Oranges may not be the only fruit, but these days bananas are not merely a fruit.
Sure they’re the most popular fruit we eat. But bananas, sometimes real and sometimes of the inflatable variety, have in the hands of racist soccer supporters in Europe, been a cheap and available weapon of racial vilification.
When a banana was thrown by a Villareal supporter at Barcelona’s Brazialian star Dani Alves as he was about to take a corner, he peeled it, ate it, before proceeding with his kick.
There was some kick too, in his comments about his adopted homeland of Spain in the resulting furore:
“This country sells itself as being a First World country, but it’s very backward. They’re racist against foreigners.”
Phew! At least with the Eddie Betts banana throwing incident our banana throwers in Australia limit their racism to their own countrymen.
Whether or not you think Adam Goodes was the subject of racial abuse last year, (and I happen to think he was), this latest incident shows us that the problem is not going away.
And the reason it’s not going to go away is that the problem is not one of a need for more education. The AFL has, as usual in its capacity as moral educator of the masses (we have a LGBTQI round this weekend if you hadn’t noticed) pushed the education line when such incidents arise.
Port Adelaide Football Club is keen for an education process too, according to The Age newspaper today:
Port’s Aboriginal programs manager Paul Vandenbergh said the woman should be given an opportunity to atone, and have a ban from Port’s games lifted, after meeting the club’s seven Aboriginal players.
There’s no use banning someone for life and not giving them an opportunity to be educated, and that’s what all of our programs have always been about.” Vandenbergh said.
Note that word “atone”. Interesting. These days if you do something wrong the manner in which you atone for it is to be “educated”. Atonement language, once so central to the concept of forgiveness, has been co-opted to meet an even higher goal – education.
Your sin today is that you do not know enough. Once we educate you to the level that is required to transform your moral character, your lack-of-education-sins will be atoned for.
You can then move to the higher plane of existence for which you were destined, a plane of existence that the liberally educated, well heeled and responsible powers-that-be declare to be the closest thing to heaven without there actually being a heaven.
Or, as is more likely, you will become a better educated racist. Just as we have a better educated pro-choice crowd for example, in which no level of technological advancement in ultrasound, or higher survival rates for earlier term births due to spectacular advances in paediatrics, ever educated a person away from a commitment that ending the life of an unborn child is a bad thing.
In the gospel, our sins, not our lack of education, are atoned for. And only that level of atonement can transform the one organ that stubbornly refuses to be educated out of racism, hatred, selfishness, self-focus and wilfulness, and murder – the heart.
Only an atoned heart can attend a football match and view someone with a different skin colour as Imago Dei. Or a foetus on an ultrasound for that matter.
And to think it all started with an illicit piece of fruit.