Scotland vs England

The World Cup has provided the opportunity for the Scottish at work to increase their light hearted abuse of the English.  Although I am mixed race (English and Scottish) I am classed as English because I grew up south of the border and therefore have been included in the comments.

Work has decorated the canteen with a banner holding all the flags of the Word Cup teams, the English flag (The St George's Cross) has been removed.  Offices have been decorated with the USA, Algeria and Slovenia flags to show the Scottish support for the rest of group C.  Any English person displaying their support for the home team is just asking for trouble.

The majority of Scottish people who join in with this acceptable form of racism are just having a joke.  Obviously there is a long history of the English and Scottish fighting and the border moving up and down through the north east of England.  At times the border was so far south that I would have been 100% Scottish.  The joking can get a bit annoying, the Scottish hate to see England win and it can get a bit out of hand.  There are parts of the south of England where this situation is reversed but the majority of England likes to see Scotland do well, if they were in the World Cup I think most of England would support them. 

Listening to the banter at work on Friday made me think about racism and what that actually means.

The UN definition of  the term racial discrimination:
shall mean any distinction, exclusion, restriction or preference based on race, colour, descent, or national or ethnic origin which has the purpose or effect of nullifying or impairing the recognition, enjoyment or exercise, on an equal footing, of human rights and fundamental freedoms in the political, economic, social, cultural or any other field of public life.

Obviously real racism is a problem, if you don't get a job because of the colour of your skin that is clearly racism. If you have to sit in a different area because you are a different colour it's wrong in the same way as it would be wrong to segregate people based on sex or age.  I think it is quite clear that this is unacceptable and would be covered by the UN racial discrimination definition.

But the type of light hearted ribbing that we have between the Scottish and English, is that racism? I don't think it really is, there is no intent to disadvantage anyone with these comments.
But what does it mean for everyone else?  The majority of people are not racist but I think that a lot of people are frightened to say anything that highlights any differences in case they are seen as racist.  There are words that are not used because they have racist connections.  And yet many of these things are contradictory so that you can end up walking in a minefield of political correctness.

There are times when I know I have said things that people think are racist, I've seen the look on their faces when I've made a comment.  They are just so sensitive about the risk of offending someone that they wouldn't say things about another race that they wouldn't think twice about saying to an English person.  They avoid making jokes about appearance or culture, just in case.

I think this is crazy, we should be able to aknowledge and celebrate our differences rather than fear mentioning then in case we cause offence. 


Tyrie said...

At the pub where I watched the US v. England match, there three US fans wearing kilts ... ouch.

Michael said...

Exactly. And that goes for all human traits - age, gender, sexual orientation, occupation, income level, etc.

Michael said...

In the mood to receive an award?

Iron Criterion said...

Or alternatively do what I do: HATE EVERYONE.

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