Former Liverpool and England footballer John Barnes reportedly wonders in his new book whether one can racially abuse Jewish people.
“Can you racially abuse Jewish people?” he asks, explaining that “if the Jewish people are a race, what race does a black Jewish person belong to?”
Mr Barnes’ particular conceptualisation of racism becomes a little clearer when he argues that “The only way to truly destroy racism is to destroy capitalism,” and the “only way to achieve true equality for all is by creating a socialist society, and that’s not about to happen whether we think it should or not.”
In recent years, Mr Barnes has been politically outspoken. In 2019, he appeared on BBC Question Time, and, whilst commending the Labour MPs who left the Labour Party in the previous week over “what they believe,” and recognising “it’s about antisemitism in the Labour Party,” he also took it upon himself to decide on behalf of Jewish people what is and what is not antisemitism.
On the issue of antisemitism, Mr Barnes asserted that “there is a difference between that and anti-Zionism…getting mixed up” and correctly pointed out that “you can criticise the state of Israel without being antisemitic.“ But he then turned against the view of the overwhelming majority of the Jewish community in saying that he thought that “from the Labour Party’s point of view, as much as Zionists may want to say it’s one and the same I don’t think it is. It’s a bit like saying all racism is the same, because it isn’t, for example the Jews, in my opinion, whilst it is a religion they aren’t necessarily a separate race of people. I think they get mixed up in that respect.”
Mr Barnes is welcome to write about his own experiences but should think twice before propagating misperceptions of Judaism and the Jewish people, on which matters he has proven repeatedly that he is no expert.