According to a report at ORF Online last Thursday afternoon a “soccer fan” in downtown Vienna let loose a diatribe against a Jewish rabbi, using language like “Get lost, you Jewish piece of sh*t! Out with the Jews! Heil Hitler!”, and stretching out his arm in a nazi salute.
That by itself would already be enough to feel ashamed for my hometown; but to make matters worse eywitness testimony reports that from about ten feet away a group of Vienna cops looked on grinning, seeing no reason to intervene. When challenged by the victim, the reply given by one of “Vienna’s Finest” was, “Waddayawant, today is soccer!”
Here’s what I think: people who berate others because of their religion, origin, skin color, sexual orientation, or because of their looks, are not essentially different from those Austrians who in 1938 acclaimed Hitler, and then a few months later in November, engaged in acts of violent humiliation against their Jewish fellow citizens. They simply have not yet been given the opportunity to live out the murderous inclinations of their hearts.
And the cops who looked on, grinning, considering “soccer” a valid excuse for this sort of behaviour, are not essentially different from the cops of the “Gestapo” who became complicit in the “Endlösung” or Holocaust. They, too, have been prevented from becoming guilty of such crimes not by their own virtue but simply because society does not approve of such acts.
If “soccer” should indeed be the cause of such behaviour, it would be high time to ban this sport of rowdies.
But I don’t believe this for one minute, just as I will not accept drunkenness as an excuse for such conduct. Both alcohol and the euphoria of a soccer match only reveal what is already in the heart of a man: in the cases both of the “fan” and the grinning cops, antisemitism and contempt for one’s fellow humans.