His assessment sparked a fierce response on Twitter, with fellow journalist Jason Okundaye asking: “Who the hell are you to tell black football players what solidarity symbol they can use?”
Culture writer Okundaye and Hodges were soon locked in a fiery argument on the platform, with the former positing: “Your projection that everyone would ‘unite’ behind a particular symbol is fallacious.
“People will always scramble for a problem, no matter how many clarifications, because they want anti-racism out of football. These fans harassed black players *before* the knee. They will continue to harass and jeer them after.”
He went on: “There is no universal consensus on anti-racism and that denies the fact that people are booing and jeering because they are racist and want to continue indulging in racism.”
But Hodges hit back: “Of course there’s not going to be a universal consensus. But 35% of people oppose TAK (taking a knee). 35% of people do not boo or jeer TAK, or abuse black players.
“So we need to find a way of bridging that divide that doesn’t involve simply saying ‘shut up and accept it, you racist’.”
@jasebyjason Of course there's not going to be a universal consensus. But 35% of people oppose TAK. 35% of people d… https://t.co/NdRRTjQRHp
Hodges continued to defend his stance, asking if the nation should “simply brand the 35% of people who don’t support taking a knee - not people who boo, but who don’t support that specific gesture - as ‘a**holes’. And just carry on regardless.”
Meanwhile another user argued that if taking the knee was deemed unacceptable by swathes of the population, so too is the St George’s flag. In which case: “Surely we need new symbols to represent England/GB/UK?”
@DPJHodges Are you happy with the use of the Union Flag and the flag of St. George as symbols of our nation?
In a separate tweet, they added: “Colin Kaepernick began his protest against racial violence by sitting and refusing to stand to the anthem. He received so much abuse about sitting disrespecting veterans, that he chose a different protest.
“He chose to kneel, because kneeling is universally seen as respectful.
“Move forward a couple of years and here we are again being told to change the form of protest. Why? Kneeling is Marxist apparently.”
They concluded their powerful thread: “So let’s stop playing silly little games/culture wars Dan.
“The simple reality is that the affront to those who hate people taking the knee isn’t the kneeling. Just like it wasn’t the sitting.
“It’s the challenge to racism that they have an issue with.”
We just hope there will come a time when no anti-racism symbols are necessary, but, at the moment, it feels like there’s still a long way to go...