Tag Archives: Racism in Australia

Liberal Rule Blues

A Bolt Out Of The Poo

Rightwing nutjob columnist Andrew Bolt was in the news today complaining that he was insulted by being lablled a racist by people on ‘Q&A’, and when the ABC issued an apology, he found it to benot good enough. At which point I think I rolled my eyes. We all know this man; he’s the one who got into that court case where he claimed a woman was somehow gaming the system by pretending to be an Aborigine despite the fact she had white skin – and promptly lost that court case. Since then it’s metastasised into a cause celebre for the right, with George Brandis vowing to repeal section 18C of the Anti-Descrimination act. George Brandis thinks that somehow a great impeditment to freedomeof expression in this country (the very same George Brandis who is threatening to withdraw Australia Council funding from artists who boycott the Sydney Biennale! Scum and Villainy!).

Anyway, it strikes me as somewhat odd that there is a group a of white men who really want to repeal the bit of the Anti-Descrimination Act which is written so you can’t belittle people for their race. But it turns out these people have skin as thin, if not more, than the groups of people who do not want it repealed. Indeed, the various ‘wogs’, ‘chinks’, ‘gooks’, ‘kikes’, ‘spics’ ‘abbos’ and ‘boongs’ of Australia have asked through their community groups and organisations not to repeal 18C.  If they do repeal it, I’ll be the first to congratulate these honky-cracker-skippies by calling them one. But you do get the feeling they just don’t quite get it.

It’s one thing for 18C to be repealed by a bunch of white men of the dominant mainstream who are taking away the sense of protection from people who aren’t anywhere near mainstream in their representation in Australia. It’s entirely another thing to see a white man who has a dominant position in the mainstream through his presence in the mass media complains that he is somehow done wrong by being accurately described as a racist. If you talk about people in generalities based on their perceived race and make a pile of judgment calls based on that (faulty) perception, then you deserve to be branded a racist. They’re the damn rules, Andrew Bolt, you dolt!

Brain Damage

Apropos of the Ian Roberts concussion thing I’ve been thinking about our Dear Leader Tony Abbott, who in his youth was a pugilist. We know from reports of the time that his style was ‘raging bullshit’ and not much skill, just flailing away hard hoping to connect with the other guy. Mike Tyson he was not – and you’d think that as such he must have taken quite a few blows to the head, boxing that way. And you wonder what sort of brain damage he must have sustained, and perhaps that is maybe why he is the way he is. Combined with the fact that the brain of a conservative is already misshapen towards needless fear and paranoia, you get the feeling that maybe, just maybe, this country is being led by a severely deficient human being.

But then again, the total irrationality of his policy agenda would have alerted you to this fact. The real corker question is what’s the rest of the Liberals doing following this madman about?

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Racist Article In The Sydney Morning Herald

This Is The Pits

Here’s the article.The damn article is called ‘Segregation in the School System’. I blanched at the word ‘segregation’. She may as well have said apartheid in the school system or holocaust in the school system.

To report that 80 per cent of students in selective high schools come from migrant families – predominantly from east Asia – is valid.

The Herald is not suggesting that students from migrant backgrounds do not deserve, or are not entitled to the success they earn. This is not a discussion about race, ethnicity or biology.

It is a conversation about a clash of cultural attitudes towards the purpose of schooling. It is a debate about an evolving level of competition in education, and it affects all students.

The NSW school system is now clearly segregated. This is to the detriment of all students who are no longer mixing with children from a broad range of abilities and backgrounds.

White students have fled to Catholic schools in small country towns, leaving local public schools almost totally dominated by Aboriginal students. Middle-eastern kids fill some south-Western Sydney schools and Tongan students are over-represented in others. Middle-class white children congregate in homogeneous private schools on Sydney’s northern and eastern suburbs. An increasing number of children are enrolling in Islamic and Exclusive Brethren schools. Greek Orthodox and Jewish schools are also enrolling their own.

Children from China, Korea and Vietnam are over-represented in selective schools.

Get that? It’s valid to report that 80% of students in selective high schools come from migrant families. Why would you say that? Why does it need such a caveat? The author then backpedals and says it’s actually about a clash of cultural values. Really now?

Then comes the claim that NSW schools are now clearly ‘segregated’. ‘Segregated’? You wonder if this alleged segregation is racial or actually meritocratic. The writer then asks if the middle-eastern kids and those of disadvantaged backgrounds are in selective schools.

