This piece accompanies All is Not Yet Lost: Part I
There was a major football final at Wembley Stadium last Sunday night for the Euros tournament. Please excuse our bias, but England have a great team at the moment, complete with players who are unafraid to speak out about social issues, and a manager who is a true leader and a gentleman. Unfortunately, we lost on penalties, and this led to the usual hostile bigots here racially abusing players of colour on social media after the game. Let’s not even get started on some of the scenes inside and outside the stadium grounds.
We realise that sections of England fans do not deserve this team, who are made up of forward-thinking, progressive people who remind us of what a wonderful place England is, and what it means to be us. Kindness, fairness, humility, dignity, respect, tolerance, integration, hope and equality. All of that good stuff that melts your soul and makes you feel safe and at home. Despite the ugliness that surrounded Sunday’s game during and after, the England football team are a reason to believe that all is not yet lost.
We do not have to be this self-destructive mess that Brexit, Boris Johnson et al want us to be, because it is within that maelstrom of hate and ill-will where they thrive. When the Prime Minister condemned the racist abuse, it is important to remember that this is the man who said it was okay to ‘boo’ when our players took the knee before the start of a game. This is merely the latest in a long, disgraceful track record of racism from Johnson. He referred to Muslim women as ‘looking like letterboxes’. He referred to black people as ‘picaninnies with watermelon smiles’, along with other examples we have previously discussed in older Plague Island articles. Indeed, just Google ‘Boris racism’ and all is there for the world to see.
The England team took the knee because of this kind of abuse that has become all-too familiar to them.
Sadly, Johnson has more in common with those booing fans than he does with the team. It is time to realise that Johnson and some of the
fans spectators are relics of a bygone era. Extinction gladly awaits their world view and ideologies. Dear old Boris is on borrowed time – and he knows it. The Teflon coating is wearing, you see; the dents are beginning to show.
However, therein lies his con-trick: he wants to convince us all that everyone feels the same; that the PM speaks for the nation.
He does not. He speaks for a minority.
So, please don’t allow those fans to frame this tournament, or indeed your opinion of every English person, for they are the minority. Remember the pride we felt as our team progressed through the tournament and then arrived in the final, only to lose in the lottery of penalties. Remember 19 year-old Bukayo Saka taking the last penalty with the expectation of a nation upon his shoulders: he missed, and he cried because it meant so much to him, and to us. He felt the weight of it all, and he has said he knew the abuse that was going to follow.
We must never forget the vile racism that poured from some people after England’s loss. It must never be accepted or normalised. On a more positive note, we should focus on the reaction of the thousands who came out in support of the footballers, and the voices of those footballers themselves, who vocalised experiences that have become all too common for people of colour in this country, with dignity and wisdom beyond their years.
The racism we see, particularly in England, is emboldened by the Prime Minister and his hateful cabinet. We saw the PM and senior members of his party try and backtrack and get on-side, but too many people remember the truth. The PM realised something: in his little trick of setting off culture wars – creating the hostile ‘us vs. them’ environment – it struck him that he was on the losing side, and had bitten off more than he could chew.
Remember that, as a representation of us, those young men embody an emerging new generation, who, as a not-so-young-anymore left-leaning pair of Plague Islanders, we see hope in. We are willing this new generation with their unstoppable energy to turn the tide against the darkness we are currently living under, to a more caring, respectful and dignified society.
May one day we have a PM who holds these values.
The hope and pride we felt for this country whilst watching the Euros football tournament reminds us that a better future is not only possible, but it is already on its way.
A little hope always in these uncertain times, dear readers.
~ L&A 15.7.21 ~
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