Adam Goodes – Zero tolerance to racism

In the opening match of last weekend’s much touted ‘Indigenous Round’ of AFL football, dual Brownlow Medallist Adam Goodes stopped play during the final minutes of Sydney’s 47-point win over Collingwood to single out a 13 year old girl to security following a racist and offensive taunt.

“It felt like I was in high school again being bullied. I don’t think I’ve ever been more hurt by someone calling me a name. Not just by what was said, by who it came from,” he announced at his follow up press conference. “A simple word like ape can cut me so deep. It’s derogatory. It not only hurts me, it hurts all black people everywhere.”

We sense his pain. Goodes wants to see racism done away with within our nation’s history. “There’s no place for racism in society. I’m going to continue to stand up here and keep saying it until it is completely rid of.”

Sporting authorities have often been called upon to censure the monkey jibe. In one famous on-field incident, Indian off-spinner, Harbhajan Singh, was suspended for three matches after the Sydney Test in 2008 after match referee Mike Procter (South Africa) said he was satisfied that Harbhajan had indeed used the word ‘monkey’ against Australian all-rounder, Andrew Symonds, and that he had intended to offend Symonds on the basis of his ‘race’.

I could select numerous other examples of monkey insults coming from spectators off the field. But for the nation where I now work, Cameroon, it was the national hero (children here chant his name as they march into school) and Sydney Olympic Gold Medalist, Samuel Eto’o, who endured the peak of this ignominy at a 2006 Spanish league match between Barcelona and Real Zaragoza. A chorus of ape noises erupted from the stands whenever Eto’o touched the ball. It was the whole stadium chanting, not just a handful of fans.

In the country of my birth, South Africa, racism was legal and systematic. My father grew up knowing he could never represent his nation on the cricket field because of the race code stamped on his birth certificate, no matter how good he was. As a cricket administrator in the 1960s, he worked to integrate cricket amongst the different ethnic communities. Of course, that was totally unacceptable to the authorities at the time, which subsequently lead to our immigrating to Australia. My friends in Australia have difficulty understanding how I can possibly be classed ‘coloured’ considering the apparent fairness of my skin and eyes (especially as baldness removed my Afro fairly early), but such was the nonsense of the classification system.

We appreciate how racism must be countered actively, thoughtfully, and systematically. Post apartheid South Africa has passed legislation relating to hate speech without listing particular bogey words. In practice, South Africans know which terms were most commonly used to degrade and demean, and which are now actionable.

Goodes is an exemplar of what is best about Australian sport. He again was commended for his reaction to the race slur. “I don’t want people to go after this girl. It’s about education.”

So what in particular is there in our education systems that we might need to address? What’s clear here with the monkey taunts (though often not openly stated) is the acceptance of an evolutionary worldview, in which some people groups are less evolved than others—specifically, ‘blacks’ are less evolved than ‘whites’. Without this assumption, the examples above (Goodes, Symonds, Eto’o) and others (particularly in European football where this slur has frequently occurred) don’t carry any weight.

So to take Goodes at his word means, for one thing, being willing to affront that beguiling image within the Western psyche, that of primates changing from stooped, dark haired apes into upright (usually fair skinned) humans. The classic Victorian depiction shows a progression from dark skinned, broad-nosed australopithecines to a more European-looking Homo sapiens. Such icons reside on wall charts near Bunsen burners, in that wing of the school where you are not so encouraged to question the ‘facts’ as presented.

A friend recently showed me her high school science text that she still had from the 1960s, with diagrams showing specifically that the European races were the most evolved. My Chinese friend joked that when they taught that subject in China, the Chinaman was the one shown on top of the pyramid.

Goodes is correct to say that education is the key. While I know better than most that the root causes of racism are many and complex, society today is reaping the consequences of what it has sown educationally through its promotion of Darwinian philosophy. Yet we are under no compulsion to continue to blindly follow this outdated 19th Century idea. If we do so uncritically, then we are deserving of its consequences.

Michael Viljoen studied mathematics and philosophy before working as a high school music teacher, and then a translator in Africa. He currently works for Wycliffe Bible Translators Australia, an organisation committed to minority peoples and languages around the world in the fields of linguistics, literacy, and literature production.

