Right after Hungary exploded in celebration after their unexpected, yet well-deserved 1:0 win over the English national team during the UEFA Nations League match at Puskás Arena on Saturday, political attacks began to surface in the Western media. This time though, the criticism hit a personal nerve with Hungarians, as the harsh media criticism was directed against young children instead of their usual target- the country’s conservative government.
Apparently, booing was heard from the stands during the national anthem when English players took the knee before the match. According to reports, these came from the Hungarian stands populated by young fans under 14. As a result of disorderly behavior by fans last year, adults were banned from the stadium, but UEFA had granted an exception for the qualifier held in Budapest, allowing over 35, 000 Hungarian children to root for their national team.
It is unclear what sparked the alleged booing among the children, or how many were involved, but the incident was strongly addressed in a statement from England boss Gareth Southgate, who said: “I thought that’s why we do it, to try to educate.” He added, “there were pantomime boos when the team came out to warm up, that was different with the taking of the knee. That felt like inherited thinking to me… That’s why we do it, that’s why we continue to take that stand and we will keep doing that.” “I have no idea why people would try to boo that gesture,” he added.
Indeed, why would anyone with the right mind object to a football team showing their open support to an extremist political movement that openly calls for the abolition of nuclear families, the defunding of police, during whose protests shops and cars are torched, police officers and journalists attacked, and whose leaders are currently under investigation for gifting themselves multi-million dollar mansions from donations?
The cultural imperialism underlining Southgate’s thinking is probably hidden only before Southgate himself, even though he himself unwittingly manages to answer his own question. Hungarians have stood up to cultural, gender, race-relations evangelists coming from abroad, and have introduced their much maligned child-protection law that expressly prohibits the targeting of school-age children with identity politics. The law clearly states that it is exclusively the parents’ right to educate their offspring about contentious political, sexual, or gender issues. In other words, there is no need for the English national soccer team to bring race-relations enlightenment to “less fortunate” parts of the world.
Southgate’s exasperatingly simplistic observation, according to which these children are exhibiting “inherited thinking,” also implies that their parents are racist too. In turn, however, one could call on the England coach to perhaps give some thought to his own “inherited thinking” no doubt passed on to him by his parents or past teachers by showing some respect to noble British traditions such as diplomatic skills, respect for free speech, freedom of conscience, respect for childhood, and national sovereignty. A measure of inherited thinking might also do some good to players wittingly or unwittingly bowing their heads in front of a set of mandated morals, kneeling before an ideology actively involved in removing statues of their national heroes, calling their country’s war-time saviors ‘fascists,’ and injecting unsuspecting young children’s minds with divisive ideologies such as Critical Race Theory.
The world media labeling 35,000 young Hungarian children getting emotional during a game of soccer as “racist” is indeed a new low for journalism. Calling out monkey chants or hurling abuse at players, be they black or white, because of their ethnic background is racist. Booing an entire team taking the knee while they should be standing proud, singing their national anthem, is not. Stigmatizing children collectively for being children, and saying things as they see them, is a disgrace.
Some British newspapers, such as the once conservative Daily Telegraph, have promptly muted their comment sections under their articles accusing Hungarian children of racist behavior. It is ironic though, that while they are smearing children with accusations that should be reserved for adults only, at the same time they manage to treat their own readers as children not to be trusted with expressing their views in a politically correct manner. Or is it simply to hide the fact that the vast majority of their subscribers are dissatisfied with this line of thinking, and would have demonstrated the Telegraph’s editorial team just how unhinged their interpretation is, and how out of touch they are with the popular sentiment on the issue of footballers taking the knee? The Daily Mail’s readers have, on the other hand, had their chance to voice their thoughts in the comments, and behold, the vast majority of them have shown unflinching support to the sentiments allegedly demonstrated by the young Hungarian fans. “Stop the kneeling then, the point’s been made just get on with the football,” wrote one. “It’s the England players that need educating. People are bored of being preached to by footballers with poor morals,” wrote another.
In recent years, Hungary has been in the forefront of a Christian cultural revival, the rediscovery of the Christian roots of their own nationhood and that of European civilization. Perhaps then during the rematch in England, their national team should walk out onto the pitch led by a priest swinging an incense-burner singing Psalms through a loudspeaker. After all, if footballers wish to engage in the business of exporting their own country’s morals and teaching others about what they should think, this is one way the Hungarian team could repay the English team’s favor. However, one thing all parties should abstain from is the mindless political stigmatization of children. We need them to be the ones calling out in innocent laughter, or booing on occasion, when the emperor is found naked.
Featured photo illustration by Zsolt Szigetváry /MTI