by Martin Odoni

It is quite impressive how the racist fringe in this country are able to find a million different names for their mind-set. All of them can be objectively described with the same definition, but none of them will be given the name ‘racism’. Be the name they give it, “Non-PC,” or, “Anti-woke,” or, “edgy,” or, “I am the Member of Parliament for the Labour Party in Warrington,” they all mean they have problems with some race or other for no reason other than their race.

It is also interesting to note how these people are far more sensitive to observing protests against racism done in ways that white people might dislike, than they are to observing displays of actual racism.

Kaepernick v the malicious Hodges – and I do not mean Margaret this time

Consider Dan Hodges. He is a ‘journalist’, by an incredibly wide definition of the term, with the Sunday Mail. He is also the son of actress and former Labour MP Glenda Jackson, a left wing woman who must cringe in shame when she sees what a right wing monster her son has ‘grown up’ to be. He is bullying, accusatory, petty, and completely alien to the notion of right-and-wrong. He is especially bad at understanding the key principle that, should your point require lies to sustain it, the point is clearly incorrect and therefore should not be upheld.

Hodges is very sensitive to how white people feel about the practice of the current England football team of ‘Taking-The-Knee’. This practice began in the USA as a protest against State racism, particularly police racism. The man who initiated it was Colin Kaepernick, an NFL quarterback who had come to fame with the San Francisco 49ers. He had adopted the practice in response to criticism he got for refusing before games kicked off to sing, or stand-to-attention during, the US National Anthem, due to his (correct) feeling that he and other Black Americans were treated as inferior by the American state. In particular, he could bear no longer how too many US Police officers see black people as open gun fodder.

For Kaepernick’s troubles, when his contract with the 49ers expired in 2017, he was offered no extension, and has not been recruited by any other NFL team since.

“Taking-The-Knee” goes viral

But Kaepernick’s innovation of “Taking-The-Knee” before games very much caught on, with first baseball and basketball players emulating him across North America. Then it spread around the world into all manner of sports. Early in the pandemic in 2020, players at Liverpool Football Club would take-the-knee before training sessions, then Newcastle United players followed suit. For all of the resumed 2019/20 Premier League season post-pandemic, and the whole of the 2020/21 season, matches were preceded by players on all teams taking-the-knee.

The England football team were determined to sustain the practice during this summer’s European Championships (“Euro 2020”), and sure enough, they kneeled before the kick-off of every single match, in solidarity with all efforts to fight racism. (Anyone suggesting these efforts are a futile gesture – or “gesture politics” as the utter hypocrite Home Secretary Priti Patel put it before putting on an England shirt as an ingratiating political gesture – should pause to consider, with so many people talking about it, that clearly is not true.)

England and Germany players at Wembley defy the boo-boys and take-the-knee together to protest racism

Sadly, the racist/hard-right elements that the England football team never quite seems able to escape from in its fanbase were unhappy, and prior to most of the games, this reactionary element booed at their own players as they knelt. England actually reached the final of the tournament, but lost in a penalty shoot-out. Sadly, all three of the players who missed penalties were black, and they were scapegoated by the reactionary fans, who sent them vile racist abuse over social media. One of the players, Bukayo Saka, who is only a teenager and was still distraught over the missed penalty, was so shocked and hurt by messages he received that he had to shut down his Instagram account. Thankfully, the three players have received far more messages of solidarity and support, but, for Saka in particular, the damage is already done.

Hodges treats different battles against racism in different ways

Hodges, who practically cheer-led the media conspiracy to give credence to ‘rampant anti-Semitism in the Labour Party’ while Jeremy Corbyn was Labour leader, was never sympathetic at all to anyone who pushed back against the prevailing narrative. He and other media frauds like James O’Brien of LBC Radio just emotionally-blackmailed anyone, who protested that the narrative was wildly exaggerated, that they were “part of the problem.” Even though the evidence overwhelmingly demonstrated that the narrative was indeed a nonsense, and the number of people involved was literally down in double-digits.

But now, when the people being accused are right wingers, and the victims are very evidently genuine victims, Hodges is insisting that we must be careful not trush-to-judgement, and to be understanding of the accused. We must, he says, take a nuanced view of what is happening. He refuses to hear out left wingers accused of anti-Semitism, but right wingers accused of anti-black racism must get a hearing. He seems little troubled by the very real racist behaviour towards the likes of Saka and his two team-mates, Jadon Sancho and Marcus Rashford – yes, the same Marcus Rashford I have been calling on to stand for Leader of the Opposition and one day for Prime Minister (and I still do).

A load of Hodgewash

The pushback against England players ‘Taking-The-Knee’ may not be coming from actual racists, insists Hodges, and many of those who oppose it simply want a different form of protest to be used, one that is British and less likely to hurt white people.

How many different ways of protesting racism will we go through before you find one that you can accept, Hodges?

