Crikey



I am a racist and so are you

Helen Razer is a horrid racist who selfishly fails to understand the pain of indigenous Australia.

I make this declaration for two reasons. First, a simple cut’n’paste will now save several bloggers the trouble of typing it themselves. Second, it happens to be true.

I am white and I am Australian, and I believe that these data make the fact of my racism toward Aboriginal Australians ineluctable. A racism begun two centuries ago in explicitly genocidal policies — and continued in the implicitly genocidal Intervention — is in me as surely as it is in the social body. It doesn’t just leave because I say “scram”.

But, perhaps this is My Bad. It does seem there are an awful lot of Gubbas who’ve emptied themselves from history’s racist curse. Most of them, in fact, heaved their rich kindness onto the floor of Australian liberal media this week following the verbal abuse of Brownlow medalist Adam Goodes by a 13-year-old bint.

Would that I had the evolved compassion of a Sam de Brito sufficient to see Aboriginal Australians as “an ancient, unique people”. Perhaps I could work on seeing them as Mystic and Noble as well? Fortunately, many commentators did that work for me, with the Swan emerging as Rousseau’s Noble Savage in a great social media outpouring where we were reminded that Goodes was good.

I’m not sure what to make of all this, but I can’t help conclude that in order to be spared racism, you should be ancient or unique or really good with a footy and kids. The subeditor to an otherwise creditable piece by football fan Rhys Muldoon sees “Goodes rises above the pack”.

Oh. He’s a Tinted Inspiration To Us All!

This stuff — written for a white bourgeois liberal audience — does two unforgivable things. First, it casts Goodes as the Brave Aborigine who is a Credit to His People. Second, it outsources racism to the body of a 13-year-old girl and, later in the week, to Collingwood FC president Eddie McGuire.

If you want to know what McGuire or Miss Menarche said, Google it. I am not feeding the pornographic appetites of SEO for hate-speech. I will say, though, that anyone who has ever seen Hot Seat should not be surprised by McGuire’s hideous flub.  He’s that guy who reliably asks the heavyset lady when she’s due.

But, apparently, we must “call out racism” and we must see that McGuire undid “good work“ and must be chastened.

Look. Yes. Eddie’s a dick. The man was made and is sustained by AFL so is obliged to take care when talking publicly about the league’s stars. Honestly, McGuire’s advantaged arse could probably do with a kicking for this nonsense. But a set-shot to the McGuire arse will score less than a behind.

One can hold that the incident highlights racism; that the pain so evident on Goodes’ face reminds all Australians of the horror of the Intervention or of the (widening) gap in quality of life between indigenous and non-indigenous Australians.  A good piece in The Guardian reminds us that, in fact, that the incident should.

But it doesn’t.

It is not so much that censure of McGuire is a “distraction” from the matter of material reform; although of course, it is cheap liberal bourgeois entertainment. It is UFC for people who enjoy artisanal cheese. It is, rather, that our encroaching focus on the symbolic comes at the expense of the material. Chalk a rainbow. “Call out” s-xism. Say Sorry. All of these actions — great as they feel at the time — compound the idea that it is gestures and not healthcare that moves a society along.

It feels good to call somebody else a racist.  It is easy and rewarding for whitefellas to reprimand McGuire. It is difficult and thankless for us to confront the mess of guilt at our core.

I am white and I am Australian and I am a racist. The only way out of this shunless truth is to acknowledge it.

Tags: , , , , ,

Categories: Australia, People & Ideas

54 Responses

Comments page: 1 | 2 |
  1. Fair play.

    by Peter Evans on May 31, 2013 at 12:57 pm

  2. No silly, you don’t acknowledge your racism, you just acknowledge the “traditional owners” of the land and then magically all is good with the world.

    by jonnowarren on May 31, 2013 at 1:12 pm

  3. That’s cool.

    by Venise Alstergren on May 31, 2013 at 1:12 pm

  4. Absolutely right, and a darn sight more realistic than all those other goody twoshoes journalists falling over themselves to proudly and hypocritically proclaim how unracist they are.

