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Racist Australia? Of course.

The Adam Goodes booing saga has me shocked. I’m not shocked at the incident itself; as a lifelong AFL supporter I’ve seen a lot of booing in my time. I’m not shocked at the accusation of some of the booing being racist; clearly we can all acknowledge that even though many of the booers have no racist intent, some of them do and obviously all the booing of Goodes must stop. I’m not even shocked at the saturation media coverage of the story, and the fact that everyone who is anyone has weighed into the debate; social media has also been in a lather all week. This all comes as no surprise to me. The issue is rightly one that should be discussed and I welcome calls for a national focus on combatting racism and discrimination. What does however come as a huge shock to me is that the public seem shocked that racism exists in our country. Anyone who is surprised that in a crowd of around 30,000 members of the Australian public, there are a few hundred racist people, needs to take a closer look at their country. Because of course there are racists in Australia. Have you seen who our Prime Minister is?

I understand that it’s not a nice subject for many people to talk about because it doesn’t make them feel very good about Australia. But let’s take a good, long, hard look at ourselves and avoid the temptation to put our heads in the sands of denial. The election of Tony Abbott and the continued national acceptance of his strategies of using divisive, racist policies to turn Australians against minority groups is all the proof you need of a strong racist element that runs through our national veins.

Let’s not forget that racist attitudes gave birth to Pauline Hanson and her One Nation Party. Sure, this party hasn’t had any recent success. But it’s easy to forget that in the 1998 election, Hanson’s party received 9% of the vote. And then of course Abbott set up a slush fund to get rid of Hanson. Because his Liberal Party needed her voters. And his Liberal Party has been courting the votes of those people who supported Hanson’s racist views about indigenous Australians and opposition to multiculturalism ever since. How has this huge population of racist Australians whose votes are so important to the Liberal Party’s electoral success escaped the attention of people so completely shocked by the Adam Goode’s booing saga? This is not some niche success either; this is Abbott’s success at becoming Prime Minister.

Fear-mongering towards racists is at the heart of Abbott’s favourite vote-winning, or poll-lifting policies. Look at Abbott’s obsession with national security, including his reaction to the Sydney siege, which was automatically framed as part of the ‘Islamic fundamentalist terrorist’ threat facing Australia, rather than a mentally-ill-lone-nutter who just so happened to be of Muslim faith. Who do you think Abbott’s appealing to when he talks about ‘Team Australia’ and says ‘whose side are you on’? When he obsesses over taking away people’s passports? Yes, it’s the part of Australia who boos Goodes for racist reasons. And what about Abbott’s asylum seeker policies that block the world’s desperate displaced people from getting to Australia, or living here if they’ve arrived previously. Does Abbott stand up for the indigenous Australians living in poverty stricken remote communities by working to improve their access to healthcare, education and social services that would help to narrow the gap? Of course he doesn’t. Instead he makes racist statements about their ‘lifestyle choice’ after withdrawing Federal support, forcing the WA government to close over 100 communities down. Where was the outrage then?

More recently, Abbott has refused to ban one of his government MP’s from speaking at, and endorsing, a Reclaim Australia rally. These rallies were attended by Australians who hate a particular religious minority so much that they are willing to march in the streets to advertise their hatred. Does the site of these rallies not shock Australia? Do people waving Swastikas in our streets not warrant a national conversation about racist elements in our society? Apparently not.

The point is, Tony Abbott isn’t some bogan at the footy booing an Indigenous footballer. Tony Abbott is our Prime Minister. He was chosen by the country to represent us. He’s supposably the best leader we could find. And his entire political career is reliant on division, scare-campaigns and appeals to the racist element of Australia which people shocked by booing football fans appear to forget exists. So I’m glad that something has put racism on the agenda, even if it’s not the issue I expected to spark the debate. And now that we’re talking about racism, and we’re all determined to do something about it, can we have a look at the Prime Minister we’ve chosen and accept that if we’re going to be shocked that racism still exists in our community, we should be shocked, and ashamed, that Abbott and his government represents us.

