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Barnet councillor and Jewish Arsenal fan Robert Rams argues that 'reclaiming' the 'Y' word encourages others
1:12pm Tuesday 17th September 2013 in News
Let me start with a confession. I’m an Arsenal fan and season ticket holder.
I am passionate about my club and have travelled around Europe watching them. A fellow Arsenal fan once said to me “I think I hate Spurs more than I Love Arsenal” and I have to admit I have some sympathy with that point of view! I am also Jewish.
But, as they say, “Some of my best friends are Spurs fans” and I put my loyalty for the Gunners to one side in my belief that Spurs and all football fans – including Arsenal fans – should not be allowed to get away with using and justify the use of the 'Y' word.
Two years ago I was invited to the House of Commons to see David Baddiel launch his video about the use of the Y word.
The event was put on by the All Party Parliamentary Group on Anti-Semitism.
The video explains the anti-Semitic connotations of the 'Y' word, focusing on the word’s derogatory use by the Nazi regime. A person can be arrested for calling someone a Yid on the street, so why do football fans think it okay to use the word on the terraces?
In his recent article, the editor of the Times Series says, “Spurs fans are seeking to turn a negative into a positive”. My question to him is – why is it their decision to turn the word from a negative into a positive? Do Spurs fans think they own the word and have the right to decide who is offended by it?
Often the argument is used that black rap artists have reclaimed the 'N' word – and this is used as a justification for Spurs fans to sing the 'Y' word. Yes, many Spurs fans are Jewish – but by no means the majority. And why would a small majority of fans at one football club have the right to decide what is offensive and what is not? They do not represent me and I am highly offended by the use of the word.
There is an anti-Spurs song sung by Arsenal fans that ends by chanting the 'Y' Word. It is remarkable to notice how few people now actually sing that part of the song. I have in fact asked people sat around me not to sing it and explained the meaning of the word and why it is so offensive and this has stopped it in my small section. But I am not silly and am well aware of the amount of anti-Semitism, other forms of racism and homophobia that occur at football games. It is truly disgusting. But education is the key to of the battle. This is why it shocks me that educated people, such as the editor of this newspaper, feel they are able to justify the use of this word!
Those who would argue that they are ‘reclaiming’ a previously abhorrent word should consider whether they are, in fact, creating a climate where it is more likely that a horribly offensive word will be used.
Robert Rams @Cllrrobertrams
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