Sport has'nt figured on this blog before. However, the current imbroglio around the term 'monkey' and the relative merits of the arguments put by commentators and supporters of the Australian and Indian cricket teams has got my goat. A cursory trawl through Yahoo blogs yesterday revealed some Indian bloggers are lambasting Australians as being dysfunctional bullies with criminal tendencies. Whilst this would be a fair description of many of my fellow citizens, it misses the point. I have heard several Indian commentators proffer the jingoistic line that the racial slur on the Indian nation is the core issue. I beg to differ.
I have sent the following letter to Fairfax outlets:
"Racism is a problem everywhere, including Australia and India. When I was a Doctoral student in Mumbai during the late 70s and early 80s my African and Fijian student friends copped racial taunting, much like that directed at Symonds. Colour consciousness is deeply embedded in the Indian psyche, with light skinned favoured over dark.
Cricket lovers everywhere must get off the collective grass and face up to the fact that racism is a universal blight, no less an issue in Mumbai than it is in Perth. By the way, given the nature of the taunts, I am sure the source of the abuse directed at South African players in Perth during their last tour here were individuals who felt more comfortable with South Africa under apartheid.
A proactive approach by international sporting bodies to the application of human rights and anti-discrimination principles will minimize the toxic effects of racism and of jingoistic hypocrisy over the relative superiority of the attitudes of different cultures. It is time to lance the racist boil by acknowledging our universal ascent from simian primates, by celebrating our common ancestry and reveling in our cultural differences."
The failure by many commentators on both sides of the divide to grasp that a 'zero tolerance' approach to racism is essential is dissappointing. Some of our more celebrated commentators in Australia have climbed on the "its ok" bandwagon with suggestions that, as Symonds does look like a monkey he can expect to be called as such. All I hope is that the conveyor of that opinion has the guts to say it to Symonds' face, or, at the very least, acknowledge his lack of judgement and hang his head in shame.
Wrong, wrong, wrong.