Remember when life was more simple and the biggest thing online that everyone was arguing about the final season of Game of Thrones?
Would Jon Snow sleep with his aunt? How could the White Walkers be stopped? Who would end up on the Iron Throne? Could they have messed it up even more if they'd tried?
So many questions.
Everything seemed to go massively downhill after the much-maligned final season of HBO’s beloved show aired. There’s been an election, a pandemic, wildfires and now shocking incidents of racist police brutality.
But one person who seems to still be stuck in the Game of Thrones era is our foreign secretary and de-facto deputy PM Dominic Raab.
During an interview on TalkRadio with Julia Hartley-Brewer, the foreign secretary was asked if he would ever take the knee, after footballers adopted the stance in the first two games of the restarted Premier League season.
His reply, to put it mildly, has raised some eyebrows.
The second most powerful politician in the UK actually said, with a straight face:
I understand this sense of frustration and restlessness that it driving the Black Lives Matters [sic] movement.
I've got to say, on this taking a knee thing, I don't know, maybe it's got a broader history but it seems to be taken from The Game of Thrones [sic], feels to me like a symbol of subjugation and subordination rather than one of liberation and emancipation. But I understand people feel differently about it so it's a matter of personal choice.
Erm, the what now?
To be crystal, 100 per cent, unavoidably clear: “taking the knee” against racism has absolutely nothing to do with Game of Thrones.
The tradition in its current form was ignited in the National Football League (NFL) after San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick knelt during America’s national anthem.
Rather than subjugation, it’s a powerful form of protest that basically suggests the kneeler doesn’t want to stand while black people are still endangered by police. It’s not just black people who participate either, athletes such as football star Megan Rapinoe have also taken the knee. And over the last few weeks we've seen people across the world do it as a symbolic gesture of support to Black Lives Matter.
So why would Raab think this is from Game of Thrones?
Raab isn’t wrong that people do “take the knee” in Game of Thrones. In Westeros, it’s referred to as “bending the knee”. It’s normally shown to kings and queens and it’s basically a sign of unconditional loyalty. To bend the knee means you’ll follow them into battle and have their back if anything goes wrong. There were lots of memes about Danyerys asking Jon Snow to bend the knee for her, and it certainly was a sign of "subjugation" then.
What are people saying about Raab's gaffe?
Needless to say, the fact that the man in charge of Britain’s foreign policy doesn’t seem to have bothered to research the origin of “taking the knee”, and seems to think it’s from a fictional TV show with dragons, has raised eyebrows.
Lots of people think it’s hilarious, but also borderline negligent, unprofessional and disrespectful.
Maybe Raab should spend less time watching the fictional events in Game of Thrones, and more time watching and learning from the real life struggles of black people?