If the system is fully meritocratic, then it shouldn’t matter what the racial composition is at any time. And if the point is that the system isn’t fully meritocratic, it shouldn’t matter what the race composition of the schools are at any given point. Unless of course race itself is an issue for the author of the article.

What’s wrong with this whole article is that it’s all couched in language of race and racism.  No matter how I read it, I can’t see this article approving of the  80% that consists of Chinese, Korean and Vietnamese kids who made the grade to get into the selective schools. By extension of these figures, the article argues that because of their ‘over-representation’ (her words, not mine), the whole selective school agenda has to be reviewed.

That’s blatantly racist. The article is fully arguing that based on the fragmented demographic of our multi-cultural society, our selective schools are now 80% Asian kids with Chinese, Korean and Vietnamese backgrounds, and this shows that there is ‘segregation’ (as if this was the aim of the government) and therefore the selective schooling system is somehow broken. Presumably, judging from the tone of the article, if the selective schools were filled with white kids, it would be working fine.

Frankly I can’t believe I’m reading this shit in the SMH. I can’t.

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News That’s Fit To Punt – 08/02/10

SMH’s Most Commented

Here’s the top-most-commented page wherein it is argued, the MacBank employee got off too lightly.

No one with a heart can help feeling sorry for David Kiely, the hapless Macquarie stockbroker caught viewing near-naked images of Miranda Kerr on his work computer. Needless to say, it would be grossly unfair for Kiely to be disciplined more severely than normal by his employer simply because he was unlucky enough to be caught doing so live on Seven News, in a clip that has now amused millions of viewers around the globe.

What’s more, these kinds of sexually provocative images of women are so ubiquitous that it’s completely understandable that many are left thinking, “What’s the big deal?” With rather more sexually explicit images regularly confronting us all on billboards and the magazine stands in convenience stores and petrol stations, it might be hard to work up too much outrage over a picture of Kerr directing a gentle come-hither look over her modestly shielded naked breasts.

But that doesn’t mean that Kiely’s behaviour should be dismissed as the harmless manifestation of red-blooded maleness, or that objections to it should be decried as ”wowserism” or over-the-top political correctness. At a time when business leaders are wringing their hands over the dearth of women in finance and executive management roles, it’s worth considering how sexually explicit images of women affect us, and what kind of message they send in the workplace.

Got that? The semi-nude picture on Kiely’s personal monitor at work  – which just happened to go out to the public by his own stupidity – is a symbol for the unreconstructed sexism everywhere. What does this Cordelia Fine woman want? She’s not a wowser but she presumably wants more public humiliation for David Kiely. Like, yeah, that’ll be politically correct.

Personally, I find the Feminist wowserism to be just another kind of wowserism, probably because it always seems to emanate from White women with status and money.

If the Obama election told us anything, it’s that when both gender and race are talking points, gender issues get overstated in order to push race issues to the back and the people who argue this most vehemently are white women. Make of that what you will, but the SMH sort of misses it by lining it up with this one:

The second top-most-commented page is this one:

There are two pragmatic tests to ascertain the real level of racism in a country. Namely, the level of ethnic-motivated crime and the amount of inter-marriage between ethnic groups. Australia has a low level of ethnic crime and a high level of inter-marriages between all races, including indigenous people.

There is racism in every country. But Australia is not a racist nation. Certainly not when compared with societies where racism is, or has been, rife. The myth of Australia as racist has been promulgated by alienated leftist academics in Australia, who just happen to be employed in universities that are examples of tolerant multiculturalism at work.

From time to time a litany of journalists, actors, directors and the like join in the Australia-is-racist chorus. There is invariably a spike in such collective apologia around Australia Day. Among the voices heard this year was Warwick Thornton, the director of the widely acclaimed film Samson & Delilah.

Thornton told ABC TV News on January 24 that the Eureka flag will be like the swastika in 20 years’ time. In other words, according to Thornton, Australia is so racist it is just two decades away from Nazism, or at least fascism. Yet Thornton, who has an indigenous background, is a successful Australian whose work has been supported by the taxpayer through Screen Australia. His brilliant career, so far, suggests that Australia is anything but in pre-fascist mode.

So Gerard Henderson, a well-to-do middle-aged white guy with money and status is telling us that Warwick Thornton is wrong when he says Australian society is racist.

Again, I think Warwick Thornton not being the white suburban guy with all the social perks  that go with it, gets to make the call; not you, Mr. Henderson. The rest of the article is just you saying stuff that you find ideal. The real world is far from your ideal.