 

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  1. David Stephens

    Hi Vic. You said: ‘Anyone who is surprised that in a crowd of around 30,000 members of the Australian public, there are a few hundred racist people, needs to take a closer look at their country. Because of course there are racists in Australia.’ I don’t reckon the problem is so much the few hundred rednecks in any large crowd who would be demonstrative but the casual racism, the default position, that is present in whole generations of us.

  2. Harquebus

    Search criteria: origins of racism

  3. Lee

    Australia is still a very racist nation, but for most of us who are white, it isn’t in our faces every day so we don’t see it. Our indigenous people have the worst housing, worst health, worst education, lowest life expectancy and highest infant mortality rates. Mandatory sentencing is biased against them. Their youth are more likely to be imprisoned than educated. Now we’re withdrawing funding from their communities and forcing them to live elsewhere. White Australia has just moved on to a different form of genocide.

  4. Lee

    “Search criteria: origins of racism”

    Yes, it is of no surprise that the god botherers are behind racism too. Religion is behind most of the trouble in the world.

  5. donwreford

    The saga of the Goodes affair surely pales into insignificance compared with class differences? the members of parliament often made up of lawyers and financial and professional high flyers who are supposedly representing our interests the superior mindset that is so common to this club is over whelming, at least some or one member the MP who is of the so called motorist party that got on by what many say is default is a human being? when I hear Bronwyn Bishop speak in her pompous rhetoric as many of this club speak I am over what ever they say and just shut down, the presumptive ideology as the so called well educated is to much? if they know so much why is Australia in such dire circumstance as to be so much in debt? from my point of view the well educated having not been satisfied by their education having to become self engrossed with self of a type of superiority that is of a dubious state of self grandios status of a abortive attempt to escape from the human condition.

  6. corvus boreus

    Personally, I think racism has a basal foundation in tribalistic insularity (fear/loathing of physical and cultural difference).
    Religion has just often been a very effective means of formally institutionalising societal racism (and various other prejudices).

  7. Sin

    Clearly you’re a racist Victoria, no I haven’t got any proof and neither have about other Australians. Now try proving you’re not, hard isn’t it.

  8. Mark Needham

    “booing of Goodes must stop”
    Ipso facto, all booing must stop.
    I mean, you are not even allowed to Boo me, when I say this.
    Now, am I a Racist?. I have been told by people who do not know me, that I am, indeed a Racist.
    Sinners, scammers and bastards, I hate with a passion.
    Racist…?
    Mark Needham

  9. Michael Taylor

    Yes indeed, Mark. Open your mouth for even the most innocuous of reasons and you get labelled a racist. Look at Roswell, for example (on his post). He booed Adam Goodes for reasons unrelated to race, and now it is suggested he’s a racist.

  10. Kaye Lee

    My son was a very good rugby player in a very good team when he was 16. There were a couple of Aboriginal boys in his team who, before the grand final that year, were subjected to online attacks, some of them racial, by the other team and their supporters. On grand final day, the parents of the other team booed every time these boys were involved in the play – personally I think it was a deliberate attempt to put them off because they were very good players. Anyway, the booing and jeering from the parents added to the angst that was already on the field and a huge fight broke out. The crazy part is that these boys went on to play rep rugby together and won the country rugby championships. The taunts and the booing contributed to the violence. I have never liked booing, I have never indulged in it, and I have never allowed my children to either. (though I do admit to calling out missy missy maggots and chewy on yer boot when Russell Fairfax was slotting goals at Cumberland Oval) Cheering for your team is one thing. For me, booing has no place whether it is racially motivated or not.

  11. Harquebus

    Kaye Lee
    Would you boo Tony Abbott? I could be wrong but, my money will be on that you will. I would.
    Cheers.

  12. mars08

    Some of the nicest people i know are profoundly racist. They just don’t realise it… and I’m timid about pointing is out too abruptly.

    One of the problem with using the “racist” tag is that some racists get offended … because they feel you are criticising their WHOLE personality. In other facets of their lives they might be wonderful people. Unfortunately their racist traits make them difficult to be around.

    Of course many (most?) racists know EXACTLY what they are saying and are just shameless arseholes.

