Calling a black man a “monkey” is so 40 years ago…

This is something that shouldn’t still be happening in 2018. Let’s work as a society to eliminate it in 2019.

http://www.espn.com/soccer/napoli/story/3737523/inter-milan-given-two-match-stadium-closure-after-koulibaly-monkey-chants

Here’s the beginning of the article:

Inter Milan have been ordered to play their next two Serie A games behind closed doors, and close part of the stadium for one further game following the racial abuse aimed at Napoli’s Kalidou Koulibaly on Boxing Day.

Serie A announced that no spectators will be admitted to the Nerazzurri’s next two games against Sassuolo on Jan. 19 and Bologna on Feb. 3 in response to Wednesday’s incidents, which it says were not isolated.

Koulibaly was red carded towards the end of the match, and while his reaction was petty and probably triggered the base instincts of the Inter Milan racists, he (like every other human) didn’t deserve this treatment. His Instagram post following the game was nearly perfect:

“I am only sorry for the defeat and above all to have left my brothers,” Koulibaly wrote on Instagram after the match. “But I am proud of the colour of my skin; to be French, Senegalese, Neapolitan: a man.”

A man.

In the end, that’s how we must address each other, and at this stage we can focus on those in the public eye for a start, those who put themselves out there for the neanderthals to verbally abuse. All athletes bear the scars of opposing fans’ verbal assaults, simply because they wear a different jersey and seek the defeat of those fans’ favorite team. Within reason, that’s expected and even encouraged. That’s the siren song of the great athlete – Michael Jordan used to talk about how the greatest sound in the world was the silencing of the opposition crowd with a soul-crushing score that put their team to the sword. (My words, not precisely his.) But the “hatred” there is tinged with respect – you don’t bother booing the bench sitter, because he/she can’t hurt you. You boo the Jordans, the LeBrons, the Kobes, the Steph Currys… and the Kalidou Koulibalys of the world, because they have the skill to defeat your team.

But there’s a limit to what you should say to anyone, including the athlete on the field of competition. You are allowed to insult on the basis of their team affiliation, and on the basis of the person’s known personal background. For example, when Curry mentioned a few weeks ago that he was a skeptic that NASA had ever reached the moon, the Sacramento Kings media technician partnered his player introduction with the song “Man On The Moon” and a visual on the board of Neil Armstrong stepping off the lunar lander and onto the moon; when Curry went to shoot free throws, the fans behind the basket waved cutouts of astronauts. All that is fair game.

What ISN’T fair game, EVER, is to make any kind of generalized assault on a person based on the racial or religious or national or sexual traits that are beyond a single person’s control but are rather an attack on a group of people as a pre-judging statement – a prejudicual statement. The Inter Milan crowd calling a black man a “monkey”, for example. References to the stereotype of a Jewish person being “hook-nosed”, or “miserly”. References to homosexual men being effeminate – “fag”, “pansy”, “light in the loafers”, whatever (and especially if the person has denied their accused homosexuality, because – true or not – that indicates it’s already struck a nerve and is hitting below the belt (no pun intended).

The punishment above is perfect, the more I’ve thought about it. Deny the racists the place to exercise their demonic instincts in public. Don’t punish the players by preventing them from playing their games; but eliminate the support of proven racist supporters so that they might be encouraged to take the conversation to their own fans. Don’t stop the team from playing – out of sight, out of mind – but make them see the consequences of their fans’ actions vividly in the form of an empty house.

And make the fans themselves see that there are consequences to their behaviors.

When Howard Cosell was the most well-known sportscaster in the business, he was widely recriminated for describing Washington wide receiver as a “little monkey” in a September 1973 Monday night football game. Reviewing previous games Cosell announced, he actually used the term indiscriminately, regardless of color, to describe any player of small stature, rather than the assumption most people made at the time: that Cosell had used the term in a racist manner. But because Cosell also had a reputation for some borderline racist commentary in his past (as, unfortunately, men of his age in that era often did), it was not a tough jump to make in this case to assume the worst. (In contrast, that’s also why LeBron’s unfortunate use of the “Jewish money” lyric in an Instagram post last week was quickly excused by most – his reputation as a man of high character preceded him.)

And, unfortunately for Inter Milan fans, their reputation also precedes them. (“Serie A announced that… Wednesday’s incidents… were not isolated.”) 

The Bible makes clear that all people are equal in the sight of God. But one of the things that Christians often have a hard time getting through their skulls is that we cannot expect non-Believers to act like Believers! They simply don’t have the Love of God within them to overcome the prejudices of the world and of the devil’s culture that pervades every moment of their lives.

But we can share the Gospel with them, in the hope that the Holy Spirit will help guide them to the Love of God that lifts us above the prejudices of the world’s culture.

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