Following the England soccer team’s penalty shootout loss to Italy in the Euro 2020 final on Sunday, the three black players who missed their penalty kicks were reportedly subjected to disgusting racial abuse online, including monkey emojis, slurs, and taunts.
Following a goalless period of extra time, England and Italy were tied 1-1. During the penalty shootout, Manchester United’s Marcus Rashford, Borussia Dortmund’s Jadon Sancho, and Arsenal’s Bukaya Saka missed their penalty kicks for England, with Italy emerging victorious as a result. Rashford hit the post with his penalty kick, while Sancho and Saka had their attempts saved by Italian goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma.
The racial abuse hurled at these players was — correctly — rejected by footballing organizations and public figures in England. The country’s Football Association strongly condemned “all forms of discrimination,” saying they were “appalled by the online racism.” Meanwhile, Prime Minister Boris Johnson said that “This England team deserve to be lauded as heroes, not racially abused on social media,” and that “Those responsible for this appalling abuse should be ashamed of themselves.”
However, the reaction of one England player to a statement by another politician — Priti Patel — raised an important point regarding the difference between opposing instances of racism and the unquestioning rejection of so-called “systemic racism.”
On Twitter, Priti Patel — the United Kingdom’s Home Secretary — said that she was “disgusted that England players who have given so much for our country this summer have been subject to vile racist abuse on social media.”
“It has no place in our country,” she added, “and I back the police to hold those responsible accountable.”
Tyrone Mings, a member of England’s squad for the competition, rejected Patel’s condemnation.
“You don’t get to stoke the fire at the beginning of the tournament by labeling our anti-racism message as ‘Gesture Politics’ & then pretend to be disgusted when the very thing we’re campaigning against, happens,” he tweeted in response.
You don’t get to stoke the fire at the beginning of the tournament by labelling our anti-racism message as ‘Gesture Politics’ & then pretend to be disgusted when the very thing we’re campaigning against, happens. https://t.co/fdTKHsxTB2
— Tyrone Mings (@OfficialTM_3) July 12, 2021
Mings was referring to Patel’s description of the English team’s decision to “take the knee” prior to every game as “gesture politics,” and her refusal to criticize fans who booed the team for doing so.
In other words, Mings is arguing that Patel is responsible for instances of racism because she held an opposing view regarding the England team’s choice of “anti-racism” protest.
What we must realize here is that two things can be true at once. First, you can be critical of broad signals of adherence to an ideology with arguable links to “fighting racism.” Second, you can be critical of individual instances of racism. These two positions are mutually exclusive, and it’s both lazy and dangerous to argue otherwise.
“Taking the knee” has vast implications. For some, it’s a simple expression of “racism is bad.” For others, it’s a symbol demonstrative of a left-wing ideology that aims to destroy unrelated elements of western culture, while making the argument that racism is systemic in nature.
Patel — who is of Ugandan and Indian heritage — should not be forced from the platform of debate when it comes to systemic racism because she — like so many others — disagrees with the “take the knee” action or narrative. Moreover, one’s position on “taking the knee” should in no way imply that you endorse racism, or are responsible for any instances of racism that followed.
If you disagree with the broader argument that “taking the knee” is nothing but a statement that “racism is bad,” that doesn’t make you pro-racism. Mings is stunningly ignorant for claiming otherwise.
Ian Haworth is an Editor and Writer for The Daily Wire. Follow him on Twitter at @ighaworth.
The views expressed in this piece are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent those of The Daily Wire.
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