Saturday, February 02, 2008

Blacks Trump Indians

The comments below on the recent huge uproar in cricket are excerpted from moderate-conservative Australian commenter Andrew Bolt. To avoid being too incorrect, he writes as if it was pro-Australian bias rather than pro-black bias that explains the biased treatment of the Indian cricketer. But he does reasonably ask: "Why not fine Andrew Symonds for abuse?" -- where Andrew Symonds is the black cricketer who instigated the abuse of the Indian player. If the instigator of the abuse had been white, there is no doubt that it would have been the white player rather than the Indian player who was penalized. In the preposterously bigoted world we live in, black trumps brown but brown trumps white.

"If Harbhajan Singh has been fined for abuse, why not Andrew Symonds? The Indian spinner, on the evidence of a formal hearing, has done nothing that the Australian all-rounder didn't do first and worst.

The second Test became explosive when Symonds, Michael Clarke and Matthew Hayden informed captain Ricky Ponting they'd heard Singh call Symonds, of Caribbean descent, a "monkey" or "big monkey".

We were absurdly glad we could finally call brown men racists and prove our redeemed goodness by defending a coloured player of our own. But the Indians appealed, and the International Cricket Council got a real judge to check the facts. And suddenly the picture shifted. Consider the following evidence, taken from Hansen's judgment.

On that last tour of India, Symonds and Singh shook hands on a deal not to talk trash to each other again, but Symonds snapped in Sydney when Singh paid bowler Brett Lee a compliment, of all things.

Says Hansen: "I have reviewed the television evidence . . . It is clear that Mr Lee bowled an excellent yorker to Mr Singh, who was fortunate to play the ball to fine leg. As he passed Mr Lee, while completing a single, Mr Singh patted Mr Lee on the backside. Anyone observing this incident would take it to be a clear acknowledgement of well bowled."

"Symonds took objection to this and . . . approached Mr Singh, telling him he had no friends among the Australians in foul and abusive language." This clearly was just the kind of sledging for which the Australians are now infamous -- the crudity that too many fans admire, but which comes over to Indians as the kind of colonial crud they no longer need tolerate.

He lashed back in what Symonds said was a mix of English and a foreign language - actually Punjabi. And among the jumble of words was what Symonds took to be "monkey".

But Singh insisted he'd not suddenly broken into English, but had called Symonds "teri maa ki" - or something like "motherf. . ." in Punjabi. Teammate Sachin Tendulkar, who'd been standing closest to him, agreed the Australians had simply been mistaken. (Such are the absurd politics of race that calling a man "monkey" is now a bigger crime than making vile sexual slurs against his own mother.)

The judge quite reasonably felt the reason the Australians couldn't make out any other words than what they took to be "big monkey" could well be that Singh wasn't abusing Symonds in English. Singh's defence seemed to him plausible and he dismissed the charge of racial vilification, fining Singh simply for foul language.