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When 'wokeness' conflicts with cultural diversity, which one wins?

Updated: Feb 17

by Mike Nichols, Publisher | February 16, 2021 | 16:19 CT

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Edinson Cavani was fined $135,000 by the English Football Association for using what the sports corporation insisted was a "racial slur." (Photo: David Cunningham/London Daily Mail)

Apparently, the answer to that headline question is, "wokeness." At least that is the case for Uruguayan soccer player Edinson Cavani. He is currently under contract to Manchester United of the English Premier League (EPL). But he is now suspended for three games and fined $135,000 because he supposedly used a racial epithet during a recent interview.


Turns out, like most elitists who consider themselves the purveyors of truth and justice in administering "wokeness" to the world today, the English Football Association (EFA) didn't bother to do the basic due-diligence research that would have prevented them from looking like the assholes they now have proven themselves to be.


Cavani's fine and suspension came after he, in the aforementioned interview, thanked his friend Pablo Fernandez for his support following Cavani's recent elevated offensive output. The problem was, he used Fernandez's childhood nickname, "Negrito." Members of the British sports media immediately chose to take offense on behalf of the entire British Empire.


Latching on to a very narrow definition of "negrito" — the diminutive of the word for “black” — said media brought on the figurative body-slam of Cavani one would expect from their U.S. counterparts smelling such unmistakable "blood in the water." Naturally even after their gross error was revealed, they refused to back down — and so did the EFA, rejecting the suggestion the fine and suspension be rescinded.


Perhaps if Latin culture had been equally outraged, it would make sense to let the punishments stand. But Latin media and the public in Uruguay and the rest of South America were just as confused as I am about this nonsense.


To Latin Americans, the story was just short of incomprehensible. Perhaps, on a long shot, “negrito” — the diminutive of the word for “black” — sounds aggressive in English. Personally I'm not even sure of that. So I'll rely on the academic authority best qualified to rule on this issue.


As Uruguay’s National Academy of Letters noted, in Spanish it is not offensive; it is a term of endearment. It isn't even particularly racialized: Plenty of white people are nicknamed negrito including, as it happens, Cavani’s friend Pablo Fernandez. He was awarded the moniker by Cavani and their boyhood friends because his hair is black.


The Uruguayan players’ union issued a statement that said the English FA, not Cavani, has committed a “discriminatory and racist act” because the three-game suspension punishes “our whole culture, our way of life.”


“Unfortunately, through its sanction, the English Football Association expresses absolute ignorance and disdain for a multicultural vision of the world.,” read a statement by the Uruguayan Football Players’ Association, which was tweeted by Luis Suarez and Diego Godin on Monday. In light of the so-called "woke" intent of the EFA's determination, that's a powerful indictment, not just of English soccer, but of all of cancel culture throughout the world.


Even after Fernandez wrote to the EFA to inform them his nickname has been "Negrito" since childhood, the elites who regard themselves as the guardians and guides of "cultural diversity" couldn't admit how badly they got it wrong. Instead, they turned to the same tactics our own homegrown snowflakes use. The EFA deflected the calls for tossing out the retribution by describing their "compassionate leniency" in meting out the punishment.

Luis Suarez is among dozens of Uruguayan soccer players backing calls for the English Football Association to reverse its decision to punish fellow countrymen Edinson Cavani for using a term of endearment that was misinterpreted by British Media. (Photo: Diego Montoya/AFP News)

The statement by the Football Association is, in fact, pompous, fatuous, ludicrous and offensive.


It was the FA's case that a reasonable observer with no understanding of the South American cultural norms around the word "negrito" would inevitably see the words as racially offensive, but the commission was "satisfied that the post had been sent in 'affectionate appreciation' of a friend" offering Cavani congratulations.


So, to be clear, the English Football Association was more concerned about the "sensitive ears" and alleged snowflake hearts of the British people than they were with treating another culture — as an aside, one that is not a mostly white culture, as is Great Britain — with a respect for that culture's language, customs and social mores.


It is a frontal assault on the Latino people of South America, a statement that effectively communicates, "We don't care how you've developed as a people, you are crude, racist and unworthy of respectful treatment, you must be 'reeducated' "


The champions of identity politics, multicultural diversity and wokeness suffered a total meltdown in an effort to make those ridiculous concepts mesh.


This cultural atrocity is, unfortunately, going to be quickly forgotten. But it should not be briefly considered over a morning cup of coffee and perusal of the newsfeed to be dismissed as just another hype.


Unlike our American football, the Western Hemisphere popularity of baseball or even the more widely popular game of basketball, 80% of the world plays futbol. They play it better than all of the English-speaking members of FIFA, for that matter. Only 13% of the world is, in fact, primarily English-speaking.


Yet the tone deaf, ignorant yahoos at the EPL and the EFA consider that a small minority of the world might, perhaps, maybe will see as racist that which was actually a healthy, friendly exchange between lifelong amigos, and that familiarity must be punished. That, despite the fact people of South America believe us to be insane for making a big deal out of Cavani's shout-out to his childhood friend, both of whom have achieved their athletic dreams.


The ignorance here is palpable, and far from being a "here-today-gone-tomorrow" point of discussion, it should frighten all of us to see that U.S. "wokeness cancel culture" is spreading like wildfire overseas. Before our eyes, we are seeing the insistent promotion of politically motivated, mindless societal conformity, at the expense of intellect, common sense and basic understanding.


So, "it's just soccer," you might say. No big deal? Wrong. The fine and suspension of Cavani reveals the true ignorance of "wokeness" cancel culture, particularly when the very cultures the "woke" claim to protect from bigotry and racism become the latest victims of wokeness.


The irony is that "wokeness" is primarily a product of white culture,. Whites of the cancel culture are claiming for themself the right to determine what is politically correct and morally acceptable for all cultures, regardless of the depth of their ignorance of those cultures.


They are asserting themselves as the guardians and guides of the snowflake movement, the rest of the ethnicities, creeds, cultures and religions of the world be damned.

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