove we are now morally better because we catch people out when they say the wrong things. It’s the same feeling I have about tearing down statues of historical leaders.
Murray describes it as like a new religion. Of course, it has its appeal. Who doesn’t want to be in favour of equal rights for women and people who are gay or people of colour? It becomes a way that people demonstrate their virtue - by taking up the fight! The fact is we will never get everything to be equal because it is not and can not be. I am not saying inequality should be allowed – that’s another debate – just that all the wishing in the world will not turn an apple into an orange.
Murray sums it up beautifully “If you are being asked to believe that there are no differences between homosexuality and heterosexuality, men and women, racism and anti-racism then this will in time drive you to distraction. The distraction – or crowd madness - is something we are in the middle of and something we need to try and find our way out from.”
You know the lines –
‘Clowns to the left of me, jokers to the right,
Here I am, stuck in the middle with you’.
Suddenly the centre is quite an appealing place to be!