Friday, April 18, 2008

Cry Wolf

The pieces submitted for the Guardian's Comment is Free website generally leave me, by turns, indifferent, bemused, intrigued, beguiled & inspired. However, once in a while, an article there will leave me incensed by the author's ignorance & disgusted by its glib assumptions & falsehoods.
One such piece has been posted by Martin Jacques, New Labour acolyte & personification of the po-faced, remote chatterati, claiming that Ian Wright's decision to leave his job as a pundit on the BBC's football coverage is due to racism ( ).
Jacques claims that Wright's tiresome jester persona is because he is sidelined by Lineker, Hansen, etc. & reduced to this role.
Ian Wright has shown himself to be a less than astute analyst of the game. In comparison to Hansen's measured, though sometimes flawed, approach, Wright readily provides hype & synthetic hysteria. His "analysis" of England international performances is little different to that of the boorish bloke in the pub, convinced that anything non-English is to be treated warily at best.
The racism charge made by Jacques needles those of us who fought against that foul stain on the domestic game during the 70s & 80s. When I was in my early teens I would cringe as the Kop indulged in "witty banter" over a player whose skin pigmentation was not white. By my late teens that embarrassment had turned to anger at such bigotry & a willingness to confront it. Less than three months before John Barnes joined Liverpool in 1987 he was subjected to a level of abuse by the Kop while taking a corner for Watford which made me wonder if that famous terrace was populated by BNP members.
Jacques writes, "So what's the problem? Well, Wright is black. Apart from Garth Crooks, who is rarely given frontline exposure, Wright is the only high-profile BBC pundit who is. And even then he has been confined to commenting on England's international matches. The standard fare on Match of the Day is white, white, and white again -- messrs Lineker, Shearer, Hansen, Lawrenson, et al. Given that one-third of Premier League players are black, this is a disgrace. It would not be accurate to say that the BBC operates a colour bar in football punditry, but it is certainly the case that black representation is, at the very best, token."
Jacques concludes his diatribe of distortion by remarking, "The [BBC] claimed that it was baffled by his comments. What world do these people live in?
"Shame on them."
No, Mr. Jacques, shame on you for raising the race issue when it clearly doesn't apply.
The responses on the CiF blog have, hopefully, disabused Jacques of the notion that his case is valid.

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