Is John Terry a Racist? Are You a Racist?

Posted on November 16, 2011

I have been reading various press reports recently with great interest, the case of the John Terry racial slur has caused journalists to be very careful what they are writing as one false word and their career is over. It is safe to say that any defence of John Terry (who has yet to be found guilty) will find a sports writer becoming the press equivalent of racist “comics” Jim Davidson or Bernard Manning, so in many cases the true picture of events is not coming out. Do I like John Terry? No, not particularly, he has a track record that bemuses most sports fans as to why he is captain of the England football team. Do I think John Terry is a racist? I don’t think so, though it depends at what level you want to take it. Did he call Anton Ferdinand a black cunt? Quite possibly. So where does leave my argument that he is not racist? Perhaps I am one?

Many of you who read this blog would have played sport at a certain level, what level is not an important issue, because in the heat of a football or rugby match and even a cricket match, things that get said in general would not come out in social or work environments. If I take myself back as a mouthy young footballer who tried to gain an advantage with words rather than my lack of physical presence, I said things I would never say in public, though as far as I can remember not against black people. In a particularly brutal game which featured sending offs, brawling and tackles flying in all over the place I called numerous players on the other side “Stokey cunts” and “plastic cockneys” (regular Tadley terms for the persons of Basingstoke) whilst in return being called a ”carrot crunching cunt” and a ”sheep shagging cunt”. Tadley and Basingstoke are seven miles apart, but back in the 80’s they were culturally from different planets; country boys versus the London overspill. Was that racism? Perhaps it was.

John Terry spends every day of his life with Michael Essien, Ashley Cole, Daniel Sturridge, Obi Mikkel and many other black players, so to see him as an out-and-out racist is very difficult, because I just can’t imagine that it would be tolerated at a high profile club like Chelsea. Perhaps I am wrong, maybe John Terry holds such power at Chelsea that it is all allowed to be swept under the carpet. If that is the case, he needs to be exposed, but then, why would an unusually well educated footballer (Frank Lampard) stand defiantly in defence of a racist? At 33, Lampard is in the twilight of his career, by putting his head above the parapet and steadfastly backing his team mate he has nothing to gain financially and he is not a boy breaking into the team who can be corrupted or bullied in the way Amir Khan was recently by Salman Butt in the cricket betting scandal. Why would Lampard, who has a long career as a pundit or a manager ahead of him, risk his own reputation? It seems that Terry may well have originated from a background where racism existed, but becoming a footballer in a multi-cultural environment has probably made him evolve and become racially aware and more tolerant. So why would he make the alleged comment?

Firstly, we do not know what Anton Ferdinand did or said to Terry before the alleged slur, but I can guarantee it wasn’t pleasant. It may have been aimed at Terry’s wife, children or parents, it may well have involved extra marital affairs or his diminishing talent, we just don’t know. Terry’s alleged response was as brainless as it was instinctive, but it was just the same as calling someone a ginger cunt, a Welsh cunt, a Scottish cunt, an Irish cunt, a bald cunt (me), a fat cunt, a skinny cunt or a big nosed cunt. There is hypocrisy everywhere you look because if you are to take racial words as a defining act of racism, then you are stepping in to a world of double standards because at the moment it seems racism is acceptable in certain cases and not in others. For example, a few years ago Reading FC supporters had a “ginger day” in celebration of their star players Dave Kitson and Steve Sidwell who both had ginger hair. Fans turned dressed up in carrot hats, as Duracell batteries and in big ginger wigs. This toe curling event was seen by many as hilarious and it was pictured in the local press as a fun day out. Kitson was furious and understandably insulted but seen as a killjoy for being so. I wonder how many times Kitson and Sidwell have been called “ginger cunts” by other players? One suspects quite a few and without punishment. Racist? Not racist? I am getting confused here.

