'But look closer, and other parts of Qatar’s new football culture are a desert mirage. Sanchez’s team perform in front of almost empty stands; so few people want to watch club matches that low-paid migrant workers from Africa and Asia are bussed in, in their thousands, to fill empty seats. When I arrived at a match in the Qatar Stars League, the top-flight competition, the first thing I saw was a Kenyan pulling on a traditional white gown. He and his friends said they were among hundreds paid the equivalent of £5 to dress up as Qataris, fill a seat and have a stab at singing football songs in Arabic.'
That was from this article in the Guardian on the 2022 World Cup. It was one of a whole bunch of articles on how we evade the truth, how we create facades to defend and deny what is blatantly honest.
There was this review of a book on class, which started like this: 'If there’s a single fact that illustrates the way social class works in Britain today, it’s in the opening pages of this startling book. Of the 161,000 people who initially filled in the Great British Class Survey, which ran on the BBC website in 2011, 4.1% listed their occupation as chief executive, which is 20 times their representation in the labour force. By contrast, precisely no one stated they were a cleaner. While it’s pleasant to have your status at the top of the social pile affirmed, it’s rather less so to be reminded you’re at the bottom.'
And photography is the same. It's full of fake competitions, fake festivals, fake photographers and fake curators. Followers, influence and glowing feedback are traded back and forth with no transparent, and it is pretty much impossible to catch anyone out.
Though if you're wondering how to tell if all those twitter followers are real or fake, do have a go at Twitteraudit or similar. That tells you how good an account is.
And then there was Paris. Half of Europe's photoworld was there this weekend and one can but feel nothing but grief, sorrow and outrage at the brutal murder that took place. Thankfully I think nobody was injured or killed from the lens-based world (they didn't go for the Grand Palais?), and I can only wonder at the dignity and grace of Parisians wandering around the beleaguered city in the day's after the event. As I can only wonder at how other, more beleaguered cities manage to cope with their tragedies and killings.
But to look at the subsequent reactions of so many to the events was disappointing. It was another example of dishonesty, fakery, and denial.
There are those who pretend it's nothing to do with Islam. But it is. Why you would even deny that is beyon me. But Islam is a large religion and it is not to do with a huge part of it. And it's not to do with 'muslims', as though 'muslims' are this huge undifferentiated block of hook-handed, bearded nutbags.
There are those who pretend it's nothing to do with Western wars in Iraq and beyond. It is. How can you pretend it isn't.
There's the doublethink of those who complain about the spread of extremism, while aiding, abetting and promoting in the most venal of ways the very same people who fund and aid that extemism, from the ground up. And the people who suffer from that most are ordinary people who want to get on with their lives without religious interference in the most basic parts of daily life.
And perhaps worst of all are those who tell others to apologise for things they didn't do, while failing to realise that they themselves might have something to apologise for. Or those who claim that others are celebrating warfare and death, when they themselves celebrate warfare and death. Is there really that much difference?
In other words, maybe the picture is a bit more complex than we care to pretend and rather than seeking to blame others, perhaps we should take a bit of responsibility for our own actions, our own denials, our own deficiencies, our own prejudices. We should not excuse those who it is easy to excuse, but should rather raise our voices against those for whom warfare, bombing and killing are the only possible answer to warfare, bombing and killing. It simply doesn't work.