  13. Wally

    I think many people confuse being politically correct with being non-racist. Just because you treat people on the street from different races the same and you show them respect does not make you a non-racist person. To be non-racist means living, sharing and befriending people of different races, inviting them into your home to share your family life the way you do with your Australian friends.

    Being politically correct does not make amends for the atrocities committed against Aboriginal people in the past and the magnitude of our ancestors crimes are beyond what any apology can achieve. All we can do to make things better is to live with our indigenous people and live as one despite having different skin colours, social backgrounds and ideals.

    We must integrate into the Aboriginal communities and develop infrastructure equal to what we provide in the cities. The people who operate services in the communities should live in those communities and as well as teaching Aboriginals we should learn from them what they can teach us about our land.

    No matter how much we talk about it racism will never be wiped out and talking will not solve the problems facing our indigenous people.

  14. mars08

    White privilege: “We will decide what is racist in this country and what is not…”

  15. jimhaz

    Most racism is actually stereotyping which will always exist while there are significant cultural differences and to me is an inbuilt human trait. Lower socio-economic groups have more criminal or just plain nasty activity which drives the continuation of stereotyping.

    I wonder if it did turn out that some races were less able to cope with the complexity of the modern technological and externally organised world what we would call it and what would be our reaction. This dominant world is one where logic and rationality, and sadly slave-like acceptance of conformity to business expectations when at work, are stronger tools for success and happiness or a less stressful life than the more emotional based tribal societies.

    A phenomena we see here is the gravitation of black cultures towards music, dance and similar arts – all being emotive actions in which they can excel. I do not know how much of this is a reaction to the stresses of racism and poverty and how much is inbuilt, but if you are an emotive person by nature you will resist the drudgery of most modern overly specialised low income jobs – you just won’t want it in which case they will remain poor.

    Differences count the most. As we see, say with CO2 in the atmosphere for example, even a small difference can have a big impact. A difference of a few percent in a groups cultural susceptibility to emote rather than reason can and does appear to mean the difference between wealth and poverty.

    We all have to adapt or die, but for some they have to adapt and change a lot more.

    Why most Asian cultures adapt so well is interesting but I’d imagine it stems from the conformity and compromises required for large structurally organised groups, which is not something the aborigines really had for 50,000 years or so.

    Racial suitability to the technological world is something perhaps impossible difficult to prove (and few would really want to anyway) – we simply do not know how much of each of us is experience based and how much is genetic. One of the problems is that any culture playing “catchup” always remains economically behind as the dominant culture continues to progress at the same time – it’s like starting a race with a 20 metre handicap. It may take many more generations before those with significant cultural differences are caused to be more conformist with the prevailing dominant technological culture.

    The above is about the undeniable superiority of power, not of “righteousness”. In nature the stronger always consumes the weaker, unless there is a symbiotic relationship.

  16. bobrafto

    Once upon a time there was a notion that children should respect their elders so where did that 13yr old girl go wrong, perhaps her parents could explain or maybe it was a case of monkey see monkey do. It’s easy to see racism is passed from one generation to the next.

  17. mars08

    Stop confusing prejudice with bigotry.

    A bigot will stubbornly remain a bigot even when presented with evidence that their prejudice is based on ignorance.

  18. Harquebus

    “To be non-racist means living, sharing and befriending people of different races”
    This applies to all races.

    I used to say that there is only one race, the human race but, it always attracted jokes about the Melbourne Cup.

  19. Lee

    Whilst Pauline Hanson has a valid point about foreigners – her beef was with predominantly Asians – coming in and taking Australian jobs, her solution was to demonise the migrants, not the government. It is the politicians who are to blame. Their lack of investment in education and training creates the unemployed pool of under qualified Australians. This is aided and abetted by privatising services that were previously performed by government departments. It’s all part of the grand scheme to create wealth for their big business mates and to reduce our wages. The migrants are not to blame for any of this. They’re just like us, people who need to earn a living to support themselves and their families. The blame belongs with our politicians who are not interested in working for the benefit of all.

