Racism is not monkey business

Monkeys are revered in India. Hanuman, the monkey god, is a very powerful spiritual figure respected across India. Hanuman is the symbol of strength, respect, and above all courage and a sense of duty.

What exactly is a monkey chant? If Symonds was, in fact, being ridiculed as a monkey by a section of the crowd - he should have bowed his head and done a namaste. No Indian, even the most rabid communist in India, dares to insult Hanuman.

Here is one of the first reports on the monkey chants in CricInfo.
The local police had another explanation, though. "The crowd was chanting 'Ganapatibappa Moriya' [a chant to Lord Ganesha] after Indian wickets kept falling. They did not expect their team to lose and did not spare some of the Indian players either. But none uttered a single word against any Australian player," Vadodara Police Commissioner PC Thakur told PTI. The secretary of the Baroda Cricket Association repeated that line, saying, "The crowd chanted hoping for some divine intervention and none of them passed any racial remark against any Australian."
It was not monkey chants, in fact it was Elephant Chants (Lord Ganesha being the Elephant God).

Why did the Australian team lodge a complaint? How come the team managements (at least the two captains) did not have a beer/ coffee after the game, discuss this issue, and find out 'what really happened'? Is there really a management of the game? International cricket, these days, is organised chaos.

Not everyone was buying the racism bull crap. Former Australian cricketer, Mark Waugh believes making monkey noises does not amount to racism.
"What is Andrew Symonds complaining about -- monkey noises?" Waugh said on Fox Sports' 'Inside Cricket'. "Does that come down to racism, without actually saying any words. I don't know." Waugh, who made several tours of India during his career, said such taunts were part of the game. "It didn't worry me. I don't know if we are getting a bit precious here, really," he said.
Thanks, Junior.

If at all, if anyone was behaving like a wild monkey during the one-day series, it was the Indian medium pacer - Sreesanth.

In the meanwhile, the ICC Chief Executive Officer Malcolm Speed has urged Members to be true to the zero tolerance approach to racism contained in the ICC's Anti-Racism Code.
Speaking in the wake of reports of racist behaviour by sections of the crowd during Wednesday's ODI between India and Australia in Mumbai, Mr Speed said: "Traditionally racism has not been a significant issue for cricket.

"It is a sport that we are proud to say is well-known for respect, tolerance, diversity and fair play and we are keen to ensure it stays that way.

"To make sure that happens I would urge our members to enact the terms of the ICC Anti-Racism Code as firmly as possible.

"If people are seen or heard behaving in a racist way then our message to the ground authorities and host boards is clear: find the culprits, throw them out and keep them out because racism has no place in our sport.

"It is pleasing to hear that some offenders in Mumbai were ejected and that is the type of zero tolerance we want in relation to this despicable behaviour," he added.
What has any tradition got to do with racism? I am glad Speed agrees that racism is an issue in cricket - not significant enough to jump up and down like monkeys.

Here is the anti-racism code


Monkeys in Mumbai

Can you see racism in this? It is ridiculous that Speed, the ICC etc thinks taunts and pranks are being racist. Even though I don't like Sreesanth's exaggerated aggression - I wouldn't say Sreesanth making monkey faces at Symonds was a racist gesture.

Sorry ICC, this is not wimbledon. People are allowed to come in and have some fun as they watch a game of cricket.

I clearly remember the Challenger Trophy final in Chennai (2001). Current India team bowling coach Venkatesh Prasad was playing in that game. A section of the crowd starting chanting "Venky is a Donkey - Venky is a Donkey." Poor prasad was shifted from one part of the ground to the other, yet the chanting continued - the crowd was really needling Venky. The pressure got to Prasad and he went for 78 runs off his ten overs!

Was the Chennai crowd being racist for shouting Venky is a donkey?

By appropriating any taunt/ sledge as a racist remark - the ICC is perpetrating a bigger crime - of diluting the real meaning of racism. Many english words like 'liberalise,' 'reform,' have been perverted to portray a different meaning than what it really means. And in doing so, that is to bastardise the language, to create confusion in the minds of people, the original meaning slowly erodes and gets replaced with a very vague explanation.

Andrew Symonds has finally given his version of this sad tale.
"Over the past couple of weeks, I have felt as though I have been put in a situation that is not of my making," Symonds said in the Sydney Morning Herald. "I never made a complaint at any venue, but I did answer media questions asking whether I had heard the chants aimed at me in Vadodara."

"I tried to defuse the original situation by interacting with the crowd."

"I feel that the print and TV media have badly misrepresented my views at times over the past three matches."

"I would much prefer the focus be on the cricket and for the cricket to be played in an atmosphere where players and spectators can enjoy a good day out, full of excitement and go home having had a great day of sport."
If Symonds didn't complain, who did? If this was just a media creation, why did Malcolm Speed and the ICC start giving statements?

It is true that Darrell Hair accused the ICC big boys as being racist. That doesn't mean the ICC has a right to start a witch-hunt when Symonds didn't even make a complaint.

The ICC (international cricket circus) based in Dubai is fast losing its 'control' over the game. It took a racism case, filed by Darrell Hair, in the London Central Employment Tribunal to expose the incompetence of the ICC management.

The ICC's three-man panel who looked into Hair's future included Pakistan board chairman Nasim Ashraf - who had earlier called for sanctions against Hair, Sir John Anderson, the New Zealand board chairman who supported action against Hair, and Zimbabwe Cricket president Peter Chingoka.