    Racism is quite possibly endemic to humanity, but we can if we look ourselves in the mirror ameliorate the less desirable effects of it - like maybe not yelling racial insults in public. We will all get on better that way. Won’t mean we’re not racist, it would just mean we have grown up enough to be able to be polite in public.

    by samistapol on May 31, 2013 at 1:23 pm

  5. I’m a racist and so are you’ is a bit glib Helen. It’s like being self aware of our prejudices and just in case I’m not, I’ll make this motherhood statement just to cover anything I’ve missed (oh yeah and I will include everybody else as well in this preachy title - cause they are even more unaware of their latent racism than me). It’s like those who at meetings acknowledge the traditional owners up front…but I know that if you scratch the surface they are for many just often just words without substance. It makes me cringe and does little to benefit (and may even harm) the indigenous cause.

    by 2sheds on May 31, 2013 at 1:55 pm

  6. If not being able to understand the black man’s pain is racist, then I’m a racist. If thinking that a black man is inferior to a white man is racist, then I’m not a racist. What to make of that?

    by mikeb on May 31, 2013 at 2:33 pm

  7. How much I admire you for the use of “bint”.

    by Holden Back on May 31, 2013 at 2:38 pm

  8. What made what Eddie said so bad, is that it reinforces a discourse we should be trying to stamp out.
    Eddie isn’t a deeply racist man, but his comments embolden the deeply racist people within Australia. If you scroll through the AFL related pages on Facebook, some peoples comments are so deeply hateful, Eddie encouraged all those people.

    by Lachlan Morton on May 31, 2013 at 2:53 pm

  9. So easy to embrace beiong a racist and then you can sit back and smirk at those who believe that public utterances matter and set the tone for actions beyond the radio and footy spheres.

    It is of course precisely the attitudes displayed openly by the Collingwood President and supporter that make an awful intervention possible in the first place, because it supports the view that Aboriginal people don’t deserve a say in what happens to them: an idea devised by the right wing, not anyone who was liberal, although it is liberal thinkers who are being mocked here. Respect comes first for any meaningful developments for Aboriginal people and that has been thin on the ground from the Collingwood tribe. Adam Goodes has shown a maturity far beyond that of the writer of this article. He is someone worthy of admiration despite the snide comments of Ms Razer.

    As usual a trite piece which lacks any kind of enlightenment. Keep on trying Ms Razer. You may find something of value to say one day.

    by Tom Jones on May 31, 2013 at 2:54 pm

  10. Simplistic diatribes like this aren’t all that helpful. Does Helen not think that several decades of often tough struggle against racism by Indigenous and migrant peoples have shifted some segments of Australian society into less racist positions?
    By the way, is it useful for us to know what SEO and UFC stand for? If not, don’t worry about enlightening us plebs.

    by Bob Durnan on May 31, 2013 at 3:09 pm

  11. Thanks for this article Helen. I believe also ,that all of us are capable of racism, but what we should realise is that its a weakness in our character, rather than a strength.

    by frank williamson on May 31, 2013 at 3:10 pm

  12. Thanks for saying this, Helen. You see this attitude with many other marginalised groups as well; the few great disabled heroes who climb Mt Everest and are SO WONDERFUL, but the rest of them should just get a job and stop whinging about how hard it is for them to use public transport .

    I’m racist and I know it, but I also know that I’m wrong and it’s up to me to do the hard work to overcome it, not for Aboriginal Australians to ‘impress’ me into it.

    by cassandra.richardson on May 31, 2013 at 3:29 pm

  13. Helen, your sweeping assertions are meaningless unless you state your understanding of what the words “racism” and “racist” mean.

    by Frank Birchall on May 31, 2013 at 3:47 pm

  14. Okay, so we white Australians are racist. Now what?

    Because it’s one thing to simply shrug one’s shoulders and “admit” that being a white Australian automatically means you inherit the sins of the past. Things get tricky when we want to fix the results of those sins. No one seems to have a clue. Or, if they do, they aren’t getting attention.

    Razer hints at a possible solution by bringing up healthcare. Of course, physical infrastructure that bridges the divide between impoverished Aboriginal communities and the rest of Australian society should be made, I’d take that as a given. But let’s suppose that such impoverishment was magically wiped out and every Aboriginal in Australia has the same standard of living as, give or take, the rest of us. What then? Is it okay to keep calling them “boongs” or what have you, just because we both work in the same office?

