To Kneel Or Not To Kneel, that isn’t the question…

A nation gripped in an uncontrollable surge of racism and racial thuggery and abuse appear to be the narrative in the United Kingdoms Mainstream Media and Political forums. We’re apparently awash with these vile individuals who appear to have permeated every aspect of our lives, abide in every city, town, village and living room across our once green and pleasant land.

A charge, a claim which I find not just extraordinary, but actually rather offensive in its own right.

Primarily because it simply isn’t true.

The national sport of Football in the UK touches and transcends across every demographic imaginable. For the BBC to insinuate that the supporters of this game that we invented are in the majority racist is beyond comprehension.

I’d ask you to conduct a little exercise. Take 30 minutes and scroll through all your close friends and family on your social media channels or do as I did; create a mental image, a kind of mind map checklist. Simply place a red tick next to those who you know, or suspect have some form of racist tendency and a green tick next to those you know do not.

I stopped this exercise at 98 reviews and didn’t have a single red tick mark next to anyone. I genuinely don’t know anyone in my UK based circle of friends and family who has ever expressed any form of racist intent. Now maybe I’m an anomaly, maybe my instincts when it comes to creating friendships steers me towards balanced, human, kind, and considerate people.

But that would be extraordinarily lucky.

How did you get on?

How many racists do you know amongst your family, friends, and work colleagues?

So here is the rub. There is no excuse for any form of abuse of anyone regardless of their identity, race, gender or even origin and I include mocking people with regional accents in this conclusion. In every walk of life, in every social class, you will find the occasional idiot who has no filter, lacks the intellectual capacity to understand right from wrong.

On the odd occasion, you may find someone who has undergone a personal experience, perhaps being the victim of a crime that has determined their opinion on a certain group of people. But they are genuinely in the absolute lowest minority.

So low, that when you conducted your checklist, like me, you realised that you don’t actually know anyone that is a racist.

If you do, you have a responsibility to educate them, to change their mindset and reposition their view on the world. Sitting on social media in mock outrage at the abuse of 3 splendid young men, fabulous role models from our national football team whilst harbouring or tolerating a racist in your own social circle makes you almost culpable.

Now let us just get something into perspective here, because perspective is important. If you tell me you’re a Taliban supporter, I’m probably not going to be very well disposed to you.

If you try to convince me that you agree with hanging homosexuals, I’m probably going to take an instant dislike to you.

If you’re an Australian parading around Kuta in Bali in a Bintang Beer Vest telling jokes about Aborigines, I ain’t your friend and I’ll tell you.

But none of those decisions from the Taliban to the Aussie has anything to do with race. It’s about what you stand for, what you think is acceptable and the poisonous rhetoric that you peddle. In every single case I am entirely within reason to chastise you, criticise you, ridicule you and challenge you. Regardless of your skin colour or race, and I will.

There is another story here, however. One that I know to be true, but which the Mainstream Media and the Politicians appear to be rather hesitant to address. I know it’s true because I’ve witnessed it first-hand in almost every country, I’ve ever lived in.

Racism isn’t the exclusive preserve of white people; racism exists in all races, and it often manifests itself in cultural norms. In many places in the world, racial inequality is even legally condoned and/or enforced and considered perfectly acceptable, in the same way as homophobia and misogyny are. Some of the labour laws, visas and even healthcare legislation in places such as the Middle East for example are shameful.

Take a look at the human rights violations, the servitude of domestic servants, the labour laws for different nationalities and races in Qatar, the home of the next FIFA World Cup!

The irony of that event and location is staggering, one thing is for sure, there won’t be any BLM protests or Pride Events in Doha.

As an Arsenal fan, I’m engaged in a plethora of social media forums across Twitter and Facebook and racism is alive and kicking in all of them after a bad result. But it doesn’t stem from the United Kingdom, it emerges out of the darkness in the form of vile and abusive language from the Middle East, Asia and significantly India.

On only one occasion have I witnessed this kind of abuse coming from what appeared to be a white, UK based individual and it quickly escalated to that person securing some very serious threats to their life from the many who were offended before the account was either deleted or removed by the moderators.

I’m not an apologist, I’m not defending anyone and I’m certainly not saying that the abuse levelled at those three footballers shouldn’t be addressed and shouldn’t be investigated.

Of course, it should, and the perpetrators should be punished accordingly.

But the narrative being played out in the public domain that our country is riddled with these vile individuals is wrong and the discussion needs to be appropriate to the size of the issue.

One final point. The whole Black Lives Matter agenda has if anything convoluted and distorted the narrative in a significantly negative manner. A protest group campaigning to Defund the Police and to Tear Down Capitalism is nothing to with equality. It’s anarchy and its anti-society, the society that we’ve all worked so hard for generations to create and to proudly establish.

You can campaign against racism and inequality without destruction and anarchy. Surely what is needed is an inclusive agenda, a protest group akin to what we saw in the 60s and 70s, peace, love and harmony for every member of our society regardless of their race, gender or background.

Isn’t our ultimate goal one that embraces, respects and harmonises the world for everyone without vilifying and accusing huge swathes of our population for historic misdeeds, historic events that every single nation on earth and every single race has been complicit in at some stage throughout the world’s history and evolution.

The keyword here is evolution. Every age of our species believes they are the finished product, that they are the supreme of our ancestors. That may be true in many ways, but from what I see around me, the hatred, the mistrust, the accusations, the outrage and the search for victims, I’d suggest that we’re actually regressing.

Living in this world today feels more akin to living in the age of the Spanish Inquisition or Witch Hunts.

It needs to stop and it needs to stop now. The racism, the wholesale categorisation and accusations and people need to grow up, unite, collaborate and seek a unified future of equality for everyone regardless of skin colour or any other identifying characteristics.

PS: I won’t be kneeling to any agenda. I’ll do what I’ve always done and stand up straight, be vocal against injustice and actually do something that counts. On the basis of that statement, if you assume I’m a racist, you’re a large part of the problem.

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Darren Ledger

Darren Ledger

Inspirational & Informative Freelance Writer at Hardcore Content Solutions. Olympian Gold Medallist for wearing multiple hats and my heart on my sleeve.