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Day to Day Politics: When did it all go wrong? Part six – ‘If you’re racist, don’t read it’.

Monday 3 October 2016

Author’s Note:

Thus far in this series I have covered ‘Where it all began’, ‘Newspapers’, ‘Electronic media’, ‘Rightwing feral opinion’ and ‘Democracy torn asunder’. At the beginning I said that my observations would be random. This one deals with the propagation of racism and is collated from earlier articles I have written for The AIMN that deal with the decline of our democracy.

At the end I will to bring them all together to form a view of the decline in Australian politics.

Preface. An observation.

“The Murdoch media and large sections of the Australian Conservative parties are to be congratulated for their successful long-term character assassination of those who are different”.

If you’re Racist Don’t Read It.

On Facebook every day I post “My Thought for the Day” and every now and then I put the question: “What word best describes you?” My personal word is ‘observation’ because it covers a multitude of experiences. With very limited formal education, observation became an integral part of my private classroom. From an early age I became a keen observer. Nothing escaped my scrutiny or sensory surveillance’s. I watched people, nature and life in general. I examined and considered.

It was a weekend when I was watching my grandsons playing basketball. One of the boys in the team is from Somalia. A number of families with African heritage have moved to our area. I observed the mateship of their winning endeavors and the generous enthusiasm of their play, between matches. The fun, friendship and frivolity of their connectedness was a delight to watch. The dark lad is of enormous talent with a generous smile, a face as black as night and gregarious nature.

I have also observed the total unabashed acceptance by children of different races at school, and at the local swimming pool where mature judgement is made by children unhindered by the prejudicial ignorance of adults.

My thoughts drifted to my own youth and I wondered just what it is that causes people to be racist. I recalled as a small boy being told what side of the street to walk to school because Jews lived on the other side. I lived through the post war era of immigration when Australians belittled and sneered at Italians and Greeks.

Then later with bi partisan agreement we accepted the Vietnamese who came by boat. But not before debasing them with the worst part of our own uniquely Australian prejudice.

Memories came back to me of a pub I used to drink at on my way home from work. The beer garden attracted a cohort of Aussie builders who sub contracted concreting work to a group of Italians. I would observe how the Aussie fellows would run them down with the foulest of language behind their backs, and then drink with them, without a hint of condemnation when they arrived.

There was a time when a relation who was traveling by caravan around Australia rang me from some remote area highly populated by indigenous people. After the usual greeting the following words were advanced.

“I’m not a racist but . . . “. When you hear someone say those words they generally are. What followed was a tirade of critical commentary about every aspect of Aboriginal culture and living standards. I have no doubt that much of what she was saying was true however, there was no situation that wasn’t replicated in white city society.

Her comments were therefore racist. The singling out of any group for reason of drawing attention to color is abhorrent to me.

More recently I have experienced racism where I live. I have two neighbours (one now deceased) who when talking about indigenous folk have described aboriginals as taking up to much space.

At a junior football final a couple of years ago a teenage boy was standing behind me verbalising a young Aboriginal player of immense talent. I allowed the insults to insinuate themselves into the minds around me.

The Aboriginal boy had heard the remarks and was a bit distressed about it. I turned and said to the boy of uncouth mouth:

“So yours is what a racist’s face looks like”.

The teenager slunk away probably not used to having his racism confronted. In the unnatural silence that had invaded the group where I was standing I received a couple of congratulatory slaps on the shoulder.

You see, I hate all forms of racism in a way that even someone like me, with a love of the moulding of words as disciples for good, cannot do. It was a little brave of me to do what I did because I am getting on in years but we must confront it.

In watching the antics of children of different races in their play we can bear witness to the sin of the abusers of decency. By the influence of those who cannot concede that we were all black once. And those who believe that superiority is determined by a chemical compound.

Children celebrate difference and prove to us that racism is not a part of the human condition. It is taught, or acquired. You have to learn it and those who tutor it and preach it are to be pitied for their ignorance and imbecility. No one is born a racist but we are born into racist societies.

What is racism?

It is best described in two parts. Firstly it is the belief that one race is superior to another. That it accounts for differences in human character and ability. Secondly racism is, discrimination or prejudice based on race.