    It’s not entirely about basic, daily racism. A serious acknowledgment of who’s land this actually is should not be a mere gesture. An intense crime was committed - nothing less than the outright theft of land and attempt at genocide. And that can’t be fixed. No “welcome to country”, no inclusion of Aboriginal people in the constitution, none of these things will fix that. A total surrender of the land back to its original owners might do that, but that is never going to happen.

    I think we’re stuck with it. We are stuck with our racist past and heritage. It’s never going away. All the stupid name calling in the world will only ever be a shadow of that. All those who use terms like “boong” and “abo” and call people monkeys or apes or whatever, all of that is just a symptom of a sickness that we will never cure. Of course it would be better if those racist idiots would just shut up, but the attitude, the basic knowledge that we stole this country by force and tried to destroy its original inhabitants, will be the stench we bare until the next historic cycle of conquering and subjugation.

    by Andrew McIntosh on May 31, 2013 at 3:51 pm

  15. is it all of a sudden a thing now where men have to start crying to be taken seriously? first abbott when ferguson leaves (seriously wtf?) and now mcguire balling up cos he’s such a douche?

    by pelligrene rasmus on May 31, 2013 at 3:52 pm

  16. This one’s a bit odd, Helen. If we were all forced to do Anthropology 101 in first year at uni, things might be a bit different! Including this article.

    by Sean on May 31, 2013 at 4:19 pm

  17. jono, your racism is showing old chap.

    Perhaps because it is not taught in Australia but aborigines were listed under flora and fauna until the 1960’s and all had the same birthdays as horses.

    I wonder if that is a reason they are a bit sensitive about being called animals today.

    by shepherdmarilyn on May 31, 2013 at 4:25 pm

  18. What everyone is missing here is that this was a media stunt by Eddie to increase radio ratings.

    He’s not stupid - he made sure his comment was ‘indirect’ rather than a direct outburst (ie a direct quote that would haunt him for life).

    He will escape any sanction because it was indirect, and a month from now he’ll be the same as before, but with higher ratings.

    We all have to get better at spotting stunts like this and not be taken in by them. Its a contemptible way to get publicity, of course, but its worked. Lets stop feeding him by talking about it.

    by john2066 on May 31, 2013 at 4:33 pm

  19. I love Crikey, but sometimes the editor just confuses me. This piece is a complete waste of words.What on earth is the point of it? We’re all racist (to an extent)? The media hullaballoo misses the point? Der… that’s why we pay good money for crikey… I don’t need to read about how we live in a racist society and aiming at Eddie misses the necessity to actually solve the real problems. Indeed, this article does nothing to solve the real problems. This is an opinion for the sake of it, no better than the other opinions it criticizes.

    by claudedwalker on May 31, 2013 at 4:47 pm

  20. I am white and I am racist” Oh dear! Spoilt a nice little piece with a bit of hand wringing cringyness. Funny.

    by Mr Tank on May 31, 2013 at 4:48 pm

  21. Even the headline is deliberately provocative. Perfect clickbait. Crikey should post it on facebook. Wait, they did already. It’s a slippery slope guys… I doubt anyone would read this and subscribe, although perhaps you have the google analytics data to prove me wrong.

    by claudedwalker on May 31, 2013 at 4:49 pm

  22. Congratulations Helen Razer.
    The ‘Holier than Thou’ print & electronic media made this situation much worse by their total replaying of the comments by and of the people involved.Instead of a few thousand listeners the whole of Australia heard or read it ad-nauseam on radio, TV or newspapers. We are a racist country

    by Roy Farrell on May 31, 2013 at 5:04 pm

  23. you’re too clever by half helen………….

    by burnmuthaburn on May 31, 2013 at 5:27 pm

  24. Another poor attempt at humor by EM. Last year before the Adelaide v Fremantle final, he quipped that the cars outside Football Park would be vandalised. An old Sam Newman joke. It is extremely frustrating having made people laugh around Australia for 20 years in dinner theatre and stand up, I struggle to make ends meet yet this amateur is in the limelight 24 hours a day. Surely the pressure must mount for him to be ejected off FoxFooty and step down from the Collingwood Presidency. Please for Australia’s sake!

    by Damian Woodards on May 31, 2013 at 6:19 pm

  25. Vacuous

    You’ve just come out the closet and proclaimed to the world that you are a white racist and what else could you be in this country, self pitying CR#P.

