bormann, or bosnich?

bormann, or bosnich?

Once upon a time I was so left wing that had I joined the Labour Party, Militant Tendency would have launched a witch hunt to have me expelled. Indeed, I favoured the left to a greater extent than Savo.

I rarely missed an opportunity to raise my arm in stiff salute at everybody I saw as a fascist. Zola Budd, officials inside South Africa House, the police who protected them - anybody who expressed an opinion slightly to the right of the Revolutionary Communist Party.

To my knowledge, no Jews were offended by this; indeed, there was often a highly visible and vociferous Jewish contingent at these anti-apartheid demos, some of them joining in the mock fascist gesturing. Such is the importance of context,

Given the choice, we would all like to be less sensitive to criticism, ridicule and/or abuse. Sadly, we are not given the choice, so it would be wrong to condemn those who were offended by Mark Bosnich's "joke".

In my opinion he was trying to empathise with people he regarded simply as English by taking the piss out of a German. Not the most politically correct of attitudes, but political correctness is as rare in football club dressing rooms as university degrees.

Bosnich's defence is best served by stating that his best friend is Dwight Yorke, his agent is Jewish and he has suffered enough racism to genuinely understand and regret his mistake.

Immediately after the incident I was angry that Bosnich had damaged the reputation of Aston Villa, but over the next few days my anger was deflected by the hypocrisy of his critics.

The Daily Mirror described Bosnich as "sick". You know the obvious reply to any criticism the Mirror might make. Two words - Euro 96. The apology they were forced into making as a result of the outrage their comments caused took lip two column inches. Bosnich's contained 400 words.

The Metropolitan Police are following up spectator complaints. They must be less overworked than their West Midlands colleagues who recently refused to investigate an assault because the victim wasn't badly enough hurt. Indeed, isn't it ironic that when genuine fascists goose-step and salute their way through racially sensitive areas, the police will offer them full protection ?

The last word on hypocrisy belongs to the FA. In 1938 they advised, to their eternal shame, the England team to perform the Nazi salute before a game against Germany in Berlin. The England players complied. Villa were also touring Germany at the time and received similar advice. It is still a matter of great pride to our club that George Cummings and the rest of the players refused. A diplomatic incident then broke out, and the FA insisted that the Villa perform the salute before their next game. For peace and quiet they agreed, but showed their true feelings by running into the centre circle immediately afterwards and giving the v-sign to all corners of the stadium,

I wonder what would have happened if they, like Bosnich, had saluted with the wrong arm and mocked Hitler's moustache with the other ?

Stephen Pennell.