I once commented that the media campaign against Suarez reminded me of the witch-hunt as touched upon by Dan Brown in The DaVinci Code. The comment was before the FA banning him for the alleged racist comments. Ever since, I can only wonder if football in England is a fascist society where people are after the guy’s skin. It is akin to finding one little trace of error and crucifying him for it. It is characterization, branding, setting-an-example and whatever else you might call it in all its blatant naked shameless glory.
What has been equally, or rather more, unfortunate is that some pro-Liverpool journalists too using their media to not stand by Suarez or trying to see the point in such a vociferous Liverpool support (not just fans, but also the club) but riding the bandwagon called ‘He mightn’t have meant it but what he said was wrong’. This post, originally in Times, but I don’t have a subscription, might come across as balanced, and it may be for all I know, but the conclusion remains the same – He mightn’t have meant it what he said was wrong. Another column in Mirror talks on similar lines. I agree with some parts of the columns but do not subscribe to the tone and the beaten track.
Firstly, I am not a white, nor am I a black and, like most Liverpool fans and general inhabitants of this planet, I do not support racism in any ‘way, form or shape’. I am not going to say that I am an expert on the subject of racism, actually I am far from it. I come from the fourth race on the planet called Asian Indians and believe me, I’ve seen myself and my race being taunted upon by a lot of people. We’ve been subjects of many a jokes. I know a person who came to India last week and as soon as he returned back to his native country, his facebook profile was flooded with photos of ‘poor India’. A particular section would perpetually remind the first world of coconut smell, some of us can only be good to drive NY taxis while most of us, it is assumed, would only work in outsourcing. People would make fun of our accents, our Gods, our food, and so on. It may not be racism in it’s purest meaning but stereotyping it is. But generally, we don’t mind. Heck, we even joke on each other.
To go back a little bit in time, the term racism is used for discrimination against someone because of his ‘race’ or ‘ethnicity’. If I can understand correctly, I read ‘race’ and not color of skin. Color of skin is something that is descriptive of a particular race but does not mean it. A South Indian can be dark but will not be a negroid. Similarly, short eyes can be descriptive of mongoloids and could that be racist too? I see a lot of people in movies making fun of that. Racism has narrowed itself down to discrimination by the white supremacists against the black Africans including, but not limited to, acts like enslaving. As majority media is concentrated in the so called first world, the definition has been concentrated to that application only. But should be noted is that countries or regions that did not witness such crimes against races, and were mostly oblivious to them until the rise of internet and sharing of knowledge, only used people’s skin color for descriptive purposes and not for discriminatory purposes. If they had to describe someone’s looks in third person, they would speak about the height, color of eyes and hair, indicative age, and the complexion. While the literal translation of ‘foreigner’ in my native language would be different, the commonly, and non-racially if I may add, term is firangi meaning ‘someone of different color’. Of course we do not discriminate against people because of their color and hence we do not use only those terms that might be politically correct in countries like USA and UK. There are other parameters of discrimination that were prevalent here (and may still be in some parts) but not color of skin. We’ve got terms like gora or the fairer people or kala meaning a black or darker skinned person. Those are used in day-to-day speech but not discriminatorily or appreciatively, only descriptively.
People understand is that Suarez did refer to Evra using a term that has its roots in Evra’s color. You don’t have to be Scotland Yard to deduce that; Suarez admitted as much. What he argued was that he did not use it derogatorily. He argued that in his parts, the term was and is a part of common speech. I don’t know why people fail to see his point. Why is it that The FA and the authors of above mentioned columns have to assume that their culture is the easiest to adapt to and people coming to their country should understand all its nuances within a few months? One of the authors argues that Luis’ comments were definitely not amicable since it was a Liverpool-United game and the exchange was between rivals in the heat of the battle. My question is would that also not mean that in the heat of the battle, a foreigner is less likely to remember the political-(in)correctness of a term that he so commonly uses otherwise in his native land?
One last thing that should be food for thought for all these folks- If Suarez had any idea whatsoever of what could be made out of the term spoken, why would he a) speak it in a public place and b) admit to as much despite there being no proof of it whatsoever except Evra’s say-so?
The club understands it and stands by Suarez. Most of us fans understand it and stand by him too. Some of these journalists term our behavior as ‘siege-mentality’ and also call the ‘Justice For Suarez’ fighters as ‘idiots’. But sirs, people know! You might be heard by a lot more people than any of us individually is but when we are together our voice of reason is stronger. It is not ‘My Club, Right or Wrong’. In this case it is ‘My club and my hero is right, and I will stand by them’.