    How about we have both “gestures and healthcare”.

    Harry O’brien summed it up best about the casual nature of racism, all this article does is take away the onus on you to say something when this is said around you.

    The article is cowardly and lacks any insight.

    by Mark out West on May 31, 2013 at 7:33 pm

  26. Unfunny, uninteresting, boring drivel from Australia’s most dishonest journalist. How can Crikey publish this material which is not commentary, is not informed, is clickbait and nothing else. Sorry, but really, anyone?

    by Anthony White on May 31, 2013 at 9:04 pm

  27. I was confused about the point of this article until I got to the bottom and read:

    It is, rather, that our encroaching focus on the symbolic comes at the expense of the material. Chalk a rainbow. “Call out” s-xism. Say Sorry.

    Ahh, of course. This article is a just continuation of Helen Razer’s long rant in The Sunday Age about Destroy the Joint. Ms Razer’s idea of the moment is that symbolism is worse than a waste of time and that anyone who isn’t storming the barricades of injustice and prejudice just isn’t trying hard enough. Ironic given that Ms Razer’s articles are heavy on words and criticisms but light on practical solutions or actions. Just as it’s easy to “say sorry”, it’s easy to drop in a comment about “healthcare” while doing absolutely nothing to address the really difficult issues involved in the issue.

    I’m afraid Helen Razer is becoming Gen X’s Germaine Greer - desperately trying to carve out a niche for herself by criticising anyone who isn’t as angry and critical as herself (and I mean the Germaine Greer of later years, not the trailblazing, revolutionary Germaine of the 60s and 70s).

    by FelineCyclist on May 31, 2013 at 9:26 pm

  28. the ‘noble savage’ meme became evident during the week. the outpouring of judgement and righteousness first against a thirteen year old girl ‘who wasnt really to blame but should have somehow known better’, overshadowed by the uproar against Eddie McGuire who is after all just Eddie McGuire. all against a background of long suffreing
    Goodes who was ‘gutted’ by these cruel slurs on himself and by implication all aboriginal people who have been subject people these last two hundred years.

    It feels more like lynch mob mentality to me. Look, Eddie’s remark was facetious, an example of comic build. I’m sure Eddie had lost touch with the subject matter while he was creating the joke. the link between a king kong show and the girls comments just popped into his mind and looked like they belonged together. and of course they did belong together and while Eddie was recognising that and in fact giving voice to it he forgot to consider the possible consequence. i dont think issues of race were in Eddie’s mind at the time. I think in this instance he is more-or-less innocent of the charge made against him. He’s crass, but he’s not Ray Hadley, Allan Jones or Karl Sandilands. let’s get some perspective here.

    as for the ‘bint’, she was 13 and presumably reasonably small. someone of
    Goodes size and general bulk could very well seem like an ape or a gorilla. many men do. What she called Goodes could only be called racist if we establish that she was referring to his aboriginal appearance. if the girl was just as likely to call any such large man be he Russian, American, German etc, then the remark is not racist. it cant be racist to confuse somebody with an animal. Who is being vilified here, the man or the animal? After all many animals, including Apes, may not appreciate the comparison either.

    Excellent article, a purging of a group vomit.

    by Malcolm Harrison on May 31, 2013 at 10:21 pm

  29. (reasonably) Well said Ms Razer. It’s a similar thought that has plagued me for some time. I am racist, I don’t want to be and I try hard not to be - sometimes those efforts backfire.
    BUT
    I am less racist than my dear old dad (who, incidentally doesn’t believe he is). And he’s almost certainly less racist than his father, who grew up in a time when race was a legimate grounds for discrimination.
    I hope the next generations can mature into UNracist beings but I suspect it will take some actual evolution to finally get passed the instinctive fear of difference that underscores our tendancy to racial profiling.
    Have a heart, Helen. Humanity can improve.
    p.s. Ultimate Fighting Championship? Search Engine Optimization? Sometimes you really are difficult to follow.

    by mattsui on May 31, 2013 at 10:25 pm

  30. Some of the responses to Helen make me wonder if she is the Julie Burchill of Australia. I don’t know if that is right but a lot of people get (over)worked up about their opinions.Thanks Helen. Bit of a rock an a hard place week.

    by floorer on May 31, 2013 at 10:43 pm

  31. It is interesting the commentary surrounding racial vilification stemming from the events in the past week in the AFL

    I agree with the sentiments surrounding political correctness gone crazy however it is interesting when you take a step back and take a broader, more considered view.

