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So ‘coloured’ is racist but ‘people of colour’ isn’t? The woke speech police strike again to claim another victim

Chris Sweeney
Chris Sweeney

Chris Sweeney is an author and columnist who has written for newspapers such as The Times, Daily Express, The Sun and Daily Record, along with several international-selling magazines. Follow him on Twitter @Writes_Sweeney

Chris Sweeney is an author and columnist who has written for newspapers such as The Times, Daily Express, The Sun and Daily Record, along with several international-selling magazines. Follow him on Twitter @Writes_Sweeney

So ‘coloured’ is racist but ‘people of colour’ isn’t? The woke speech police strike again to claim another victim
The chairman of the English FA Greg Clarke has been forced to resign following a vicious online shaming after a slip of the tongue in a discussion on racism. The ego-driven zealots who forced him out have lost the plot completely.

Society is in a precarious position. Baying mobs want to create offence or exaggerate any if given the chance.

This is evidenced by the ‘outrage’ which has led to the forced resignation of the Chairman of England’s Football Association, Greg Clarke. 

Appearing in front of the UK government’s Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) select committee, he discussed how footballers endure insults and attacks online. He said: “If I look at what happens to high-profile female footballers, high-profile coloured footballers and the abuse they take on social media … they take absolutely terrible abuse.”

That was the sentence that cost him his livelihood – because of the term “coloured”.

One of the committee, Kevin Brennan, the Labour MP for Cardiff West, spotted a chance to create a scandal, as he asked, “I think I heard you refer to coloured people earlier on; if that’s the case, would you want to withdraw that language?

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Most of us don’t know Greg Clarke, but he genuinely looked crestfallen and replied, “Firstly, if I said it I deeply apologise for it. Secondly, I am a product of having worked overseas. I worked in the USA for many years where I was required to use the term ‘people of colour’ sometimes as that was a product of the diversity legislation and positive discrimination format. Sometimes I trip over my words and I deeply apologise.” 

Clarke was clearly flustered and issued his words of regret instantly. But the short clip was soon pinballing around social media. He was branded “a racist” and his language labelled “abhorrent”. 

The mainstream media then spotted a chance to ride the wave and decided to appeal to the lowest common denominator. One article referred to his views as prehistoric and The Daily Mail renamed him “Jurassic Clarke”.

It’s hard to know if all those who commented or cried foul have watched Clarke’s full appearance in front of the committee. Solely on that basis, he appeared to be a force for good.

One proposal he was keen to pursue were stiff penalties for those who conduct themselves inappropriately inside a stadium. Clarke said, “I believe we have things in place that if anybody misbehaves in terms of homophobic, misogynist or racist abuse - we will find them and we will ban them from football. I’d like to see that sort of behaviour criminalised, so they get a criminal record.”

He also made an appeal for greater powers to stamp out abuse online too. “We need the government to help us regulate social media so that racists, homophobes and misogynists can’t take aim at anybody who dares to say anything they disagree with. We need help in that area.”

These are sentiments that any sane mind would agree with. There's no place for division or prejudice, and wasn’t that precisely what Clarke was saying?

Even his supposed crime was a slip of the tongue.

If he had phrased it as “people of colour” then this whole circus would have never materialised.

Righteous platforms like the BBC and The Guardian both use that terminology. So, it boils down to ‘colour vs coloured’. It’s a ridiculous and petty difference, when the world faces real issues.

Yes, there are connotations that deem the use of ‘coloured’ to be no longer appropriate. But this is a small detail in the bigger picture, and there was clearly no malice in this case. Clarke, while no master wordsmith, is not a racist. However, at the juncture we find ourselves, malice or intent is irrelevant.

Language can be tedious when broken down into parts.

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In North America, for example, it’s acceptable to use the term queer but there was a time not that long ago in Britain when calling someone “queer” was incredibly insulting. 

And of course, there is an infantry of curtain-twitchers out there who now lie in wait for someone to stumble and then gleefully crucify them. Their actions are pitiful and hurt us all.

Not only are they creating a toxic culture, they are also stunting any real progress on racial, gender or sexual issues, as everyone now spends too much time fretting about what terminology to use rather than actually bringing about real change.

Continually picking on easy targets who make the slightest of stumbles is predatory and has become a full-time occupation for some ego-driven zealots.

Greg Clarke has been hung out to dry. What he said shouldn’t have become a major issue and was in no way a valid reason for him to lose his employment.

If you disagree, then you’re the one with a problem.

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The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.

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