  20. John Kelly

    It use to be a great compliment when opposing supporters booed a player. The player would be inspired by it. Today, it is much darker than that. Somewhere along the way things changed. They booed ‘The Duck’ after the sex affair. They booed Leigh Matthews after he poleaxed Bruns. They booed players who had been caught taking drugs. Now, it seems they only need the flimsiest of excuses to boo players they don’t like; especially the ones who play so well they demoralise the opposition. And now, those flimsy excuses are used to demonstrate the worst of our prejudices.

  21. Lee

    “Once upon a time there was a notion that children should respect their elders so where did that 13yr old girl go wrong, perhaps her parents could explain or maybe it was a case of monkey see monkey do. It’s easy to see racism is passed from one generation to the next.”

    A friend of a friend was in that crowd, close to that 13 year old girl. Calling Goodes an ape was far from the first racist comment she made during that game, apparently. What kind of parent allows their child to behave like that?

  22. Chris Crash

    We are missing the point that the booers are an absolute minority. Estimates of the numbers in the Eagles crowd last week were 1000 maximum. Unfortunately, these sheep, and their defenders, tar the rest of us with their ignorant, racist bigotry. The booing had almost stopped, but these bullying thugs hiding in the Eagles’ crowd had waited almost two years to behave like a lynch mob. These are the people that divide Australia, not the likes of Adam Goodes, who as a decent human being has done his best to bring our attention to past injustice, not to blame us. All the people who justify the booing are just making excuses for their own prejudice and obviously lack any understanding of the negative contribution they are making to our society. One can only hope that their legacy does not come home to roost, on their and our children in the future.
    This right to be a racist and a bigot has been encouraged by Labor initially, who established mandatory detention of asylum seekers. By Howard, as outlined above and in his blatant exploitation of asylum seekers to win an election. By the present day LNP in establishing a cloak of secrecy to hide their crimes against these people and proclaiming everyone’s right to be a bigot. All these initiatives only encourage and validate the behaviour we a now witnessing and I for one am deeply ashamed of the stain this minority are smearing on the good people of Australia. Interested to note that Abbott has come out on the side of Goodes and denounced the booing. His inconsistent confusion continues.

  23. Matters Not

    As I have argued before all societies and cultures are ‘ethnocentric’. That is:

    People born into a particular culture grow up absorbing the values and behaviours of the culture and will develop a worldview that considers their culture to be the norm.

    A ‘good’ education ought to allow and encourage people to escape the limitations of their own backgrounds. To be aware that what they believe to be ‘good’ or ‘bad’, ‘right’ or ‘wrong’, ‘normal, ‘natural’ and the like, while ‘correct’ in their own culture is not necessarily a ‘universal’.

    Travel can broaden the mind (but not always because in some instances it has the opposite effect).

    One of the best ways to make people culturally aware is to have people play the BaFa BaFa simulation. It can be used with a wide range of age groups from upper primary to age pensioners and all in between.

    BaFa BaFa was originally designed for the US Navy. … it seems the navy was looking for a way to increase the cultural awareness of their sailors in hopes of reducing the number of often diplomatically embarrassing incidents between US sailors on shore leave and the local population. In Greece, for example, a lack of understanding of the local culture resulted in a US sailor assaulting a shopkeeper. Essentially, BaFa BaFa simulates the effects — both positive and negative — of traveling to an unfamiliar and disorienting “foreign” culture. If properly done, this can stimulate thinking about stereotypes, how cultural barriers are created, and about the profound impact of cultural differences in general.

    Two fundamentally differing cultures, Alpha and Beta, are established and then members of each are exchanged on a “tourist-like” basis for very brief periods of time. It is forbidden to explain the rules of either culture to visitors so the only means of understanding is observation and trial and error participation. Alpha is patterned on closed “high-context” cultures where interpersonal relationships and physical closeness are prized values. Greetings are highly formulaic. Beta on the other hand is a “time is money”, “you are what you earn” trading culture. To make the simulation even more realistic Beta even has a specialized “trading language” to replicate the effect of dealing with a foreign language. The name of the simulation, in fact, means “four” in the Beta language.

