“Racism is man’s gravest threat to man – the maximum of hatred for a minimum of reason.”
Abrahah J. Heschel (Jewish theologian and philosopher, 1907-1972)
For a long time before starting this article, I was thinking about how to start it, and at last I have not found anything better than to just take a quote of Abraham Heschel, who was a Polish-born American rabbi and one of the leading Jewish theologians and philosophers of the 20th century. In his quote, dating back to the 1950s, he managed to describe perfectly the modern concept of racism. Racism is not something new or unknown to mankind; it has been developing alongside with humankind. According to Wikipedia, racism refers to the belief that inherent different traits in human racial groups justify discrimination.
Personally I do not like speaking on some theoretical issues and problems in international politics, as in my opinion such issues are a result of uncertain and different approach of individuals to some existing issues, but during the last few months I guess many of us have witnessed numerous unknown and unheard of things, for example in sports.
Liverpool and Chelsea football teams’ star players Luis Suarez and John Terry, and the professional boxing superstar Floyd Money Mayweather Jr. have two things in common, and the first one is their recent involvement in racial scandals.
The first two racially abused their opponents during their respective football matches, and were banned from the field for several months by England’s Professional Footballers’ Association.
In his turn, Floyd Mayweather Jr., who in my opinion is really one of the best pound-for-pound boxer in history, after the New York Knicks’ basketball match, wrote down on his Twitter page, which has 2.5 million followers, the following tweet about one of the Asian basketball players: “Jeremy Lin is a good player but all the hype is because he’s Asian. Black players do what he does every night and don’t get the same praise.”
Why have I taken these examples? The thing is that all the aforementioned sport figures have another thing in common: they are super popular, and today the interpretation and concept of racism could really have an awful impact on everyday activities of many modern civil societies, of which they are an integral part. You may immediately argue with me that today there is no such state in the world where racism is officially promoted, and it is very common that individuals get involved in such scandals. Yes, God bless all of us, we have managed to successfully overcome those times when it was not possible to imagine that black and white children would be sitting in the same classroom or that black citizens would not get problems while getting citizenship of their respective states.
But the thing is that in today’s reality even a little racism abuse may bury anybody’s career and everything. In this simple, and very obvious truth on first sight, lies the whole concept of modern racism.
Of course, these racial scandals in my opinion shall not have much impact on popularity or career of people mentioned; in fact, I guess it may even get bigger. But surely after such accidents they would be under much more pressure from society and it may have an impact on their working/playing abilities. Simultaneously, it is really interesting to know their motivation or ideas by which they were guided while making such harassing comments or offenses. The answer is again very simple; as practice shows, they are really doing it intentionally, as none of them is denying their fault after, and some are even making excuses, but they also do not think to what consequences it may lead.
Nobody shall exclude the possibility that the victims of these scandals (Patrice Evra, Anton Ferdinand, Jeremy Lin) may have done something which compelled our “heroes” to make such abuses, but in my opinion, a strong-minded and composed person, especially when he/she is also very famous, shall not allow himself/herself to do such things.
Simultaneously, I could not mention another thing on this topic; such racial scandals, taking place on the football pitch, were really unknown thing for the British society, as well as to the international football community, and the replies to them were too critical and radical, but racial incidents are a very common thing in the USA and I may even agree with Mayweather Jr. that if some black player played as Jeremy Lin maybe he would not get such fame in the USA just because of his skin colour.
With no debate, we just shall state that today the interpretation of racism is much more different than it was some decades ago. The equality of the individuals and social justice in civil societies shall not recognize any racial arguments or grounds. Only when the rights and freedoms of an individual will be respected by the others, humankind will be able to fulfill the dreams of Dr. Luther King and Mr. Mandela, and as long we do not have that respect, we shall continue living while bearing in our minds the simple truth which is expressed in the starting quote of this article.
Written by Armenak Minasyants, AEGEE-Yerevan & Speaker of International Politics WG