Dr Jordan Pietersen joined the ongoing controversy about institutional racism within British cricket during BBC Question Hour on Thursday – and no one was impressed by his response.
Whistleblower Azim Rafiq used to play for Yorkshire County Cricket Club. He has now gone public with the widespread racism he experienced while playing the game and raised questions about institutional discrimination.
Touching upon these revelations, the controversial Canadian psychologist said: “This cricketer was experiencing racism from his own account.
“The question is: who, when, what, exactly – because otherwise it turns into something like a discussion of structural racism.
“And when it gets disrupted to that level, it pits the group against a group that I think is completely counterproductive.
“It doesn’t really address the issue.”
When he says “racism”, with his hands pointing to air quotes, Peterson describes it as a “global and ambiguous term”.
SNP MP Stephen Flynn interrupted and asked: “Sorry, why would you possibly do this, what does that mean?
“NS [use of] Reverse commas as if it’s not a real thing.”
No, that was not what it meant. This means it is a sign of low-resolution thinking,” claimed Peterson.
There was a strange silence before Peterson went on: “By this I mean all these words we often use in such discussions as containers of indivisible material.”
Labor MP Stella Cressey then intervened: “Hey” [Rafiq] Repeated derogatory words that were directly related to their ethnicity.”
“Not just one, but repeatedly by members of the cricket club.
“If it walks like a duck, Jordan, and talks like a duck, it’s a duck—that’s racism.”
Peterson then appeared to step back, saying: “I’m not denying his experience, all I’m asking is who and when and you answered it.
“So I would say that those specific people should be held specifically responsible for their actions, something like a discussion of structural racism to abstract hierarchy before any movement, which I don’t think is helpful.”
Question Time host Fiona Bruce then taps in and notes that Rafiq is talking exclusively about his experience.
Peterson continued: “It doesn’t address the issue – it doesn’t mean “racism”. [in air quotes] doesn’t exist, that’s not what I’m saying at least.”
“Maybe we should reduce hand movements and look at the evidence,” Cressey said.
Peterson replied: “Well, I did it once, so yes.”
Peterson is known for his right-wing views and inciting culture wars, but it seems that this discussion at Question Hour surprised even those familiar with his work.
One Twitter account said: “This is undoubtedly one of the most bizarre exchanges I’ve ever seen on #bbcqt – and let’s face it, bin fires happen most weeks.”