Hand wringing over Poland and Syria

I’m fed up with myself for wringing my hands over genocide in Syria and racism in Poland. I listen to the radio, watch web images and well up with anger that these things are happening.

My anger is useless, I do nothing with it. Can I condemn people whose lives I know nothing of. What is it like to be a Pole, or a Syrian? Are there moral absolutes , is there a moral relativism that makes things alright, can we compare genocide to monkey taunts.

The Polish radio commentators seem to tolerate racism as “the least of our problems”. Were anyone to make a racist remark in the Thatchers Stand at Yeovil Town, he would be out, we wouldn’t wait for the stewards, we’d march him or her out. I’m sure that thirty years ago it was different. My Dad used to take me to Southampton games and we used to gawp at Black and Asian people who we were seeing as kids for the first time.Maybe that’s what it’s like in Poland somehow I doubt it.

I read about the kind of massacres happening in Syria in my history books, the rape of the Sabines was a romantic image hanging in Wilton House. I gawped at that as if it was alright to murder and rape providing you were dressed in flowing robes and painted in fading oils.

My old English teacher at college, Geoffrey Hill, used to talk with me about this. What is our appropriate response to the kind of horror we are seeing in Syria?

Clearly Van Bommel and the Dutch team (who were fresh from a visit to Auschwitz) were in no mood for compromise. Their hard-line response seems, both in the context of my education on the terrace at Yeovil, and their trip to the former concentration camp, entirely appropriate. Yet even they are being criticised by relativists who argue that we “should not mix politics and sport”.

My hand-wringing goes on. Is there anything that a 50 year old white liberal living in luxury in London can reasonably say about Polish fan behaviour, let alone the atrocities in Syria?

I feel the same thing as I make my way to the voting booth when I vote. Can my individual voice do anything? Can yours?

In writing this blog, in your reading it, have we eased our consciences or just ducked our responsibility to do more?

To this question I have no answer. I press the remote control and watch a brilliant game of football, or “have I got news for you?” and go to sleep in a nice comfy bed.

Is that an appopriate response?

About henry tapper

Founder of the Pension PlayPen,, partner of Stella, father of Olly . I am the Pension Plowman
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