Socialist Worker


Issue No. 2315

Rio Ferdinand isn’t the racist

Chelsea footballer John Terry admitted using racist language during a football match last October. But he said he used it sarcastically—and a court cleared him of racist abuse last month.

For black footballers facing abuse from fellow professionals this can only deter them from complaining. But it gets worse.

The Football Association (FA) has now decided that Anton’s brother Rio should be punished for tweeting against black Chelsea player Ashley Cole for backing Terry’s racism.

Rio Ferdinand endorsed a tweet calling Cole a “choc ice”. The FA has charged him with “improper conduct”—the exact same charge it levelled against Terry.

Is Rio’s insinuation that Cole was black on the outside and white on the inside a racist statement on a par with Terry’s utterances? Of course not.

Perhaps it could be expressed differently, but it is nothing more than a modern-day version of the expression “Uncle Tom”. It refers to a black person who not only fails to challenge racism but is seen to go along with it.

The Ferdinand brothers should be applauded by all anti-racists and true football fans for their stand against racism. It stands in contrast to the fine words we so often hear from the football authorities.

We had the UEFA Euro 2012 spectacle where fans could happily spew out racist chants at black Dutch footballers.

The authorities considered it more important to defend the rights of commercial partners from “guerilla advertising” on one Danish player’s underpants than clamping down on racism.

It’s been down to the fans, black footballers and anti-racists to push for action and that is likely to continue to be the case.

Gary McFarlane, north London

The killing of Shafilea

The tragic case of Shafilea Ahmed ended on 3 August when her parents were found guilty of the teenager’s murder.

No woman should go through what Shafilea did. However, the mainstream media are once again portraying “honour” violence and forced marriage as a Pakistani and Muslim problem.

I work with victims of forced marriage and “honour” violence, and statistics show that these things occur across all cultures—including “White British”.

While it is true that some of the highest levels are in south Asian communities, these cannot just be defined as cultural or religious problems.

The reporting of this case has been full of stereotypes. The danger is that we will lose sight of the failings in a system that has allowed things like this to happen time and time again.

Shafilea was already known to many agencies, including the police, but they failed to safeguard her. Victims are often deterred from coming forward because they feel nobody will believe them.

The women I work with often talk about how they are treated with suspicion and hostility by the people they thought would help. And cuts to vital services and to benefits will make it more difficult for women like Shafilea to get help.

Instead of racist scapegoating we need to look at the flaws in a system that fails to protect women from abuse and encourages women’s oppression.

Sadia Jabeen, Birmingham

Boxer highlights brutal history of Australia

It seems it’s still controversial in Australia to take a stand against its brutal history of oppressing the indigenous population. Damien Hooper, an Olympic boxer of indigenous ancestry, is finding this out the hard way.

Before fighting US boxer Marcus Browne, he wore a black T-shirt bearing the Aboriginal flag. Hooper was reprimanded for breaking the Olympics rule of “no politics”.

The National Congress of Australia’s First Peoples have thrown their support behind Hooper “for being proud of who he is and where he came from”.

He follows in the footsteps of Peter Norman, the Australian silver medallist who wore a badge in solidarity with Tommie Smith and John Carlos at the 1968 games.

Aamna Mohdin, east London

Shame of Labour council’s library cuts

Tameside’s Labour council intends to close at least half of its libraries, in budget cuts amounting to £97 million by 2015.

The worst proposal in their consultation is to close 11 out of the 13 libraries, and spend £250,000 to turn the other two into high tech “super libraries”. Dukinfield library, a centre for visual impairment, dangles over the precipice.

I believe that the entire consultation is just damage limitation, so that when the decision is made they can make headlines for “saving” at least one library.

It’s the children who will suffer the most—under-16s use the doomed libraries more than anyone else. These little community libraries become hotbeds of activity in the afternoons as kids filter in from local schools to do homework.

But the consultation will be over by the start of the autumn term, so there won’t even be a chance to agitate in the schools.

It’s deeply shameful, and a harsh reminder that Labour are gutless cowards. Our libraries should be accessible to all.

Claire Brown, Dukinfield

So near and yet so far

Did you see Boris Johnson hanging from a wire in Victoria Park? It was so nearly the dream scenario.

Sasha Simic, east London

What is Iraq like today?

Could you please give us an update article on how Iraq is faring today?

Sybil Ashton, London

Batman is the baddie

I couldn’t agree more with your review of The Dark Knight Rises. It’s a brilliant film in many ways, but it portrays any attempt to change the system as dangerous and mean-spirited.

Graeme Kemp, Shropshire

Down with the tsars!

Former Labour minister Alan Milburn and serving Labour MP Frank Field have both served the coalition government in an advisory “tsar” capacity.

Last time I checked the Labour Party wasn’t in the coalition. Shouldn’t these two be expelled?

Larry Iles, Paris, France

Support some of the Syrians

I agree with Martin Percival on supporting the Syrian opposition. But be careful about supporting a mass movement that contains reactionary elements. We need a class analysis to see which organisations are progressive.

Dave Tate by email

Fees should be illegal

Lettings agents are taking advantage of the housing shortage to hit applicants with unfair new charges. It should be illegal to charge applicants to whom no tenancy is offered.

Phil Tsappas, north London

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Article information

Tue 7 Aug 2012, 18:14 BST
Issue No. 2315
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