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Azeem Rafiq’s own racist tweets do not excuse the racism he suffered but the double standards are astonishing

On 16th November the UK press featured dozens of stories about the former cricket player Azeem Rafiq’s testimony to a Parliamentary committee about his experiences of racism, particularly when playing for Yorkshire. A typical story was this one from BBC Sport, “Azeem Rafiq: Yorkshire cricket racism scandal – how we got here”

Surprisingly, that BBC report did not include what surely must be the most serious of the allegations Mr Rafiq made, that when he was fifteen and playing cricket at club level for Barnsley, he was pinned down by other players and had red wine poured down his throat. (He is a Muslim.) To hold someone down and force them to do something that they consider religiously forbidden, and in many cases something that also disgusts them, is an assault on their bodily integrity that ought to horrify anyone.

However it was widely covered elsewhere, as was every word of Mr Rafiq’s testimony to the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Committee hearing.

This Google search for mentions of “Azeem Rafiq” between 16th and 17th November shows how seriously his allegations were taken. “Azeem Rafiq’s testimony exposes how power works in cricket – and in Britain”, said the Guardian. Azeem Rafiq: ‘A trailblazer who has created a watershed moment’, said the BBC. Azeem Rafiq: Sport England could cut cricket funding after ‘wake-up call’, said the Times.

Though I do not believe that the government should fund sport at all, and I would prefer it if the horribly-named Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport did not exist, given that it does exist and does fund cricket I broadly agree: government money should not go to bodies that tolerate racism.

Well, that was the situation on the 17th. On the 18th it all fell apart.

Azeem Rafiq apologises for historical anti-Semitic Facebook messages said the BBC. The Times reported:

The Times has seen an exchange of messages that appear to have been sent ten years ago between Rafiq and the former Warwickshire and Leicestershire player Ateeq Javid. Sources believe they are discussing another Asian cricketer, at the time playing for Derbyshire, whom they seem to accuse of being reluctant to spend money on a meal out because “he is a jew”. Rafiq jokes that he will “probs go after my 2nds again ha . . . Only jews do tht sort of shit”.

Mr Rafiq was quick to apologise. The same Times article said,

Rafiq said: “I was sent an image of this exchange from early 2011 today. I have gone back to check my account and it is me. I have absolutely no excuses. I am ashamed of this exchange and have now deleted it so as not to cause further offence. I was 19 at the time and I hope and believe I am a different person today. I am incredibly angry at myself and I apologise to the Jewish community and everyone who is rightly offended.”

In most respects I think we should accept that apology. The business of excavating tweets made by sportsmen years ago has reached absurd lengths – the footballer Marc Bola was charged with “aggravated misconduct” by the Football Association for a tweet he made when he was fourteen.

But the double standards rankle. Mr Rafiq said, “I have gone back to check my account and it is me.” In other words, he had no memory of making that racist tweet in 2011. But if Mr Rafiq cannot remember what he himself tweeted in 2011 then should we not at least allow for the possibility of error in his memory of the racist remark that he says he remembers the former England captain Michael Vaughan making in 2009? Or if it turns out Mr Vaughan did make that remark (Vaughan denies it), should we not grant that Michael Vaughan might well be “a different person” after twelve years, just as Azeem Rafiq says that he is after ten?

More generally, the revelation that Mr Rafiq was exchanging racist banter with Ateeq Javid did not call forth anguished calls for reform from MPs and newspaper columnists. Apparently it did not reveal anything in particular about how power works in cricket, or in Britain. It was not a watershed moment, it was not a wake up call, and cricket’s government funding is not imperilled.

I am going to end by repeating what I said in the title of this post: Azeem Rafiq’s own racist tweets do not excuse the racism he suffered, particularly not the physical assault. But I agree with what Andrew Hills said in the most-recommended comment to that Times article:

I think it is important this has come out; wokeness creates the lie that there is the pure “righteous” group over here and the racists and the homophobes over there. Let’s punish them whilst we glory in our own greatness. The reality is that we are all screw ups, and we should be working together as a bunch of messed up people to make a better society for all.

16 comments to Azeem Rafiq’s own racist tweets do not excuse the racism he suffered but the double standards are astonishing

  • Lee Moore

    Andrew Hills’ comment overlooks the recalibration of racism as a vector quantity, not a simple scalar. It is perfectly possible, indeed common, to be pure and competely free of racism if the direction of your, er, lack of enthusiam for folk of different ethnicities, points at people of a definitionally “non-oppressed” hue.

