Calling racism “satire” is a little bit Ritchie
Sportsman’s luncheons are turgid affairs at the best of times. Indeed, you can pretty much bet that any lunch with the pompous suffix “eon” will have a post-meal speaker as tasteless as the soggy function food.
Of course there’s tasteless and there’s plain offensive. Greg Ritchie crossed that line big time on Friday, when the former Test cricketer delivered a string of appalling comments of the type he’s been making for years under the guise of humour. Funny they were certainly not. Worse, his comments were plain stupid given they were made at a venue hosting a visiting, multi-racial cricketing power.
Calling Greg Ritchie a bigot and a racist misses the broader point, which is that the bloke is an unfunny wanker, and has been for years. He used to have a character called “Mahatma Cote”, a portly, turbanned subcontinental stereotype with a niece called Fatima Pants. Yeah, we get it Greg. You think erections and black people are funny.
The Mahatma Cote outfit is now gathering mothballs in Greg Ritchie’s cupboard alongside his own oversized hat and coat, but his low rent racist gibes continue. On Friday, Ritchie lampooned both black people and Muslims, with two lines as unsavoury as the cold pies in the outer.
First he made a joke about how he wouldn’t call the West Indian team “kaffirs”, the inference being that they were tougher cricketers than the South African “kaffirs”. Kaffir, by the way, is a heavily-laden term which equates to “nigger”. Its use is punishable through the South African courts.
Then Ritchie made a real shocker of a crack about Muslims, with inevitable 9/11 reference. Incredibly, he defended the “joke” when confronted, arguing that Muslims aren’t his favourite people, so why not make jokes about children locked up in his car boot?
Oh, and then he had a crack at his former cricketing rival Imran Khan, a noted philanthropist and crusader against the worst excesses of a repressive Pakistani regime, who Ritchie, channelling his Mahatma Cote wisdom, called “an absolute knob”.
No Greg, it is you who is a knob, and a cowardly one at that. You can always tell the next move these guys make, and sure enough, there was Ritchie this weekend, hiding behind up a big white banner emblazoned with the words POLITICAL CORRECTNESS.
Incurable, uneducable bigots like Ritchie always blame the PC cops. Like perps who say “no comment”, it is how they confirm beyond doubt their ratbaggery. They also hide behind the word SATIRE.
What people like Ritchie never understand is that satire has nothing to do with painting white skin black, or regurgitating sad old one-liners and racial epithets. Satire doesn’t ridicule those who are different to us. It holds other people’s follies and quirks to account. Satire is witty and constructive. If constructed well enough, it challenges our attitudes and beliefs.
To use the sort of boofheadish example Ritchie himself might understand, Matthew Johns’ defunct NRL Footy Show character Reg Reagan was an example of successful satire. Forget Johns himself and all his faults. His Reg Reagan character brilliantly lampooned the ageing boofhead brigade in rugby league who couldn’t see that the age of mindless violence was over.
Greg Ritchie is now as much a dinosaur as Reg Reagan. What he said on Friday is damaging, not just to himself but to an embarrassed Cricket Australia, whose anti-racism message to fans in the outer now seems more than a little hollow. The sport’s governing body should’ve given him much more than a slap on the wrist.
Above all, Greg Ritchie has damaged Australia. These stories echo around the world, and keep echoing. A week after A Current Affair did its despicable Asian mall story, the world now has two reasons to presume that Australia is a nation of white supremacist bigots who have no desire to be part of an increasingly non-white global community.
And all this in a week when the world’s number one Test cricket team is on our doorstep. This team, by the way, used to have racial quotas but that policy caused tension and was abandoned. It is now full of men of all colour and religion who have earned their places on merit.
Anyway, here’s a delicious scenario for us all to mull over. If Ricky Ponting fails again in the second innings, that fine Australian Muslim batsman Usman Khawaja, who plays for Ritchie’s old state of Queensland, is primed to take Ponting’s spot. Wonder how Greg Ritchie will feel about Muslims then?
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