“Why don’t we educate him?”
Not long after those words rolled out of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s mouth at the Etihad in the aftermath of an alleged racist incident during the Manchester derby on Saturday night, Anthony Burke provided a pretty strong answer in a series of Facebook posts.
The 41-year-old was caught on camera engaging in alleged monkey gestures and alleged noises towards Manchester United’s Fred and Jesse Lingard as they prepped for a corner.
When confronted about it, SHOCK, HORROR!, he deflected rather than than acknowledged the seriousness of the alleged incident.
“Listen, I’m only [a] racist c*** because I had a screen shot that made me look it,” was the Manchester City fan’s opening defence on the social media platform.
“I ain’t racist, watch the match, half of it was with me putting my hands in my pants.”
For the hat-trick – and remember the golden rule, you can’t be racist if you know people of colour – his ex-partner told a national newspaper: “This is not like him – his family are black.”
Ding, ding, ding.
So, why don’t we educate the civil engineering manager arrested on Sunday by Greater Manchester Police?
Because you cannot teach someone who doesn’t see an issue in their actions, especially not if it is – to borrow Troy Deeney’s description from a similarly revolting episode – “a grown-ass man.”
Why would you need to school a father and ex-soldier, who has lived for just over four decades, on the ills of dehumanising people based on the colour of their skin?
How does it actually work? Education is undoubtedly a powerful tool to help change the world, but it’s a waste on those who ultimately do not want to widen their outlook, on those who would rather argue than accept they are wrong if and when they are told why.
Before Burke’s brainlessness came Italian publication Corriere dello Sport’s prolonged brain fart.
Previewing the Serie A fixture between Inter Milan and Roma last Thursday, their front page featured images of former Manchester United teammates Romelu Lukaku and Chris Smalling – now facing off as opponents – sandwiched by a headline that screamed: ‘Black Friday.’
The paper had meant well but executed their message horrifically, which correctly received mass criticism.
Smalling called the framing “wrong and highly insensitive,” while Lukaku branded it “one of the dumbest headlines I’ve ever seen in my career.”
Corriere dello Sport, however, defended the headline as “innocent,’’ saying it “was only praising diversity” and that it had been “transformed into poison by those who have poison inside.”
Roma and Inter’s rivals AC Milan reacted by opting to ban the Italian daily from their training facilities for the rest of the year, as well as denying them access to players for media activities during this period.
Instead of Corriere dello Sport admitting they had erred, that the headline was utterly inappropriate before apologising unreservedly, they continued to blindly and worryingly go on the offensive.
The claim was they were being “lynched” – NOTHING TO SEE HERE. NO PROBLEM WITH THAT CHOICE OF WORD WHATSOEVER – and spotlighted all the occasions they had called out racism. [Note to Corriere dello Sport, that is a responsibility and a necessity, not some noble act.]
If that still wasn’t enough, there was another rebuttal from the paper titled “the black and the false,” where they cried “let’s not give into to hypocrisy”.
This is definitely not the hill to die on. Own it, apologise, do better.
Meanwhile, if you’re nodding along, but refused to accept that the song about the size of Lukaku’s penis perpetuates a racial stereotype, that photoshopping Divock Origi’s face onto a poster featuring a black man largely endowed is not “only banter” or “a compliment” and that there can never be equality in comparing black caricatures – born out of a history of oppression – and white ones, you are part of the problem.
As is the case if you were among the pack seething that Gary Neville dared pull up a Prime Minister, who has referred to African people as “piccaninnies” with “watermelon smiles” and compared Muslim women who wear burqas to “letter boxes,” for fuelling the issue.
Furthermore, if racism is your platform for point-scoring, bringing up incidents from rival clubs as though this is all a game of Top Trumps, you’re – and I’m going to phrase this as nicely as possible – quite pathetic.
Burke has been suspended from his job and is facing a lifetime ban from attending City games if found guilty of racist behaviour. To rectify his ex-partner’s “it’s amazing how you can get famous for the wrong thing” line, he is now renowned for being that the man who allegedly got caught racially abusing the opposition’s black players in front of his team’s black players.
You can’t fix stupid and it’s scary to think just how much of the population are sat fist-pumping in the knowledge there are no cameras ready to record their discrimination that lurks beneath or when it bubbles to the surface.