Mar 3, 2017

Rundle: Abdel-Magied’s FU2Racism program a reductive failure. Zero stars.

The Truth About Racism is unquestioning in its implicit support for social reprogramming by the state, and its gimmicky TV semi-science makes the opposite point it set out to.

Guy Rundle — Correspondent-at-large

Guy Rundle


There have been some pretty duff shows in the history of Australian television -- I should know, I've made a few of them -- but none, I think, so self-defeating as an episode of SBS' Face Up To Racism (or "FU2Racism") week of programming, called The Truth About Racism, presented by Yassmin Abdel-Magied.

"Can racism be detected in the brain?", the show's promo asked, over pictures of people wired up to screens, pushing buzzers, doing the mirror box trick to be convinced that they had an arm of a different skin colour, etc, etc. The correct answer to the promo's question would have yielded a two-second show, so it was safe to presume that the producers believed it could, and would demonstrate to us how.

Free Trial

Proudly annoying those in power since 2000.

Sign up for a FREE 21-day trial to keep reading and get the best of Crikey straight to your inbox

By starting a free trial, you agree to accept Crikey’s terms and conditions


Leave a comment

18 thoughts on “Rundle: Abdel-Magied’s FU2Racism program a reductive failure. Zero stars.

  1. Vince

    I’m sure you’re aware, Guy, that Nick Folkes has been an enduring feature of the far right in Australia and is making the most of the publicity that SBS seems to keep giving him and United Patriots / Freedom Party, having also appeared on “Go back to where you’re came from”. Through these shows he gets an initial platform then plays it for all it’s worth, bleating to sympathetic media orgs afterwards eg The Australian that the show was a stitch up etc, thereby getting more coverage for his views. I just can’t believe SBS keep doing it.

  2. Anthony Ferguson

    ‘…the poverty of the poor was due to their mental deficiency,…’
    Wait, isn’t that a current Coalition policy?

  3. Humphrey Bower

    Racism is a form of behaviour or practice, not just a psychological disposition or (even) a set of beliefs. (Under ‘practice’ I include speech and other forms of ‘discursive practice’.) Discuss.

    1. craig

      I don’t know that you’d find many disagreeing with you there, HB.. Psychological disposition and the kind of behaviour it informs are clearly not mutually exclusive.

    2. Will

      Not quite sure what you’re getting at here, Humphrey. If you mean that state or societal suppression or policing of racist physical and verbal behaviours can’t eliminate racist thoughts, and it is really these that must be addressed, then of course, I’d completely agree. If on the other hand you’re saying that state suppression of racist behaviours equates to totalitarian-like policing of thought, I’d disagree. It can, yes, but it doesn’t have to. The judge could sentence an offending neo-nazi to a year in prison, to a year to being janitor of a holocaust memorial, or to a choice of the two.

  4. peter love

    Here, Guy is conflating race and religion.

    But what gets me about his and Razer’s items is that they are never constructive. In this case, does he believe racism is a problem in our community, and if so, what is the solution?

    I also note that, unlike him, one of the guests was at least qualified to opine about psychology.

    1. Joe Fitzpatrick

      I suspect you’ve missed his argument. He explicitly spoke of ethnic subgroups of specific religions.
      And this, “What is the solution?” stuff is infantile. Let’s begin by pointing out the true problem and that the solution currently advocated by progressives is flawed, if not futile.

  5. John Hall

    Saw enough on Twitter to know that this would be simplistic & a waste of time. Thanks for confirming it.

  6. Bob the builder

    A moderately interesting article is struggling to escape from this stream-of-consciousness ramble.
    In all those words though you didn’t include your usual hate-fetish about Polish people … Surely some meaningless quip about being white yet not having any kindred feeling towards Poles could have been worked in there in multiple parts?

  7. Reverend Owen

    Each of our interactions trigger a cascade of responses conscious and unconscious. When I meet someone a different colour my internal racist xenophobe instantly makes a bunch of assumptions up before being squashed by the internal PC liberal which is replaced by the insecure child because by now the person I’m talking to is looking at me strangely.
    And yes the programme’s tripe but what a courageous young woman Abdel-Magied is.

    1. Will

      What’s so courageous about saying stupid stuff? (Otherwise, wtf is my Congressional Medal of Honor?)

    2. Steve Ovens

      Thanks for the confession, Reverend. When I meet someone of a different colour I say hello.

    3. Joe Fitzpatrick

      I don’t know a lot about Abdel-Magied, beyond her bizarre assertion that (1) Sharia law actually means how any Mulsim personally chooses to live their life under the law of the land and that, therefore, (2) Anyone who criticises Sharia law is actually criticising Australian law and, further, (3) by criticising Sharia we are personally denying her right to exist.

      She openly associates with and seeks advice from Wassim Doureihi, meanwhile, who advocates the annihilation of Israel and restoration of a pan-national Islamic Caliphate. Whether she has the maturity or self-awareness to understand that yet is in question.

      1. Bob the builder

        Fair enough. But where is the outrage about all the Catholics who operate under Canon Law? They have some pretty mad ideas too …

  8. old greybearded one

    I am often amused by this sort of stuff. You see I live in a town where we have the odd Muslim (few), Indian, Korean or whatever. we are too small and too far away. We have a lot of Aboriginal folks. Unlike some of the clowns who write I work with these folks every day. I teach their kids, I sing with them, I yarn in the street. Some are the most loyal mates, some are drunks some are druggies, some are hard working small business folks, some just work, one is the oldest shearer in NSW, some are useless pricks, some support their families and some should be banned from having kids at all. Most of the kids though couldn’t care less. There are a few whose parents need a flogging, bit they accept each other. It is a lonf time since I heard serious racism from kids. we get along OK in Australia until some racist scum eg JW Howard, Abbott, Hanson, Bernardi, Christensen, Bolt etc fly the flag and make it cool. Rememebr Howard was the ONLY member of Fraser’s cabinet to vote against the Vietnamese refugees. May these white supremacist boat people (because we are all migrants form somewhere) rot in hell.

  9. Kyle Geaney

    Yes! Because “A minority with the right ideas in not a minority” – that bit where the girl is touching up this slogan on the wall, making it all neat and presentable? Abdel-Magied et al remind me of the kid in kindergarten who had all the cool stationery and was very discriminate about who got to borrow them.

  10. Venise Alstergren

    The fact the show avoided the subject of eugenics-the mammoth in the room- led me to believe the producers palmed off Ray Martin’s indigenous relative as being a sufficiently momentous happening that viewers would be distracted.
    I think you made the point one shouldn’t believe the fascist right wingers are stupid. You saw the intellectual level of those people. Not stupid? Give over.

Share this article with a friend

Just fill out the fields below and we'll send your friend a link to this article along with a message from you.

Your details

Your friend's details