    While it is true certain individuals could be lazy, unintelligent, uncaring, useless, criminals or any number of other labels that one could think.

    And for those people, while the truth maybe a little inconvenient for them, it is true.

    And while they may play the victim card, for most it is the lot they choose and therefore they should accept it. And if they don’t like the label, change their attitude, toughen up, get over, grow up, what ever! But don’t complain.

    Where things go astray though is when people attach permanent attributes to these behaviours – smelling Asians, lazy blacks, dumb blondes, radical Muslim, useless so and so… we all know many more.

    Why is this?

    Attaching a negative variable to a permanent feature suggests there is nothing that person can do to change the situation - and if they buy this (due to the fact every one tells them it is so) - then it becomes a self-filling prophecy.

    And research suggests no amount support, develop or encouragement can lift a person past their self-perceived limit. With this self-belief the sub-conscious will always find a way to confirm what it sees as reality. The behaviour will confirm the belief/label.

    So, how frustrating would it be to want to be better than that world knows you can be.

    To know that no matter how hard you struggle you will always be labelled, you are what you are labelled and that is that

    Call a spade a spade but don’t judge or value it just because it is a spade

    by Rick Brooks on May 31, 2013 at 10:54 pm

  32. Brilliant.

    nuff said.

    by John64 on Jun 1, 2013 at 12:54 am

  33. The only way out of this shunless truth is to acknowledge it.”

    Well, there is always enlightenment.

    Unless the habitual and angry repression of your own intellect has so crafted your sense of identity that you fear you would lose something by opening your mind.

    by Person Ordinary on Jun 1, 2013 at 7:47 am

  34. IMHO Helen is admirable for going where others don’t dare to. I think it is well worth trying to understand the realities of racism and how to deal with it. It won’t get dealt with by trying to pretend we are all virtuous, while ignoring reality.

    For further reading on this I can recommend the Global Mail’s article at http://www.theglobalmail.org/blog/you-call-that-racism/627/ on Olga Havnen, who was appointed by the NT government to report on the delivery of remote services, and was sacked quite possibly for producing a comprehensive report (linked to by the above article) showing how bad that delivery is. She also highlights what she calls “covert racism” which is a lot more destructive, although largely invisible, than the overt kind that brings on such public handwringing these days.

    The problems that Ms Havnen describes are awfully difficult; I don’t know how to fix them but I do believe we need to make more of an effort to solve them, at several levels.

    by samistapol on Jun 1, 2013 at 9:20 am

  35. Inconvenient questions:

    Is not the footballer in question a large, muscular and hairy man, more so than most?

    Is this Europe? Was last week’s game a soccer match and was the hecker a racist mob? Those not being the case, why is it widely asserted that her slur (and of course it was a slur) deemed as a racist slur?

    On what basis does the footballer (or anyone else), identify the heckler as racist, when the insult is not of itself a racist term?
    (Answer: because she looks like a racist. Ms Razer would presumably agree.)

    Is not the footballer’s judgement and behaviour itself a spectacular case of stereotyping?

    I accuse the footballer of a hasty and ill-considered judgement. The spectacle of his literally pointing the finger at a bewildered 13 year old is certainly a confronting moment in Australia’s racial history, but not for the reasons the commentariat glibly proclaims.
    It rather proves that there is a category of person in this country whom is it safe to vilify. As Crikey does with enthusiasm, along with all the screeching baboons that compose the Australian media.

    by Larry Cook on Jun 1, 2013 at 9:24 am

  36. Personally, I think that the gibbering of the article, just reflects the somewhat strange state of affairs in modern Australia, where most Aussie rules footballers, now seem to have a much more sensible and practical grasp of racism, than many media commentators.

    by Electric Lardyland on Jun 1, 2013 at 9:49 am

  37. Racism” is a word peddled by hand-wringing-teeth-gnashing-bent-out-of-shape gen Ys who care passionately about all the downtrodden peoples of the world but keep their bums glued to their seat on the tram oblivious to the 90 year old veteran swaying and tripping in the aisle next to them.
    The word is spat from between the teeth of the ignorant as a term of abuse rather than a descriptor of what’s inside the abused. What’s one’s defence? “No I’m not!”. “My best friend is asian!”?
    I would have thought ‘ape’ was more about a hairy back than a good tan. Now there’s me being hair-ist.

