‘The CommonWoke Games’

“‘Woke’ scolds are ruining everything. Even sport.”

“Can the woke scolds not leave us alone for five minutes? Judging from the opening ceremony for the Commonwealth Games, the answer to that question is a firm ‘No’. The ceremony was a big fat finger-wag at the nation, an am-dram lecture to the masses on the right way to think about Race, colonialism, gender, blah blah blah. It was like being beaten around the head with a copy of the Guardian for three hours. What ought to have been a sparkling celebration of Blighty ahead of a two-week sporting festival that is exactly the pick-me-up this troubled nation needs, was turned by the Beeb and the Birmingham glitterati into yet another opportunity to hector Joe Public about ‘ishoos’. Millions must have switched off.

“To borrow woke parlance, it’s all so exhausting. There’s no escape from the right-on nags. Go to your bank and you’ll be smothered in ‘Pride’ flags and swarmed by staff wearing the sacred icons of the new religion: pronoun badges. ‘Be You!’, they cry, unless ‘you’ is a gender-critical feminist or a lesbian who doesn’t want to have sex with ‘women’ with penises – in which case, definitely don’t be you. Pop into Sainsbury’s for a loaf of bread and you’ll be invited to ‘Talk About Race!’.


“I’d rather not?

Go to work and you could be beckoned into a meeting room at any minute to confront the ‘white privilege’ you never knew you had. And forget trying to seek sweet, temporary respite from all this browbeating by sitting down to watch a sporting spectacle like the Commonwealth Games, for there will be Clare Balding and Tom bloody Daley ready to chide you some more about your ‘wrongthink’.

“We should have seen it coming. On Wednesday, the Guardian published the most Guardian article ever – aptly written by someone called Andy Bull – calling on the Commonwealth Games to confront its ‘sportswashing past {See below}. Bull said the Games should be prefaced by ‘one of those warnings about outdated attitudes’, like: ‘These Games were predicated on the mistreatment of people and cultures’.

“‘I wouldn’t be surprised if they actually did something like that’, I thought to myself. And lo, they did. The BBC kicked it all off with a poem about the past evils of the Commonwealth. Seriously.

“Casey Bailey, an ‘urban poet’ in Birmingham, where the Games are being held, rhymed and moaned about the Commonwealth’s dark past. Millions of people around the world were ‘held under’ by the Commonwealth banner, he said. They were lectured about democracy and equality but they ‘didn’t always get to see [these things]’ because Britain is a bit shit. Cue footage of the UK in the Sixties and Seventies with ‘National Front’ marches and swastika graffiti. What a racist hellhole you live in, the Beeb was essentially saying to the people who tuned in.

“We steal stuff, too. Our museums are full of the loot of pillaged nations. ‘Check the galleries and palaces for evidence of wrongdoing’, Bailey said. Imagine the queen watching this, in one of her palaces, thinking she’s going to hear some nice words about the Commonwealth but instead, basically being told she’s a thief. I bet she switched off, too.

Look, I’m all in favour of having a political discussion about the Commonwealth. But at the Commonwealth Games? A sporting spectacle? No, we don’t want this. Leave us alone, for a couple of hours, please. That the BBC, along with officialdom in Birmingham, is happy to do a primetime broadcast about Britain’s shady, racist, plundering past confirms how fashionable self-hate has become among the ‘woke’ elites.

“‘England is perhaps the only great country whose intellectuals are ashamed of their own nationality’, Orwell famously said. It’s not just intellectuals anymore, George. From the top of the Beeb down to so-called street culture, they’re all at it – we’re a morally-stained nation that must atone for the rest of time for the crimes of empire, etc etc etc. Do they ever tire of always looking on the dark side of life?

“It got worse after the poem. The ceremony itself had a few inspirational moments (‘few’ being the operative word) but it was generally a school-assembly level lecture about DIVERSITY. Yes, there were tributes to some of Birmingham’s great historical figures, though why they made Samuel Johnson look like ‘Jabba the Hutt’ and gave Elgar nose hairs that turned into trumpets, we will never know. Yes, there were flying houses, BMX stunts, and shards of light representing the debris of an exploding star or something. But mostly it was about DIVERSITY. In capital letters. They shouted that D-word constantly. ‘We’re diverse!’ Okay, we get it. What else have you got?