The utter lack of humility by both Cordelia Fine and Gerard Henderson makes me gag. Maybe it’s just the way columns have to be – stupidly single-minded and oblivious to the nuances of what is being argued.

I just thought I’d point that out before people sort of got the impression from the SMH that Australian society isn’t racist at all but were decidedly sexist to the point of no redemption.

Malcolm Turnbull Fighting On

This is tragic.

Giving his first parliamentary speech since losing the Liberal leadership in December, Mr Turnbull indicated he would cross the floor to vote with Labor when a vote was taken on the carbon pollution reduction scheme.

Mr Turnbull was scathing of the Coalition’s new direct-action policy, which aims to provide financial incentives to industry for reducing carbon emissions.

“We all know … that industry and businesses attended by an army of lobbyists are particularly persuasive and all too effective at getting their sticky fingers into the taxpayer’s pocket,” he told Parliament today.

“Having the government pick projects for subsidy is a recipe for fiscal recklessness on a grand scale.

“And there will always be a temptation for projects to be selected for their political appeal.”

A handful of Liberal MPs, including treasury spokesman Joe Hockey, were present in the chamber during Mr Turnbull’s speech.

The government allowed Mr Turnbull an additional 10 minutes to complete his speech as other MPs, including climate change sceptic Wilson Tuckey, wandered into the lower house ahead of a maiden speech by first-time MP Kelly O’Dwyer.

Mr Turnbull said his strong and long-standing personal commitment to an emissions trading scheme prevented him from voting against the government legislation.


“Prudence demands that we act to reduce our greenhouse gas emissions and do so in a way that is consistent with, and promotes global action to do the same,” he said.

“All of us here are accountable, not just to our constituents, but to the generations that will come after them and after us,” he said, adding it was Parliament’s job to legislate for the nation’s long-term future.

It was positive that both sides of Parliament had agreed to at least a 5 per cut in greenhouse gas emissions by 2020, he said.

“But it is not enough to say that you support these cuts, you must also deliver a strong, credible policy framework that will deliver them.”

Without a strong climate change policy, Australia could not expect other countries, such as China and India, to heed the call to tackle global warming, he said.

Mr Turnbull said his arguments in favour of the ETS now were “no different to those I have made and stood for, for the last three years”.

Schemes, like that proposed by Mr Abbott, which would give millions of taxpayers’ dollars to selected new technologies, were “neither economically efficient nor environmentally effective” compared with a market-based approach.

It’s really weird it’s come to this, but weirder still, Tony Abbott is getting a lot of loony support for his Claytons Climate policy. There are a lot of wishful people out there, trying to wish away the cumulative consequences of humanity’s actions.

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Can You Paint ‘Red Face’?

Was It Offensive?

I’m incredulous at the Australian press being so surprised that the Jackson Jive act sat so badly with the world.

Look, it’s very simply. White people don’t get to decide whether black face is offensive or not. Black People do. And if black people are saying it’s offensive, insisting it’s humour is not going to cut it. Daryl Somers tried to put it behind him, and looked really bad doing it.

That being said, the Jackson Jive did feature a brown guy going white face to represent a black guy who altered his skin to white.

The frontman of a controversial blackface skit on Hey Hey It’s Saturday has apologised, saying it is ironic he has been called a racist, given his Indian background.

Following an international outcry, Anand Deva, a prominent Sydney-based plastic surgeon, went public and said the Jackson Jive act on the show’s popular Red Faces segment on Wedneday was not meant to cause offence, but he admitted he would not have performed it in the US.

“Clearly, all of us want to apologise. I mean we have offended some people no doubt, particularly [US singer] Harry Connick jnr. So I want to say on behalf of all of us that this was really not intended … [to be] anything to do with racism at all,” he told Fairfax Radio Network.

Dr Deva was one of five men who starred in the skit. His face was painted white, impersonating Michael Jackson, while his back-up dancers donned black face paint and black wigs.

They first appeared on Hey Hey 20 years ago and were invited back for Wednesday night’s reunion show, which turned sour as Connick jnr, a segment judge, took offence at the act and gave it a score of zero.

It is deeply ironic – but as Socrates once noted, they hang you for irony, so it’s off to the gallows for you Dr. Anand Deva. Or just take your own hemlock and be done with it.

I think Harry Connick Jr. stacks up well in all this (even with a ‘black face’ skeleton of his own in his closet). He called it right, and made no bones about telling the audience why it’s far more offensive than it’s funny. One would have to say that’s the point. If you’re going to cause that much offense, you’d better be telling a really funny joke to off-set the offense.

