I wrote a thoughtful piece at the Run of Play on linguistic differences between Spanish and English. Since then, the FA has banned Luis Suarez for 8 games based on allegations that he made racist remarks. I don’t care to get into the mucky and murky waters of administrative proceedings. Rather, I want to focus on Liverpool’s official statement in response. Why? Well, because unlike other snobby bloggers, I can see the logic. The calculation is simple, yet makes perfect sense.
And now we must take this logic to its rightful conclusion.
First, the opening argument is weak. Basically, it mixes circumstantial evidence and character defense. Scousers claim that Suarez has a black grandpa and therefore cannot be racist. In sum, blacks can’t be racist. This is preposterous. Prejudices lurk deep inside all of us. Once prominent African American activist Jesse Jackson said that his greatest shame was hearing youth behind him in a dark alleyway, turning around, and being relieved to see they were white. We can all be prejudiced against our own race. But the debate doesn’t end there.
Second, and more subtly, there exists an ingenious & unassailable formula of an argument. Liverpool pointed out that Suarez had black teammates and black friends. Concisely put, the equation appears to be Luis Suarez + black friends = not racist = did not make racist remark. However, Liverpool argued that the word “negro” was not racist in Spanish-speaking countries. Thus, they admitted to him using that word. The equation is more nuanced.
Therefore, the actual formula is: Luis Suarez + black friend = okay to make racist remark. The underlying logic is that one cancels out the other. If you are nice to a black person one day, then that cancels out being racist the other. From a utilitarian perspective, this makes perfect sense. In fact, in cost/benefits analysis, this would make the world a much better place. I can dig this. In fact, I will now expound on this equation for the benefit of all humanity.
Let’s take a totally wild example. Let’s assume that John Terry, captain of England and upstanding human being, utters a racial epithet during a game. I know, I know, it’s preposterous but bear with me. So, JT makes a racist comment. BUT, what if JT invites Ashley Cole over to his house for dinner? What if JT invites Ashley Cole and Bosingwa and Drogba over to his house for dinner? From a global societal perspective, he has lowered the quality of life of one black person, the victim of the racial epithet, but also improved the lives of three other black people. Now imagine if every racist did this. Black people would have countless dinner invitations and be really happy. What a wonderful world it would be!
Just to clarify, I’m not saying that Suarez can just invite over Glenn Johnson to play XBox for 12 hours and all’s well. No no no. It must be somewhat sincere. Still, if society is ever to conquer racism, then we must accept the Liverpool formula and try to rehab the racists. We must oblige them to form superficial friendships and acquaintances so as to cancel out their deeply held racist thoughts and prejudices. If Suarez goes to the mall right now, this very minute, and meets and befriends two black guys, then I just may be able to forgive him. And isn’t that what stereotypical tokenism is all about?
Now, some cynics will say this logic is a “get out of jail free” card. They are wrong. You can’t go to jail for making a racist remark in a soccer game. You just get suspended and fined. Case closed!