08 November, 2008


Here we go again

Bernie Ecclestone was foolish to write off the barracking (if you'll pardon the expression) of Lewis Hamilton by Spanish spectators by referring to it as "a joke". It wasn't. It was clearly a deliberate racially-charged insult. Cornered about his feeble response, Ecclestone compounded his feebleness by going for the standard "I'm not a racist; look at what I've done for the Darkies" tactic, referencing his involvement with Formula One's shunning of Apartheid South Africa.

What Ecclestone should have done, when asked to comment, is to respond, "Yes, it was indeed racist barracking and was rather unpleasant. So what? Fans are partisan; this sort of heavy-handed stuff is all part of the sport."

As indeed it is. I know little about Formula One. No doubt the sport has its subtleties, but as someone who doesn't even drive an ordinary car, they are beyond me. To me, watching a Formula One race is only marginally more exciting that watching Geoff Boycott spend the last two days of a Test Match batting for a draw.

But clearly the fans get part of their enjoyment, as they do in football, by adopting fiercely partisan positions and taking the piss, often very cruelly, out of opposing teams and individual players, or in this case, drivers.

If the fans took against Mr Ecclestone himself for some reason, I'm sure there's plenty of scope for creative abuse of a ludicrous little short-arse with an oversized ego and implausible hair. And we would all tut-tut dutifully about such unpleasant and boorish behaviour, while secretly sniggering behind our hands.

And then we would move on.

But if a Black man is involved, the outrage machine goes into overdrive. Initiatives are launched. Grovelling apologies and oaths of fealty to Anti-Racism are extracted – from the innocent as well as the guilty, for is it not written that the White man is universally and unconditionally guilty? Examples are made. Draconian collective punishments are exacted.

And resentment builds up. It really is about time people got a grip and a sense of proportion. I've had to wear spectacles since I was two years old. When I was a kid, and occasionally in later life, I've been the target of bullies, arseholes and others who have taken a dislike to me for some totally unfathomable reason, for verily I am the acme of niceness. If I had a pound, as they say, for every time I've been called a four-eyed git, or some creative variant thereof... And yet I don't go running to the authorities all the time whingeing about abuse of "the disabled", for fuck's sake.

The irony in all this is that the hysteria about Lewis Hamilton's blackness (or semi-blackness) is entirely media-driven. Mr Hamilton is a racing driver, and apparently a damned good one. Yet the media can never mention the man without cooing ecstatically about him being the first "Black" professional F1 driver.

Leave the poor bugger alone to get on with his career.

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