Fri | Jan 27, 2023

Orville Taylor | Qatar’s reality check

Published:Sunday | November 27, 2022 | 12:11 AM

Senegal, Cameroon, Ghana, Ecuador … I am almost tempted to say, “lef dem wife and pickney outa door!” Even more tempting is the line, “nobody’s business but their own”. A traditional Jamaican folk song, it was one of those we sang as youth in the...

Senegal, Cameroon, Ghana, Ecuador … I am almost tempted to say, “lef dem wife and pickney outa door!” Even more tempting is the line, “nobody’s business but their own”.

A traditional Jamaican folk song, it was one of those we sang as youth in the 1970s. Music and Youth was a weekly programme, sponsored by the government, and groups of secondary and college students paraded our singing prowess and performing abilities.

At the Pope’s school, we paradoxically developed strong Black/African identities, Third World affinities and ‘Rastaphilia’, despite our being Christian. We loved Brazil, because Pele looked like the man who sold us Kisko pops, and Paolo Cesar and Jairzinho resembled other Jamaicans.

Jamaicans of the 1970s, with the still unmatched talent of Allan ‘Skill’ Cole, Dago Gordon, Devon ‘Roots’ Lewis among others, were deeply inspired by the magic of the Brazilians, for whom football was like our ackee and salt fish.

Enthralled by the wizardry of football, we somehow were ignorant of the racism within Brazil and countless other Latin American countries and the history of enslavement from San Juan to Tierra del Fuego. We never noticed that Brazil is the last place where the enslavement of Africans ended, in 1888, some 50 years after Jamaica. Let it soak in, if Alexander Bustamante, founder of the Jamaica Labour Party and foundation member of the People’s National Party and first National Hero Marcus Garvey, had been born in Brazil, they would have been born slaves. Indeed, my paternal grandfather, Isaiah Taylor Sr, was already an adult in his 20s when the Portuguese finally flew the gate.

Add the evil of Belgium’s King Leopold and the myriad cases, which justify reparations from the Europeans; and the thought of flying any flag apart from those of the sub-Saharan Africans is a betrayal.

WRATH-FILLED CLOUT

Indeed, my best friend was on the verge of a wrath-filled clout in his blind support for Germany, despite that country’s own citizens calling some of its African-originated players ‘monkey’ and other derisive names. However, I think he finally got off the Autobahn when he realised that the Germans and several other European teams with deep histories of racism were never impelled to wear ‘Black Lives Matter’ or pro reparations symbols, but were insanely brave enough to wish to display pro-LGBT paraphernalia at this World Cup. In all of the Middle East, including ‘permissive’ Dubai, homosexuality is a crime; punishable by death in some countries. In fact, as he jumped off the BMW and Benz, he quipped that the German players were bent on looking in the wrong direction, instead of focusing on the goal ahead.

Japanese can read German but not vice versa, and just as the RX7 kicked the 9-Series Porsche’s butt, the bushido cut Bavarian steel.

Yet, this is all bigger than football and a show of great hypocrisy. Discretion prevailed and none of the teams, despite their initial bravado, did any gay advocacy. The point here is not whether or not the campaign for gay rights or any human rights is justified. Rather, it is simply that ‘duppy knows who to frighten’. Any person, including any American who is bold enough to advocate or aid and abet any homosexual activity or any other violation of Sharia laws, will find himself or herself in a situation not better than imprisoned basketball player Brittney Griner, who got a reality check that America can only put pressure on weak countries such as Jamaica, but can do little to the real violators of human rights.

If the Western nations were as pro-human rights and not simply pro-gay as this is panning out to look like, they would have long decided that the almost US$3 billion annually, with a country whose population is the same as Jamaica, could easily have been forgone. But of course, Qatar, like the rest of the region, sits on strategic resources the West needs.

NOT DISSIMILAR

The situation is not dissimilar to Saudi Arabia, whose violations of human rights have filled volumes of reports from Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch. But as with a few other nations in that part of the world, it simply is not in the strategic interest of the powerful to even try to address them. After all, how much legitimacy would the West have, when almost all members of the UN, excluding the USA and Israel, think that a blockade of Cuba or it is a ‘state sponsor of terrorism’ label is at best ludicrous.

This World Cup is a revelation. Something is not something else simply because powerful people says that it is. Argentina is not as great as the narrative says, neither is Germany, the Netherlands or many of the seeded and reputed teams. The world is catching up. For us with scientific minds, any assertion must be backed up with evidence.

The World Cup stage is in the same place that Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce won her first post-pregnancy 100 metres title in 2019, with multicoloured hair but not representing any rainbow. If the West and UN really want to press for LGBT rights, they should look right there in the Islamic Middle East where one can be legally put to death for forming the equivalent of Jamaica’s J-FLAG.

Now the world knows; this is not where the fight is; beating up on Jamaica is simply cowardly and symbolic; because the real offenders are too tough for the West to handle.

My heart is with Ghana, Cameroon and Senegal but part of me loves Tunisia too.

- Dr Orville Taylor is senior lecturer at the Department of Sociology at The University of the West Indies, a radio talk-show host, and author of ‘Broken Promises, Hearts and Pockets’. Send feedback to columns@gleanerjm.com and tayloronblackline@hotmail.com.