Scott Woods puts it another way:

“The problem is that white people see racism as conscious hate, when racism is bigger than that. Racism is a complex system of social and political levers and pulleys set up generations ago to continue working on the behalf of whites at other people’s expense, whether whites know/like it or not. Racism is an insidious cultural disease. It is so insidious that it doesn’t care if you are a white person who likes black people; it’s still going to find a way to infect how you deal with people who don’t look like you. Yes, racism looks like hate, but hate is just one manifestation. Privilege is another. Access is another. Ignorance is another. Apathy is another. And so on. So while I agree with people who say no one is born racist, it remains a powerful system that we’re immediately born into. It’s like being born into air: you take it in as soon as you breathe. It’s not a cold that you can get over. There is no anti-racist certification class. It’s a set of socioeconomic traps and cultural values that are fired up every time we interact with the world. It is a thing you have to keep scooping out of the boat of your life to keep from drowning in it. I know it’s hard work, but it’s the price you pay for owning everything”.

Racism is preserved in many and various ways. Even Christian art propagates the myth of Jesus being white when in fact he would have been dark skinned and of Middle Eastern appearance.

But art depicts him as white with European features and more often than not as effeminate.

Christians also cannot bring themselves to the point of accepting that dark skinned people were responsible for the introduction of religion into society. No white person has ever introduced a major religion. Some Christians even quote Bible verse to justify white superiority.

Even the law disproportionally targets colored (I hate that term) people resulting in levels of incarceration much higher than other groups.

The worst perpetrators of racism are those who do it through the guise of free speech. People like Andrew Bolt. A journalist of mediocre talent who writes in a grammatical style attractive to the intellect of 13 year olds, unable to challenge the mind (or his argument) with a word, or sentence.

Recently he wanted the law changed so that he would be freer through his column to abuse and defame. When the legislation was turfed because of its unpopularity Tony Abbott felt obliged to phone this journalist of such little virtue and apologise.

People who support Bolt and his racism need to ask just why it is that he is fixated on the subject of race (and Muslims and climate change) and the answer is simple. Murdoch has built his news empire on smut and controversy. The formula has made him extremely wealthy. And there is no doubt that Bolt is paid extraordinary amounts of money to proliferate the pages of the Herald Sun with this sort of gutter journalism.

Let us not forget what Justice Bromberg, said about Bolt’s use of language. He said:

“His style and structure is highly suggestive and designed to excite. His style was not careful, precise or exact’ and the language not moderate or temperate but often strong and emphatic”.

“There is a liberal use of sarcasm and mockery … Language of that kind has a heightened capacity to convey implications beyond the literal meaning of the words utilised. It is language, which invites the reader to not only read the lines, but to also read between the lines.”

We should also remember that during the London riots, of the not too distant past Bolt in one of his pieces used the word ‘aped’ to describe the copycat behaviour of some people. The use of the word was legitimate in that sense until you appreciate that he was talking about black West Indians, and then the word became racist. Bolt keeps coming back to skin, or the color of it as if it were a sexual fetish that gives him endless gratification.

And it must be said that Andrew is presumed a racist and has been found to on many occasions lie in his writing, particularly on the environment. In addition he has been known to defame a female magistrate.

He wants the law changed so that in the future under the guise of free speech he will be able to vilify at his heart’s content.

Take two recent examples from his TV program, ‘The Bolt Report’.

Bolt is an opponent of an attempt, which has bi partisan support, to recognise Indigenous people in the constitution, contending that to single out any particular group is racist because it divides Australians? Former Labor minister Craig Emerson thus declared him a racist by his own criteria:

“Then you are a racist … because of the comments you made in relation to Indigenous people. By your own criterion, and that’s what you did. You identified a group of people and went for them.”

He was correct. Emerson’s remark relates to the legal case in which Bolt was found to have breached racial discrimination laws in articles that implied light-skinned Indigenous people identified themselves as Aboriginal for personal gain. He was guilty by his own admission.

Another more recent example is when he quiet bizarrely declared that “Aboriginals weren’t here first”. As I said earlier, he has this thing about race that sends him into some kind of mental climax that needs constant stimulation. If you want to figure out the argument he was putting go here and then explain it to me. I cannot.

I will end where I started with my observation of that gregarious dark skinned boy playing joyfully in fellowship with his light skinned mates, and the fact each was different in color, one to the other didn’t enter the unblemished purity of their companionship. And I silently prayed that it never would.

“The Murdoch News Media and large sections of the Australian Conservative parties are to be congratulated for their successful long term character assassination of those who are different”.

