Yorkshire CCC racism scandal not the black and white issue many want – Chris Waters

“WHAT a surprise, Chris Waters going after a brown man… Another nonsense article from the racist Chris Waters… Chris Waters shouldn’t just get the boot but be made to do 200 hours diversity training… Chris Waters is not only vile, but an utterly useless journalist… Sack Chris Waters…” And so on.

I wouldn’t normally share my fan mail with readers, but, on this occasion, it gave me the idea for a column.

My “crime”, which drew that latest onslaught of opprobrium on Twitter, was to defend a British Asian man from what I believed to be unfair treatment while at the same time calling for total transparency in the form of a public inquiry into the racism crisis that engulfs Yorkshire cricket.

To my abusers, though, I was defending the wrong British Asian man against the actions of another British Asian man, while at the same time not quite sharing their opinions about another British Asian man, with the call for transparency neither here nor there.

Kunwar Bansil - pictured with with Jonathan Tattersall at Headingley at the end of the 2018 season. Picture by Allan McKenzie/SWpix.com

Confused? Alas, there is no mystery here.

For in the world of the woke anti-racists, which is what I call them, there is no room for black and white in this particular argument. To localise it for these purposes, either you believe and agree absolutely with Azeem Rafiq and the popular portrayal of the Yorkshire CCC regime deposed as a viper’s nest of racism – or else you question that characterisation and are branded a racist.

End of discussion, end of debate. Agree with us, Chris Waters, or prepare to be publicly abused and branded a racist by those who, you may have observed, seem to believe that the abuse they routinely dispense on social media is contrastingly OK.

Similarly, either you turn a blind eye to the fact that Lord Kamlesh Patel, the Yorkshire chairman, sacked 16 members of the coaching and backroom staff last December seemingly without any effort to investigate the ins-and-outs of the matter, in which case you are on the right side of the line and working towards the utopia of ending world racism, with Patel at the rudder locally, or else you call out that treatment and are condemned, abused and branded a racist.

Azeem Rafiq - pictured at Headingley during day three of the Test match between England and New Zealand. Picture by Allan McKenzie/SWpix.com

To the abusers, the “crime” in this case is to have called out the wrong sort of wrong treatment in their view because one has a different interpretation not of racism, but of a particular story which, in my case, comes from my own lived experience of covering Yorkshire for almost 20 years. In effect, and I use the word deliberately, I have “blasphemed” against what is an increasingly evangelical movement, mostly made up of white people, one fanned by social media in the wake of the George Floyd murder.

Although I have no doubt that its heart is in the right place, from the desire to end racism, it is actually a particularly pernicious form of anti-racism which is illogical, unreachable and unintentionally damaging.

In other words, to a comment, to a particularly spiteful and hateful comment such as “What a surprise, Chris Waters going after a brown man…” - proffered, of course, by the sort of white male so often at the heart of this anti-racist movement – there is no reasoning or hope of getting through to that person on any normal level for intelligent discourse.

Consequently, and although such people can never be silenced, or indeed should be, for free speech is imperative, the argument, the conversation, the quest not only to end racism but also for truth and justice of all kinds, whatever the subject matter, must go on without them. They are, by definition, the first ones who must leave the island while the grown-up debate continues without them.

Lord Kamlesh Patel, pictured in November last year. Picture: Danny Lawson/PA Wire.

One of the staff members sacked by Yorkshire was Kunwar Bansil, the British Asian physiotherapist who was among those who signed the infamous letter that questioned Rafiq’s character and accused him of being on “a one-man mission to bring down the club”, a view that Bansil and his colleagues were as entitled to hold seeing as they knew and worked with Rafiq as he was, in contrast, to claim that the club was institutionally racist.

In an interview with Mike Atherton in The Times, Bansil, who went everywhere with the Yorkshire players in an eight-year stint that spanned the final part of Rafiq’s first spell at the club and all of his second, said that he was “never aware” of any racism and that “the picture painted of Yorkshire was that if you are a person of colour you were made to feel unwelcome, that you’d be regularly bullied or discriminated against. That couldn’t be any further from my experience of the club.”

That was Bansil’s lived experience, his story.

No matter.

Despite being a British Asian who was actually present at the time, an eyewitness, Bansil’s testimony, his criticism of Rafiq in that letter, does not quite fit the narrative, which has already been set in stone and supported by the woke anti-racists, and so his sacking and consequent reputational damage is justified in their eyes because the bigger picture is to end world racism and to make Yorkshire CCC as inclusive as possible – except, of course, for Bansil, a British Asian who was brutally excluded.

Thankfully, Bansil cannot be condemned, abused and branded a racist by the woke anti-racists for he, himself, is a person of colour, and so, to come across as caring to everyone of colour, to virtue-signal, if you will, the woke anti-racists proffer such platitudes in his direction as “thank you for sharing your story” while at the same time condemning white journalists such as myself for criticising his treatment.

Bansil’s “blasphemy” is protected from the same level of censure and his story tolerated by the woke anti-racists if not quite assimilated into their thought processes because their thought processes, rather like a fixed belief in the supernatural, say, are not open to suasion of any sort.

Despite their bile and inability or, indeed, unwillingness to apply the usual standards of intellectual scrutiny to stories concerning race, I believe that such people are, indeed, well-meaning at core because they recognise and wish to redress the power differentials in society which have held back, and continue to hold back, people of colour in all walks of life.

But this woke anti-racism is actually creating more discord and division and a ton of toxicity we could well do without, damaging the very anti-racist values it claims to uphold to the extent that even Bansil’s treatment, however regrettable in its eyes, can simply be dismissed as collateral damage.