I have long referred to Twitter as “The Realm of the Damned”, and I’ve seen little in my infrequent trips there that gives me pause to change my mind. I have a theory that the 140-character limit tends to distill stupid down to its essence (though in fairness it can also do the same for brilliance in the right hands), and there has been no shortage of that going around today. I won’t glorify the troglodyte in question by posting his Twitter handle or showing a screenshot of the tweets, but the upshot is that some Gooners have responded to Spurs supporters trolling about Theo Walcott’s injury with some truly vile anti-Semitic keyboard vomit.
Let’s be crystal clear about this – these people are about as representative of Gooner fandom as a cancerous tumor is of an entire body.
One thing that has never failed to astonish me about this club is how multi-cultural it is and always has been. Here in New York, when you step into the Blind Pig or O’Hanlon’s, you will see a tremendous range of people united in a common cause. The first time I went to Highbury, I had long conversations about our club and football in general with people from as far away as Senegal. When I go into the Admin section of the NYC Arsenal Supporters Facebook page, I see that our average user is an 18-25 year old from Bangkok, Thailand (no, really…that’s true). Every week when I write a match report (well, not every week based on my performance this season, but you know what I mean), I love to scroll through the people who click “Like” and see how many different countries they represent. I mean, I come home from the pub half in the bag and type some bollocks about a match you’ve all already seen, and people thousands of miles away take time out of their day to read it, in a language that often isn’t their first.
If that doesn’t say it all about the values of what this club actually represents, I don’t know what else to tell you.
That’s why it gets to me more than it probably should when I see some dipshit on Twitter saying stuff like this. It especially enrages me when “LOL #BANTZ” is the catch-all excuse for everything, no matter how disgusting and anti-social it may be. Banter is one thing – you only sing when you’re winning, Soldado is shit and he knows he is, 61 and never again, Tottenham Hotspur it’s happened again – but I’d like to think that there is a line that most right-thinking people can agree on somewhere to the nearest decimal point.
As far as I’m concerned, anything that happened in 1942 is well beyond that point, unless it happens to be how Arsenal won the special wartime London League that season (even back then, they were still forever in our shadow).
Hearteningly, the person in question got his and then some by Gooners angered at what they were saying in our collective name. Good. It would be even better if the club itself would go onto Twitter in times like this with a simple “People who discriminate on race, creed, sexual orientation, etc are not welcome in our club. Go support someone else”, so that thousands of retweets later the message would be louder and clearer than it is now.
Don’t get me wrong – I am not trying to hold us up as the only club whose supporters largely consist of good people. There are plenty of Tottenham fans out there who are fine human beings, albeit ones who made an unfortunate mistake in rooting interest somewhere along the way. That goes for damn near every other club as well – I know plenty of Liverpool and Chelsea and Manchester United and Manchester City supporters who I am proud to call my friends. Our club support is absolutely a part of who we are, but it is not and never should be ALL of who we are. The line should end at real life.
We're better than that. We are the Arsenal.