This subject has been done to death, but I thought I’d add my bit…

I mostly feel sorry for Ron Atkinson. I’m sure he does have unfair prejudices about black people, and equally sure that he doesn’t hate black people.

It would be better if he weren’t prejudiced, but the number of 65-year-old non-Guardian-reading white males without similar prejudices is very low indeed, and he appears from his actions to be more positively disposed towards black people than his peer group. It’s not particularly fair to judge Mr Atkinson by the standards of today’s young people, who’ve grown up in a society where saying ‘nigger’ in any context is considered unacceptable unless you’re actually a fascist [1].

That said, his resignation was the only feasible course of action – simply because allowing him to get away with it would have emboldened younger fascists, who would have interpreted the word according to their generation’s meaning, not his.

Still sad though. I’m finding it hard to understand the people who don’t feel any pity for him, unless they’ve never met a kind, liberal, elderly person whose speech occasionally reflects a 1930s worldview…

[1] ‘Nigga’ is a very different word, and anyone who attempts to justify Mr Atkinson’s statements with reference to black people using it is missing the point by an impressive margin.

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2 thoughts on “Atkinson

  1. I’m very pleasantly surprised to see that someone else agrees with me on this – although I deplore racism under pretty much any circumstances you care to name, I’ve been equally depressed by much of the predictable reaction to this sad saga.

    As you rightly say, the comment was indefensible (Atkinson himself freely admitted it), and attempts at deconstructing it along gangsta rap lines and thus defending it are ludicrous – but I find the knee-jerk "this proves he’s a racist and it completely invalidates anything he may have done for good race relations in the past, which he probably never did anyway as he’s a racist" reactions are often equally contemptible in their smug black-and-white [sic] certainty and absolute refusal to acknowledge any nuances – and in this particular case there are many.

    Atkinson made an appalling error of judgement, and is rightly paying the price (and how!) – so is it too much to ask people to be slightly more sensitive and at least temper their criticism with slightly more tact? Ron Atkinson is poles apart from the likes of Kilroy and Littlejohn and deserves much more sympathy he’s been getting.

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