    by Damien McBain on Jun 1, 2013 at 10:14 am

  38. No baby is born with original sin. One inherits the sins of one’s own past, not those of someone else. Racism consists of negative thoughts, words or deeds towards others on the basis of their birth and of those seen as ethnically related to them by genetics. The attack on Adam Goodes was racist. Getting born in the same country as racists past or present is not, though following their lead can be. Every individual is responsible for his or her own decisions, and Helen Razer is simply writing a catch-all cop-out from responsibility for anything she might personally think, say or do.

    Yes, those who seized Aboriginal territory were committing a crime, and denigrating and disadvantaging those from whom it was stolen was a racist crime. Those who got born on it or dragged to it in chains were not.

    by Dion Giles on Jun 1, 2013 at 1:14 pm

  39. The Comments make me feel better about Crikey and its readership. Razer’s self-indulgent waffly piece has been called out. Does she think she would be doing a service by making word’s like “racism” and “genocide” ones to avoid as immediately suspect markers of empty intellects who would be troubled if they had to find words for precise arguments about precisely defined concepts. Maybe they are already - together with, e.g. “elitist”.

    Surely Razer remembers the caning the authors of “Bringing Them Home” [name of inquiry report from memory] got for their misguided, and indeed counter-productively insensitive use of “genocide” used because it was inflammatory and attention-grabbing and purportedly justified by some specialised use of it a UN document which included the destruction of culture within the concept. It is insulting to those who have truly been subjected to genocide - Jews, gypsies, Tutsi e.g. and maybe Khmer people at the expense of other Khmer at a pinch - to regard any policy of organised authority in Australia (in practice always government in pre-democratic colonial or self-governing democratic form) as genocidal. Worse, it is inaccurate and a negative contribution to understanding.

    No discussion of the plight of Aborigines in Australia (i.e. those of whom it makes any sense to speak of their “plight”) should fail to make the distinction between the majority who are intermarrying with non-Aborigines freely and/or earning a living in mainstream ways, or on welfare in a mainstream manner, and the desperate products of Nugget Coombs’ madness of 40 and more years ago. Anyone who thinks the intervention wasn’t necessary in some form should give some evidence that they have better ideas about bringing that significant minority of Aborigines into a modern healthy life of educated people able to cope with the world as it is and enjoy its possibilities. As everywhere in the world where there are poor, especially poor indigenous, people educating and supporting women is the key. And we need to expect a big pay off only after many years.

    To suggest that Aborigines can do it all for themselves is of course as absurd as suggesting that in the mid 19th century it was patronising and unnecessary to prescribe curriculum and syllabi for the illiterate classes.

    The word for those who believed in the superiority of some races over others used to be “racialist” and it was obviously a bit vague and at least as unscientific as the Nazis’ monstrosities. After all the British or English might be called a “race” when what was really being referred to was those who belonged to the nation and were, or should be, patriotically at one. (It is doubtful that Huguenots would have been excluded despite any differences in DNA).

    It is worth making a distinction. On the one hand there are those whose emphasis is on culture like the many Americans who are concerned about the changes being and likely to be wrought on American society by the huge influx of legal and illegal Mexican and other Latin American immigrants, their relatively large families and their different cultures, including ethnic and family solidarity conducive to corruption. (There has always been plenty of corruption to worry about in the US but the ethnic varieties of the past weren’t such a problem so long as the existing population continued to have large families and weren’t being outbred.)

    The true “racist” one might suppose is one who thinks that one or more of the identifiable extended families of largely inbreeding peoples is/are superior to others in some way that matters a lot. It was once possible to identify with some clarity “races” in that sense such as East Asians, Northern Europeans, Ashkenazi Jews, Bantu etc. (Australian Aborigines were by no means all one “race” or extended family however much some would like to pretend they are or have been, but Australia has been home to more than a few of those extended families).

