The right’s absurd World Cup paranoia explained
Sunday, June 29, 2014
With her recent column explaining how the rise of American interest in the World Cup is “a sign of the nation’s moral decay,” Ann Coulter successfully sent readers around the world into gales of horrified laughter and generated god only knows how many hate-clicks.
Whether she actually believed what she was writing is moot. Coulter’s provocations are best treated as performance art. But there’s also no doubt that she was playing on conservative insecurities about change and globalization and multiculturalism that are quite real. A generation of Americans feels its cultural-superpower primacy slipping away, replaced by something it would rather mock than understand or celebrate.
It’s scary stuff! We’ve got a black president and our neighbors are hooting and hollering about the World Cup. You can practically hear the pearl-clutching: What’s happened to our once great nation!? And why the hell won’t all these obnoxious people on Twitter just stop going on and on and on about it? Reuters columnist and confirmed curmudgeon Jack Shafer got so fed up with all the World Cup chatter that he devoted an entire column on Friday to explaining why he was unfollowing everyone who committed the sin of so much as retweeting a single Cup-obsessed comment.
It’s mean and unfair to lump Shafer and Coulter in the same paragraph, but there is a connecting thread linking their disdain. Once every four years, the entire world explodes into an obsessive conversation about sports that incorporates and is inseparable from historical narratives of race and culture and nationalism. In many countries, soccer ispolitics. When the World Cup crests, it’s the biggest thing happening on the planet.
Shafer doesn’t want to hear that conversation. Coulter and her ilk are actively terrified of it. Because the fact that the U.S. is finally joining in is a sign that we are gradually becoming part of this world rather than lording over it or building walls to keep it out. On the pitch, Mexico is our equal, instead of a source of cheap labor and cheaper thrills. Our stars are neither the biggest nor the brightest. We can’t samba like the Brazilians or pass with the crisp efficiency of the Germans.
Read the rest here: http://www.salon.com/2014/06/29/the_...oia_explained/