“Amusing side-effects of today’s results”

After Aidan “Nazi stag party” Burley had to sit through “the most leftie opening ceremony I have ever seen”, he tweeted:

This evening at the Olympics stadium the three British gold medallists were a picture of the British multiculturalism that Aidan Burley and the Daily Mail had decried. Published on the Mail Online only a few hours after the Opening Ceremony came to an end, Rick Dewsbury wrote:

“This was supposed to be a representation of modern life in England but it is likely to be a challenge for the organisers to find an educated white middle-aged mother and black father living together with a happy family in such a set-up.

Almost, if not every, shot in the next sequence included an ethnic minority performer. The BBC presenter Hazel Irvine gushed about the importance of grime music (a form of awful electronic music popular among black youths) to east London. This multicultural equality agenda was so staged it was painful to watch.”

The outcry on Twitter meant the article was ninja-edited and then removed: the Mail realised it had misjudged the mood of its audience. The Mail sells hate, and that night, no one was buying.

Greg Rutherford sounded almost drunk when he was being interviewed after he won the gold medal for the men’s long jump with 8.31 metres. That’s 27 feet 3 and a bit inches, if you don’t think in metric. He’s the grandson of Jock Rutherford, who played nearly six hundred Football League and FA Cup matches between 1902 and 1928.

Jessica Ennis knew she had won the heptathlon if she just got round the last footrace safely. She led the pack and lifted her arms in triumph as she passed the finish line. Her father was born in Jamaica and her mother in Derbyshire. She’s from Sheffield.

Mo Farrah became the first British athlete to win the 10,000 metre race tonight. He was born in Somalia – father born in England, mother born in Somalia – and came to the UK at the age of 8, then hardly speaking English. (His stepdaughter Rihanna ran out to join him on the track, and after running 10,000 metres he still had enough in him to pick her up for a hug. His wife Tania Nell joined them for heartwarming moment of the night.) He remains the only player to beat The Cube and take the final prize.

Can this last?

Kath Viner tweeted happily yesterday that she’d never got to edit an issue of the Guardian with so many stories about women before. Oscar Pistorius became the first-ever amputee to compete in the Olympic Games. And Farrah, Innis, and Rutherford stood on the gold medal podium for their events, a visual up-yours to the kind of Burley/Mail idea of an all-white Britain.

A year ago today, Mark Duggan was shot. The policeman who did it has not yet been named or charged.

What happens when the Games are over? I wrote this morning that I didn’t see any change in the institutional racism of the Metropolitan Police, nor their secretive defensive attitude that it’s them against the ordinary public.

John Sentamu, when acting as an adviser to the inquiry into the Stephen Lawrence murder, to investigate the institutional racism of the Metropolitan Police, was challenged by one of the bobbies on the beat outside the House of Commons: a black man, unchaining his bike, late at night, was obviously – to the Metropolitan Police – a suspicious character to be challenged. With Christian forbearance, Sentamu merely explained who he was and let the white policeman decide for himself it would be too embarrassing to arrest the black bishop. (Sadly John Sentamu doesn’t seem to have the empathy to realise that discrimination isn’t right no matter where directed, but perhaps that’s what being an Archbishop does to you.)

I wrote a couple of months ago, the night before I was heading to an anti-SDL demo:

Tomorrow, on the counter-demo, Catholics and Sunnis, Shi’ites and Presbyterians, Hibbies and Jamtarts, people of any religion and none, lesbian, gay, bisexual, straight, transgender and cisgender, all of us Scots together, will march from the Grassmarket to Waterloo Place, through the centre of Edinburgh – far outnumbering the few dozen SDLers who may be gathering for their hatefest at Abbyhill.

That’s what I want for Scotland. Whether we vote Yes or No in 2014 is less important to me than whether we can stand up as Scottish together and say to these white nationalists with their notion of “defending Scotland” against diversity, that we are Scotland, and we are our nation’s own defense against them.

When the Olympics and Paralympics end, what will be their legacy? The huge sports stadia – will local sports groups be allowed to use them for free? The multi-cultural medal winners, women and men – will they leach the poison that the Daily Mail and haters like Aiden Burley spit at us?

G4S will still be a private security company with a budget that overtops the British military, scamming government contracts to do work that should be a public service. The Conservatives will still be in government. George Osborne will still be killing the British economy with the death of a thousand cuts. Atos will still be declaring dying people fit to work so that the DWP can sanction their benefits.

What can we change?

We’re not a country of haters, I do believe that: I see what turn-out anti-SDL marches get and what kind of miniscule support the BNP and the EDL have. The Conservative campaign against benefits has been a campaign to promote hate for disabled people. It becomes easy, when you own the media, to make people think everyone hates those sort of people.

If these Olympics and Paralympics can mark a turning point where people realise as a country we’re not haters: if love wins out – that’s a worthy legacy.

Update: Tom Fordyce on BBC Sport: “Ennis, Farah and Rutherford give GB athletics its greatest hour”:

Eight days ago, Danny Boyle’s opening ceremony offered a vision of modern Britain that felt simultaneously new and familiar to every one of us.

These athletes are making it flesh, just as the experience of watching them is giving the nation a series of mutual memories to celebrate and cherish.

A mixed-race girl from Sheffield, a lad whose great-grandfather played football for England over a century ago, and a boy who arrived in west London aged nine from east Africa to make the capital his home.

“Would you have been prouder to have done it for Somalia?” some clown asked Farah at his media conference. The rabid Arsenal fan was indignant. “Not at all, mate! This is my country!”

That would be classic.

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Filed under Disability, In The Media, LGBT Equality, Olympics, Racism, Riots, Women

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