    I happened upon a workaday example of this in an article I was perusing this evening on 538, the American poll / stats etc site, in which the mystery of racist whites voting for blacks (eg the new Deputy Governor elect of Virginia) was explored*. Amid much stats, the proposition was advanced that Republicans are more racially prejudiced than Democrats. But it was immediately apparent that the measure of racial prejudice was holding prejudiced views about “Blacks.”

    Old Rafiq’s minor embarrassment is that Jews are a tiny sliver of the oppressing white classes, who still have a vestigial claim to be some kind of oppressed minority, on account of some ancient history that has not yet been fully dismissed as ancient history.

    * the answer, you will be stunned to hear, seems to be that racist whites don’t care about colour per se, but whether you’re a lefty moonbat who wants to stoke a race war; or you’re borderline sane person, who believes in Truth, Justice and the American Way. Of any colour. Who’da thunk it ?

  • Fred Z

    Young people are even more stupid than old farts like me.

    If a person appears to honestly admit fault and appears to honestly apologizes for something stupid said when younger I say give them another chance, so long as they don’t abuse the chances.

    The stupid shit I said when I was under 30 is only somewhat less stupid than the shit I still say (I’m 69), and despite that I regret it all.

  • the other rob

    Time was it was axiomatic that we’re all fallen and perfection is not attainable in this world. The most significant success of Gramsci’s disciples may have been the erasure of that axiom from popular culture, making it that much more difficult for people to recognise the Marxist promise of perfection in this life for the Christian heresy that it is.

  • Paul Marks

    The racism he CLAIMS to have suffered.

    As he has been spreading racial hatred himself, he is hardly a reliable witness.

    And how is he “suffered”? Does he have a back injury from picking up the very large pay packet that the “racist” Yorkshire County Cricket Club paid him?

    Thousands of young girls raped and abused in British cities and towns – and the establishment could not care less, but a cricket player CLAIMS that people said nasty things to him and Parliament (and the rest) crawl to lick his boots, for fear of being called “racist”.

    Does a country like this deserve to survive?

  • JohnK

    Paul:

    As you say, Yorkshire CCC was so racist that they employed this man and paid him for many years.

    He claims that the was often called a “Paki”, and I tend to believe him. For many years, “Paki” was not an insult, it was what white people called Pakistanis. It just was, and there is no point trying to re-write the past.

    The inoffensive BBC sitcom “Only Fools and Horses” used the term “Paki shop”, but this has now been cut out. The film “Rita, Sue and Bob Too” had a Pakistani actor say “It’s not my fault I’m a Paki”. That will probably be cut out now. These are just a couple of examples which spring to mind.

    If we now agree that we won’t use “Paki” in future, so be it. It does make its use in the past racist. But of course we are now expected to judge the past by the standards of a 21st century social justice warrior.

    Anyway, Mr Rafiq has succeeded in pouring a big bucket of shit all over Yorkshire CCC. I hope the £200,000 they have paid him goes some way to assuaging his feelings of hurt, and to paying off his massive gambling debts.

    And in answer to your question, no, this country does not deserve to survive, and probably won’t.

  • JohnK

    If we now agree that we won’t use “Paki” in future, so be it. It does make its use in the past racist.

    Correction: “It does not make its use in the past racist”.

  • The racism he CLAIMS to have suffered. (Paul Marks, November 23, 2021 at 10:23 am)

    Indeed. In terms of the historic sufferings of the Jews at the hands of anti-semites (Muslim and other), tweeting that “Only jews do …” might be regarded as rather small in and of itself, only of interest (but there of very great interest) in how it impacts the sincerity of a claim that the tweeter was oh, so, very hurt by some remark about his group. But at least we do have objective evidence that it happened. Where there is no such evidence (“Vaughan denies it”), then coverage should be more restrained while the facts, if any, come out.

    government money should not go to bodies that tolerate racism

    Government money should not go to bodies that hate free speech, whether directly or by having absurd (and absurdly partial) rules. A team’s captain or coach should work to ensure its tone does not fall to a level that harms its spirit. And even mild bullying (if the incident did in fact happen that Rafiq claims) will do worse harm if unchecked. Crybullying will also do harm – and government money may easily promote the last while (and indeed, by) saying it’s opposing the first two.