Ginger Day: Hilarious

Here are some words that I have Googled that are associated with racism; they are all strong. Extremism, hatred, xenophobia, separatism, supremacy, murder and genocide denial. I don’t know where stupidly calling someone a black cunt in a football match links to these words, though I can’t imagine that John Terry practices in any of them. If he is not racist, Terry is clearly ill educated in the rights and wrongs of modern society, especially as someone who is, for reasons I can’t explain, the captain of his country. However modern society, if it is tolerant, should allow Terry to formally apologise to Ferdinand and to explain that he is ashamed of his remark, that it was inexcusable, but it was said in the heat of a battle and that in no way is he racist. However, by doing that, in the eyes of many, he is admitting to being a racist, so he is forced to deny saying anything, despite the evidence stacked up against him from video footage. I am no John Terry fan, but for all those seeking his blood, are they really hounding him because he is a racist, or they doing it for the purposes of seeing his long awaited fall from grace?

So who reading this is a racist? Have you ever laughed at a joke that has involved Irish, Afro Caribbean, Scottish Jews, Cockneys, Liverpudlians, Welsh or in fact English citizens? If so, you are a racist, so am I. Have you ever participated in racial violence, ethnic cleansing, BNP/EDL marches, anti-semetic demonstrations or employment discrimination? Probably not. Have you got minor deep seated racial thoughts that sometimes make you feel stupid or even guilty? Probably. Take for an example something happened to me the other day that confirmed a kind of racism in me. I was doing a net practice with my son up at Dummer when five Indian guys came along and used the next lane, they started chatting away to us and it turned out they had come over from Mumbai to work for Microfocus in Newbury. As the first one ran up to bowl and the batsman took his guard, I said to my son “watch these guys play” thinking he could learn something. They were useless, worse than me, but because they were Indian I thought they would be VVS Laxman or Sachin Tendulkar. India has a population of a billion, logic says they can’t all be good at cricket, but my assumption was that they were. George ended up teaching them to bowl straight and I apologised for my assumption to which they were both bemused and amused, asking me where my umbrella and bowler hat was. It was racist in a way, but at no point did I think “Send ’em back” or deny them access to my son’s knowledge of bowling. Is racial stereotyping racist?

We are evolving all the time and as we do racism and fear of others skin is being diluted as we become more educated. In the 19th century Harper Weekly claimed that the Irish were thick because thousands of years previously the native savages had bred with Africans who had migrated to the Western shores of Ireland via Spain and in the fifties there were many children’s adventure books with titles such as “Simon Shoots the Smiling Sambos.” When Afro Caribbeans began arriving in London and the Midlands during the fifties graffiti saying “WOGS OUT” was common place and in the seventies blacks were victims of racial taunts and banana throwing at football matches and were the butt of stand up comedians jokes. At my school, during all these cultural changes, one black boy arrived in our year, his name was Maboo Valou and we all thought he was thick because he was in all the bottom classes. It turned out the poor sod was a Ugandan refugee who had fled to England in fear of his life. We didn’t know any different, but we were racists without really knowing it. I feel bad about that now.

A generation or two before us, most people had racist tendencies, who can remember our grandparents or even parents having mysterious ideologies about “foreigners?” I can remember my father being surprised at having a black heart surgeon, “not expecting them to be good at that sort of thing” but I also clearly remember my Mother telling me years ago that he had stood toe to toe with numb skulled yokel who had requested a black farmer in the village pub “to go back to the trees.”  Racist or not a racist? I would say that my father is tolerant of everyone, but he probably had a deep seated memory of Afro Caribbeans arriving in the UK to carry out menial tasks in the 1950’s, not open heart surgery. Racial fear has now diluted to an extent that my son has a good friend at school who I had never even seen until a few weeks back, he is of mixed race, but I didn’t know that, because to my son it is totally irrelevant, he is just what he should be, a friend, not a black friend or anyone else, just another boy of fifteen enjoying life and looking forward to his future. So why is Obama a black president, shouldn’t he just be a president?

If you have got half a brain, you may still think strange things sometimes, but I doubt you are an extreme racist and I doubt John Terry is either. As for me, I have to admit I am racist towards white South Africans; I assume they are all humourless, domineering and racist themselves, and I still carry a suspicion about some of the Irish, past experience convincing me that they are experts at playing friendly and stupid before ripping me off. The fact that my girlfriend is half Irish is probably enough proof that I am not really, not outside a business environment anyway. I am not the only one, I have a well educated friend who is by his own admission, irrationally racist to anyone Canadian, and  I have plenty of other friends who are convinced that French people have never seen a can of deodorant or a toothbrush. They don’t see hating French people as racist, but is okay to call Thierry Henry a French cunt, but not a Black French cunt? Who knows…….? Neither I would hope.