About Michael Viljoen

Michael immigrated to Australia as a boy in the late '60s. His dad, having never seen a game of Australian Rules previously, stepped off the boat Thursday, found a job Friday, and Saturday was terrace side watching the VFL, Carlton v Geelong. He liked it so much he went back to the VFA on Sunday, Williamstown v Sunshine. Consequently, Michael was virtually raised at the MCG.

Comments

  1. Good article Michael, this would be a good read for the young girl concerned, though I’m sure she has been well and tuly been made aware by now of this connotation of the word and why the offence was taken.

    Examples of perceived or real racism that are worn on one’s sleeve is easy pickings though, it’s the racism that is kept under one’s hat that can be far more damaging – it happens every day and is rarely reported. It doesn’t make as interesting copy. Waleed Aly nails it here when he talks about Australia’s silent pervasive racism.

    http://www.theage.com.au/comment/curse-of-australias-silent-pervasive-racism-20130404-2h9i1.html

  2. Michael

    So your saying that we should challenge the mountains and mountains of evidence that supports Darwins wondrous discovery and go back to a book written by goat herders for goat herders in a pre scientfic age, which advocates sexsim, homophobia. slavery, capital punishment, stonings, wickedness, myopia, delusion, blind faith, wrath and rape. Is that right???

  3. The Wrap says:

    You left out genocide there T Bone.

  4. Yes, Wrap, and also the mutilation of sexual organs.

  5. It still pains me , the innefectual response of the ACB , after Andrew Symonds was called a ‘monkey.’ Too scared to challenge the BCCI, the ACB failed to support Symonds, allowing racism an escape clause in international cricket.To its credit the AFL has been far more pro active in this regard than its cricketing counterpart.

    Glen!

  6. Peter_B says:

    Geez, T-Bone. Take a deep breath mate. I am not a practicing Christian, but I have a deep respect for the Bible as a cultural record of man’s grappling with the divine and our purpose in life and on this planet.
    I am glad that it was written by deep thinking goat-herders (much like the Almanac really). The Old Testament contains some of the things you describe, but I find that no surprise given it comes from the desert 2,000+ years ago. The surprise is the deep wisdom and the generousity of spirit that it embodies. As a reader of popular history, can I recommend Thomas Cahill’s “Hinges of History” series of books about the Jews and the Gospel authors.
    I was deeply impressed by this article of Michael’s when I read it on Tuesday. I missed the stinger in the tail about creationism and evolution. But so what, it does not detract from his compassionate central argument.
    There are all sorts of strange and illogical superstitions in Christianity, Islam, Hinduism, Buddhism and Footyism.
    I find the long bow that Michael draws between evolution and racial abuse laughable. But that’s what I’ll do about it – laugh. To do more gives it more attention than it deserves.
    But having been moved to embrace Mark Doyle, I don’t want to let these various threads on racism and culture become a forum for name calling and denigration under a different label.
    PS – I picked the Dogs. Don’t let me down.

  7. Hey Pete

    The minute they take out all the sexsim, homophobia. slavery, stonings, wrath, myopia, fearmongering, hatemongering etc etc etc, I will! Otherwise it is a worthless book that has caused way more harm than good over the ages, as well as being responsible for more blood being shed than any other cause to the best of my estimation.

    But to try and be respectful, I don’t want to offend anyone, I’m only tring to put Michael’s laughable contentions into perspective. Here he is smearing one of the noblest of noble advances of our modern age, and doing so with one of the dirtiest misconceptions I’ve ever come across. Excusably, he’s made it very hard for me to keep my cool.

    Love your work Pete, and keep the words coming.

  8. Further Peter, on Mark Doyle … I love him. He’s the best thing on the site. All the same, he needs to work on his manners.

