Paul Elliott booted by his own Kick It Out anti-racism thought police
SO. Farewell Paul Elliott, who has left his role as the Football Association’s ambassador. He resigned. The former Celtic and Chelsea player, aged 48, was part of the FA’s judicial panel and sat on a load of Uefa committees. He made a big noise as a mouthpiece for anti-discrimination body Kick It Out.
“Earlier this week, a former friend and business colleague, made public a text message I sent him, in which I used a term which is widely known as being derogatory to my own community. I regret using it; it is inappropriate and not part of my everyday vocabulary. As an advocate of high-standards of public behaviour, and integrity in public life, I know the use of this word sends out mixed messages and contradicts my position as a Kick It Out trustee. I will continue to be active in other projects in what I believe to be a true and just cause.”
Blah. Blah. Elliott called former Charlton Athletic player Richard Rufus a “nigger“. His text ran:
Ur (sic) a stupid man nigger. You dog. Ur history my friend.
Is that racist? Both players are black. FA chairman David Bernstein explained:
“The use of discriminatory language is unacceptable, regardless of context.”
Regardless of context? That is ridiculous.
You can blame the Macpherson report into Stephen Lawrence’s murder for this sorry state of affairs. Sir William Macpherson said racism “can be seen or detected in processes, attitudes and behaviour which amount to discrimination through unwitting prejudice, ignorance, thoughtlessness and racist stereotyping which disadvantage minority ethnic people”.
You can be an unwitting racist. You can be racist without being a racist. It’s not about treting another human being as second-class citizen because of his race. It’s about perception.
Also: “…any incident which is perceived to be racist by the victim or by any other person.” <
We're all racist.
But professional football is an industry where racism is not rife. Team selection is colour blind. David James was right when he said:
“I think that some people have an agenda to keep themselves in existence and, as a player, I don’t see the racism issue – anywhere, personally.”
Elliott is not a racist. He is victim of the phoney war on language, a censorious fight to make some things taboo. The irony is that he was part of Kick It Out, the body that demands total compliance with its drive to make all players wear its logo on T-shirt. Elliott’s text has been inflated into a big deal by people looking for racism in dust.
Is being called a ‘nigger’ racism? It’s not pleasant. But isn’t it just a symbol of racism? Kick It Out and the anti-racism campaigns aim at policing and censoring what they say is incorrect speech. That’s not fighting racism. That’s trying to regulate your thoughts to comply with an official line.
Elliott may care to reflect on why he ever got involved with Kick It Out in the first place…
Photo: Mr. Paul Elliott from Keston Park is made a CBE by the Prince of Wales at Buckingham Palace. Friday February 1, 2013. If you want to look for racism, look to the elite who make the rules.