The great irony of all this, is that the press trying to frame Terry as some of the most jingoistic “professions” in the country. Come Euro 2012 the Italians will be the cowards of World War II, the French will be garlic chomping frogs, the Spanish will be credited for giving us sexual diseases and the Germans will be targeted with headlines such as the one above from the World Cup in 2010. It is double standards all the way in the British press, but whilst John Terry is a racist, they are doing it just for fun, after all the Wops, Spicks, Krauts and Frogs aren’t black, so that’s okay! The truth is, every race or nationality will always have a bit of a suspicion about another, you only have to look at the feelings of the Celtic nations towards the Anglo Saxons during sporting events. Maybe, it will all dilute one day and the world will be as one, who knows.

The content of this blog may seem confused at times, but that’s because I am confused to who is and who isn’t a racist!

5 Replies to "Is John Terry a Racist? Are You a Racist?"

  • Anonymous
    November 16, 2011 (6:33 pm)

    Hi Bob,

    Excellent Blog and sorry you are confused. I may add to your confusion…

    As part of my degree I study the notions of prejudice and discrimination. The broad concepts as I remember them are that we are pretty much all prejudiced about everyone who is different to us which, given we are all unique, means everyone. Prejudice is defined as the way we feel internally about someone and what judgments and beliefs we hold. These are formed before (pre) an individual has done anything to justify these beliefs (judice). The crucial word is ‘internally’ i.e. it is known only to us.

    Discrimination occurs when we choose to act on a prejudice. The famous examples are the holocaust and apartheid, i.e. people were killed or denied of the vote simply because of their race. When we act in the world around us in support of our prejudices we are discriminatory and it is that action that makes us racist/sexist/ageist etc.

    Back to John Terry, he clearly offered an offensive remark consisting of a noun and a verb (strange that calling him a c**t would have been ok’ it is the black word that is causing the furore). In order to prove he was a racist we would need to know whether, given the same set of circumstances with a white man he would still have offered an offensive remark. I am not sure what Anton said or did but let’s assume he called JT a pikey, wife-stealing twat. If, say, Matt Dawson had called him the same name would JT have called him a big-nose c**t? If he would have he is not a racist but if, internally, he thought, I wouldn’t mind Dawson calling me that but you can’t because you are black then he has discriminated on the grounds of colour and is a racist.

    Does this help or add to the confusion?

  • Anonymous
    November 17, 2011 (9:45 am)

    Hefin Griffiths Excellent and insightful Bob. I particularly liked the nostalgic references to Sporting Baughursts games – all that was missing was the image of Mike Dolan Throwing up in the centre circle before kick-off ! Racisim, by definition must be di…rected at all people of a certain race. If it is directed at an individual for something that that individual has done, rather than because that individual is perceived to represent a wider racial group, it's not racist – I think ??? Not nice, but not racist either.See more

  • Anonymous
    November 17, 2011 (9:46 am)

    You should send this in to every newspaper and talk radio station as it's the most rational argument i have heard over this subject

  • Anonymous
    November 17, 2011 (9:47 am)

    PS over here Pommie bastard is just a daily greeting. When Pakistan were playing a test match in Sydney the radio was saying "the Pakis are coming". This was shocking until we realised that this is just part of the Aussie culture to abbreviate every word they can and certainly was not intended as the same derogatory racial slur as used in the UK – they have their own slurs for different races.

  • Anonymous
    November 17, 2011 (9:49 am)

    Bob, I went see Jerry Sadowitz the other night and his material was offensive too many (demonstrated by those who walked out!!) however, if they had stayed then they would understand where he's coming from.

    This was the gist of his argume…nt "One of the reasons I do what I do in my show is because there is no line to be drawn. So you might as well go all out, because you can use the word idiot, and that'll be offensive to someone who's an idiot. You can use the word wanker – that's offensive to me, I'm a wanker! It's maybe the spirit behind what you say – but even then, I will make allowances for any comic."

    At times its uncomfortable watching and he makes you question yourself however; the rest of the interview can be read here: more

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