In England, anti-ginger bullying has been blamed for the separate hanging suicides of a 13-year-old girl and a 15-year-old boy, the repeated harassment and ostracism of an entire family, and even a 2003 stabbing outside a bar.
Despite all this, the UK’s Commission for Racial Equality refuses to classify anti-ginger intimidation and assaults as hate crimes, and the media is generally silent in ways it isn’t when gay teens are reputedly bullied into suicide. Taking the double standard to an extreme, former Minister for Women and Equality Harriet Harman, described as a “queen of political correctness,” recently referred to her redheaded political opponent Danny Alexander as a “ginger rodent.”
In a predictably depressing response to such endemic verbal and physical provocations, there has emerged a new, auburn-tinted version of the same old monochromatic identity politics that have turned the world into such a glum, humorless place for lo, these many years. The fundamental and seemingly intractable problem with all this “diversity” is that everyone always diversifies in exactly the same way. In 2007 a British woman won a discrimination lawsuit after being taunted for her red hair at the kebab shop where she worked. There are now blogs, support groups, and legal petitions devoted to fighting “gingerism” and “gingerphobia.”
Though I was born with unexceptionally brown hair, my pale Anglo-Celtic-Gallic skin has always sunburned and peeled rather than tanned, and my shoulders and arms remain freckle-spackled to this day, so I’ve always felt a sort of stepbrother’s kinship to the Ginger Nation. When I see them getting punched and kicked, I think it’s only natural for me to get a little defensive on their behalf. But if they want respect, I don’t think they’ll get it with anti-discrimination lawsuits and anti-gingerphobia candlelight marches. You can’t force people not to find you disgusting, and a lot of people honestly find gingers—or at least the males—to be an aesthetically repulsive alien race. But that’s no excuse to go stabbing people or harassing families out of the neighborhood, now is it? As a defensive strategy, I’d rather see gingers use some of the negative stereotypes about them to their advantage. Let the world continue to think that redheads are demon-possessed witches with psychotic tempers who are impervious to pain. Instead of emulating the latter-day PC pussies, I’d rather see gingers walking in Erik the Red’s footsteps. I’d like to see the ginger equivalent of the Stonewall Uprising or even the Watts Riots. It might take only one viral YouTube video of a lone ginger schoolboy being cornered by bullies and then systematically knocking them all unconscious to make people think twice before crossing a ginger again. Beat down your antagonists like they’ve beaten down their redheaded stepchildren all these years. Bullies tend to understand violence better than they do sensitivity training, anyway.
But to answer the horrifyingly ginger-insensitive question that started all this, yes, the NFL has seen redheaded quarterbacks who have “done really well.” Legendary coach Vince Lombardi called Hall of Famer Sonny Jurgensen the best quarterback he’d ever seen, and Jurgensen had pig-pink skin and hair the color of a glass of Tang. And although none of them were the purebred speckled-egg blue-veined Orange Julius Super Ginger that NFL hopeful Andy Dalton is, Bart Starr, Len Dawson, Ken Stabler, Bob Griese, Joe Theismann, Trent Dilfer, Brad Johnson, and Brett Favre all had a touch o’ ginger in their hair—or at least their beards. And they were all quarterbacks who won Super Bowls, with Starr and Griese each winning two. So no need to worry, they’re doing fine—redheads have won TEN Super Bowls. A better question would involve why quarterbacks from another historically persecuted group, this one with a decidedly different hair texture, have only been able to win one.
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