  9. Michael Viljoen says:

    Peter, & T Bone,
    You both refer to what I said as ‘laughable’ without really saying why it was so.
    That there is a clear connection between belief in evolution and the comments of the young girl coming over the fence (and why they’re deemed offensive) is evident. And I’m not the only one to notice it. Greg Baum in his article in The Age also mentions it. Is he laughable as well?
    http://www.theage.com.au/afl/afl-news/goodes-critics-way-off-mark-20130527-2n7kr.html

    Laughter can sometimes come out of shame or embarrassment. Could it be we’re embarrassed to think that something we’ve generally accepted at some level (evolution), taught in our society as self evident (it’s not), is leading to something we know is ugly (racism). I’m just bringing this (missing) link to notice, and ask that we are more critical and careful in what philosophies we’re adopting as a society, and what ideas we want filling our kids’ minds.

    And if you want to have a discussion about the Bible and its contents, I’m fine about that. But remember, it is you that is raising it, not me. (The reference in my profile to my job description was put there by the Almanac editors. I didn’t ask them to put it there.)

    Like Peter said above, I’m quite happy that the Bible is a lot like the Almanac in that it had so many contributors from such a wide cross section of people (kings, scholars, tradesmen, a tax agent, shepherds, etc.) If the Bible didn’t make reference to some of life’s unpleasantness that you mention, e.g. slavery, sexism, fear, hate, etc. then it would be accused of being out of touch with the real world.
    But if you want to talk about the Bible intelligently, then you’ll have to be specific and make reference to which part of it you’re acknowledging.

  10. Michael

    The Bible doesn’t make reference to sexism, homophobia, slavery etc etc etc etc, it advocates it ( time and time and time again …)

  11. I drafted a long reply to T-Bone’s comments at the time that he made them and then decided not to post my comment.

    However I will offer some thoughts now.

    Your comments, T-Bone, suggest that there may be some confusion around terminology.

    Both Michael and Greg Baum, and numerous other writers, are discussing what is known as Social Darwinism, which emerged at the time Darwin’s biological theories were gaining currency, and was based on Darwin’s theories.

    Social Darwinism has had an enormous influence on the planet.

    Social Darwinism argues that there is an ongoing evolution of the human species and that eventually the superior dominates (‘the survival of the fittest’). So, because one nation/people (then it was termed ‘race’) had mechanised and industrialised and had advances in technology and medicine and violins and wine and billiards and pheasant shooting (and especially weapons) it was superior and therefore had a moral obligation to bring the light of its civilisation to the rest of the world. At the same time it dismissed other peoples as ‘primitive’ and ‘inferior’ and ‘needing to be saved from itself’.

    Social Darwinism is not something that might be merely branded ‘racist’, it has ‘race’ at its core, it is a philosophy built on notions of race as its central assumption. I am persuaded by the argument concerning Social Darwinism (brought by many scholars who pursue the need to understand why racism remains all-pervading and why we live in the world we do) that it has had a profound effect on the planet and continues to have a profound effect. (Australia and the US are two classic examples)

    Social Darwinism was used to justify the conquering of Indigenous peoples, the establishing of colonial societies, and the appalling treatment of people. (Check out eugenics)

    It is well worth reading broadly and deeply on the topic of Social Darwinism. It’s also worth looking at the writings of Australian colonial life, and post-Federation life. The superior-inferior discourse is THE BASIS OF LEGISLATION AND POLICY. This emerges out of arrogant western understands of themselves and their culture. It is about power. ‘Best intentions’ arguments may complicate matters, but they don’t generate much sympathy for the perpetrators.

    We remain the society of our history.

    The Goodes incident pointed to notions of dominant culture (the legacy of that history) which is a discussion for another day.

    You mention not being able to keep your cool T-Bone. I mention bemusement. I am no active apologist for the Christian tradition, although it may be identified in my philosophical positions, but as my old English teacher C. D. Yeabsley always said, even though he was a confident atheist, “You cannot understand western civilisation without understanding the Bible.”

    I think T-Bone that you have also jumped to conclusions that as soon as someone describes themselves as a Christian or a Biblical scholar you brand them unable to engage in sophisticated thought. That is a ridiculous notion.

    Sometimes comments have the polar opposite effect of that very commenter’s intentions.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Social_Darwinism

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Postcolonialism

  12. John

    Wow!

