John Howard’s bid to be the next International Cricket Club (ICC) vice-president has been blocked by African and Asian cricket nations. After bullying aside New Zealand’s candidate, whose turn it was to be “Australasia’s” representative, Howard was caught out by India for being a racist.
Indian media commentators applauded the rejection, making reference to Howard’s opposition to a sporting boycott of Apartheid South Africa in the 1980s. Describing Howard as a “closet racist,” Indian news commentator, Arnab Goswami, questioned why “a museum piece, a symbol of the black-white divide dare, or dream of entering world cricket.”
The criticism was not undue. In the 1980s Howard wailed against Asian immigration. As PM he demonised and imprisoned asylum seekers leading to condemnation from human rights campaigners.
Howard’s legacy of racism has caused resentment around the world as the furore around his nomination for ICC vice-president proves. “It’s not just his stand on apartheid—it’s his whole stand on war, on minority issues in Australia,” said respected cricket commentator, Pradeep Magazine. It was a “welcome surprise” that so many Australians also opposed Howard’s nomination, he added.
Howard’s appeal against the decision was hypocritical. “No part of the world, no one country should dominate cricket” he argued, pointing to India as the rising force in world cricket. But he didn’t mind England and Australia running the game for the past 90 years. So it’s back to the pavilion for Howard and his racism.
Disgracefully, Labor PM Julia Gillard supported Howard’s bid, describing him as a “passionate cricket fan.” Gillard, under pressure for her own harsh treatment of asylum seekers, said labelling Howard a racist was “a load of nonsense.” Little wonder, given that Gillard’s refugee policies have taken Australia back to the dark days of Howard.
The Australian media’s backing of Howard and his loss quickly fell into racism. Alan Howe of News Limited was appalling, saying, “Pakistan joined the parochial cheer squad of racist nations blackballing John Howard on the ICC.”
“There were four strikes against Howard: he is white, he believes in democracy, he rightfully scorns the murderous regime of the barking mad Zimbabwe tyrant Robert Mugabe, and he’d have cleaned up the world cricket that has been hijacked by envious former colonial outposts too stupid to master democracy.”
With friends like these to back him up, no wonder Howard didn’t get the job.
By Tom Orsag