Middlesbrough, United Kingdom

Gareth Southgate, the unctuous, horse-faced manager of the England soccer team, insisted that his players take the knee before their game against Denmark in the Nations League last month. They were at it before the match against Iceland, too, and the Icelanders joined in, bless them, despite the fact that there is only one black person in all of Iceland and he probably ended up there by mistake. It was important, Southgate ventured, to show support for Black Lives Matter. And so down they all went, as Portland burned and the looters, bullies, thugs and professional agitators ran amok across the US.

It is as well that these games are played in front of empty stadiums because otherwise this idiotic, choreographed cringing would be met with boos and abuse from that most derided tranche of British society, football fans. The virtue-signaling authorities get away with this stuff because, for the time being, they are insulated from the views of the general public. By and large, the public does not buy into this nonsense, any more than it buys into the notion that there is ‘structural’ or ‘institutional’ racism in the UK. There isn’t.

Prior to the killing of the gentle armed robber George Floyd, the British chapter of BLM was generally regarded with a mixture of hilarity and incredulity. It had staged one protest — at an airport, where a handful of very white protesters insisted that black people suffered disproportionately from global warming occasioned by whitey flying all over the place. Then it apparently disappeared, for fairly obvious reasons. Large numbers of black people are not killed by the cops over here. Black people are more likely to be killed by other members of the black community. It is true that black incarceration rates are much higher than their percentage of the population, and some lefty politicians have argued that this is because the police pick on them unfairly and so they demand an end to ‘stop and search’ tactics because they are inherently ‘racist’.

Stop and search was ended for a while and even more black kids got killed as a consequence, so stop and search was brought back. Incidentally, the UK’s African-Caribbean population is 3 percent (although if you watch TV it may appear to be about 40 percent thanks to increasingly berserk and patronizing diversity quotas, especially in commercials).

To put it crudely, this tiny percentage of our population has a high incarceration rate because it commits more crimes. The incarceration rates of our black and minority communities mirror the average educational attainments of each ethnic community. British Indians, the largest single ethnic community, do very well at school on average, stay out of prison and earn relatively high wages. The same is true to an even greater extent for the 400,000 or so British Chinese — both the Chinese and the Indians outperform white Brits in terms of educational qualifications, average earnings and not ending up in jail. So it is very difficult to make the argument that the UK is institutionally racist, even if some — oblivious to the facts — do try it on from time to time.

But none of this prevented our woke authorities, institutions and corporations from clambering aboard the BLM bandwagon as it rode into town. This histrionic virtue- signaling has been as much a feature of British society as it has been in America in recent years. The BBC, for example, always desperate to champion an injustice, even a fictitious one, got fully behind our BLM protests even to the extent of cropping photographs when they showed demonstrators using violence.

One company, Yorkshire Tea, told a customer who had tweeted her disaffection with BLM that she should no longer buy its products. Another tea company, PG Tips, followed suit. For a very long while — most of May, all of June — I was unable to write what I thought about BLM because publishers were worried about the howl-round that might ensue.

When football resumed in June, the Football Association and the Premier League demanded that all teams take the knee and wear buttons in support of BLM. Only later, when it was pointed out that BLM wished to dismantle capitalism — an economic system for which the Premier League, in particular, has some considerable affection — did they begin to think again.

But even after the BLM manifesto — with its other aspiration of ‘disrupting’ the nuclear family — was made clear, the extremist nature of its demands had still not penetrated the equine skull of Gareth Southgate, or, for that matter, the Labour party. The BBC announced that henceforth there would be a 20 percent minority community presence on screen at all times, despite the fact that our minority community population is 13 percent. People were sacked from jobs for saying ‘All Lives Matter’ and hounded by the cops.

Given the relatively low number of black people being killed by cops over here, the protesters instead turned their wrath on that most egregious and regrettable of things, The Past. The UK has a lot of statues of dudes who lived a long time ago. All of them were of course racist. Everyone who lived before about 1988 was racist. The BLM goons began tearing down, or protesting beside, statues of people who had profited from the slave trade. Then people who knew people who had profited from the slave trade. Then people from the past who had nothing to do with the slave trade. The latest targets are Charles Darwin and Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi — the latter a spiteful dig at a community that works hard and stays out of trouble.

It has been a hugely depressing time — for which, many thanks, America. Our institutions have been gullible, hypocritical, opportunist and stupid and the truth has been lost along the way. It has been more damaging even than COVID.

This article is in The Spectator’s October 2020 US edition.