When I was a kid we had this saying, “sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me.” But, that is an easy lesson for those who grow up as the majority class, who are not immigrants, or who have never been discriminated against. We may never know exactly what Materazzi said to Zidane, but my guess is that is was something racist or xenophobic. So, what lesson do we have to learn from this? In my mind, there is a very clear lesson. It doesn’t matter how great you are, insults still hurt. The World Cup which celebrates tolerance, multi-culturalism, and internationalism should not dethrown Zizou, but understand that even the greatest of the world’s stars is still subject to cheap, insenstive insults. The world is converging (just look at the make up of the French team), but there is still a long way to go. What is a horrible shame is that today the news media have depicted Zidane as someone who lost his cool under pressure, and yet Materazzi is a national hero. What are we valuing in society? How would you have reacted? Which side of the fence do you want to stand on? This is the sad reality of a politically incorrect Europe that permits racist remarks because it is always the offended that bears the responsibility for not being offended and the offender? Is clever? . . .
Whenever I argue in favor of political correctness in Europe, people tell me that “political correctness” is a hypocritical American phenomenon. That people should not be so senstive and take things so personally. When Luis Aragonés, Spain’s coach, tried to motivate one of his players by using racist slurs against France’s Henry, Aragonés justified his actions as a motivational technique. He said that some of his best friends were black and that he had no intention to offend. The Spanish press was not offended. No one is Spain really was at all.
My argument to Europeans is: just wait until you have a strong enough minority class to express just how offended they can be by such comments. Words DO HURT! If such racist or xenophobic remarks and insults are not really offensive, then why would one of the greatest European heros take such incredible offense as Zizou did yesterday evening? Zidane was wrong to use violence. But, maybe he should simply have walked off the field and told the press that his personal dignity was more important than winning another World Cup. Didn’t Mohammed Ali sacrfice years of his professional career for reasons of dignity? Zidane’s reaction was that certain things in life are more important than winning. Materazzi’s reaction was that winning is much more important than respect.
Which do you value?