The following is a post from Jonathan Everett.
The Iron Front was used by those who opposed the rise of fascism to cover up swastikas during the 1930s in Nazi Germany. The origins are well documented. These origins speak to anti-fascism and anti-racism. These ideas are not about politics, but about ethics.
MLS is now telling us that they believe that the Iron Front flag with its three arrows is too political to be flown at soccer games. Ironically, these games benefit dramatically from the efforts of the best players all over the world, regardless of race, religion, or creed. For MLS to say that they’re happy to accept the fans’ enthusiastic dollars to see their favorite international players — but not be willing to stand up to ensure the rights of those players’ fellow citizens is timid at best and criminal at worst. My disgust is palpable, and yours should be too.
It was just over two years ago that two people were murdered in Portland for defending young Muslim girls on the MAX. It was less than two years ago that a girl was killed by American Nazis in Charlottesville. The people responsible for those murders were groups chanting “blood and soil” and “Jews will not replace us.” These acts were racially driven by those whose lives are driven by hate for anyone different than themselves.
In 2019, MLS ruled that they will not allow us to adopt and display the symbol that represents our repulsion of fear and hate. Their ruling is couched in the political mire of current events but ignores the more pressing issue. Their opposition to the symbol is tantamount to condoning the most deplorable actions of those who advocate for murder of anyone determined to be “other.”
I reluctantly accept why a business such as MLS would try to avoid any type of potential controversy; however, denying independent supporters’ groups the right to freely express themselves as being anti-fascist while displaying the logo of such historical importance is disheartening. It is even more frustrating that our own Timbers Front Office would bow to the demands of MLS and be complicit in enforcing these types of rules. History is on the side of respect for humanity, for trying to understand our differences, and for what the Iron Front stands for. If MLS and our Front Office can’t take a stand that being anti-fascist is, in essence, the foundation of morality, then what types of organizations are they? Are they organizations we should stand behind and support?
Will our Front Office freely admit to being hypocritical in disallowing the Iron Front, but allowing St. Pauli to play in Providence Park, while profiting directly from shirt sales with slogans such as “Good Night, Alt Right” with a fist smashing a swastika? Have the times changed so much since last year that a flag with that logo would now be banned in Providence Park? Clearly St. Pauli has an agenda. It is in their fundamental principles, and they recognize that the overall morals of the community should be, and are, directly represented and supported by the Front Office. I wish our club would do the same.
The Portland Timbers Front Office needs to step up and do the right thing. I challenge each of you to join us in our protest against arbitrary rules from a corporate entity who is not on the right side of history; an entity who has chosen to not recognize or respect the collective values of a city it directly profits from.
I unequivocally stand with the 107ist Board and demand the following:
- MLS rescinds its ban on flying the Iron Front flag.
- MLS removes the word “political” from its fan code of conduct as it is inherently arbitrary.
- MLS works with international experts on human rights to craft language in the fan code of conduct that reflects and supports radical inclusion and anti-discrimination.
Will you stand with me?
Note: Very small credit should be given to Taylor Graham from the Seattle Sounders Front Office for acknowledging that you shouldn’t compare the use of the Iron Front and what it stands for with other political organizations and subsequently be complicit in normalizing an increasingly aggressive right wing.