Yid Army victory is a defeat for the PC battalion
From Brother Ivo:
The cockles of Brother Ivo's heart are being warmed. Despite the nights drawing in, he senses a thaw. It puts him in mind of that passage in CS Lewis when the small signs of springtime in Narnia were first detected. It began slowly, but gradually it dawns on those who have suffered a long, unforgiving winter that change is on the way. A victory is coming.
Brother Ivo is cheered because the Aslan of Common Sense is on the march.
The improbable setting for this English Spring is White Hart Lane, the home of Tottenham Hotspur Football Club, which is a team that has traditionally drawn significant support from its nearby Jewish community. It is not the only club with such support; Leeds United and Manchester City developed similar traditional followings, as did Ajax Amsterdam. But perhaps because of resistance to the marches into the East End by Oswald Mosley and the British Union of Fascists, the Tottenham Club supporters were the subject of particular venom.
Football fans are known to be robust, and few would object to the cheerful singing on a Saturday afternoon of 'Does your Rabbi know your here?', but things were nastier than that. The fans of the team were first characterised as the 'Yids' as a perjorative term until the fans appropriated that term for themselves. Just as some black young men in the US took to calling each other 'nigger' to take the string out of what was initially abuse, so the fan-base identified closely with their Jewish neighbours and both stood against anti-Semitism and embraced the name as a positive and proud expression of fellowship.
To this day, the flag of Israel will often appear in the ground and the most dedicated fans describe themselves as the 'Yid Army'.
Like many other clubs (Everton, Manchester City, Preston North End, Aston Villa), its roots are originally to be found in the social action of the Victorian church. Currently, however, the principal shareholder Joe Lewis and Chairman Daniel Levy are both Jewish, and they have plainly not felt at all discomforted or alienated by the terms of the fans' vocal support. Indeed, they have invested millions of pounds in the club.
The long established pro-Jewish heritage of the club recently became the target of the politically correct. The Chairman of the Black Lawyers Association Mr Peter Herbert threatened the fans with prosecution over their 'Yid Army' chants, and when the fans showed cheerful defiance he asserted: "We are not going to let go on this."
It was another step on behalf of the politically-correct busybody: the Football Association came in, also suggesting that fans would be prosecuted if they did not give up their self identification. Sadly for them, the law requires a hostile mens rea (guilty mind): it was patently not the fans' (singing of themselves) who were seeking to be offensive to anyone. Insofar as they gave it much thought, it was a cultural self-association with a time when their forebears did good things and stood up for what is right.
That said, for a long time it has been no more thought through than when England fans sing 'Land of Hope and Glory'. No doubt if the politically correct could stop that with threats of prosecution because of the perceived insensitivity to the victims of bad colonial practices, they would do so.
Amongst those who have objected is the 'Kick it out' campaign and comedian David Baddiel. Mr Baddiel is doubtless discomforted by the fact that his favoured team are amongst the worst when it comes to anti-Semitic chanting. Interestingly, Mr Baddiel can be deliberately provocative himself: on his Twitter profile he describes himself with the one-word self-description 'Jew'. That word, like 'Yid', is perfectly innocuous per se but is sometimes invested with invective by those with anti-Semitic attitudes. Both George Galloway MP and fellow Bradford MP David Ward might arguably be far more threatening and offensive to the Jewish community than the pro-Israel football supporter.
The Prime Minister has joined the debate, indicating he opposes the heavy-handed threat of prosecution. Toby Young was rather more incisive, asking if football fans are to be prosecuted for calling themselves 'Yids' why homosexual campaigners who call themselves 'queer' should not be similarly treated. One can imagine the squirming of Mr Baddiel if he inadvertently caused the prosecution of that secular saint Peter Tatchell.
One wonders whether the pathologically offended will take up the cause of Christians who are hurt and offended whenever the Lord's name is taken in vain - whether at a football ground or over the airways?
Fortunately, the 'Reasonable Man' - whose wisdom Brother Ivo has recently extolled - has ridden to the rescue in the form of Rabbi Yitzhak Schochet. His balanced analysis is the very embodiment of how this kind of controversy should be approached:
“I think we have to put this in context,” he said. “There is a time and a place for the word, used in different contexts or different settings it will have different implications.Hallelujah!
“I maintain that on the Spurs pitch, it is categorically not anti-Semitic and not offensive but rather it is a rallying call of support for a team that has a strong Jewish following.
“If the phrase ‘Yiddo’ was yelled at me on the street that would be something entirely different as then, in the first instance, it would be intended as anti-Semitic.
“One problem is sometimes a certain hyper-sensitivity can exacerbate a problem. I suggest that if there was to be a blanket ban on the term at the Spurs pitch now that will engender anti-Semitism.”
This kindled a flicker of optimism in Brother Ivo's heart and mind, but it was fanned into a cheerful fire by the bloody-minded defiance of the fans who sang their songs at last Saturday's match, supported by the Bishop of Willesden and Tottenham fan Peter Broadbent who tweeted: "Off to the Lane this afternoon. The international break is stupidly disruptive. It'll be good to be back. We'll sing what we want. #coys".
At many levels this is a storm in a teacup. The fans are more motivated for their team, its tradition and its culture than any clearer association with our Jewish friends. Yet Brother Ivo sees this as a potential turning of the tide.
The political correctness of the Frankfurt School of Marxism has hitherto made much progress in defining debate throughout our 'postmodern' (largely anti-religious) society. If you can manage the use of language, you can shape the debate to your own advantage.
This week, an unlikely minority pushed back, resisted the definitions of others, the imposition of a secular political ideology, and faced down the ill-judged threats of prosecution and banning from the grounds. The police have acknowledged that those who do not direct hatred cannot be prosecuted for the use of a word which, at worst, is equivocal.
The fans won through a cultural cohesion which was strengthened and coordinated through the social media. They were enabled to debate the issue swiftly; to develop solidarity and then express it. In former days, the power of media figures, the threats to individuals and isolation would have favoured the politically correct who deliberately captured and re-defined the culture of the national media. This is why so few Christians are to be found at the BBC - unless they are 'in the closet'.
This story is an interesting practical illustration of Douglas Carswell's thesis in his book The End of Politics and the Birth of iDemocracy which argues that modern technology can restore power to the individual. Ten years ago, the views of David Baddiel and Peter Tatchell would have enjoyed disproportionate and overwhelming power because those in the national media give them their blessing. Brother Ivo recalls a senior woman executive at the BBC who once asserted 'Political Correctness IS morality'.
Today. Rabbi Schochet can get as widespread a hearing, whether or not the great and the good approve.
Sadly we still have not yet grasped the potential of this liberation - least of all in the churches, which are chronically averse to embracing cultural change even when it can help them (pace His Grace - Ed.).
In so much of public life, the mighty can be put down from their seat. In both Church and secular society there is untapped potential for 'virtuous information loops' to draw on the wisdom and common sense of the ordinary person.
Douglas Carswell reminds us of the story of the young girl Martha Payne who began photographing her school dinners and writing a blog to critique them. The first response of the Education Authority was to ban her activity - until that repressive response was itself disseminated. This is instructive. When the computer is a mainframe programmed from above, routinely 'computer says no'. In a network, there can be greater reactive fluidity.
As one final thought upon the 'Battle of White Hart Lane', let us briefly consider the news story of how we improve failing hospitals within the NHS. One response has been the plan to put into every nurse's hands an iPad.
Douglas Carswell and Brother Ivo think it would be better to give one to every patient.
Brother Ivo is the Patron Saint of Lawyers.