  • He claims that he was often called a “Paki”, and I tend to believe him. For many years, “Paki” was not an insult, it was what white people called Pakistanis. It just was, and there is no point trying to re-write the past. The inoffensive BBC sitcom “Only Fools and Horses” used the term “Paki shop” (JohnK, November 23, 2021 at 11:55 am

    So did many people back then, typically in an appreciative way. As the weekend party hour approached in London flats, it was normal to hear, “Oh no, we’ve run out of …” leading to “Is there not a Mr Patel or a Mr Singh nearby?” (with no “who will still be open” end of sentence, so obvious was that point). Or the reply could be “Try the Paki shop.” This was not said in hostility, quite the contrary; they were perceived as hard-working, providing a service and law-abiding (or at least not at all violently the reverse, which was what people really cared about).

    Oddity: the generic phrases were ‘the Indian restaurant’ and ‘the Paki shop’, though surely many a Muslim ran one of the former and many a Hindu ran one of the latter.

    It’s not the only case where the words of the past are being translated into the thought-crimes of today.

  • As far as respecting Rafiq’s apology is concerned, I would have been more impressed if, instead of the cringing PC boilerplate he offered, he had written something like:

    “Now I see this, I realise how hypocritical it was of me to judge by the standards of today what I remember others saying, while not even remembering things that, back then, I not only said in the thoughtlessness of a moment but deliberately wrote and presented to the world to see. Clearly, I must forgive as I hope to be forgiven.”

    If he then wanted to endorse going forward, and encourage those he criticised to endorse, the harsher standards of today instead of the less uptight culture of the time, well, that would be a difference of opinion between us (probably, but depends just how he said it) but I’d respect it more.

    Perhaps he will (has? – I’ve not followed this in detail) become less accusatory. And there again, perhaps his wokeness-conforming apology will prove to be a template he’ll try to enforce on those he accused. Time will tell the degree of respect it deserves.

  • Paul Marks

    Yes JohnK – Pakistan means (in Urdu) “land of the pure” (to Islam the Hindus and other non Muslims were impure – hence the claimed need to create Pakistan), “Paki” meaning “pure” (just about).

    On the other hand being called a “Tory” means being called an Irish bandit – or an inhabitant of Tory island, “remote, cold and ruled by brigands”.

    On the the United Kingdom – it can not feed itself, and does not have enough manufacturing industry to sustain the bloated population on the overcrowded islands.

    “But the City – the Credit Bubble City will save us!”

    Hopefully no one still believes that.

    As for the cultural will-to-survive (your point JohnK) – there is little among the establishment elite. Indeed they punish (as “racists” or whatever) those in the British population who wish their nation to survive.

    The conclusion is sadly obvious.

  • John

    The term “Paki shop” would clearly be problematic today but 20-30 years ago it wasn’t an issue (along with the comparable term “Chinky” for a Chinese takeaway).

    The shops were a great institution and did a lot to benefit smaller communities where the “open all hours” concept had previously been lacking

    A fitting tribute can be seen in this delightful advert.

    https://youtu.be/TfMt3HN8tuY

  • This comment by James Strong appeared in an earlier thread, but seems at least as relevant to this one.

  • Nicholas (Unlicensed Joker) Gray

    All this cancelling and apologizing for the past leads me to believe that we should cancel all books, for example. Let’s not just cancel J.K.K.Rowling, but insist that bookstores prove that all their authors were saints their entire lives, before they can sell any books!

  • John

    The day a major bookstore stops selling JK’s works (the Hogwarts stuff anyway) or a TV channel stops showing repeats of the films ……………….…..will never happen because ££££$$$$$.

  • >do not excuse the racism he suffered, particularly not the physical assault.

    Spare me. He didn’t “suffer” anything. He’s a race-baiting money-grubbing hypocrite and BS artist who needed to pay off gambling debts, and I couldn’t give a toss what anyone called him.

    I care about the abuse suffered by young girls in the town where he has a cafe (Rotherham). I don’t care that one of his mates called him a Paki.

    Enough with the hand-wringing. Don’t play their game.

  • xxxx

    There is no double standard. The Woke only have one standard: they judge everybody based on the number of woke points that you have accumulated based on the “groups” that you are part of. What you do, or do not do, is irrelevant to the Woke moral standard. Azeem Rafiq is Muslim and non-white, which gives him a pretty much unbeatable number of woke points. Therefore he can be as racist as he likes about Jews, as because of the number of woke points he has he remains morally pure. If he claims that anybody has said anything bad about him then they are morally impure as they have less woke points than he does.

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