    Look, I’m happy to wear a little hostility over my poor manners last weekend. I went at Michael like an attack dog, and if you read Peter B’s post, I made an effort to atone for as much. If you were offended too, please also accept my apology. Hand on my heart, I meant no offence, I only wanted to defend evolution. Just wish I’d been a bit more civilized about it.

    Now for your comments, John, I think I’ve been well misunderstood. I’m not disputing that Social Darwinism may have been used by racists. I don’t believe I even touched upon it in any of my comments?? All I said was that it was laughable to suggest that challenging evolution as a theory would make a difference to sorting out racism. Those were his comments if you re read his posts and comments. Michael went on to lament that we teach children evolution in this age with no scope of accommodating other viewpoints. He also went on to challenge the legitimacy of evolution. How was this germane to the discussion???? Like, the forum was about racism, not debunking evolution?? Frankly, I found it galling that he was trying to twist the focus that way. Hence my regrettable aggression.

    As for jumping to conclusions that religious people are not capable of sophisticated thought? I don’t know where that came from? I know I mocked the Bible here and there in my comments, but I never once said anything against religious people. Perhaps you’re alluding to my comments where I noted that Michael was involved in Bible translations? If so, all I was doing there is piecing together where Michael was heading with his mystifying contentions. That was just detective work and in no way a slur on Christians or the religious. Please re read the comment and I’m sure you’ll see it that way.

    In closing John, I know I have mocked the Bible in a lot of the comments in these posts, but in my defense, I was using only fighting fire with fire. Michael threw the first punch by attacking something that was sacred to me. I guess I retaliated by attacking something that is sacred to him. It was regrettable that I was so savage about it, but alas, having a temper is all part of being human, ain’t it.

    PS And on criticizing the Bible, I hope that just like anything else on this website, it’s not off limits? The Almanac would be a lesser place if that were the case.

  13. Michael,

    You asked why I and others found it laughable to suggest that questioning evolution in the classroom would go some way towards addressing racism? It’s laughable because kids today aren’t taught that any particular race of humans are more evolved than others. If you know of instances where this has not been the case, then those teachers are ignorant of genetic studies on the matter. Further, it’s also laughable because evolution is an unshakably embraced fact. Through assembling mountains and mountains of evidence, scientists, with no agenda other then to try and understand this wondrous universe we live in, have satisfied all reasonably minded people that this must be the way it all works. Moreover, Science has also fielded challenges and continues to welcome challenges about its findings on evolution, and still the theory prevails. Now having said all that laughable stuff, Michael, what is not laughable is how creationists are trying to subvert Science in the American deep-south by teaching non scientific intelligent design in science classes. What is not laughable is that these people have an agenda to subvert hard evidence with superstitious beliefs – to undermine critically tested hypotheses with their mumbo jumbo. Still, not laughable as that situation is, you have to laugh don’t you. Otherwise you’d cry.

  14. Michael,

    You keep coming back to this website making outlandish comments that evolution is not proven. You also dispute that the Bible contains a great deal of repugnance in it. More gallingly, you accuse me of not arguing matters intelligently, and that I have no good reason to snigger at your laughable suggestion that teaching modern evolutionarily theories causes racism. Well enough is enough, mate. Over the next 100 days I will incrementally put forward evidence to support evolution, illustrate the repugnance in the Bible and illustrate why your suggestion is laughable. As you’ll see, I will systematically address all these untruths you’ve contended over the last weeks. I will also endeavor to steer away from insults and malice (but it won’t be easy!!) And without adieu, let’s get the ball rolling.

    1. Evidence for Evolution

    Consider the plasticity of humans: we are black, white, olive, yellow and if you count four and twenty pie eaters, grey. We are also as short as pygmies and as tall as the 6ft 4 on average Sudanese. There are Arabs and Indians and Chinese and Aborigines and Europeans. There are also Eskimos and American Indians and Pacific Islanders and lastly, people from Adelaide. All these different races of our same species have been moulded by their environments. The dark skinned ones have adapted to life on the equator and the light skinned ones to life in the temperate climes. Short peoples and tall peoples have also been moulded by the demands of their environment. Genetically, Michael, none of these peoples are more evolutionarily advanced than the others in terms of being human, they are just better equipped to deal with the demands of the regions in which they settled in. Like, as Charles Darwin must have marveled, mate, it’s just wondrous how living things like us bend and adapt into the many shapes that we morph into (and looking at my waistline these days, some of us do it in the one lifetime!)

