Jonah Goldberg wrote something stupid. It feels like I never left. So what was it this time?
I am willing to concede that some conservatives get carried away in their anti-soccer tirades, usually just for fun, but I’d very much like to see a few more liberals admit that at least some of the soccer-mania here in the states is driven by a faddish desire to seem hip and worldly.
He’s clearly only talking about white people—and not white people like me, as I’m so attached to my Sambas I once wrote a paean to them. Now, I live in a predominantly Hispanic community—largely first and second-generation Mexican immigrants—and during the South Africa-Mexico match, I noted that I
considered it odd that everyone on Facebook is rooting for South Africa, because me and everyone else in my apartment complex are clearly rooting for Mexico. If I didn’t have to grade while half-watching, I’d be in the rec room with the rest of the complex, by which I mean: my neighbors, the gardeners, the pool guys, the cleaning women, and the office staff.
Of course, every single one of those people is clearly an illegal immigrant in Goldberg’s mind, but that’s a failure of imagination on his part. He’s unable—or, more likely, unwilling—to accept that the demographic shift in the United States is against him. When he writes:
But being told that all the smart and decent people love something is a sure way to get the Irish up in a lot of Americans.
He does so because he’s incapable of imagining an American who lacks any Irish to get up.
Moreover, he mistakenly believes that the article that started him on his anti-soccer tirade argues that “Racists Hate Soccer,” when it does nothing of the sort. (Though there is an incidental connection, as noted in my title.) He even quotes the very paragraph in which the author, Dave Zirin, argues conservative soccer-hatred is not about racism, but losing:
But maybe this isn’t just sports as avatar for their racism and imperial arrogance. Maybe their hysteria lies in something far more shallow. Maybe the real reason they lose their collective minds is simply because the USA tends to get their asses handed to them each and every World Cup.
I can imagine no better support for this argument than the fact that every four years conservatives are tremendously excited about sports infinitely more boring than they think soccer is, e.g. competitive swimming. Because so long as there is a chance for them to flex their patriotic muscles by proxy, conservatives will embrace a sport. As Zirin notes, the existence of countries like Brazil and players like Messi prohibit them from doing so.
But, to circle back to where this post started, Zirin’s article itself is a response to Glenn Beck’s comment that
It doesn’t matter how you try to sell it to us, it doesn’t matter how many celebrities you get, it doesn’t matter how many bars open early, it doesn’t matter how many beer commercials they run, we don’t want the World Cup, we don’t like the World Cup, we don’t like soccer, we want nothing to do with it.
If Goldberg really wants people not to consider him in league with racists, he needs to explain how Beck’s “we” is inclusive enough to accommodate my soccer-mad neighbors. If he can’t—and he can’t—then he has to admit, to paraphrase what David Cross said of Irvine Spectrum when he performed there, that his imagination contains all the colors of the rainbow from white … to white.
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