October 18, 2007

Close ranks

The guy in the blue shirt in the photo here (it's appeared in a number of places) is certainly in the middle of imitating a monkey. The guy in the yellow shirt looks like he is about to do so too. And I look at this picture and I'm baffled.

You see, I couldn't really care less about whether what cricket fans have been shouting at Andrew Symonds constitutes racism. I also think all international sportsmen must and do eventually develop a thick skin; they learn to take abuse and answer it on their terms. And I'm uninterested in the argument that says Aussie crowds do the same (which they do, notably with one Muralitharan), so why the complaints now?

No, what gets me is this: why would we be so hypocritical as to deny that people have been shouting this stuff and taunting Symonds?

BCCI secretary Niranjan Shah has led the pack of such deniers; one quote from him making the rounds is "I don't understand where this anti-racism thing has come from as we have had no [official] complaint." Apart from him, message boards on all kinds of sites are filled with Indians saying this stuff didn't happen, racism is nonexistent in India, etc and all that.

One guy, I kid you not, actually puts it this way: "And well, monkeys are not black! So obviously, Indians would obviously not call a black guy a monkey. They never have discriminated against negros. ... Millions of blacks have been accepted by society as humans."

What's there to say in the face of such logic supreme?

Anyone who has attended an international match like this in India knows that players get taunted by some in the crowd. (Of course it's the same in any country.) Which is fine: we have our share of nuts, after all, like every other country. But why would we choose to close ranks behind the guys in the photograph? What do we get from defending creeps? Why the urge to paint ourselves as uniquely free of creeps? Whom do we think we fool?


sridhar said...

Hi Dilip:
At the risk of being one of those who are supporting freaks just because they happen to be Indians, I beg to differ.
When I see that photograph (how can anyone miss it !) I feel intense nausea. What kind of freak gets joy out of such acts !
Having said that, I believe everyone has a right to self-expression, however graceless that expression might be. If these jerks were trying to hit Symonds, they should have been sent to jail. If I am going to penalized just for calling someone a monkey (or for imitating a monkey in public) I believe there is a problem. As for Symonds himself, it is tough. It really really is disgusting. But, hey, that's life. You meet nice people...and then you meet jerks...

Dilip D'Souza said...

Sridhar, you're right, and I have no argument there. My point in this post is to wonder why we would close ranks and deny that these things happened. We acknowledge (and complain) that they happen elsewhere. Why do we have a problem acknowledging that it happens here?

VM said...

Ten years ago (roughly) I remember sitting in the cheapest seats at Wankhede, bemused at the entire stands yelling at Kambli, who was posted in the field just below.

'Sabse Gora Ladka Kaun?' 'Kambli! Kambli!'

If we do it to our own, where's the percentage in denying that it happens with foreign players.

Having said that, Dilip, there's no doubt that there's a considerable amount of gamesmanship going on with the Aussie reaction...

Anonymous said...

Monkeys arent black we dont make fun of blacks....

coming from ppl who readily found racism in a macaca statement while also calling blacks "kallu" etc in a very negative sense, this is hypocrisy at its zenith.

One odd twist in our discussions here on NRN Murthy and the National Anthem was whether such courtesies as created that flap would have been extended to a delegation from Dakar.


Dilip D'Souza said...

VM, they said that to Kambli? Makes my flesh crawl.

As I've tried to indicate, though, I'm not particularly concerned about various other issues, such as the gamesmanship on the part of the Aussies. I'm amazed and nauseated that we are trying to pretend this stuff never happened, now even after the photograph is everywhere.

Anonymous said...

Well, defending the indefensible will only lead to more fingers being pointed at the darker aspects of our society, of which there is no shortage. In that sense, Messers Niranjan Shah and co. may actually have done a service :-)

On a serious note, no West Indian team of the past - the primarily "black" team - has made such accusations. I don't remember them being subjected to monkey chants. I wonder if the chants have been picked by our local loonies by watching telecasts of European football matches. From what I understand, such chants are well-known in Italian and Spanish leagues prompting FIFA to take punitive actions against some clubs. Way to go, guys: pick up the least desirable aspects of European/American "culture."

I shudder to think what is in store when the Windies or even the Sri Lankans come calling. Now that monkey chants have made news, we can depend upon a few idiots everywhere in India to take this up. Perhaps its best to call off tours - or as a punitive measure, play in front of empty stadiums (as in football) and have BCcI pick up the tab - unless our crowds demonstrate that they can behave and take defeat gracefully.