Jude Collins

Thursday, 29 March 2012

Racial abuse and the Indo's attitude

Sometimes you just feel ashamed to be Irish. I was browsing through some old copies of the Irish Independent  the other day and I came on a report of a football game 'way back between Ireland and Kenya. The report is headed "What? A whining darkie?" It goes on to deal with a complaint made by some Kenyan players that during the game they'd been racially abused by Irish players. The writer is pretty scornful of this ("Only the kikes could give the darkies a run for their money when it comes to complaining"). The Kenyans claimed that some Irish players were "provocative in the extreme" and referred to them, among other things, as "black bastards". The Indo  commentator can't see what all the fuss was about:  "Actually, it was perfectly good fun and let's be honest - who would turn down the chance to annoy someone from Kenya? Interestingly, the Kenyans now seem to be backtracking slightly, having obviously realised that by screaming 'racism' they just look like a bunch of tools".

What's your reaction - horror? Incredulity? Rage that a piece of dog-dirt like this can appear in a national paper? I'm with you there.

But actually the report wasn't from an old copy of the Indo, it was from last Monday.  And it wasn't about an Ireland-Kenya game,  it was about a recent Armagh-Laois Gaelic game. The  heading was "What? A whining nordie?", and for "kikes" you have to substitute "scousers" and for "black bastards" put in "British bastards".

So now. Have you changed your mind and do you feel with the writer that it was "perfectly good fun", since it was only mocking people from the six counties and not Kenyans?

My own consolation comes from the fact that just as not all British people have the same views on black immigrants as Enoch Powell, so too most people in the south don't have the same view on northerners as the sad little man who scribbled ... Sorry, have to stop now. There's a piece of something stuck to the heel of my shoe and it's giving off a terrible smell.


  1. False analogy. How can white people, let alone white people of the same nationality, be racist to each other? Isn't it more dubious to equate nationality with race? The Irish are not a race, and claiming otherwise opens nationalism to charges of ethnic supremacism.

  2. Don't agree that it's a false analogy, Anon 2:53. You have a point re race - the Irish are indeed one nationality. But self-loathing is, if anything, more pathetic than loathing from others. But if you want to get rid of the race thing as a distraction, stick in 'gay' instead of 'black'. The key point is that it's seen as ok to abuse some groups but appalling to abuse others, just as we pin medals on people for their achievements in killing people in one context, and send them to jail for killing people in another context. Double standards.

    1. Jude,I didnt think that you were a great fan of Independent Papers in general and the Sunday Independent in particular.Are you hard up for something to read?

  3. Anon 8:12 - hahahaa. I could say I need something when we run out of toilet paper but that'd be untrue (as well as unkind to Sir Tony). I keep running into it online. There's just it or the Irish Times - the words 'rock' and 'hard place' spring to mind...

  4. Jude
    Context is everything. Two groups of sport fans abusing each other is very different from a gang of hoods shouting abuse at an individual who is black or gay.
    In some circumstances killing people may arguably be the right thing to do, in others it needs to be punished. That is not double standards it's just rational thinking.
    And in my opinion this instance is laughable self pity from the Armagh ones. And I'm from the orchard county so it's ok for me to say that!

  5. Gio - as so often you're partly right. You're totally wrong to say context is everything - half a second's thought will tell you that's not true. No one is denying that one set of sports fans (I don't remember it being 'each other') shouting abuse is different from people shouting abuse at a black or a gay - but the similarities are obvious. You're entitled to think it's OK to kill people in some circumstances ( I'll assume self-defence - have you others in mind?) but I spoke of not merely justifying but glorying in same. It happens. In some places annually. And you're entitled to think it's laughable self-pity by Armagh fans (and I'm sorry but not everyone can come from Tyrone) but what was it they used to say when people were harassed with sectarianism in the work-place? Ah yes. 'Have you no sense of humour?' Too much self-pity, not enough humour. That's the problem.

  6. Look lets be honest it was funny I wasnt there but Im pretty sure it was tongue in cheek dont you think?- The Armagh players and fans need to grow up a bit. Now if it was say Shamrock Rovers fans chanting british bastards at Linfield fans then it is different, it is no longer funny but provocative. Lets not make this into something it quite clearly isnt. As for your comparison with black bastards I think you will find your out of touch black is fine these days but if you said coloured then you would have PC Britain foaming at the mouth lol.
    As for the GAA they need to worry more about the thug element that seems to be creeping into the game more and more!

  7. Jude
    Thanks for the reply.
    If I called my mate, who is a Unionist, a 'British bastard' he would have a laugh, or more likely, have a yawn. If I shouted the same thing at his daughter on the street, it would be offensive and threatening.
    Context may not be everything but it is certainly relevant.
    To me these things are not black and white, but rather on a spectrum.
    At one end the nasty sectarian bullying reported about the young woman in the Social Services recently. At the other end friendly banter. This incident is closer to the latter than the former.
    Regarding the taking of life, it is too complex for me, but my broad rule of thumb would be,it should be an act of last resort.
    I am not sure what medals are awarded for the actual taking of life. Could you enlighten me?