By Dr Stewart Hase
Good leaders know that what they say influences people. This is particularly true for political leaders because they have followers that share the same biases. We saw this in spades with Trumpism. But politicians can also influence others, the swinging voter: the person in the middle.
Scott Morrison decided this week to model his contempt for Indigenous Australia by criticising the stand by Cricket Australia to drop the term Australia Day in their promotions for the Big Bash League. Then he managed to demonstrate his complete misunderstanding of history by noting that January 26th wasn’t particularly flash for the first fleeters either. Not only missing the point that these first arrivals marked the beginning of genocidal behaviour that, arguably, continues today, but also demonstrating his complete indifference to Indigenous peoples.
And Morrison has form when it comes to his insensitivity, his inbuilt racism. In 2020 he dismissed the notion that there was no slavery in Australia. Here he conveniently rewrote history. More recently, Morrison spoke out against racism towards Chinese in Australia, wanting to protect the economy but not a word about racism towards our own people. Are we indeed, one and free? He also took the Trumpian line that criticised the Black Lives Matter protests in the USA as driven by left wing extremists rather than the victims of institutionalised racism. But at that time, he was still wanting to appease Trump and the right establishment.
Cricket Australia has shown leadership and, coming from a position of power, set out to influence its followers, to attack the racism that is, unfortunately, alive and well in Australian culture. Scott Morrison lost an opportunity as he did when the Wallabies sang the first verse of the National Anthem in a local Indigenous language before playing Argentina last year. Instead, he chose the easy option, to cower to the right wing in his own party, to follow his baser instincts. Scotty from marketing!
So, is Morrison’s behaviour a lack of leadership, which seems likely given his stance or lack of it on so many issues, or is it a demonstration of his and the right-wing intolerance, insensitivity and racism towards our own Indigenous peoples? Perhaps he is simply appealing to his base and it is all about votes. Whatever the case, history will not be kind to him when it judges his performance. Or is it all three. I suspect it is the latter.
Stewart is a psychologist with a special interest in how people adapt and also learn. He’s written widely in these areas. He continues to consult, and annoy people who misuse power. Twitter: @stewarthase
This article was originally published on No Place For Sheep.
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