Letters:

These letters appear in the Wednesday 1st January edition of the Independent

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It has become evident recently that the problem of anti-Semitism and racism in sport is yet to be eradicated.

It has plagued sporting associations and clubs for decades, and has rightly been met with admirable attempts to curb abuse: organisations such as Kick It Out and the introduction of financial sanctions have incentivised moral conduct on the sporting field, while addressing the notion that it is the role of sport to hold its players and supporters accountable for misplaced opinions.

It should be the role of bodies such as Fifa to address racist or discriminatory actions in order to cleanse their game of all aspects of inhumanity and political inflammation.

Despite numerous attempts by anti-racism organisations to allow sport and other aspects of popular culture to self-regulate, problems persist. Regulation is therefore essential, and this is something agreed upon by sporting associations such as Fifa when they ban players for committing acts such as biting players or fixing matches. If the same penalties are not issued for racist actions, these actions are tolerated and swept under the carpet.

Racist actions in a football match can be perceived by children and young adults such as myself as less significant and less serious than violent acts. But this is wrong, because racism and violence go hand in hand, and discrimination based upon ethnicity fosters future intolerance.

Even if the guilty party is not aware of an act’s significance, they are still guilty because of how widespread the audience involved is. When a Premier League match in West Bromwich is broadcast, it is viewed by an international audience. Children in Uganda worship Premier League football players in the same fashion that British children do, and are equally likely to copy the actions of their sporting role models.

To address the worst problems, the toughest penalties must exist. I am a worried onlooker who wants a cleaner game, one where I can feel free to attend sporting events without the fear of racial abuse, one where I can watch television without the malice of the minority permeating into the consciousness of the rest, one where political messages do not transcend the sacred realm of sporting achievement.

Sporting occasions give players the platform to voice their political opinions, and the sport should not grant publicity to those who abuse it. I propose a lifetime ban for all players and fans who break this boundary, in the hope that the vicious cycle of hatred which has engulfed the sporting world may soon be stopped.

Jack Lewy, Radlett, Hertfordshire

 

If the furore over Nicolas Anelka’s hand gesture helps nip an anti-Semitic campaign in the bud, it will have been welcome. But it also highlights recent selectivity over racism by the French government and media.

One of the most shameful affairs in French public life in 2013 involved the crudest and most blatantly racist insults aimed at French Justice Minister Christiane Taubira, who is black. Her Socialist ministerial colleagues and the French media ignored the affair (your Paris correspondent, John Lichfield, was a notable exception).

In the autumn, a far-right local election candidate had likened her to a monkey. Right-wing protesters took up the cry, waving bananas at her. Weeks after the original insults and after Mme Taubira had expressed shock at the lack of support for her, the government made some clucking noises; and a dribble of intellectual commentators wrote mealy-mouthed columns claiming this wasn’t really racism but was linked to France’s colonial past.

Being partially against racism is like being partially pregnant. Let’s kick out anti-Semitism, but clamp down equally on all strains of racism and xenophobia. An irony lost on most of the British media was that their condemnation of Anelka coincided with another volley of insults to the Romanians, Bulgarians and Roma – not strictly racist but using the same, base coinage.

Rod Chapman, Sarlat, France

 

An establishment without honour

The doctor who delivered the royal baby gets a knighthood for doing what thousands of midwives do every day, and Andy Murray gets nothing – it says all you need to know about the clueless British Establishment.

Watch out for the scramble to recover the situation in May as Scots Nats garner votes from the injured indignation.

Vaughan Thomas, Usk, Gwent

 

A doctor who “oversees” the birth of the third in line to the throne is granted a knighthood. A nurse, who possibly has saved many lives through whistleblowing at the Mid Staffordshire Trust, an OBE.

Bill Luty, Pudsey, West Yorkshire

 

I see that, once again, I have been overlooked in the New Year Honours. This is after 40 years of monitoring, speaking on and writing about the lethal quacks of the medico-pharma mafia, the planet-killers of the petro-industrial complex, the spivs, half-wits, quarter-wits and quislings who have managed to slither their way into Parliament, and the cowardly, corrupt, incompetent, derelict-of-duty, impossible-to-insult, Establishment-lackey trash-hacks, trying to pass themselves off as journalists.

Where am I going wrong?

Pat Rattigan, Chesterfield, Derbyshire

 

This Government, which is busy whipping up racist hysteria over Bulgarian and Romanian migrants, has just made Angela Lansbury – a naturalised American citizen since 1951 – a Dame of the British Empire in the New Year Honours. Aneurin Bevan was correct: the Conservatives are “lower than vermin”.

Sasha Simic, London N16

 

Your 30 December editorial (“Tarnished honours”) and article by Bobby Friedman (“Money talks: from donor to the honours list”) are based on a fundamental error – the honours system and appointments to the House of Lords are two completely different, unrelated processes.

And unlike honours, peerages are working appointments which carry with them the expectation of future service.

The number of peerages awarded in the 2014 New Year Honours is – as in all years – zero.

Richard Tilbrook, Head of Honours and Appointments Secretariat, Cabinet Office,London SW1

 

Prime Minister out of touch with reality

I am sure that many people are amazed at the sensitivity of David Cameron’s political antennae to the public’s perception of justice.

He uses the Fraud Act 2006 against benefit cheats, but will have to introduce a new law (not saying when) to be able to charge bankers responsible for an increasing range of immoral frauds that have cost all taxpayers (covering the banks’ fines) and so many individuals (through their loss of savings, jobs, homes and even lives through suicide).

He expects taxpayers to cover the costs of green policies, while energy companies are allowed to continue with their integration of wholesale and retail operations (effectively a series of monopolies) and increasing their charges, profits and shareholder dividends.

He aims to stop the immigration of non-EU citizens, but happily opens the UK to Chinese “investment”, apparently unaware of the reputation of the Chinese across Africa and Latin America where, having bought their way in, they bring in their own staff rather than employ local people.

Is it really so difficult to understand why so many people seem to think that our Dave is out of touch with the real world?

Malcolm MacIntyre-Read, Much Wenlock, Shropshire

 

If our Conservative Party has any chance of surviving the next general election, surely David Cameron should reconsider his position as leader and stand down to allow grassroots MPs to elect a prospective Prime Minister who is more in touch with British people?

Terry Duncan, Bridlington,  East Yorkshire

 

Political comment? You must be joking

David Blunkett wants satirical TV shows to face tighter regulation because their comedy is politically motivated (“Satire crossing the line into denigration, Blunkett claims”, 27 December).

If only... Shows such as Mock the Week, 10 O’Clock Live and, recently, even Have I Got News For  You may make fun of politicians, but they rarely discuss politics in  a substantive way.

Mock the Week joked about Mr Blunkett’s blindness, but wouldn’t have dreamt of satirising his immigration or crime policies as Home Secretary.

Richard Berry, LSE Public Policy Group, London School of Economics, London WC2

 

Kalashnikov’s other target

Further to David Boggis’s letter (30 December), Mikhail Kalashnikov did not originally aspire to become the inventor of the AK47. In 2002 he sent me a letter stating that, as a boy, his ambition was to be a poet.

Dominic Shelmerdine, London W8

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