Well, tomorrow might not be too pleasant at work or school for the thousands of Poles who live in the UK, as the BBC in its wisdom has decided to show us folks at ‘ome
how racist and anti-Semitic (some) Polish football fans are (at least in Lodz).
As usual, when watching the BBC, I asked myself “What is this really about? And why now? Who am I supposed to hate? Why?”
Hitler, opined the presenter, hated Jews and blacks. Yes, and he also hated Poles, Ukrainians and Slavs in general. Remember that sad word “Untermenschen?” Guess what I was reminded of while the BBC reporter went searching for white supremacists in Poland and the Ukraine.
Sadly (although happily for him, as he was no doubt on a deadline), he found white supremacists. But if he were that interested in white supremacists, not just white supremacists from far, far away, he could have found them in English or Scottish football stands, really. Wherever there are unemployed, underprivileged white young men, you are going to find white supremacists. The last place I saw that white power cross symbol was in Lazio, Italy.
Oh dear. Ideological tourism. Where the BBC goes to Eastern Europe and is disgusted by the natives.
But, yes, it is sad when people beat up on other people in and near football stadiums, especially for something as trivial as colour. When I was walking quite a ways through Edinburgh past pubs after the Hearts victory rally, my gentleman companions joked nervously about the fact that quite a few of us were wearing green and carrying missals. Since Edinburgh is not, after all, Glasgow, I thought they were really were joking and tarried to admire shoes in shop windows.
Oh, but wait. We were talking of Eastern Europe, region of racism, sectarianism, and football violence, not Glasgow, city of tolerance and peace.
I suppose the BBC has the responsibility to warn British football fans against football matches abroad. We all know what tender plants British football fans are when they are abroad, especially the English ones. Why, when I was in Germany in 2006, some of them didn’t dare to wear those hats and shirts reading “WE WON IT ALL IN 1945 TOO.”
And that’s what I don’t get. The most notorious football fans in the entire world are English. EVERYBODY knows about English football fans abroad. I knew about them before I left Canada, and Canada is not exactly Football Nation. And I was not pleasantly surprised by the docility of English fans in the German city I was studying in, that summer of 2006. No, I was reminded of the juicier passages of Beowulf. I hope my grandfather didn’t swagger as much as the England fans back when he was placed in command of that German town up north.
I wondered why the few Ukrainian white supremacists the Panorama presenter found talked to the BBC, and it occurs to me that perhaps they thought one way to keep brown and black people out of the Ukraine was to scare the living daylights out of them via the BBC. But, honestly, all anyone really has to do to survive a football match abroad is to make friends with some really, big, sunburned, drunk, white England fans. Go about with big, sunburned, white English fans, and nobody will touch you. Except maybe, you know, the England fans.
As for the stuff about Poles and Jews, the history of the whole relationship between Poles and Jews in Poland is so complicated, I–unlike Panorama–am simply not going to go there because I–like Panorama–simply don’t get it. The only thing I can think of–and I am probably wrong–is something like what relationships were and are between English and French in Quebec or Manitoba or Ottawa. At any rate, Panorama was not looking for the kind of Poles who sound well on telly.
Meanwhile, I think the world ought to know that Dundee United is known in Dundee as the Arabs and Dundee FC is known in Dundee as the Jews. I do not quite understand this, but I am not from Dundee. Perhaps Panorama should go and check that out.
Why the BBC feels a particular need to slag off Poland and the Ukraine at the moment eludes me unless it is that tut-tutting at unemployed white Britons has become boring and they thought tut-tutting at unemployed white foreigners would jazz up life a bit.
The truth is that large groups of over-excited and drunken young men are dangerous, particularly at sporting events. Plan your life accordingly.
Update: Result! Glasgow Rangers fans horrified, brag about beating up Poland supporters, claim Poles complicit in the Holocaust. Nice going, BBC.
Update 2: The Polish response is interesting. In the UK, and in English, the comments are mostly of a “Krakow is 100% safer, friendlier and less racist than London, you racist racists” nature. In Poland, and in Polish, the comments are mostly divided between embarrassment, blame for government officials, observations that the Ukraine came off worse, and remarks about drunken English tourists who wee on walls, buildings, etc. all over Krakow.
Many Britons are defending Poland, having been there several times. “I can’t speak for the Ukraine, but” seems to be a popular phrase this morning.