It is an enormous shame that the Millwall fans who booed their players for ‘taking a knee’ in support of Black Lives Matter last week were not better acquainted with one of the British BLM leaders, Sasha Johnson — they might have taken a knee themselves out of admiration. In August Ms Johnson tweeted: ‘The white man will not be our equal but our slave.’ If there is one thing Millwall supporters respect it’s aspiration, and Ms Johnson has that in abundance. I am sure the FA, the English Football League, and indeed the Millwall club board, who condemned the booing, all wish Sasha the best of luck in her exciting project.
One voice should not be allowed to demean an entire movement, of course. The trouble is — and it is so tiresome to have to point this out every time the issue is raised — Ms Johnson’s views are not especially extreme in a foul organization that wishes to dismantle capitalism and the family. Taking a knee signals support for the organization, not for racial equality, and that is the end of the story. The footballing authorities and the broadcasters were very clear about this when soccer resumed in June after lockdown. Players would be asked to take a knee in support of Black Lives Matter, upper case, and the point was reinforced by players, commentators and pundits wearing Black Lives Matter badges. So Millwall’s assertion that taking a knee was in no way an endorsement of BLM’s political objectives, but simply a gesture in support of love, peace and happiness among all peoples, is deceitful, cowardly and ludicrous. It is like stretching out your right arm, shouting ‘Sieg Heil!’ and then telling onlookers: ‘It’s just a gesture — nothing to do with old Adolf, mate.’
Such a confected furore whipped up by the bed-wetting, obsessive liberal left and their useful halfwits in the British media: Barney Ronay, Adrian Durham, the perennially smug Gary Lineker. I knew there would be booing the minute I heard fans would be allowed into the fixture. Of course they would boo. They hate BLM and on that issue I’m with them. They have no problem with football’s Kick It Out campaign, which is genuinely and simply anti-racist. They have no problem whatsoever with black players and are delighted to vote a Muslim Comorian, Nadjim Abdou, player of the year twice. We had black players at Millwall long before most clubs, and black supporters on the terraces — including one or two very useful members of our highly regarded and psychopathically vicious ‘firm’ — back when Guardian editorial meetings were whiter than a Ku Klux Klan dinner dance. So cut out the hand-wringing, the lectures and the cant. Millwall fans booed the taking-a-knee business because they have no more time for BLM than they do for meaningless corporate virtue-signaling and they resent the fascistic insistence that everyone must bow down — literally, these days — before the empty and deluded attitudinizing of the woke left.
Four hours before kick-off on Saturday I read the following from a Millwall fan on the club’s largest supporters’ online forum. (If you are a Guardian reader I assume you think I’m about to translate the comments from the original Neanderthal grunts. No. Really, I don’t need to.) The poster addressed his remarks: ‘FAO: The Players.’ It had been made clear that Millwall players would take a knee and this troubled the supporter — who, like me, knew there would be booing and thus trouble. (Frankly, how the idiots who run the club didn’t work it out is an eternal mystery, not least because the press officer never answers his phone.) Anyway, this particular fan implored the players not to take the knee and added:
‘The whole BLM movement is insulting to many because it seeks to destroy our country’s values. I don’t mean nationalism or jingoism but the values that unite people across the political spectrum. A belief in the rule of law, free speech, respect for others and the social justice that many of our forebears had to fight for in the trade union movement.‘Your excuse for supporting this movement is an insult to our intelligence and an overtly political statement. It’s particularly damaging at this time when so many fans are suffering financial hardship that you couldn’t even begin to understand. By supporting BLM you are not healing divisions but creating them. I fear that your actions will cause not just a division between players and fans but a gulf of betrayal that will never be bridged.‘If you want to campaign against discrimination then please do so, but supporting BLM is the wrong way to do it.’
That is why the fans booed. Not because they are racists. It is why the fans booed at Colchester United too. And at West Ham, our despised rivals. It is why there was widespread booing at one of the first American ‘soccer’ games to which fans were admitted after lockdown in July, between FC Dallas and Nashville SC. It is quite possibly why the Premier League and the broadcasters quietly ditched their adherence when someone with half a brain cell pointed out what BLM stands for. It is why other clubs, such as QPR, Wigan Athletic and Middlesbrough, decided to stop taking the knee, before they were dragooned back into it. This is the thing: the hypocrisy of it all — the footballing authorities who themselves, rightly, ditched BLM becoming sanctimonious about fans booing a gesture in support of BLM.
What do the British people think? An opinion poll for Mail Online in July found that 67 percent supported Boris Johnson’s decision not to take a knee. Only 13 percent thought he was wrong. And there you have our problem. On this issue, as on so many, we are dictated to by the shrieking 13 percent.
This article was originally published in The Spectator’s UK magazine. Subscribe to the US edition here.