The SMH had this one that just made me want to cry not because it’s misguided  so much as because it’s just hopeless:

And yet, no joke, it’s a revived Hey Hey that has set the blogosphere abuzz with accusations about Australia’s latent racism and hicksville character – in other words, this mindless show has indeed sparked a serious discussion. You’re aware of the controversy by now and would probably agree it’s cringe-worthy. Harry Connick jnr, schooled alongside African-American jazz musicians in New Orleans, counselling Somers about how offensive the sight of six men blacking-up, in an apparent parody of the Jackson Five, is to American eyes. ”If they turned up looking like that in the United States, it would be like ‘hey, hey there’s no more show’.” Then Somers needing an ad break before he could properly grasp the scale of the offence- vast, given the way not-so-long-ago white folks used to poke fun at black folks by dressing up as them- and offer Connick jnr an apology. He had earlier tried to explain how the performers were merely re-enacting their Jackson Jive routine from 20 years ago.

We were pretty infantilised at that moment. Harry Connick jnr, dignified and patient, delivering a sermon from the land now mature enough on matters of race to elect a black president. The politics of race, especially as it plays out in America, is something Australians struggle to understand. I know I do: intrigued by how an angry interjection to Obama’s speech in Congress can be construed as racist, or how black women might find the prospect of coupling with a white man too confronting, too loaded with history. Yes, Australia has to come to terms with its colonial legacy. But these days at least we’re not highly attuned to issues of race and that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

Only, there are several layers to peel off here. We may never fully understand racial politics in America and elsewhere, but we understand a lot more than we did 20 years ago. As it turns out, the Jackson Jive crew were alive to the potentially sensitive nature of their sketch and had had lengthy discussions with the show’s producers about whether to proceed with it. This was certainly a case of poor judgment, but apparently not one of naivety.

The way that’s all characterised is just so twee I want to run and throw up. It’s precisely NOT the way it should be understood. It’s disappointing it came from the SMH. It was much, much, much more fucked-er than that. It may have been the fucked-est thing in a long while since Pony the Orangutan herself.

Gee you know, I wonder what PM Kevin Rudd thought about the damage this skit’s done and I wonder if he’ll be getting on his moral high horse again soon. Because you know, this sucker just burned down about 99% of Australia’s Gross National Cool.

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Sol Said…

Is Australia Racist?

And the collective cry went out, “aww come on Sol, you stupid incompetent millionaire!”

Asked in a BBC interview whether there was racism in Australia, Mr Trujillo said: “I think it was evident in a lot of ways with me personally but more importantly with others.”

His comments have shocked some, including the head of the American Chamber of Commerce in Australia.

“I was quite flabbergasted to hear his comments,” said the chamber’s chief executive, Charles Blunt. “And I was quite shocked.”

And Victorian Premier John Brumby said the comments appeared to be nothing more than sour grapes.

“I don’t know what he’s talking about, frankly,” he said.

‘Step back in time’

Mr Trujillo, who earned millions at the helm of the one-time taxpayer-owned telecommunications giant, cited what he described as “restrictive” historical immigration policies and “events over the past five or 10 years” that the report did not specify.

“I would say that Australia definitely is different [from] the US. In many ways it was like stepping back in time,” he said in the interview, which was broadcast in part by ABC Radio this morning.

He said he was sure that would continue.

“But my point is that [racism] does exist and it’s got to change because the world is full of a lot of people and most economies have to take advantage – including Australia – of a diverse set of people.

“If there is a belief that only a certain people are acceptable versus others, that is a sad state.”

Racism as an institution in Australia is long dead, but the residue of that racism is everywhere – but it’s everywhere in most countries. It’s not really more so here in Australia than it is in say, Sweden or Canada or Mexico or Russia or China or the USA.

Sol saying Australia is racist has brought forth much discussion this week in the press, much of it in hot denial and accusations that maybe Sol himself was derogatory towards Singapore (stretching it, I thought, when I read the actual quote) or that perhaps he mistook the jokes as pointed xenophobia.

Let’s get the jokes out of the way first. Jokes are pointed stereotyping. If anybody cracked a joke about Sol being of Mexican extraction, no matter how jocular and in “just-for-fun”, if Sol took offense to it, it was offensive. I think people who are willing to make those jokes should be willing to die by those jokes. As Chief White Halfoat notes in Catch 22, “racism is a terrible thing when they treat an Indian like some spic, nigger, or kike”.