    It should be, though it has often proved not to be, harmless and unobjectionable to note that descendants of West Africans are physically blessed with sprinters’ speed in a way which must be genetic (on average should always be understood). Some East Africans, particularly mountain people, are superior distance runners, Australian Aborigines tend to have superior eyesight (like test pilots), Sherpas can live well at very high altitudes, and so on.

    It is when significant differences in average IQ or equivalent measure of cognitive performance or ability persist between ethnic groups over many decades together with correlated low employability and high criminality that the danger is that contempt or, perhaps worse, fear, will become part of the mental furniture of those not in that ethnic group. If the old idea, no longer tenable, that the Irish were thick by nature had been true then it needn’t have mattered much once the Irish in Glasgow or Liverpool began to sound like locals. But nearly all African-Americans will remain immediately identifiable as such and the fact that there are very many African-Americans who perform better on tests of cognitive ability than the average white person won’t be enough. With the Irishman in Liverpool, long before you had a chance to consider whether, if it mattered, he was dim or smart, you would have just seen another white person who spoke much the same way most of your neighbours did. But the first thing your System 1 thinking (using the terminology of Kahnemann’s “Think Fast, Thinking Slow” - System 1 being the fast thinking intuition) does is see the black skin.

    Contempt and fear tend to go together and both are great curses on both perpetrator and victim, despiser and despised. Some conduct, perhaps some people, deserve contempt though it is not an emotion which is a blessing for the one who feels contempt. Perhaps the rule we should try and practice and to teach is careful discrimination. Treat individuals as individuals and try to understand the differences between people in detail. Leave lazy even if not entirely inaccurate generalisations to condemning conduct and doing so without personal responsibility for providing precise diagnosis and remedies. Of course those drink sodden child abusers in some outstations engage in contemptible conduct which is prevalent there in a way it is not in the average capital city suburb (and wouldn’t have been thought to be so amongst clergy….. let’s not be too self-righteous about the way we think and what we know in 2013), and it would be an absurd fear of being called “racist” that prevented us from saying so.

    by Warren Joffe on Jun 1, 2013 at 2:36 pm

  40. There is afoot an orgy of racistology and guilt edged ideological self flagellation which betrays a masochistic enjoyment of self revulsion and collective ideological feces smearing.

    Or perhaps I am being a bit generous here. Perhaps this is just the final apotheosis of a ‘progressive’ political ideology that is running on empty and starting to eat itself to stay relevant.

    There is more cant talked about racism than any other subject I can think of. And the worst of it is that it isn’t doing anything to help the perceived poor thing victims of history. Victimology never does, because it removes from said victim any real responsibility to transform their situation.

    People who are bent on transfomational empowerment don’t give a damn about what others think because they know that they are going to be history winners and the carpers don’t matter. That is what empowerment means. They know that their success in whatever they are doing is the final answer and the only one that matters.

    Our migration system is bringing people onto this continent that put the traditional sufferings of indigenous people into some kind of perspective; people who really do understand what mass murder and genocide really is, rather than an ideological inflation to get intellectual traction.

    No self respecting Somali is going to take any notice of a bit of white trash with a big mouth. And it is time our indigenous brothers and sister took the same attitude.

    Enough bullshit my ideological preciouses…..

    by Christopher Nagle on Jun 1, 2013 at 4:55 pm

  41. Where can I find a black fellas’ forum with an opinion on this? So far all I can see is white wo-men venting.

    by floorer on Jun 1, 2013 at 9:54 pm

  42. If your writing’s mainly crafted for the pun,
    well it’s ineluctable, substance - there was none!

    by Henry on Jun 1, 2013 at 11:49 pm

  43. Would you regard me as racist if I called Eddie McGuire an ape?

    by Aidan Stanger on Jun 1, 2013 at 11:53 pm

  44. So we should hand the entire ownership of the country back to the aboriginals, so says
    andrew mcintosh.Ive news for you,I didnt take it off them, I dont see why i should take the blame for the actions of people that lived hundreds of years before me.I was born in this land and am just as much a native as any aboriginal who ever lived.I do not have a racist bone in my body, I judge every person on their own actions regardless of race, colour,etc.
    I am sick to death of politically correct ” andrews ” of the world telling me i have a debt to repay, as for the adam goods fiasco, get a life , when an elite sportsman has a meltdown
    from the words of a ten year old girl over the fence ” please” give me a break , there are bigger things in life to worry about , i get called worse things at work every day, but im just an average work a day white boy , so who gives a shit !!

