On your knees-or else!
FIRST, let me apologise to fellow columnist Rev Walker, as I’m going to mention what we used to call “sport.” I find it’s best to apologise first these days, just in case I’ve written anything worthwhile (on bended knee, of course).
Here we go. UK Football is back. It was bad enough watching the players come on the pitch with the words “Black Lives Matter” plastered all over their shirts, but when they all got on one knee the moment they arrived (including the officials), I fell to my knees as well, but in despair (I suspect most football fans joined me, probably with their head in their hands). Had both teams been “re- educated” by their newly appointed “thought police” coach? It wouldn’t surprise me.
Can anyone explain how such a mindlessly submissive political gesture has found a place in a competitive, supposedly “contact” sport? No? Neither can I. Any player not conforming must be a racist, mustn’t he? What utter rot! These days, you are not just condemned for what you do, but for what you don’t do. That is now enough to see you cast out to the nether regions of Coventry (just promoted I hear). Your name is blackened, you see (Oops, sorry, not supposed to say that, slip of the tongue, grovel, grovel, etc). This obviously repellent word has been replaced by a much more “civilised” one. Namely — “racist”. A big improvement (I don’t think).
Now, as any number of football supporters will tell you, I’m not a great fan. Rugby Union is my preferred game, but even at Twickers, there’s no escape from the madness. The RFU have announced their intention to (wait for it) “re- educate” their supporters. I see. That phrase has a somewhat familiar and rather alarming ring to it, doesn’t it? The Soviet Union had some great “re-education” centres. They were called “The Gulag.”Just the place for a little friendly advice and a nice break from all that non-conformity you suffer from. And what great advance in human understanding are the RFU contemplating? England supporters would be told not to sing “Swing Low Sweet Chariot” as they cheer England on (it will be interesting to see the supporters “go forth and multiply” reaction to it). Apparently, this traditional negro (oops, done it again) spiritual is (you guessed it) “racist,” because of its associations with slavery. Now, can we be absolutely clear about this, the hymn was sung by slaves, but as an uplifting and defiant rejection of their subjugation and their undying belief that eventual salvation from their misery lay in their Christian faith. What the hell is racist about that? It’s a tribute to the spirit of the racially oppressed. For anyone who doesn’t know (and the RFU are not letting on if they do) the “Chariot” referred to is the vehicle that transported the prophet Isaiah up into heaven, which had to “swing low” to pick him up. Are the RFU really going to silence such an inspiring and literally uplifting chorus of support, enthusiastically voiced by England supporters of all racial origins, from which their team has benefited on so many occasions? In these days of complete UK lunacy, you can bet your non- conforming life they probably will.
Picture the scene — England face New Zealand. The Kiwi’s launch into their “Haka”, a Maori traditional welcome, which for the more sensitive souls amongst us, might appear to be rather aggressive, certainly more so than any part of “Swing Low.”That’s fine. The “Haka” is spectacular and causes no sane person any offence whatsoever. I find it rather inspiring. But if Maoris can take pride in their traditions and origins, so should we be able to. We should certainly not be branded “racists” when we do. Maoris are not “racist” and neither are we.
Meanwhile (God forbid), the England team respond by “taking the knee.” Kneeling is no act of respect, of any kind, it’s an act of submission, of surrender, of admitting defeat, of capitulating. As the Rt. Hon Dominic Raab MP recently pointed out, he knelt when asking his wife to marry him. The only other person he kneels to is the Queen. Quite. I’m with him all the way. What did he receive in return? A torrent of vile abuse. Like him, I’m proudly a subject of Her Majesty the Queen and have no problem in demonstrating the fact, whenever required. She is the embodiment of the country I love and the freedoms it grants me (or used to). I’ve sworn allegiance to her on three occasions. Anybody else demanding I get on my knees, can take a very long walk off a very short pier.
Silently bowing the head is the genuine mark of respect. I do it (sadly these days, far too often) at funerals, in memory of those who have left us, or when honouring all those who have died in the service of the Crown, whatever their race. Grovelling on one knee has no place on any of these occasions, nor should it have one on any other, certainly not during sporting events. Politics and sport do not mix, nor should they.
When Princess Diana tragically died I couldn’t help but feel uncomfortable with what I considered was the totally over the top, almost hysterical wave of public grief that gripped the land, especially on the day of her funeral. Anyone simply wanting to silently show their respect for the Princess, bowing their head as the coffin passed, was looked upon in horror, as some sort of emotionally deficient weirdo, by the flower throwing, wailing mass. That day was the first sign that British reserve and tolerance of those who did not conform to what the crowd demanded, had gone out of the window. It all felt very alien to me. No wonder that every institution in the land now seems intimidated into an enforced conformity. If the day ever comes when an England Rugby Union Team gets down in submission, the Britain I love will be truly finished. If you are a free thinker, enjoy it whilst you can and hang on to your “Chariot” — the “thought police” are coming for you.