"Relax, Anton, he calls me that in training every day"
Deep down, a majority of us are "racists." Yes, you too.
And that's the truth.
Fact 1: I'm an (Asian) Indian. I lived in the western world for six years. I've been at the receiving end of what we like to call "racism" more than once. Instances like someone muttering "terrorist" or "coolie" under their breath as they walk by.
Fact 2: I'm Indian. India is a land of hundreds of languages and thousands of ethnic groups and communities. Most Indians make "racist" comments, decisions and lifestyle choices on a daily basis. 100 percent authentic fact. And I'm sure we're not alone...
A few months ago, there was widespread furor in the aftermath of England's game against Bulgaria, when Bulgarian fans reportedly made "monkey" chants at England's black players and English fans hurled racist abuse at Bulgaria's Roma minority.
And I just have to ask:
What's the big deal???
If someone calls me a terrorist or compares someone else to a monkey, does that make us Al Qaeda and King Kong? If we react and feel insulted and humiliated, doesn't that encourage the offenders even more? Why give them the power to rule our reactions?
Some fantastic and appropriate words once spoken by Eleanor Roosevelt spring to mind: "No one can make you feel inferior without your consent."
Should John Terry be banned if found guilty of racially abusing Anton Ferdinand?
Let me make one thing perfectly clear: racial discrimination is wrong. Denying a person education, a job, a facility or the right to public amenities because of race is wrong. Denying a player a place in the starting 11 of a football team because of race is wrong. Denying a player a better salary because of race is wrong. Denying a person a football manager or referee's job because of race is wrong. And needs to be kicked out!
But making "monkey" chants in an attempt to mock a player because of their race is just backward, stupid and small-minded, and shouldn't be responded to with crazy reaction and public outcry.
Of course, in the background, the offenders need to be identified and appropriately punished. They must be banned for life from football stadiums. Of course, there should be player campaigns promoting racial harmony. Of course, clubs should be encouraged to give equal chances to all ethnic groups. But please, no over-the-top displays of emotional distress.
There's no need to be offended and hurt if an idiot calls you a monkey. There's no need to react in the stadium. And there's certainly no need to make a big noise about it in the newspapers. That only adds credence to racist behavior. That tells the racist, "you got me," and encourages him or her to do it again.
Abraham Lincoln correctly said that "the bullies are the easiest to lick." They are, indeed.
Racists want to see an immediate reaction. Grow up, and don't react. Don't give them what they want.