Lawrence 'The Spin' Booth, writing in the Guardian, explains what the real issue is:
Worse was to come. It emerged that the proposal, hurriedly agreed over a sandwich by Anderson, Peter Chingoka of Zimbabwe and Pakistan's Nasim Ashraf, needed only five minutes to be approved by the executive board. Griffiths said that Ashraf, who had been at The Oval that day, was "effectively prosecutor, judge and jury". Ashraf was, he said, "the very last person who should have been directed to take part in the decision". When it was revealed that the five-minute-long session had not been properly taped or minuted, Griffiths wondered whether this was "cricket's Watergate".
Robert Griffiths QC's cross examination of one of the ICC directors, Sir John Anderson from New Zealand, revealed what a brainless body the ICC is. Former England skipper Michael Atherton was a witness to the proceedings in the employment tribunal; he reports:
Anderson admitted Hair was an excellent umpire; that he had not been given due process over his individual rights, and that the code of conduct and the principle of natural justice had been ignored, and that the reputation of the ICC and the game was paramount. Then came the coup de grace.

"Did you attend the final of the World Cup, Sir John?"

"I did not."

"Is it important that an umpire knows the laws of the game?"

"It is."

"You are aware, of course, that the umpires who officiated in the final made a complete bodge of it?" (Griffiths spat out the word 'bodge' with great emphasis, to the amusement of the gallery.) "Did they bring embarrassment beyond belief to the ICC?"

"They did."

"And are they still umpiring?" Anderson mumbled something inaudible in reply after which Griffiths extended his mercy.
Almost five years back, I wrote this: Darren Lehmann deserves no sympathy
The long hand of justice sometimes gets a bit too short, letting the guilty escape punishment. After Darren Lehmann's racial attitude came to light, the onus was clearly on the Australian Cricket Board to send out a strong message - zero tolerance to racism.

Racism is not merely a mistake. It is a crime that should not go unpunished. A few weeks ago Matthew Hayden was fined 20% of his match fees for breaking the dressing room door. It remains to be seen what happens to Lehmann after the ICC's code of conduct charge.

The ACB's chief executive, James Sutherland, said that to emphasise the importance of players and officials complying with the code of conduct, the ACB has arranged for Lehmann to undergo counselling on this matter.

"I have expressed to Darren the ACB's disappointment in the incident and organised immediate counselling for him," Sutherland said.

The question that begs an answer from both the ICC and ACB is whether Lehmann brought the game into disrepute. There is a lot of difference between an erratic character and one who commits a crime. The latter do not deserve counselling - `if you do the crime - do the time'.
Cricket Australia was trying to protect Lehmann...

Ten days later, Malcolm Knox wrote a brilliant article in The Age:
Lehmann's misfortune is that he is the man who got caught revealing the unwitting racism that infuses not only Australian cricketing culture but mainstream Australia.
I went through the ICC's Anti-Racism code...
“Spectators shall not engage in any conduct, act towards or speak to any player, umpire, referee or other official or other spectators in a manner which offends, insults, humiliates, intimidates, threatens, disparages or vilifies that other person on the basis of that other person’s race, religion, colour, national or ethnic origin.”
It was the allegation that there was racial abuse of Symonds in Baroda that brought out the reaction we saw in Mumbai. The four spectators who taunted Symonds with monkey gestures can't be racist. They were fined 1200 by the Mumbai cops; I hope they go to court and get a verdict against the cops, BCCI, Cricket Australia and the ICC.

I don't know how it is in Speed's Australia... the last time I checked India remains to be a democracy. The crowd has a right to react - to show their pleasure and displeasure. Of course, as long as we stick to the real definition of racism! Chanting 'Ganapatibappa Moriya' is not racism.

Ladies and gentlemen, quiet please. Thank you. Welcome to the new cricket - where you better be careful to express yourself as a spectator. You could be 'ejected', video-taped and photographed - and never let into a cricket ground again.

Don't you get it? Cricket will survive without the nuisance of spectators - all they need is the TV audience. Suckers! That's what the establishment thinks about the game.

The Barmy Army's trumpeter, Bill Cooper, was thrown out of the Gabba ground in Brisbane on 23rd November 2006 for playing his instrument. Get that?


This is a new trend, a trend to suppress the spectators. The same as in many countries and in the new world order - where people are told not to make any noise, not express themselves, not to participate in anything social - as the establishment would love to keep the people as mute, impotent, useless consumers. Big business hates people having an opinion and expressing it - because it is dangerous. The ICC is also a big business; in fact cricket administration is a big business.

I have seen quite a lot of people in fancy dress - as Arabs, nuns etc at English/Australian cricket grounds... Are they racists too? If I were to turn up in monkey attire for the Twenty20 game in Mumbai today, wouldn't I be called a racist?

I hope and wish hundreds of people dressed as Hanumans turn up at cricket grounds in India. Let us see who dares to arrest them for being racists!

2 comments :

  1. indians have always been racists. i was always subject to racists taunts (madarasi) growing up in delhi by the light skinned rich sons of punjabi businessmen.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Casteism is blatant Racism. Indians are no angels when it comes to racism/ herdism.

    When Symonds hasn't complained, when he didn't feel he was being racially abused, whose heart is bleeding?

    ReplyDelete