It was the politics of identity on steroids. Proof that the cult of diversity is now the key ruling-class ideology. Absent a cohering national vision, lacking a narrative that might bind people together into a solid sense of Britishness, all the elites can bleat about is difference. Celebrating difference becomes the sticking plaster over the wound where shared values should be. The effect is distinctly soulless. So in Birmingham last night we had a lecture about our horrible history, shade cast on the Commonwealth, some platitudes about self-belief, and the constantly drummed message that ‘we don’t have much in common but that’s fine’. We’re encouraged to feel estranged from our history, and from each other, and to act instead as a lonely crowd, plonked at home listening to worthy poets and urban dance troupes scream ‘DIVERSITY’ for three hours. Dispiriting doesn’t cover it.

It was only a matter of time before the dreaded Pride flag made an appearance. On came Tom Daley with that inescapable banner of ‘woke’. He was followed by 35 other Pride flag bearers, intended to represent – get this – the 35 countries of the Commonwealth where homosexuality is still a crime. The irony was too much to take.

Commonwealth Games – Tom Daley protests anti-LGBT laws at opening ceremony (Photo-BBC)

The ceremony started with a lecture about how nasty Britain used to boss around the ‘lesser’ nations of the Commonwealth and then ended with Daley and Co. telling off the ‘lesser’ nations of the Commonwealth! Out with the old colonialism, in with the new. We’ve gone from the White Man’s Burden to the Woke Man’s Burden. Lecturing African countries while standing beneath the Union flag would be a big no no these days, but doing so while draped in the Pride standard is fine and fabulous. Pride is the flag of moral conquest now, the symbol of ‘Woke’ Britain’s superiority over the uncivilised nations.

“Of course, the vast majority of Brits think it’s wrong to criminalise homosexuality. But here’s the thing. A British celeb famous for diving and knitting is not going to deliver progress to African countries that outlaw gay sex. The people in those countries need to do that for themselves. What’s more, that flag Daley and the others were waving is not a ‘gay’-liberation flag anymore. It has now been defaced with the colours of the ‘trans’ ideology, and according to the ‘trans’ ideology, same-sex attraction is a species of prejudice. How dare lesbians with vaginas reject ‘lesbians with penises’? That is ‘sexual racism’, apparently. What good is that flag to people in foreign countries who are persecuted for being attracted to the same sex? None. It’s a hindrance. Its message is that these people’s sexual preferences are a kind of bigotry. Rip it up.

Woke’ fundamentally represents the politicisation of everything. Culture, education, entertainment, sport – nothing can exist for its own sake anymore; everything must be in service of the indoctrination of moral correctness into the people. And there’s more to come: the BBC excitedly reports that, ‘unlike at the Olympics’, athletes at the Commonwealth Games ‘can use their platform to protest against social injustice’. So we can expect more knee-taking and Pride-boasting – state-sanctioned expressions of approved opinion dressed up as protest.

“Enough. In Australia, seven players for the Manly Sea Eagles rugby team are refusing to play in the team’s new jersey because it has the Pride colours on it. Mainly of Polynesian Christian heritage, the players say the Pride ideology goes against their cultural and personal beliefs. We need more of this kind of thing, more kickbacks against identitarian conformism. Commonwealth athletes, get off your knees, put down the Pride flags, and for heaven’s sake just do some sport.”

–‘The Commonwoke Games’,

Brendan O’Neill, spiked, July 29, 2022


FEATURE Image: The Commonwoke Games (spiked)

The 13th Commonwealth Games opens in Edinburgh in 1986 without the 32 nations who boycotted the event. (S&G-Barratts-Empics Sport)

And here’s a Leftist critique of the Games, all about politics and history, and with no sense of sporting values:

“The Commonwealth Games ought to be prefaced with one of those warnings about outdated attitudes, like the kind ‘Disney’ have attached to the beginning of its old movies. They could run it before the opening ceremony, right before they bring on Simon Le Bon.

These Games were predicated on the mistreatment of people and cultures.”

“The first were held in Hamilton in 1930, but have roots that go back beyond that into the Victorian era. In the official timeline, it was an Anglican clergyman called J. Astley Cooper who first floated the idea for a “pan-Britannic festival of culture and sport” in a series of public letters published in 1891.

“Cooper died a few months before the first Empire Games were held, but did such a good job of talking up his contribution that he’s gone down as their inventor, although a lot of the actual organising was done by the Canadian journalist and administrator Melville Marks Robinson. Cooper also claimed the credit for persuading Cecil Rhodes to establish his scholarships and for the Triangular Tournament of Test cricket contested by England, Australia and South Africa in 1912.

“The three men were all part of the same plan to foster “manly qualities” like “truth, courage, devotion to duty, kindliness, unselfishness and fellowship” in the Dominions.