    by lighthouse keeper on Jun 2, 2013 at 2:40 am

  45. Xenophobia is not racism nor tuther way round. But clearly it is not endemic/congenital otherwise we’d still be fighting hyenas for the scraps from big cats. It was the exogenous sex that made humans, clans that don’t marry out die out.
    So, no Razer we are NOT all racist, just the ignorant bigots.

    by AR on Jun 2, 2013 at 7:19 am

  46. Really, Crikey. Take one aspect of psychological theory, manipulate it to fit the writer’s personal philosophy, and present it as ineluctable insight apparently available only to the writer. It’s not good enough. A piece on psychological theories of racism - by someone qualified to write it - may have been an interesting contribution to the debate. This is blog material.

    by Bronwyn on Jun 2, 2013 at 9:52 am

  47. I’m also a “familyist” I give recognition, concern, priority and blood, sweat and tears to my own family, dependents and relatives before I do total strangers who live in another state, but before I can look after my own, I must be able TO RECOGNISE THE DIFFERENCE between my own children and those of someone else. I’ll feed my own children before I feed anyone else’s. Wouldn’t you??? If that makes me a “familyist” or a “racist” so be it. That’s been, understandably and justifiably, the nature of humanity from the beginning of time.

    by zac48 on Jun 2, 2013 at 2:56 pm

  48. Racism has been a fine art practised by and taught to the Aborigines of this country. The absolute, aggressive, determined, narrow minded and deliberate “self-alienation”, “disassociation”, “dis-unity” and “separation” of the Aboriginal community from mainstream Australian society and the now generational teaching to the Aboriginal people that they are special, superior, different from, unique and somehow more justified human beings than anyone else is the direct cause of self inflicted conflict….The great irony is that the confused, self-righteous hand-wringers who would perpetuate this delusion throughout the Aboriginal community don’t allow anywhere near the same right of national and cultural recognition to the Anglo/European, Judeo/Christian culture that built this country from the ground up, and scream rascism because Australians don’t want to see this country turned into another Islamic, Hindi or other Middle Eastern or Asian cultured diaspora. But then what hope did only 10 million Australian’s have of maintaining their own cultural identity in the face of such overwhelming numbers….That’s why the far seeing past generations came up with the “White Australia Policy” because the destiny of such a small Anglo/Euro, Christian/Judeo society existing in the heart of Sth. East Asia was inevitably going to be under threat, as it is. The Chinese have already chosen a new name for Australia. They’ve decided on “Aodaliya”, which I suppose has a nice ring to it, if you happen to be Chinese…..Don’t forget to celebrate “Cubbie Station Day” on the 12th. October, when Australia commemorates the Labor Party sanctioned and blessed sale of Australia’s largest viable “farm”(the largest in the entire world), lock, stock and water rights to the Communist government of China…mate.

    by zac48 on Jun 2, 2013 at 3:42 pm

  49. Those defending racism seem so bitter. Maybe ignorance is not bliss?

    by Person Ordinary on Jun 3, 2013 at 7:53 am

  50. Another useless, self-righteous piece from HR. Every time I read one of her pieces I wonder what Crikey is doing allowing her a voice, and I grow ever closer to terminating my subscription. She’d be better off sparring against Andrew Bolt in the Herald Sun, such is the sensationalist lack of thought that goes into her narrow-minded ramblings.
    Helen: I’m a white Australian and i’m not a racist.
    There, I said it.
    That doesn’t mean I don’t feel shame about the gap between indigenous and non-indigenous quality of life. It doesn’t mean I understand the pain of indigenous people when they suffer at the hand of racism. It doesn’t mean I have the answer. BUT, I don’t believe that Aboriginal Australians are inferior to me or anyone else simply because of their race. I wish the situation was better. I wish I had an answer. but suggesting that all white Australians are racist, simply because they are white Australians, is definitely NOT the answer (I notice Helen has no constructive ideas either. What a surprise).
    Helen, your admission of personal racism towards Aboriginal Australians is, like this article, a symbolic gesture of no material value in this issue - just like the other ‘artisanal cheese’ we’ve all seen in the media this week.

    by prembrowne on Jun 3, 2013 at 10:51 am

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