Three pages in the Daily Fail and a load of coverage on the S*n’s website shows two of the most right-wing papers in the country for what they really are.

I don’t know what was going on in Averof Panteli’s head when he, as he claims, looked down at the ground in anger as Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang celebrated Arsenal’s first goal, spotted a banana skin, bent down, picked it up and hurled it onto the pitch in the direction of the striker.

I’ve been to hundreds, if not thousands, of football matches and have been incensed by many things opposition players have done. Not once did it occur to me, in my fury, to look to the ground for something to throw.

Panteli, of course, deploys all the usual ‘I’m not a racist’ defences. ‘I can’t be racist because I have black friends,’ ‘It can’t be racist because that wasn’t how it was meant’ and the likes of the S*n and Daily Fail just eat it up. He is a ‘grandad’ in descriptors. Granddads don’t hurt people, after all. They’re warm and cuddly and safe.

The Daily Fail have devoted three pages to the coverage of Panteli’s defence, including the back page. Much more than they gave the incident itself. It was the lead item on the S*n’s Arsenal page for at least six-and-a-half hours and is still there on the front page some 12 hours after I first noticed it at 5am this morning.

daily mail no racists 1
Daily Mail back page 4 December 2018
daily mail no racists 2
Daily Mail 4 December 2018
sun banana defence
The S*n’s website this morning
the sun not racist
The S*n’s website at 5.20pm 4 December 2018

This is how they covered the incident itself the day before. Notice how they make it look like they are calling for a ban for the Spurs fan but it’s actually got nothing to do with it:

daily mail no racists 4
Daily Mail 3 December 2018
daily mail no racists 3
Daily Mail 3 December 2018

When the incident was first reported, I doubted there was any racial motivation behind it. Racists tend use the whole banana for a start, but you don’t get a free pass just because intent might not have been there.

“I just didn’t think” is no longer an acceptable excuse, not these days. Not anymore.

Nish Kumar explained it well in a recent piece for the Guardian as part of their extensive ‘Bias in Britain’ series on the reality of racism in the UK.

“In a post-Brexit age,” Kumar wrote, “I’ve got a zero tolerance policy on unconscious bias.

“We were in denial about the extent to which Britain had cured itself of the poison of racism. We’re definitely not in denial about it now. If that makes people feel uncomfortable, well, they should feel uncomfortable.”

Expecting better from the likes of the S*n and the Daily Fail is, ultimately, a futile exercise but we can act and call them out on their bull whenever we see it. We must.

We must make it uncomfortable for people who commit racist acts, while not necessarily being ‘racist,’ because the two go hand-in-hand. For far too long we’ve put the comfort of those with privilege ahead of the safety of those without.

You might feel a little uneasy when challenged, you might even feel offended that someone could think you a racist. But while you cry into your latte that you didn’t mean any offence, someone somewhere is taking what you said or did and using it to reinforce ‘real’ racism that causes real and lasting damage to countless numbers of innocent people whose only ‘crime’ was to be born without a white enough skin in a world whitey rules.