Voula Papachristou, The Olympics, And Why Lying About Stereotypes Isn’t Nice

July 25th, 2012 | Categories: Race

When children make things up (lie) parents seize these teaching moments as opportunities to explain to children that this isn’t acceptable. First, it’s simply not nice to say something that isn’t true. Second, it can cause problems that are much bigger than the person lying can even realize- getting someone else in trouble, being persecuted by friends, and even causing financial repercussions like when a child shoplifts.

The West Nile is a region of North-Western Uganda in East Africa. A particular strain of virus now known as the West Nile Virus was first identified in this region. Since 2010, the virus known as the West Nile Virus has had a continued presence in Greece.

Coincidentally – and not more than that – there has been an influx of Black African immigrants to Greece since about 2000.

Earlier this week on Monday Voula Papachristou, an Olympic-level track athlete, heading to participate in the 2012 Olympics tweeted the following comment noting – presumably humorously – on the coincidence.

With so many Africans in Greece, at least the West Nile mosquitos will be eating food from their own home.

In response, she was expelled from the Olympics for her “racist” comments and has been persecuted by the media as a racist.

I’m not saying that the news media or the Olympics organization itself is lying when they accuse this athlete of racism. I’m only saying that when a child states something as true and they have no evidence to back it up parents would consider them liars. Listen, if these institutions could explain clearly why this Tweet was racist, then I would agree with them and their actions. However, calling Papachristou xenophobic, racist, saying she is “mocking African migrants,” and having the Hellenic Olympic Committee stating that her “statements [are] contrary to the values and ideas of the Olympic Movement” are strong claims unaccompanied by concrete explanation. In other words, she is accused of being racist but no explanation is ever provided. What exactly is racist about what she said? It is not immediately clear when you hear it. Both my husband and I simultaneously asked out loud “That’s racist?” when we heard her tweet on CNN.

In the absence of explanation and despite that The Stereotype Guru could make an argument about why this is racist, but is choosing not to in order to make her point, these institutions resort to making accusations they don’t support. This amounts to essentially the famous statement, “Something said, not good.”

It’s sad when I have to quote The Simpsons (http://www.snpp.com/guides/brainspeaks.html episode) in an otherwise erudite blog (NOTE: Any blog that uses the word erudite is an erudite blog)

But it’s even sadder when large institutions engage in behavior for which children would be reprimanded. It’s simply not nice to Papachristou to say something that isn’t true and it has certainly caused problems by getting her in trouble, having her alienated through the media, and having financial repercussions like preventing her from playing in the Olympics. As I would say to one of my children, I say to the media and to the Hellenic Olympic Committee: It’s not nice to lie and there are consequences for doing so.

NOTE: If you are a member of one of these institutions and don’t want to be a liar, hire me and I’ll give you a legitimate explanation for why her comment is racist so you can make a well-supported claim instead.

Be Sociable, Share!
  1. albieg
    July 28th, 2012 at 05:04

    Erudite? There’s nothing erudite, it’s just an unneeded latinism used to boast a laughable knowledge. Just read “Politics and the English Language” by George Orwell and you’ll find why I, as a non-native English speaker with an interest in linguistics, I can laugh at your antics.
    But this distracts from the main issue: statements contrary to the Olympic Movement are not necessarily racist. There are two victims in Greece, as far as I know, caused by West Nile Virus. They aren’t necessarily African. This girl showed a stupid insensitivity against all humanity. This, once again as far as I know, is contrary to the Olympic Movement, and not necessarily racist as you like to pretend.

You must be logged in to post a comment.