(Funny, again, how Hodges never listened to those pushing back against the way the Board of Jewish Deputies were putting together their ‘anti-racism protests’, which usually took the form of unevidenced smears, personal attacks, quotations taken wildly out-of-context, and political conflations of Jews with Israel, which are, in themselves, anti-Semitic. I find all that far more objectionable as ‘a way of protesting,’ but even though I am myself Jewish, no one in the Fleet Street Bubble seems willing to listen to me. But we must listen to football fans pushing back against people for kneeling down for a few seconds?)

BLM is Marxist? So what?

The rationalisation for why this pushback against kneeling is, once again, ‘not racist’ is that the official Black Lives Matter movement in the USA is another one that has copied Kaepernick’s practice, and they are assumed, not very accurately, to be a ‘Marxist organisation.’ Even if that were dead-on accurate, simply calling them ‘Marxist’ does not necessarily invalidate them. More importantly, just because the England players are using a similar form of protest, that does not mean they agree with everything that BLM says. They did not copy the practice from BLM, but from other sportsmen who were in turn copying Kaepernick.

(This point about, “the gesture looks the same, therefore you must be the same people,” is clearly fallacious. But for anyone struggling to see what is wrong with it, let me suggest an alternative example; the Roman Salute was performed by standing straight-backed and straight-legged, with a straight arm with hand and fingers pointed in the same direction, at a 45-degree upwards-angle from the body. The Nazi Salute in World War II was identical. Does that mean that when Joachim von Ribbentrop was performing the salute for Adolf Hitler, he was doing so in the capacity, not of Germany’s Reichsminister of Foreign Affairs, but of a Roman Centurion and Prefect of the Goths?)

A narrowly British anti-racism signal is not solidarity

As for needing a ‘British’ version, how ridiculous is Hodges being? The whole idea is absolute solidarity with victims of racism everywhere. If you are only going to display solidarity in a national way, one that may not be understood overseas, you will defeat the object. Especially as an insular, national approach is in a sense a form of racism, or at least parochialism in itself.

Hodges is doing what so many ‘anti-anti-racists’ (a strange recent Americanism, which really just means ‘racists’) have a lousy habit of doing. That is, putting the sensitivities of racists ahead of the sensitivities of the victims of racism – prioritising white people’s discomfort at being accused of racism over black people’s torment at being racially victimised – but finding a way around the real reason for the objection. That real reason is of course, some racists just want to keep behaving in a racist way because it makes them feel powerful, but do not want the nametag applied to them. See paragraph 1.

And Hodges’ call for a new way of protesting racism is transparent rubbish. That is because ‘Taking-The-Knee’ is already a fairly new way. Kaepernick only invented it about five years ago, and he did so in response to ‘anti-anti-racists’ in the Murdoch media getting angry about the previous way he had been protesting (boycotting the US National Anthem).

Changing the form of protest never works

This leads us to the real underlying truth.

It is not the method of protest that bothers them. It is simply the presence of protest

Hodges does not want protests against racism, except those, such as fake anti-Semitism claims by the right against the left, that reinforce powered interests wishing to remain in power. Black people, both in the USA and all across Europe, are not powered interests at all. They are almost always in a weak, disadvantaged position, and the very few who are able to break out of that position are generally still worse off than white counterparts. Hodges does not want those sorts of racial victims protected. Oh no. Instead, he and others like him speak up for the tormentors, and ask that the protests be modified to make the tormentors feel better.

This pattern has gone on for years and years, and if ‘Taking-The-Knee’ comes to an end, the next form of protest that replaces it will meet the same resistance and the same argument will play out again. Think back; –

The right wing insisted that physical resistance is the wrong way to protest racism.

The right wing insisted that verbally speaking out against racism is the wrong way to protest racism.

The right wing insisted that marching against racism is the wrong way to protest racism.

The right wing insisted that holding up a sign objecting to racism is the wrong way to protest racism.

The right wing insisted that boycotting the National Anthem is the wrong way to protest racism.

Now the right wing insist that kneeling against racism is also the wrong way to protest racism.

Any approach anti-racists take next will therefore also be dismissed as ‘the wrong way’. The ‘anti-anti-racists’ will offer no coherent or sustainable reason why it is also ‘the wrong way.’ And of course, absolutely no guidance as to what method of protesting is ‘the right way’ will be offered either. All that the protesters will be told is that the method they have chosen is ‘the wrong way,’ and that they have to find another way that does not make white people uncomfortable.

The right wing push back against anti-racism and ignore actual racism

It goes without saying that at no stage do the ‘anti-anti-racists’ make much effort to tell the racists that being a racist is also wrong – indeed far more wrong. Look at the Muppet-Show-intellectual, Nigel Farage. He actually accused the England players of being divisive for ‘Taking-The-Knee’, defended the booing by England fans, and then a month later apparently had absolutely nothing to say when England players got racially abused.

Call this a rule-of-thumb if you like, but there have been so many of them over the last few years treated as gospel truth that I no longer care; if someone cares more about how racists are feeling than how their victims are feeling, it is because they only care about their own feelings.

And anyone who approves of a smear campaign but not of spending five seconds perched on a knee is not a journalist. He is a criminal.

Is there anything good to be said of Dan Hodges? My apologies to various species of small bird for the comparison, by the way.