As he left the soccer field after a club match in the eastern German
city of Halle on March 25, the Nigerian forward Adebowale Ogungbure was
spit upon, jeered with racial remarks and mocked with monkey noises. In
rebuke, he placed two fingers under his nose to simulate a Hitler mustache and thrust his arm in a Nazi salute.
In April, the American defender Oguchi Onyewu, playing for his
professional club team in Belgium, dismissively gestured toward fans
who were making simian chants at him. Then, as he went to throw the
ball inbounds, Onyewu said a fan of the opposing team reached over a
barrier and punched him in the face....
Players and antiracism experts said they expected offensive behavior
during the tournament, including monkey-like chanting; derisive
singing; the hanging of banners that reflect neofascist and racist
beliefs; and perhaps the tossing of bananas or banana peels, all
familiar occurrences during matches in Spain, Italy, eastern Germany
and eastern Europe.
I am sure many American black athletes still have stories to tell about encountering racism, but didn't we at least climb out of this kind of pit of overt racism forty years ago or so? While European sophisticates have looked down their noses at US racial problems, European monocultures seem now not to be ahead of us but behind us in dealing with ethnic diversity. Though there do seem to be plenty of Americans who long to take our country back to being a monoculture.