Sport does strange things to people. I landed yesterday to see the front covers of every British newspaper – from The Sunday Times and Telegraph to The Observer, Mail and Mirror – plastered with the face of a Somali Muslim immigrant named Mohammed. No, he wasn’t being derided for scrounging off the state in ‘Welfare Britain’. He was being universally celebrated because he ran 5,000m faster than anyone else in the world and he happened to grow up in London.
I happily confess that his crossing the line was a goosebump moment. I know very well what sport, in all its irrationality, can do to the emotions. But I also know from experience that the Olympic fervour will soon fade and we’ll be back to normal. That is, apparently, something the British press either does not know or happily chooses to ignore:
[T]hese two weeks have been a watershed of true significance. There has been a visceral reaction among black and Asian Britons to what we have seen. For some, it has been perhaps the first time they have really felt a part of this country. For others, the promise of tolerance and integration has come true.
Seeing the mixed-race and black competitors fighting fiercely for their personal bests and for their country has been the moment when history turned a page.
Please. And in searching MailOnline I was looking for the understated version of this argument. God knows what kind of orgasms they’re having over at The Guardian.
Yes, it was a glorious moment that united us all. I trust British pubs were buzzing with friendliness for the rest of the week. But long-term social phenomena like the demonisation and side-lining of certain racial groups – that sort of stuff doesn’t evaporate once a man emerges on the athletics track. Snap out of the illusion. I don’t want journalists to become part of the party, firing up the propaganda and telling us what we feel and want to believe. They should tell us the truth. This ain’t it.