    2 .One of a 100 repugnant quotes from the Bible

    “If a man commits adultery with the wife of his neighbour, both the adulterer and the adulteress shall be put to death. The man who lies with his father’s wife has uncovered his father’s nakedness; both of them shall be put to death; their blood is upon them.”

    3. Your laughable suggestion

    OK, so we scrap teaching evolution to kids. What do we teach then? Creationism? OK, let’s give that a go. So kids, God created Adam and Eve, and I guess we’re all descendants of them. What’s that? What colour are they? Um, they were Jews so I guess they are olive. How does that explain all the different colours people are? [Hmm, this is a perceptive kid!] Well, you got me stumped there Timmy … um, let me just check that confounded Bible, again.

  15. And here’s another today for good measure!

    1. Evidence for Evolution.

    Consider how average heights of people have fluctuated over the ages. As recent as 200 years ago, the average height of soldiers in the French Revolution was 5 foot. The average height of French men is now 5 9”. In this short period of time, through better health and diet, French males have evolved to be taller. Like, in less than the blink of the eye on a geographical clock scale, the croissant has moulded the Pierre’s and Marcel’s of this world into a taller race. Makes you wonder what 1000, or 10,000 or 100,000 thousand million years can do to us malleable life-forms, doesn’t it?

    2 .One of a 100 repugnant quotes from the Bible

    When a slave-owner strikes a male or female slave with a rod and the slave dies immediately, the owner shall be punished. But if the slave survives for a day or two, there is no punishment; for the slave is the owners property. [Exodus, chapter 21]

    3. Your laughable suggestion

    OK, so we scrap teaching evolution to kids. How do we explain Dinosaur bones? They’re not detailed in the Bible. Do we tell them they never made in on the Ark? Or maybe we tell them that they were a wicked, wicked species that God wiped them out and condemned them to Hell??????? Please sort this one out for me.

    MORE TOMORROW!!

  16. Peter_B says:

    “And should a man spend a hundred days railing against the sins of his neighbour, a pestilence shall be upon his Western lands and all his Dogs shall die. For my wife is an Avenging Eagle and I shall have no other God but her.”
    (St Peter’s Letter to the Footscrasians 9:6)

  17. Phil Dimitriadis says:

    PB, I was going to go to church this morning, but I’ve been inspired by T-Bone’s fire and brimstone sermon on evolution. T-Bone, the Alan Killegrew of Darwinism!

  18. Michael,

    Had a spare 5 minutes to get another in today!

    1. Evidence supporting Evolution.

    Consider dog breeding. Over the last few centuries, humans have manipulated the shape and temperament of our many K9 breeds. We now have docile dogs and aggressive dogs and hunting dogs and cutsy little lap dogs (and god I hate them!). By selecting a characteristic that they wanted to hone, breeders have moulded dogs just the way nature moulds all living things. Like, is this not also a wondrous example of the plasticity of all living things; and moreover, imagine where these breeds would be if this process took place over a million years??

    2 .One of a 100 repugnant quotes from the Bible

    For six days, work is to be done, but the seventh day shall be your holy day, a Sabbath of rest to the LORD. Whoever does any work on it must be put to death. Exodus 35:2

    3. Your laughable suggestion

    OK, so we scrap teaching evolution to kids. Right, Dinosaur bones, again: do we use use Scientific techniques to test their age, or do we scrap that too and use something else?? … Awaiting your direction.

    Peter and Phil … ha ha!!!!!!!

  19. Michael

    More on our little tet-e-tete

    1. Evidence supporting Evolution.

    Consider the peppered Moth. Up until the Industrial Revolution, these moths were typically whitish in color with black spots, although they were found in a variety of shades. As the Industrial Revolution reached its peak, the air in London became full of soot, and the once-white trees and buildings that moths used for camouflage became stained black. The birds began to eat more of the lighter-colored moths because they were more easily spotted than the darker ones. Over the course of a few months, dark moths started appearing in the area and lighter moths became scarce. Once the Industrial Revolution peak passed, lighter moths made a comeback. (Note: this elegant example is an extract from elsewhere on the web.)

