Tag Archives: Racism

Racism in Sport

Brian Phillips compares soccer hooliganism to American fans’ troubled relationship with black NBA players. A taste:

Unlike American racism, which can be seen as an internal social problem transformed by changing attitudes within one overarching culture, the history of European nationalism was decided by relatively recent battles between armies whose sources of legitimacy were external to one another. Thus, to forestall the unanswerable shame that attaches itself to overt expressions of prejudice in American sports (Rush Limbaugh on Donovan McNabb, even Shaq when Yao first came into the league), prejudice in soccer can fall back on the dim memory of concrete populist ideologies. That’s not to say that the shirtless gentleman holding the corner of the “Filthy Gypsy” banner is a learned proponent of any identifiable right-wing philosophy, but there’s at least a vaporous sense that attitudes like his loathing for Ibrahimović were not long ago articulated by governments and embraced by respectable people. Which is enough to give them a perverse air of community justification, even when all the institutional forces in the sport are consciously trying (again, much more emphatically than the NBA) to eradicate racism and sectarianism from the game.

Read the whole thing. The standard response to this sort of unpleasantness is something along the lines of “nationalist hooligans, Nazi skinheads, signs that read “Filthy Gypsy” – these are the last gasps of Europe’s ancient history.” But I’ve always sensed that something beyond aging racists is at work here, and it’s striking that many of Europe’s youngest, most dynamic politicians – Jorg Haider, Geert Wilders, the late Pim Fortyun – all hail from the reactionary fringe.

Is Europe’s liberal gentility a carefully-constructed facade that cracks as soon as foreign footballers take the pitch? Or are sports hooligans a relic of the past, refugees from Europe’s impending “End of History?” A few weeks ago, Will Wilkinson suggested that liberal habits are mutually-reinforcing, pointing to Europe’s ability to sustain a liberal democratic order despite rapidly expending its reserves of cultural capital. I worry that liberal habits are too shallow to keep the peace, and that football riots and race-baiting banners tell us more about the fundamentals of Europe’s political culture than placid economic conferences in Brussels.


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Filed under Culture, Liberalism, Sports

The Case for Hate Crimes Legislation

The idea of prosecuting hate crimes has always seemed vaguely distasteful, but this sort of thing gives me pause (via):

Like countless other Americans that night, a group of young Staten Island men gathered on Nov. 4 to watch election results, and then took to the streets when it became clear that the country had elected its first black president.

But, the authorities say, they were not out to celebrate. Armed with a police-style baton and a metal pipe, they attacked a black teenager, pushed another black man, harassed a Hispanic man and, in a finishing flourish, ran over a white man who they thought was black, leaving him in a coma, the authorities said.

Given the racially charged nature of these attacks, I think the argument for hate crimes prosecution is reasonably persuasive. Targeting racial or religious minorities incurs serious psychological harms that may warrant additional punishment. I suppose it’s possible to argue that quantifying psychological or emotional injury is extremely subjective and therefore shouldn’t be parsed in a courtroom, but plaintiffs seek financial redress for emotional damages all the time. So if we’re going to let people to sue for monetary compensation, shouldn’t we implement a similar calculus to punish racially-charged attacks?


Filed under Race, The Courts


It’s rare to stumble across an unambiguously racist comment on a putatively mainstream political website, so I was pretty shocked when this popped up  (emphasis mine):

Setting aside the fact that Israel is a friend to the Western world while many Palestinians would prefer to see us dead, that Israel wants peace and the Palestinians want genocide, and that the Pals are a pathetic, parasitic, backwards, savage, unsympathetic people who wouldn’t know what to do with a state if they had it, consider the message that is sent when the world backs these sort of tactics.

The word “racist” gets thrown around with aplomb these days, so it’s important to distinguish between bog-standard blogospheric vitriol and a few cold, hard facts. Describing the Palestinian people as uniformly savage and parasitic is about as racist as you can get.

A few months ago, William Brafford wrote about my least-favorite political disclaimer: “Yes, I’m a conservative, but not that kind of conservative.” I won’t pretend that my disgust with the movement’s ugly underbelly is somehow representative of the Republican Party’s welldocumented troubles with the youth vote, but the fact that a movement organ will publish something like this without batting an eye says something extremely disturbing about the state of American conservatism.

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Filed under Conservatism

Minority Outreach

Go Republicans!

TPM Election Central notes today that South Carolina Republican Party Chairman and recently declared candidate for RNC chairman, Katon Dawson, was formerly a member of a the 80-year-old whites-only Forest Lake country club.

In August, Dawson did indeed send a letter to the country club calling for it to open its doors to minorities. But Dawson, who had been a member for 12 years, only sent the letter after reports of the club’s racist membership rules appeared in the The State newspaper.

Somehow I doubt hosting a few more symposiums on urban vouchers is going to solve this sort of persistent image problem. We could go the direct route and kick all the racists out of the fucking party, but that’s crazy talk!

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Filed under Conservatism, Politics