On Sunday when I wrote about the racist crowd members at the Barcelona test, I said that part of the problem was the media’s debased, distorted coverage of Formula 1. Sadly, their coverage of the racism issue itself does not make me confident that the situation will get any better. The News International stable in particular should be hanging its head in shame — although of course it won’t be.
The Sun has taken the opportunity to drive traffic to its website by buying Google Ads on Formula 1 websites — including this one. As I pointed out in the comments yesterday, the language used is rather inflammatory:
Lewis Hamilton in racism storm. Spanish yobs vile attack on F1 ace
Granted, subtlety has never been a strong suit of The Sun, being as it is a bastion of demagoguery. Read the article itself and things don’t get much better. There are some rather thinly-veiled racist comments in here as well including:
Spanish fans — notorious for racism at football matches…
Not a word of course about English football fans who have been notorious for their hooliganism, as peterg pointed out in the comments.
Too many people have been trying to make it out as though Spain in particular has a problem with racism. One person commenting on The Sun’s website called the racism incident “Typical Spanish attitude” without a hint of irony.
As Pink Peril said in the comments yesterday, wherever you go, sooner or later racism will rear its ugly head. The only reason this has become a “Spanish” problem is because Hamilton happens to have a rivalry with someone who happens to be Spanish.
If Hamilton had had a rivalry with a driver of a different nationality, he would still be at the receiving end of racist taunts. And even if a British driver had a rivalry with a non-British black driver, British racists would soon enough be out in force.
Besides, the last place anyone should go to learn about issues surrounding race is The Sun. This is the paper that once ran a spoof Mr Men strip featuring such culturally-sensitive characters as “Mr Asylum Seeker” who wants everything for free, “Mr Albanian Gangster” who invites people to visit his friends’ sisters and “Mr Yardie”, a gun-wielding, joint-smoking Rastafarian.
When did The Sun run this insightful story? The 1970s? The 1980s? No, it was 2003.
We all know that the only reason The Sun is even paying attention to this story is because Lewis Hamilton is British. They wouldn’t give two hoots if the racism was directed at somebody else.
And this is the thing. The Sun’s nationalism is a symptom of the same problem that the racists in the Barcelona grandstands have. The media here bases its entire Formula 1 coverage on the notion that you should support Lewis Hamilton because he is British and vilify Fernando Alonso because he isn’t British.
The Sun says you should support drivers on the basis of where they come from. Racists taunt drivers on the basis of where they come from. They are both the same thing.
Meanwhile, The Sun’s sister paper, The Times, has written a story today blasting, “Spanish media chose to overlook latest incident” (via F1Fanatic). This is despite the fact that we probably wouldn’t even be aware of many of the incidents were it not for the reporting of Spanish newspapers such as Marca. In addition, El País, El Mundo and ABC have all reported on the issue (via Samuel at F1Fanatic).
The distorted perspectives from gutter newspapers like The Sun and The Times will do nothing to prevent racism. In fact, I am convinced that these newspapers are using the opportunity to tap into the racist attitudes of their readers by making yet more anti-Spanish comments and telling yet more lies about the situation.