If you’re fighting a culture war you need to be careful, says Daniel Finkelstein in The Times. When Priti Patel was asked about fans booing footballers who were taking the knee, there was an easy answer: I’m never in favour of jeering anyone. Instead she said: “That’s a choice for them quite frankly.” No wonder Tyrone Mings tweeted angrily: “You don’t get to stoke the fire at the beginning of the tournament by labelling our anti-racism message as ‘Gesture Politics’”.
Some of my friends seem to think that taking the knee is an endorsement of hardline Black Lives Matter activists who want to ditch capitalism and advance the theories of Karl Marx. Really? Is it really plausible that the gesture originated “in a dressing room debate about Das Kapital”? The players were simply protesting against the racism they encounter, nothing more. In the name of Marxist ideas my grandfather was sent to the Gulag and my father nearly died of starvation in Soviet exile. “I wouldn’t support any gesture that glorified communism.” Yet as a Jew, I, too, have experienced racial abuse. And let’s be clear: the jeerers hadn’t read Marxism any more than the players had. “The jeering was racial abuse wearing the clothes of political argument.” And siding with those who were booing is no sort of position for a Conservative. In the battle between Patel and Mings, there will only be one winner, and “it won’t be the politician”.
Read the full article here (paywall).