Racism? It Just Isn't That Black and White

Daily Mail (London), January 6, 1998 | Go to article overview

Racism? It Just Isn't That Black and White


Byline: RICHARD LITTLEJOHN

WHEN Arsenal's black centre-forward Ian Wright came face to face with his new Portuguese team-mate Luis Boa Morte, he was forced into an immediate double-take.

'Blimey,' he exclaimed. 'It's me.' So striking were the physical similarities between the two men that they could have been looking in a mirror. Newspapers ran back-page pictures inviting readers to spot the difference.

In fact, when Boa Morte first took the pitch at Highbury, the Arsenal faithful started chanting 'Ian Wright, Wright, Wright' before they realised they'd got it wrong, wrong, wrong.

It was just as well that Wright himself was the first to draw attention to his doppelganger and the difficulty in telling them apart. Had it been the unfortunate John Motson, he would probably have found himself up before the star chamber of the Commission for Racial Equality.

As it is, Motty - the nation's favourite football commentator - now stands accused of racism as a result of some innocuous remarks he made during a BBC Radio 5 Live interview at the weekend.

Asked by Eleanor Olroyd whether there were any players he had difficulty telling apart, Motson replied: 'There are indeed - often more than two players in some cases. There are teams where you have got players who, from a distance, look almost identical. And, of course, with more black players coming into the game, they would not mind me saying that that can be very confusing.' Pretty tame stuff, you might think. Little more than stating the obvious. Yet from the incendiary reaction from across the political spectrum, you would have thought that Motson had called for the revival of the slave trade, the introduction of apartheid in Britain and the enforced repatriation of all immigrants.

Knees jerking as if he had just been tackled

from behind by Vinny Jones, Labour MP Keith Vaz proclaimed himself 'astonished' and called on Motson to apologise.

Labour wants everyone to apologise for everything these days. Perhaps while Vaz was at it he could have asked Motty to say sorry to the Germans for Geoff Hurst's disputed goal in the 1966 World Cup final.

The Lib Dems, inevitably, rushed to join the cross-party lynch mob and even Tim Collins, the chairman of the Tory backbench committee on culture, media and sport, labelled Motson a racist. Collins said even if it was unintentional, racism was still unacceptable.

NO ONE hesitated for a moment to consider whether what Motson had said, intentionally or otherwise, was actually racist.

No one made any attempt to examine the facts or maintain a sense of proportion - not even the Tory spokesman, in his determination to prove to his leader's new constituency at the Notting Hill carnival that he could be even more PC than his political opponents.

Motson was found guilty without trial. In late 20th century Britain there is no defence to a charge of racism. The accusation, especially if repeated loud enough, is sufficient. Nor is there any more heinous crime.

Motson's protestations of innocence cut no ice. All he was saying, he tried to explain, was that if there are five or six black players on a pitch going for the ball at the same time it can, in certain circumstances, be difficult to tell them apart.

He could have gone on to say that where there are half a dozen bald players on the pitch, or several blond players in the same team, it can be equally difficult. During Sunday's FA Cup tie at Stamford Bridge, there were four or five different Chelsea players of assorted nationalities with shaved heads.

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Racism? It Just Isn't That Black and White
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.