It began many years ago when opinion speakers began demonising those who are different. From Philip Ruddock’s description of asylum seekers as illegals to Alan Jones involvement in the Cronulla riots and the thousands of pieces written by racist journalists and the hundreds of tabloid pages of tabloid pages depicting difference as sun human.And of course those parliamentarians so blatantly racist that they don’t even try to hide it.

Two questions need to be asked. Firstly, what is that those who want 18c changed want to say, and secondly, why do we as a supposedly enlightened society need to enshrine in legislation the right to hate each other?

My thought for the day.

Wonder When the Seed Is Planted

I look upon the child’s face and see Innocence – unblemished purity Translated in looks virtuous How sweet how incorruptible

Then it happens with measured subtly The distortion of youthful thought Insinuated into free And immature minds

I wonder when the seed is planted When evil first takes hold And intolerance evolves To become scum on the pond of life

Who grants permission to damage the child? Of its pristine purity The wonderment of adventure And unfiltered creativity

Is it the sin of the father? That makes a child loathe That makes them xenophobic Racist just like him

When does it take root this hatred? That enters the child’s mind To be carried with them always Fermenting as they grow

Are parents so imbued? With experiences of the past That forgiveness is impossible Bad memories seem to last

So they pass it onto their children And intolerance lingers on Licking on the finger of hate It seems to have no end

I can only ask that compassion Might replace their putrid sin And the cry that is inside each heart Will – let understanding in. (John Lord).

 

7 comments

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  1. Harquebus

    Ultimately, there is only one race, the human race and please, no jokes about the Melbourne Cup.

  2. Trish Corry

    I will describe this article in one word. Beautiful. Not just the content, but the way it flows. Thank you for writing this John. My story of why I abhor racism is similar to yours. Mine started at six when we moved to a regional town in QLD. I was shunned and ridiculed by the other white kids in the neighbourhood because I had been seen playing in the Mulberry Tree with the Aboriginal Girl next door. I was physically pushed to the ground and called a “Boong Lover” I didn’t even know what the word meant.

    Two things came to mind that day. That these kids were stupid and ugly inside and that I wanted to smash their faces in for saying mean things about my friend. Instead, not game to punch three boys, I stood there with a hot face and tears rolling down my face and I ran away. I never realised 40 years on the fight would be even worse. I wish I would have taken them on.

    My Father told me some significant things. One was ‘If you have something to share or have money to buy your friend a cordial at tuckshop, always give them the cup with the most in it’ The other one was “Make friends with everyone and treat them like you would like to be treated, unless they cross you or are mean to you.”

    Sharing and giving and helping people and treating people at face value really sums up who I am. I thank my father for that.

    Our leaders need to push these types of simple values and yet they don’t. Any Leader after Keating has allowed the media to control the narrative. Or they have appeared weak against the media agenda. It needs to stop. A good society is enabled by the words of strong fearless and kind leadership and ingrained in legislation. We can do much better.

  3. helvityni

    My sister in law is of Ukrainian background, born in Lima, she came here as a five year old; at school the Aussie kids asked her if they sit on chairs in Peru.

    Ignorant people are also often racist; they fear the unknown. Beware of people like Hanson, Christensen, Bernardi, Dutton…

  4. Lynette Henderson

    Thank you John for marking these as Part 1 and so on. I will go back and read them all together.

  5. king1394

    Ignorance and unwillingness to learn and change one’s views given more information both underlie racism. I grew up in a town that was 100% anglo, so anyone of a different skin colour was automatically ‘other’ and presumably inferior. I have had to deal with my own innate racism and see it as a fault in myself. This has caused me discomfort at times. I do believe that we are all equal as human beings, but even now my first reaction on meeting a person of an obviously different colour / eye shape etc is the awareness of difference, usually bringing on feelings of guilt for noticing. I know that my feelings are ignorant and stupid but I think it would be ‘easier’ to be racist about them than to face it in myself.
    However I do not understand people who choose to be openly racist, who choose to denigrate others on baseless prejudice.

  6. helvityni

    king 1394
    My upbringing was more or less 100% Finnish, and if anything that made me welcome anyone different,exotic or foreign, it has made me value the differences and yet at the same time see others as equal, and in many aspects I see them as superior…

    Were your parents extremely racist? I now happen to live in a place that’s mainly Anglo, and have met quite a few racists amongst my neighbours, not all of them of course. Also even the older population have travelled a lot, and that always helps one to understand and appreciate different people and races….

  7. Jexpat

    “No white person has ever introduced a major religion.”

    They have however pieced together some pretty impressive cults involving golden plates and oppression by the spirits of ancient aliens..

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