Category Archives: Sport

Paolo Di Canio: Is Fascism acceptable now?

So this weekend, premier league strugglers, Sunderland fired their manager Martin O’Neill and replaced him with self-declared fascist, Paolo Di Canio. Now, I know you’re going to say, “but what does it matter, as long as Sunderland stay up?”

You may not worry about the man’s political views, but when those same views (held by others) are responsible for the deaths of millions of people (Jews, Gypsies, etc) I think we should be concerned. And they concerned former foreign secretary, David Miliband – himself of Jewish extraction – so much that he resigned from the Sunderland board immediately. Apparently, that’s an overreaction. It’s lead to calls for Di Canio to “clarify” his political beliefs.

Firstly, it amuses me how they legitimise an anti-democratic, racist ideology by referring to them as beliefs. Now, before you all come squealing at me “he’s not a racist, he said so”, I’ll just remind you that one characteristic of fascism is demonisation of a scapegoat. This can be a political scapegoat, like communists, but is often an ethnic group or foreigners in general. Just look at Golden Dawn in Greece for an example of this.

(If you want to read more of fascism’s characteristics, here’s a good link)

Secondly, while some are concerned about an extremist at the helm of a premiership football club, others are wondering what’s the big deal. After all, it’s only his political views. What’s worrying about the second attitude is the disregard for the dangers of what an extremist ideology can do, and also the disrespect shown to all those who fought and died fighting fascism in Europe during the 1930s and 1940s. It follows the growing popularity of extremist organisations across Europe – The National Front in France, Golden Dawn in Greece, the English Defence League – which are responding to the economic crisis by blaming migrants, specifically North African/South Asian migrants, for the mess the banks caused. Where will it end? Views that were once considered repulsive, are slowly becoming acceptable and popular among a section of society.

As Pastor Martin Niemoller once wrote;

First they came for the communists,
and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a communist.

Then they came for the socialists,
and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a socialist.

Then they came for the trade unionists,
and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a trade unionist.

Then they came for the Jews,
and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a Jew.

Then they came for the Catholics,
and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a Catholic.

Then they came for me,
and there was no one left to speak for me.

One day, fascist ideology will have made such progress into society that there will be no one left who is shocked and repulsed by it.

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The Paralympics and Atos

(It’s a slightly black joke, but all good satire is slightly dark)

As we all watch the Paralympics and smile patronisingly at the disabled people competing, a good number of the population sense the irony in one of LOCOG’s choice of sponsors. Atos – also the government’s choice of stick to beat the disabled into work. Are they standing in the changing rooms with clip boards assessing the athletes? “Right. You’ve just wheeled 100m in twenty seconds, you’re fit for work.”

That may not be accurate, but it’s a good illustration of what the company is doing to disabled people across the country. From people in wheelchairs to cancer patients to the visually impaired. People with a range of disabilities have been given less than the 15 points required for Employment and Support Allowance, and are declared fit for work.

To most people this would seem illogical. How can you force people who are not in the physical shape to work? A cancer patient is too sick to have to add work to the schedule of chemo and radiotherapy. A visually impaired person cannot be expected to see dangers, and would be a danger to themselves and others a workplace. How can Atos and the Department for Work and Pensions decide that a wheelchair-bound person is able to work, when many areas of public transport are not open to them? Then there’s an issue of throwing more people into the job cattle market, when there are no jobs to apply for.

See the irony? A stage for people with disabilities (and good at sport) to shine, being sponsored by a company that is contracted to make their lives as horrible as possible. No matter how much the coalition say, “oh we’ve got to cut public spending”, “the previous government left the country’s finances in a mess” – it does not justify picking on those less able or disadvantaged.

So, while you watch the Paralympic coverage and marvel at those disabled people who excel at sport – remember that many people like them (without the “good at sport” bit) are having to fight a dirty war for something they are entitled to.

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