A good point was made here by Sam DeBrito about the Chk-Chk-Boom Chick here.

More recently, good ole Chk Chk Boom chick, Clare Werbeloff, apologised for any offence she cause by using the term “wog” in her video-taped lie about witnessing a shooting in Sydney’s Kings Cross … then defended her use of the word saying her generation “don’t really take offence to it any more”.

Honey, you are a white chick from the suburbs, you don’t get to decide if the word wog is offensive, us wogs do.

Umm, yup. Totally got your back there wog boy. 🙂

In that sense, it doesn’t matter what Peter Costello says with his smug self-righteousness, if Sol thought you were a xenophobe for your attitudes, he’s entitled to expres that opinion. As Mr. deBrito rightly points out, Mr. Costello, you’re a white dude from white-loaf Melbourne. It’s Mexican-ancestor-Sol-Trujillo who gets to decide if your attitude is offensive or not. And it most probably was, given the over-hanging smug white-Australia Liberal values that your government had.

And it doesn’t make it any bloody better when Kevin Rudd has to say “adios” as his parting shot to Trujillo, what with his Hicksville-in-Queensland upbringing and all. See? if you want to be derogatory about people, you just have to denigrate where they come from. But no, Kevin isn’t really xenophobic.

THE Prime Minister, Kevin Rudd, has telephoned his Indian counterpart, Manmohan Singh, amid growing anger in India over attacks on Indian students in Australia.

Mr Rudd congratulated Dr Singh on his recent re-election but the pair also discussed the recent series of violent assaults, sources told the Herald.

In a sign of New Delhi’s unhappiness over the attacks, the Indian foreign ministry called in Australia’s high commissioner, John McCarthy, yesterday.

Mr McCarthy told the Herald that one of India’s top diplomats, N. Ravi, “clearly conveyed Indian concerns” about the attacks.

“I told him that the Australian Government is also very concerned, that Australian ministers had expressed this, and that we are doing everything we can to address the issues.”

No, Kevin isn’t xenophobic but Melbourne seems like a hotbed of xenophobes. So it’s a bit of a relief today to find that Adele Horin has this article.

The messenger is dislikeable, but let’s not shoot him. Trujillo’s message about Australian racism has some validity. It would be useful if his words prompted reflection instead of defensiveness.

Australia’s multiculturalism, which most citizens wear as a badge of pride, is in need of attention. After years of the Howard government’s antipathy to the very notion of multiculturalism, there is work to be done, and little evidence of progress under Rudd.

We are a fairly tolerant nation that has absorbed waves of immigrants remarkably peaceably. Since the abandonment of the white Australia policy from the late ’60s and the adoption of multiculturalism, Australia has been touted as a model of tolerance and diversity.

But that was years ago – before Pauline Hanson, before Tampa, before the Cronulla race riots where the infamous slogan “We grew here, you flew here” rang out; that was before Camden citizens blocked the building of an Islamic school, before a Sudanese-born teenager was bashed to death, before Australia got caught up in the Islamophobia sweeping the world. Racism was on display last weekend, when the Cronulla rugby league captain Paul Gallen called a St George Illawarra forward, Mickey Paea, a “black c—“.

At the top of corporate Australia, Trujillo could hardly have missed the dominance of white Anglo males. A cursory glance at the chief executives of our top 100 companies reveals an overwhelming predominance of men called Steve, Greg, John, Rod and Paul. There is hardly a surname suggestive of Asian or Middle East background.

The lack of diversity in corporate life compares unfavourably with the US where decades of strong affirmative action has had effect. The same applies to TV. Here reporters and newsreaders do not reflect a diverse society. Networks don’t seem to consider it important.

We are not more racist than other countries, and possibly much less so. We have no serious problem with skinheads, the Ku Klux Klan or a strong National Front. On the ground, most people muddle along, at least in ethnically diverse neighbourhoods. If they do not fulfil the multicultural fantasy of becoming best friends, or inter-marrying, they are civil and helpful to one another. “People rub along in a benign way,” a Macquarie University researcher, Dr Amanda Wise, says. “The problems are in white areas like Sutherland Shire where people have no contact with cultural difference and form stereotyped views.”

That about sums it up. The 11 years under John Howard have done horrendous things to what we think is okay. Sol Trujillos saw it and called it like he saw it. I don’t blame him one bit for that. I blame him for the Telstra share price, but I don’t really disagree with him about xenophobia in Australia.

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