Antisemitism is on the rise across Europe and here in Britain too. As with so many of society's ills, wrestling is not immune to it.
At a recent Combat Zone Wrestling (CZW) show, there was an incident that has focussed may people's attention on antisemitism and other discriminatory behaviour. It is perhaps best to cross-post the words of Independent wrestling talent David 'The Product' Starr (aka Jewish Canon):
A video of the incident does exist but has some rather graphic language, so be warned:
Starr has subsequently reported that some people would have him turn this incident into a "work" or a storyline to help progress his career. He rightly remains resolute that this is an opportunity to "promote the idea that bigotry, racism, xenophobia, homophobia, and any form of discrimination is not acceptable anywhere". He has also made clear that the issue was not the whole CZW fan-base but particular individuals.
In the same week that Starr spoke out, German independent wrestling legend Tommy End tweeted that an individual at a Progress Wrestling show had been using the 'N' word towards him. At a previous Progress show where a simple-minded fan had directed a transphobic attack towards a female wrestler, the entire crowd is reported to have turned to said individual and chanted the progress motto of "don't be a d**k". Reports indicate this was a lone loser but we commend Tommy End for calling out this type of behaviour.
We at Royal Ramblings have also seen antisemitism on social media amongst the wrestling community. One Jewish talent told us that he'd encountered a "couple of jokes here and there" but we didn't find it funny when that individual had a racially loaded tweet sent to them by one of their 'friends'. Nor was it amusing to see Anne Frank's name used in a Hitlerian 'joke' meme. The denigration of the Holocaust and casual antisemitism on social media or in a crowd is simply put, not acceptable.
We once wrote that where discriminatory behaviour existed, promotors must act. Disciplinary action where appropriate, twinned with positive educational and charitable endeavours be they storyline or otherwise- we hope CZW acts. We also called for the inculcation of mutually supportive wrestling communities and fan-bases. It would appear from the tremendous response to David Starr's Facebook post and the general attitude of the Progress wrestling crowd that this is happening to a reassuringly large extent.
However, we must all do our bit and we at Royal Ramblings want to educate. So readers that don't know, should understand that antisemitism is the canary in the coal mine for wider problems in society. As the Community Security Trust (CST) explains, antisemitism at its heart is hostility, phobia or bias against Judaism or individual Jews as a group.
Outright antisemitism has become somewhat of a taboo since the Holocaust but it hasn't disappeared. Rather, anti-Jewish hatred has mutated in form throughout time from religious to ethnic and racial-biological to nationalist. Whereas racial abuse tends to have its victims portrayed as primitive or worthless, anti-Jewish hatred has the victims as all-powerful and duplicitous rulers. Historically therefore, antisemitism has been rooted in allegations of Jewish cunning, conspiracy, immorality, wealth, power and hostility to others. It is that perspective which can still resonate within mainstream discourse about the Middle East conflict in relation to 'Zionists' or the 'Jewish Lobby' and is more difficult to see then say attacks on a synagogue or visibly Jewish people. Antisemitism should have nothing to do with people's views on the Israel-Palestine conflict but to be clear, any theory which relies upon stereotypes of Jewish cunning or wealth and alleged control of media or politicians is antisemitic.
Antisemitism is also no worse than hating someone because they are a Muslim, Christian, Hindu or Sikh because of their skin colour, sexual orientation, gender or any other characteristic.
Wrestling is an industry, yes but it is also a forum in which to bring people together to be entertained and to have fun. It should be a force for good, not evil. We commend those that speak out, those that don't turn a blind eye and those that act. Make sure to speak out if you see others being discriminatory or discriminated against at a show. Dont be a bystander and obey the call of the Progress wrestling fans...
For informed comment on UK antisemitism read the CST here.