Soccer….Family Style


My Timbers Army Antifascist Soccer Family
August 23, 2019, 11:10 pm
Filed under: Major League Soccer, Supporter Culture | Tags: , , , ,

I am a Jewish member of Timbers Army. I know I’m not alone, because I had fellow tribe members help me try to light Hanukkah candles in the wind and rain at our MLS Cup Final game in Atlanta. But the rise of antisemitism and antisemitic violence does weigh on me. As we prepare for our son’s bar mitzvah, I am more frequently confronted with the fact that my synagogue is always locked due to security concerns. It keeps me up at night…what will this world look like through the lens of synagogue life in a year?

When #AUnitedFront started earlier in August with the Timbers Army taking a stand against an MLS ban on the antifascist iron front symbol that was all too easily supported by the Timbers Front Office, I waited. As a Jew, I have so many friends that say, “don’t worry, we’ll protect you” when the “never again” topic comes up. But I don’t really believe them. When your life and the things you love are on the line, will you really stand up for my family against oppression?

What the Timbers Army and away Seattle Sounders supporters did tonight was shout a resounding “hell yes we will stand with you” in the quietest possible way. In one of the greatest rivalry games in soccer, our fans and their fans, who typically have no love lost between them, banded together and showed MLS Soccer that we will not back down when the rise of fascism is on the line.

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Image credit: @ambrown Original tweet: https://twitter.com/ambrown/status/1165077662856925184

For the first 33 minutes of the match, the stadium sounded more like a Des Moines Menace match than the biggest rivalry in MLS. No flags, no tifo, no signing. ESPN tried to create some sound by cranking up the field mics, but the result was an awkward uneasy quiet punctuated by players talking and the occasional halfhearted attempt to get a chant started from (I imagine) some white dudes beside themselves in the uncomfortable quiet. Possibly these two?

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The message was clear. Timbers Army is a huge part of what makes MLS great, and we have always been antifascist. We sing Bella Ciao because of its antifascist history. You can’t separate us from who we are.

To my TA family, I love you all. I know you risked getting banned from a game we all love to show support for the Iron Front, but for me, it was so much more than that. I will sleep better tonight knowing that I have an Army behind me, protecting my family from hate and oppression. Your magic is real and I’m so glad to be a part of it.

To Major League Soccer, Your profits are not more important than my family’s safety. You talk the big talk about wanting to be more family friendly…well here is your chance. Teach my children that you will stand up to the Faux News bullies that try to make Antifa any more than what we saw tonight. A group of glorious people bravely willing to stand up to hate and fascism.

In closing, here are a few tweets that captured the in stadium experience from awkward silence to the best Timbers Army has ever sounded.

All Quiet: https://twitter.com/jgrawrock/status/1165085528120684544

EBFG United: https://twitter.com/PaulAtkinsonPDX/status/1165084253312307201

The moment the protest ends: https://twitter.com/JBAustin9/status/1165099149236289536

Bella Ciao: https://twitter.com/jgrawrock/status/1165093759626797057

What Antifa actually looks like: https://twitter.com/PaulAtkinsonPDX/status/1165097139602509824

 

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#AUnitedFront against Fascism, the View From the Iowa Caucus
August 23, 2019, 10:03 pm
Filed under: Major League Soccer, Supporter Culture

In case you’re new to my blog: Yes, I am a member of the Timbers Army and I live in Des Moines, Iowa. How this came to be is explained here, but suffice it to say, I may be uniquely qualified to talk about the intersection of soccer and politics.

Here’s where the story starts for me: 20190823_194942.jpg

Truth be told, I got addicted to politics because of soccer. I was working to build a soccer specific stadium in Des Moines in 2002, and the project couldn’t move forward because we couldn’t get it approved by the Urbandale City Council. Yes I’m still mad and yes I have voted in every election since then no matter how small the office. Politics is your whole life, and we need to find a way to make it less toxic, but banning it isn’t the way.

Living in Iowa, I’ve seen it happen. We get together in a high school auditorium or gym every four years and have the Iowa Caucus. No hiding in a voting booth and secretly pulling a lever. You have to stand up in front of all your neighbors and publicly declare who you support. Then, there’s re-alignment…you need to convince your neighbors, through civil discourse if their candidate isn’t viable, they should come join your corner. So you better come prepared to state your case and be convincing in a way that doesn’t make the neighborhood awkward from that day forward.

But here’s the thing: we need to have a conversation about this banning political stuff. Because that’s a slippery slope. Is a rainbow flag political? Is a red hat political? What about a whole section wearing red hats? In the Timber’s front office double down statement they write “Major League Soccer believes the Iron Front symbol is inherently political because it has been co-opted by antifa.” Let’s pull that apart.

Antifa isn’t a thing. There’s nothing parked at Antifa.com. My husband wrote on Facebook “Antifa is a concept, a belief, a way of viewing the world and not an organization. Antifa is short for anti-fascist. There isn’t an antifa group, there are people who believe in the antifa way of viewing the world.” Since the 1930s the Iron Front has been a symbol of being antifascist, long before anyone coined the term “Antifa.”

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So to say that we can’t use this symbol because a group that doesn’t exist doesn’t hold water.

Plus, what is the equivalent symbol that you would ban on the other end of the political spectrum? The “Don’t Tread” snake? Nah….you know what symbol has been corrupted by that side? The American Flag. Are we going to ban the American flag for getting politicized? See how silly that sounds?

MLS: It’s time to get on the right side of history. re-write your policy to be human rights focused, not parroting some BS FoxNews soundbite.

We are the Timbers Army. We are relentlessly anti-fascist. You know how the song goes, you love it in your promos.

You can’t stop us, we are the Rose City.




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