You have an object lesson of what is in my mind if one looks at cricket”,

Cooper said in an interview published in the ‘Observer’ in March 1929.

Unless you have been and lived among black people, as I have, you can have no idea of what a wonderful moral and disciplinary effect cricket has on the black races entrusted to our charge.”

“Maybe the organisers could use that quote in one of their big-screen montages, too.

“There weren’t any African or Asian nations at the 1930 Games. India were invited, but preferred to go to the Far Eastern Championship Games in Tokyo. They made it to the second, but it was another 16 years before any ‘black’ African athletes took part. The Games were supposed to be held in Johannesburg in 1934, but they were taken away and given to London after Canada raised concerns about the way their ‘black’ athletes were likely to be treated in racially segregated South Africa. More than 70 years later, the Games still haven’t been held on the continent. This one would have been the first, if it had gone ahead in Durban as planned.

“The Games were going back and forth over apartheid through to its end. There were threatened boycotts in 1970, 1974, and 1982 and an actual one in 1978, when Nigeria stayed away in protest at New Zealand playing sport with South Africa. It got worse. After the ‘Springboks’ toured New Zealand in 1981, Jamaica successfully proposed a new ‘Commonwealth Code of Conduct’ that meant nations could be banned from competing in the Games if they violated the 1977 ‘Gleneagles Agreement’ to withhold support for teams and sports from South Africa. Which didn’t stop the Rugby Football Union from sending England there on tour in 1984.

“The English Commonwealth Games Council were supposed to write a letter of protest to the RFU. They refused to do it. Then they tried to rewrite the new ‘Commonwealth Code of Conduct’, too, but failed. Somehow, England still managed to end up competing at the Edinburgh Games in 1986, which 32 nations boycotted in protest.

“But then, the object of the Games had changed by the time they were founded. As the ‘Observer’ explained back in 1930, they were largely about making us look good.

The British empire has been likened unto a family of nations: the mother country and her offspring scattered the world over … it is wise to maintain the idea of unity by careful cultivation, lest the attrition of time take effect”.

“They were, in the words of the historian Katharine Moore “a way to reconfirm and redefine” the empire. Through the 20th century, they served to ‘sportswash’ its reputation, a “friendly Games” between nations whose abiding connection is that they were all colonised {modernized} by the same one.

“The Commonwealth Games Federation had no choice but to try to move on from all this in the last few years, as part of a wider effort to reinvent the Commonwealth. It is all about shared values now: “equality, humanity, destiny”. The website even mentions the “historical injustice” of the empire. Worthwhile as it is, the effect is inevitably a little watery, like listening to one of those royal speeches about the “profound sorrow” of slavery. In Birmingham, protesters have already described these as the “Plantation Games” in the local press.

“In the era of the ‘Windrush’ scandal, when {thuggish} people are tearing down statues of slave traders, when Barbados has become a republic and Jamaica is pressing the case for reparations for the slave trade, what’s the role of a Commonwealth Games that is sold on the promise that it is a celebration of common values with the nations we once exploited? Like all these mega-events, it’s meant to help shape our sense of ourselves as a nation. Once the usual legacy promises about urban regeneration and sports participation are stripped away, what value do the Games have unless they’re part of a genuine attempt to reckon with our own unconfronted history?

{“Unconfronted”? It’s ALL we ever hear about any more!}

My idea was they would be a family gathering”,

Cooper said.

We could all meet and get a clear insight into affairs which concerned us and a better understanding of each other’s problems.”

“If you’re English, sit down: this might take a while.”

–‘Commonwealth Games must confront the truth about its sportswashing past’,

Andy Bull, The Guardian, 27 July 2022


See also:

Wrong Time, Wrong Place’ (Comonwealth Games/Australia) {April 4, 2018}:

Unfortunately, some political protesters are so filled with self-righteousness that they feel the need to try and politicize sporting events. There are plenty of other venues for political activism. All this does is breed justifiable resentment:

I’m here to tell the rest of the Commonwealth that the Aboriginal ‘nations’ of Australia have not ceded their ‘sovereignty’.”

As an opening ceremony featuring symbolic tributes to Australia’s ‘indigenous’ people was getting under way, Aboriginal protesters were gathering outside the Commonwealth Games stadium…”


Athletes Unite The World, Politics Divide It’ (Zlatan/LeBron) {Mar.4, 2021}:

Our role is to unite the world by doing what we do best. Athletes should be athletes and politicians should do politics.”



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