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.