Violence doesn’t solve anything: Martina clears air on JNU tweet

  • Martina Navratilova
  • Updated: Mar 02, 2016 09:34 IST
Tennis legend Martina Navratilova attracted a barrage of criticism on social media when she shared an article on sedition in India on her Twitter account. (Agencies)

I joined Twitter three years ago and found it to be a great way to read news articles that interest me for one reason or another. I then post the link to the article along with a short blurb to let “my people” know what I think about that particular piece/subject.

Read more: Tennis legend Martina Navratilova serves ace in JNU sedition row

I don’t tweet much about tennis because I commentate on it for a living, and also because I don’t really want to get into a discussion about tennis with total strangers and, quite frankly, amateurs! So, for the most part I tweet about politics. And as people no doubt know, there is a lot going on in politics in my country right now (US).

Harsh climate

Having grown up under a totalitarian regime in what was a communist country (then Czechoslovakia, now democratic Czech Republic), I am pretty well-versed with what it’s like to live in an authoritarian, unfair system, where one is not at all free to speak one’s mind without serious repercussions. That is why the two New York Times articles I tweeted this week about what is going on in India caught my attention.

Never did I presume to know the deeper story nor was I trying to tell the Indian people what to do in their own country. Remember, I lived under that in Czechoslovakia as the Soviet Union completely controlled my country. So, I was not going to say I know better. I merely suggested that violence and bullying don’t solve anything. I also wanted to say that was true anywhere in the world, but couldn’t fit that in thanks to the 140-character limit Twitter has.

Nasty response

In any case, the outcry and flak I caught in response were quite amazing. There was a lot of support as well but the nastiness was quite overwhelming, similar to the comments I get in the US if and when I write critical things about our rightwing politicians. Can you blame me?

Most common comments were ‘stick to tennis’, ‘you have no right telling us what to do’, ‘you don’t know what you are talking about’, etc. And those were the nice ones. Of course, I don’t know what I am talking about in depth here. To educate myself in depth on everything I post, well, in that case I really can’t say anything at all about anything other than tennis.

So about India — I love your country. I love the people, the food, the diversity, the physical beauty. I have lost count how many times I have been to India, and would love to see so much more of it. For now, I will keep cooking my Indian food, and yes, I put asafoetida in my potatoes and order plain dahi rather than raita when eating out. And of course I love India — my good friend Leander Paes has been singing its praises to me for decades:)

Will raise voice

And I will keep speaking out when I feel there is unfairness, whether it is happening here in the US, or in Kenya, or in India. Because for me unfairness is at the root of what is wrong with our world, whether it’s coming from the right or the left. Most of the time it’s the extreme and extremists that get us into trouble. And when you combine that extremism with nationalism, well, that is a potent broth.

That was made obvious from the reaction I got after the tweets. I am not endorsing any one party over another as I know very little about Indian politics --- I was only making a point about violence.

Having been to well over 50 countries, and having been exposed to so many different cultures, religions and ways of life, I truly appreciate the amazing diversity our wonderful planet has to offer. It’s clear we all have our differences, but we also do share the same planet. And it’s OK, in fact it’s a must, to care about what is going on everywhere and anywhere on this wonderful planet.

Therefore, I will keep tweeting my little heart out.

(The writer is an 18-time Grand Slam singles champion. She also won 31 Majors in women’s doubles and 10 in mixed doubles)

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