    You can read more here.

    http://iteslj.org/Techniques/Carroll-BaFa.html

    http://www.nyu.edu/classes/persell/aIntroNSF/LessonPlans/BAFABAFALesson%20Plan.htm

    As an aside, I was once waiting to board a Sinh Cafe bus in Saigon (Ho Chi Minh city). An Australian couple came up to the Vietnamese Bus operator and said (among other things): “You must remember us, we were here yesterday”. The operator replied (in broken English) “Sorry. But I don’t remember you. You whites all look the same to me”

  24. Kaye Lee

    When I was doing teacher training, multiculturalism was an important part of our course. (So were overhead projectors and programming in BASIC – that’s how long ago it was.) They decided to send the high school maths teacher trainees away on camp with the infants school trainees. I laugh as I look back. The infants school teachers were all girls and the boys in my section spent their whole time trying to crack on to them. They didn’t want to get to know them and spoke very disparagingly about them when they were with us (who they viewed as friends). We girls found them to be annoyingly girly – they wouldn’t do things where you got dirty and were in agony at not having power points for their hair dryers and curling wands. They were also hopeless at all the maths tasks we were set like surveying fields or building polyhedra and they were useless at orienteering.

    And then they made us play that game (or something very similar), mixing the two groups between the two tribes. It broke the ice. We bonded (kinda) with the people who were on our tribe and experienced the frustration of not knowing the rules of the other tribe. Whilst very contrived, it was an interesting experience.

  25. mars08

    Full disclosure … I am Australian born of non-Anglo parents. In recent years I have been mistaken for Sinhalese, Malay Bangladeshi, and Iranian… by people who would definitely know. In fact my parents are none of these, far from it.

    All through my life I have copped racist slurs… Sadly one of my daughters has had to deal with the same insults. That’s the daughter who got my dark features. My other daughter, whoi inherited the mother’s fair, anglo looks has never had to cop it.

    My children… same parents, same upbringing, same nationality, same education, same gender, same character… judged by their skin colour.

  26. Kyran

    Absolutely spot on, Ms Rollison. The argument for the past few weeks has been about Mr Goodes, specifically, with the shallow discussion whether he is a ‘victim’ or ‘serial abuser of the rules’. Whether it’s a ‘few rednecks’ riling up a ‘mob’ or simply an abuse of the ‘privilege’ to boo.

    By defining the ‘discussion’ so narrowly, it has allowed the far more important discussion be ignored completely. I have no doubt that ours is an inherently racist society, with the racism sewn deep into the very fabric of society. The litany of abuses against our First People. The occasional ‘mea culpa’ (whether it be an apology or a Royal Commission), followed all too quickly with a back to business approach of increasing the gap. All under the auspices of the “Closing the Gap” report and its objectives. A recurring platitude to a troubled social conscience, “at least we’re doing something, we report every year!”

    Victoria Police has been called out several times in the past few years. Not just various police stations producing racist stubby coolers, but in systemic racial profiling. The upper echelons have been media savvy in acknowledging they have done it and promising to do better.

    The story of Nassir Bare hit the news again this week. In 2009, he was arrested in a brutal fashion and racially vilified. Since then, he has pursued a request for nothing more than an investigation into the circumstances. The OPI refused to investigate the matter.
    “Mr Bare complained to the then Office of Police Integrity in 2010, arguing the officers’ conduct breached his human rights, that he “not be treated in a cruel, inhumane or degrading way”.
    “The Court of Appeal heard the OPI director refused to investigate the claim, ruling it was not in the public interest, and offered to refer Mr Bare’s complaint back to Victoria Police.”
    The appeal case was lost in 2013, and has just been rerun.
    “The judges found the OPI director did not give proper consideration to Mr Bare’s rights under the Charter of Human Rights, and ordered IBAC to review the decision to ignore his complaint.

    Six years after the fact, due to his perseverance and with kudos to the Human Rights Legal Centre, he has now got the right for his case to be heard.

