July 30, 2015

Horse 1948 - Nope. It's Racism. Stop Whitewashing It.

I am a white man aged between 18 & 70. I make up most of the boards of companies in Australia and I am most of the CEOs. I still control most of the wealth of Australia and up until 2010, I was every Prime Minister of Australia. To any observer who actually bothers to open their eyes, I am a privileged individual. My grandfathers and fathers before me stole countries through the cunning use of flags, dispossessed peoples of their land, drove their rights into the ground which they once held freely and in quiet enjoyment, and rewrote the very law itself to protect myself inside the porcelain towers of privilege that I'd built for myself. When someone shakes that tower or chips away even the smallest patch of whitewashed glaze from its porcelain, I complain longly and loudly that it is their fault. If I could, I would put all people who do not look like me into glass cases; so that I could see them and observe them (but I do not want to hear them) and I also want to put their treasures on display. I am a white man aged between 18 & 70 and my might makes right.

Let's not beat about the bush here. The people booing Adam Goodes are racists. I don't mean this as a term of abuse but as a descriptor which is backed up with repeated evidence. The reason why Adam Goodes has been made a target is that he has decided that enough is enough and has taken a visible stand against that racism.
When I read Miranda Devine's piece in the Daily Telegraph yesterday (in the physical dead tree edition because journalism is worth paying for) I saw someone who has missed the mark badly. The final lines of that piece are below:

Well, that’s in your hands, Adam. Apologise to the girl, and recognise that Australians don’t take kindly to being accused of being racists when they are not.
Then the crowd might fall back in love with you.
- Miranda Devine, Daily Telegraph, 29th Jul 2015

Ms Devine is a rightist libertarian who believes in the power of free speech. I should say at this point that I disagree violently with many of the views which she has expressed through her columns but this is not one of them. I believe that free speech is fundamental to the proper operation of a working democracy. In that light, the ideas touted should be evaluated and tested; so that the bad ones wither and die in the great marketplace of ideas. Bad ideas should be allowed to fail to sell. So let's do precisely that.

Football crowds in all codes across the world are known for their bluntness. Booing and jeering is often part of their repertoire (along with more unsavory items in their arsenal) and so it's usually ridiculously easy to work out their intent.
Usually when abuse is hurled at a specific player, it's equally as obvious. For instance, last year when Buddy Franklin was playing for Sydney against his former club Hawthorn, there were obvious cries of "Judas" every time he touched the ball. It was a specific grievance directed at a specific player for a specific reason. This round of booing directed at Adam Goodes is not necessarily directed at him only but also at other Aboriginal players such as Lewis Jetta and no matter which way you like to dress this up, it's a public display of racism writ large for the world to see.
It's so ridiculously easy to work out the intent of the booing that it should be a fait accompli to see that and report it as such. That is, unless you are the Daily Telegraph (or Alan Jones).

The Daily Telegraph has a specific problem with racism in that one of of its columnists was found to have breached the Racial Discrimination Act and specifically section 18C. Of course being part of a powerful organisation, it along with a particular think-tank and even the political party which it nominally supports (maybe even financially, I didn't know and we'll not be told either) as part of its intent to exercise power, wants to repeal section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act so that it presumably can go back to writing careless pieces with impunity.
The truth is that I don't know if Ms Devine is personally a racist. I do know that the organisation that she works for got into trouble over such an issue and so she might be being directed to write such a piece. She could also be genuinely ignorant and considers that the right to free speech is more important than the harm it causes.

Presumably this piece also appeared in Melbourne's Herald-Sun, Brisbane's Courier-Mail and the Adelaide Advertiser as well as the Daily Telegraph in Sydney where I read it. That is a lot of power to be wielding and in two of those markets (Brisbane and Adelaide), there are no other daily newspapers to act as a counterpoint to cast ideas into the ring. Either due to personal reasons, organisational direction or sheer ignorance, this piece excuses racism and condones it through one of the loudest voices in the country. It is the act of a bully. Sticks and stones might break my bones but words will cause psychological harm; especially when its coming from a powerful organisation.

What are Adam Goods actual options? I'm reasonably sure that he isn't simply performing war dances in isolation but in reaction to the taunts that he receives. Unlike a writer who has the platform of a network of newspapers, Adam Goodes platform is the green grass of a football field. In this context, his response to the racism that he receives is to publicly and visually show pride in his Aboriginality. In a public arena the response to people exercising their right to free speech is a public display of the right to freedom of expression; that if anything, should fit nicely in line with Ms Devine's value set. I find it weird that she is engaging in victim blaming.
Maybe I shouldn't be though. She is a white lady aged between 18 & 70. Maybe we're not so different after all; except that I can see racism for what it is.

Apart from the Sydney Swans and the efforts of a handful of clubs, most notably the Western Bulldogs, neither AFL fans nor the Melbourne media have mounted much of a campaign to come to Goodes’ defence.
There is no way the NRL would let it happen. And if they even tried to bury their heads in the sand the Sydney media and community would never have let them get away with it. It’s a city that likes to see action.
- Tim Gleason, Daily Telegraph, 30th Jul 2015

Does the "Melbourne media" include the Herald-Sun? Ms Devine certainly didn't come to Goodes' defence. The Sydney Media probably would let them get away with it - it's mostly the same organisations.

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