Liverpudlians are a race apart

Columnist Kelvin MacKenzie, former editor of the Sun, is in scalding hot water. So far he has only been suspended. Yet no one would be surprised if he were sent down (the death penalty is no longer an option).

Mr MacKenzie has committed the ultimate crime: racism. Actually, perhaps racism is only a penultimate crime, beaten to the top honours by either homophobia or misogyny, sexism or criticism of the NHS.

But then any worshipper at the altar of share-care-be-aware rectitude can safely assume that MacKenzie, that antediluvian vermin, is guilty of those crimes as well – they’re always packaged together.

It pains me to describe the heinous crime committed by this reprobate. But I want you to see for yourself the depth of depravity into which a racist can sink.

This vermin was writing about the footballer Ross Barkley, who had just been punched out in a nightclub for fancying the wrong girl. Rather than commiserating with the midfielder, MacKenzie wrote:

“[Barkley is] one of our dimmest footballers… [His eyes make one] certain not only are the lights not on, there is definitely nobody at home… I get a similar feeling when seeing a gorilla at the zoo… [Those on similar] pay packets in Liverpool don’t go to nightclubs because they are drug dealers serving time at Her Majesty’s pleasure.”

Are you appalled at the beastly racism of this passage? No? Then you don’t realise – and neither did MacKenzie nor indeed I – that Barkley has a Nigerian grandfather. Since he looks as white as anybody, you and I can be forgiven for not knowing. But MacKenzie should have investigated Barkley’s entire lineage before comparing him to a gorilla.

I don’t know if Mr MacKenzie follows football closely. I do – yet it has never crossed my mind, and neither have I read in any football column or interview, that Barkley is mixed race.

If he were impeccably white, as Mr MacKenzie thought he was, the comparison wouldn’t have constituted a capital crime. For example, I think the Russian boxer Nikolai Valuyev looks positively simian, but that doesn’t make me a racist, only one in possession of sound aesthetic and zoological judgement.

Acting in the recently prescribed manner, Liverpool Mayor Joe Anderson reported the article to the police. And, as Mr Anderson explained, this was a crime committed not just against the footballer but against the whole city:

“Not only is it racist in a sense that he is of mixed-race descent, equally it’s a racial stereotype of Liverpool.”

That made me reread the offensive piece looking for a specifically racial slur on Liverpool’s sterling reputation. Fair enough, Mr MacKenzie alluded to the city’s low average income and the possibility that dealing in drugs was the only way for a Liverpudlian to raise above that level.

But he didn’t suggest that Liverpool is racially different from any other city, nor that drug dealers there are black. So, although what he wrote can be construed as a stereotypical slur on Liverpool, it’s certainly not a racial slur.

I’m not even sure it was a slur at all, considering that Mr MacKenzie’s picture of Liverpool isn’t without a factual foundation. In the quality of life ranking Liverpool finds itself close to the bottom, at 110.

Cruel football fans, especially in affluent London, don’t mind mocking Liverpool’s plight in their chants. Liverpool Football Club’s song is “You’ll never walk alone”. Whenever the team plays a London club, malicious home supporters sing “You’ll never work again” to the same tune.

Anyway, this isn’t the only geographical or ethnic stereotype heard around the world: most people like their stereotypes with or without racial connotations.

Poles have a certain reputation for thickness in the US; the Irish, in England; Belgians in both Holland and France; Georgians in Russia – and so forth. I’m sure none of those stereotypes is meant to be offensive or completely factual. It’s just for fun.

Yet once Mr Anderson got on his high horse, there was no dismounting. Apology, he said, is “simply not enough” and then, displaying an enviable command of jurisprudence: “ignorance simply cannot be used as a defence”.

What would be enough? Summary execution? At least Mr Anderson isn’t alone: he can count on support coming from such unimpeachable judges of morality as another footballer Joey Barton, who tweeted: “Those comments about Ross Barkley, a young working-class lad, are disgusting. Then add in the fact he is mixed race! It becomes outrageous.”

So Mr MacKenzie isn’t only a racist but a classist as well. (Is that a word? If not, it should be.)

Now some may question Barton’s qualifications for passing moral judgement. He boasts two charges of violence, such as stabbing a lit cigar into a man’s eye. He was once sentenced to six months and the other time received a suspended sentence. In addition, Barton has been charged three times by the Football Association for violent conduct, the last time for pluckily attacking three players.

A perfect advocate for good behaviour in other words, as is another footballer Stan Collymore, who tweeted: “Implied racism at its finest.”

At least there was nothing implicit about Mr Collymore’s own transgressions. Once he publicly rearranged the pretty face of his girlfriend Ulrika Jonsson for flirting with another man; on another occasion he was involved in a widely publicised incident of dogging (I expect my readers to know what that is). Worst of all, he’s a republican.

But Mr MacKenzie is being attacked not just by dim-witted politicians and violent footballers. He’s being slain by the vengeful and wrathful god of modernity, and that deity knows no mercy.

Am I the only one thinking the world has gone mad?

10 thoughts on “Liverpudlians are a race apart”

  1. Kelvin always likes to raise the temperature (pun intended). Even though he got his pants scorched this time, I think he should be our next man at the UN.

  2. Since the “F” word is no longer repugnant, (one in vogue chef seems to use it for every adjective and adverb). So, the “G” word is now the abhorrent word, (all were aghast at its use against a certain Williams who smashes tennis balls). I prophesies that the “H” word will be the next mortal sin; i.e. “he” used in a generic sense.

  3. So, let me get this right – someone who reads the word ‘gorilla’ and immediately thinks of a black man, thinks that other people are racist?

  4. “For example, I think the Russian boxer Nikolai Valuyev looks positively simian”

    Neanderthal rather than simian. We thought Neanderthals and maybe their cross-bred with human progeny were gone a long time ago. Nikolai proves otherwise.

  5. At the famous libel trial where David Irving sued Deborah Lipstadt the judge ruled Irving as having made racist comments because he said there were too many black football [soccer] players in the English leagues.

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