    As you so rightly point out, to address the systemic and structural racism in this country will require a leader. Someone who will call it for what it is and demand every facet of government adhere, at the barest minimum, to the Charter of Human Rights. Sadly, the only thing I have never heard rabid referred to is a ‘leader’. Thank you, Ms Rollison. Take care

  27. kerri

    This is not some niche success either; this is Abbott’s success at becoming Prime Minister.

    Victoria! Nail on head!! In my mind Abbott is totally and completely to blame! He has emboldened the rednecks and is leading us all into his ideologic nightmare!

  28. diannaart

    Abbott has been smart enough to surround himself with similar cretins to himself. Bullies need minions.

    http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/mar/24/george-brandis-people-have-the-right-to-be-bigots

    “People have the right to be bigots you know,” Brandis said in answer to a question by the Indigenous Labor senator Nova Peris. “In this country people have rights to say things that other people find offensive or bigoted.

    Now everyone thinks they can vent all their hatred at any time – just following their leaders’ examples.

  29. Bilal

    For a time Pauline Hanson’s media profile emboldened the knuckle draggers to insult and occasionally assault non-Anglo immigrants in public places. Howard pushed the “Liberals” to the right to get the votes flowing to her. Then we got this PM who has used fear and “the other” not on “Team Australia” with him and his mates like Bigot Brandis, Asbestos Bishop, Old Kero, Haneef’s jailer, Concentration Camps Morrison and Dead Eye Dutton.
    The fear rhetoric as they try to divert attention from their dangerous incompetence has emboldened even the swastika brigade to parade their hate on the streets, with total silence from Abbott and co. This Goodes insult and the mealy mouthed drivel from Abbott on the issue, have compounded the problem.

    We have a deepening economic and political crisis due to this bunch of drongos, exacerbated by an absent Opposition, led by John Roskam’s mate. HELP!

  30. Matters Not

    Kaye Lee said re BaFa BaFa:

    it was an interesting experience.

    Indeed it is but for the full ‘effect’ and ‘affect’ to be felt, that ‘experience’ needs a ‘teacher’ with some understanding of sociological and anthropological concepts. It’s the ‘debrief’ and subsequent discussion, rather than the ‘experience’ itself, which is the important ‘teaching’ moment.

    BaFa BaFa is just the ‘means’ and certainly not an outcome in itself.

  31. mars08

    Bilal:

    The fear rhetoric as they try to divert attention from their dangerous incompetence has emboldened even the swastika brigade to parade their hate on the streets…

    Yes indeed.

    Quite apart from the pain and distress caused by racism, it is a major political problem for progressives in this country.

    As long as the likes of Abbott (with the help of a sensationalist msm) can call on the fear and ignorance of bigots and xenophobes, any major party challenging the Coalition will be wedged. Those parties wanting to make a quick grab for swing votes in western Sydney and north Queensland will have to pander to the racist element… or start trying to educate the electorate and neutralise the fear.

  32. Matters Not

    or start trying to educate the electorate and neutralise the fear.

    Can only agree. And while it may not be possible to “Let the Sleepers Awake” as advanced Barry Jones and (earlier) by Jacques Ellul it would seems to be a moral imperative.

  33. Anomander

    As I said to a racist member of my family who was mouthing-off a few weeks ago – take a sample of your DNA, and some of mine, go out into the world and collect 50 samples from various people, of all colours or creed; take some of that woman cleaning the corridors, that man driving the bus, the person standing next to you in the lift, or behind you in a queue, that young boy playing, that war veteran, the girl holding hands with her girlfriend, the guy playing video games, the grandmother and her grandchild, the chief executive, the homeless woman – find me a good cross-section of the community.

    Take those samples and send them to a lab for analysis and they will reveal one common trait – we are all part of the same species. The differences between each of us is infinitesimal. Unless you were an expert in genetics, there is almost no way you could correctly line-up those DNA results to their donors. I suspect even a Geneticist couldn’t do that.

    Underneath the skin there are no discernible differences between one human and another – the sooner we realise this the sooner we can focus on what really is important – saving our species from destroying itself and our planet.

  34. diannaart

    @Anomander

    One thing the boffins would find is that all DNA samples have a common ancient ancestor from Africa.

    Australia went with marsupials, Africa initiated humankind.

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