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Why is the ‘Monkey’ Slur, ‘Racial Abuse’?

By Duane | January 9, 2008

The large amount of recent media focus on the war of words between Australia, India and the ICC, has ensured there are plenty of controversial pickings for discussion. The pick of the bunch would have to be the decision by the ICC to hand down a three match ban to Harbhajan Singh for ‘racial abuse’ after he allegedly called Andrew Symonds a ‘monkey’ during the recent test match at the SCG.

As a cricket fan, I have been following the controversy with interest. But I couldn’t help noticing in the reporting and commentary via the major media outlets I’ve been exposed to (whether internet, newspaper, TV or radio), that something was conspicuous by its absence; that is, discussion over why the term ‘monkey’ constitutes racial abuse?

Thankfully it seems I am not the only one with this insight who is motivated to bring it to light. David Catchpoole’s article in the June 2007 volume of Creation Magazine titled ‘Do Monkeys Play Football?’ investigated this phenomenon. And so David’s recent article in light of the latest ‘monkey’ remarks comes as no surprise. He explains:

…the ‘missing information’ that officials and news outlets have not published has been spelled out by some of the more knowledgeable blog-posters, e.g.:

  1. ‘“Monkey” is a very old racial slur that suggests that someone is sub-human.’ 13
  2. ‘[I]f I was to taunt someone who was black and say they were a monkey to suggest that they were sub human, considering that according to the evolution path many believe that monkeys are human ancestors, then this is considered a racial taunt.’ 13
  3. ‘The monkey slur is used against ANYONE of dark skin colouration … to infer that they have not yet evolved beyond the ape stage.’13
  4. ‘THE BLACK people of African origin are sometimes sensitive to being called MONKEY because the ANGLOSAXON WHITES have used the term MONKEY as a term to PUT down AFRICAN-ORIGIN people using Darwin’s Theory of Evolution.’ 13
  5. ‘If anyone thinks monkey is not a racist taunt, you should watch soccer matches in Eastern Europe and (on occasion) Spain and Italy, where fans make monkey noises and throw bananas when black players touch the ball. You may think differently then.’ 13

David describes the ‘monkey’ phenomenon further with an extract from his June article.

When Darwin popularized the theory of evolution, he clearly suggested that some people are ‘more evolved’ than others. In that context, it was easy for people of European ancestry to forget that western achievements in science, literature, music, government institutions, etc., arose in large part out of the energising freedom, mutual trust, and call-to-fruitfulness ideals provided by a biblical worldview. Instead, many people of British and European ancestry imagined that their ‘evolutionarily advanced’ societies reflected their superiority over other ‘races’—especially black ‘races’.

Thus the beguiling popular drawings showing an evolutionary transition from dark monkey/ape to white human became increasingly the popular perception/view. So today, because evolution is presumed to be true, making monkey noises at a black person is construed as ‘racist’, i.e. demeaning black people relative to whites.

In other words, when the media reports that monkey innuendoes are racist, they’re accepting the evolutionary worldview that some people groups are less evolved than others—specifically, blacks are less evolved than whites. Of course they don’t dare put it so bluntly—it’s simply assumed. And now the authorities are trying to stamp out such innuendoes.19 This is a classic example of society reaping the consequences (e.g. racism) of what it has sown (evolutionary teaching). Many in authority, it seems, have accepted (if not overtly promoted) the teaching of an evolutionary worldview, yet are unwilling to accept its consequences.

Creation magazine 29(3):12–14, June-August 2007

Topics: Evolution, Racism, Sport |

4 Responses to “Why is the ‘Monkey’ Slur, ‘Racial Abuse’?”

  1. Adam Says:
    January 9th, 2008 at 7:18 am

    I heard someone in the media trying to defend the racial slur “monkey” by stating that; in the dominant Hindu religion of India, the monkey is a sacred animal.

    Given the sledging tactic employed by cricketers in general, it seems strange that one would sledge another by giving them a compliment.

  2. Duane Says:
    January 9th, 2008 at 10:24 am

    If you follow the link to the article, note also that Symonds has been subject to monkey slurs by Indian cricketing supporters in the recent past. They must really respect the dude then?

  3. Adam Says:
    January 9th, 2008 at 10:52 am

    We’ll, if using such great compliments in order to get under the skin of the opposition is their prefered method of crowd participation then who am I to condem their behaviour.

  4. Reva Says:
    December 18th, 2008 at 11:25 pm

    I am an Indian and I would like to say something on this. I had no idea till now that “monkey” is racist and suggest that someone is sub-human. I can say most Indians don’t have a clue either coz it is never used in that way. As a kid, if was very naughty and loud, my cousins used to say “stop acting like a little monkey”. God Hanuman has the form of a monkey and nobody in India kills monkeys. I guess the crowd was just ignorant and wasn’t aware of racial aspect associated with it. All they knew was it irritates Aussies. There are huge cultural differences between the two nations and a word like monkey which is very offensive and racist to one nation isn’t such a thing for the other.

    I am also surprised that Harbhajan was fined and banned for saying something like “mother f****r” in hindi where as Australians always get away with swear words like “F**k your mother/wife”, “S**T” etc. when they sledge.