    2 .One of a 100 repugnant quotes from the Bible

    “And the daughter of any priest, if she profane herself by playing the whore, she profaneth her father: she shall be burnt with fire.” (Leviticus 21:9)

    3. Your laughable suggestion

    OK, so we scrap teaching evolution to kids. What do we teach then? Let’s try the Bible again. OK, so God created Adam and Eve kids, and we’re all descendants of them. What’s that Sandeep? You say your mum said this superstitious belief conflicts with your superstitious beliefs? Hmm … And what’s that Gurrumul? Your mum says this superstitious belief conflicts with your superstitious beliefs, as well? Hmm, tricky. OK, I got it !!! Kids, put away all your books on physics and chemistry and geology and all the other books that conflict with the parables in your superstitious beliefs, and cluster into groups with kids that share your superstitious beliefs and damn it, we’ll tackle this science class one superstitious belief at a time.

  20. G’day T-Bone

    A few points:

    I don’t think this is about the doubting of the theory of evolution.

    The Bible is not off limits – far from it. It requires the same critical eye as any other text.

    I don’t think anyone but you (from the outset) has framed this thread as some sort of tete-e-tete.

    Michael established the debate but you altered its tone considerably. If you choose to use the tools of hyperbole, sarcasm, belittling and ridicule in an aggressive tone then readers are going to draw their own conclusions.

    Now you have chosen a modified approach, but it seems to me that you are unable to represent Michael’s argument in a reasonable way. It seems to me you are not really engaging with it at all.

    PB’s comments are illustrative.

    It seems Michael has removed his follow-up comments.

  21. Hey John

    “I don’t think this is about the doubting of the theory of evolution.” It is with Michael. Read his post and comments!

    “The Bible is not off limits – far from it. It requires the same critical eye as any other text.” Great to hear.

    “I don’t think anyone but you (from the outset) has framed this thread as some sort of tete-e-tete.” Michael stated a ridiculous untruth. I’m addressing it.

    “Michael established the debate but you altered its tone considerably. If you choose to use the tools of hyperbole, sarcasm, belittling and ridicule in an aggressive tone then readers are going to draw their own conclusions.
    Now you have chosen a modified approach, but it seems to me that you are unable to represent Michael’s argument in a reasonable way. It seems to me you are not really engaging with it at all.” That’s debatable. But I’ll try not be so nasty from here on.

    “PB’s comments are illustrative.” PB’s comments are ALWAYS illustrative. Gotta love him

    “It seems Michael has removed his follow-up comments.” Many of Michael’s comments are on Peter B’s post.

  22. Hey John

    Here’s some choice extracts of Michael’s comments on Peter B’s post.

    “And while I’m here, I’ll add that evolution is not a proven fact. There are no solid facts associated with the theory of descent from a common ancestor. If you know of anything hard and solid, please let the rest of us know.”

    “If we were selling ourselves that short for something really useful, that’d be one thing. But for the last 150 years, the ‘facts’ on Darwin’s theory are what they’ve always been – unforthcoming.”

    “Goodes said that the young girl needed educating. (And now Eddie needs educating.) Yet we still educate our kids with evolution theory. In science class, we admonish our kids for even questioning the theory. Society has trapped itself in a contradiction.”

    You’ll note he cavalierly invites me to put forward any hard evidence I have on supporting Evolution. Also, in a comment in this post he also refutes that the Bible advocates the repugnant elements I’m drawing to his attention. I mean, why let that go when it’s so obviously wrong?

    Again, John, all I’m trying to do is defend something I care deeply for: truth. I guess you feel I’m doing so in an unsavoury way, and in respect for this website being your baby, I’ll try and alter my tone in future posts. But it’s gonna be hard, mate, coz this is something that really flares my temper.

  23. Go for it Zitter/TBone. The page is yours, and anyone’s.

    But why temper?

  24. Love ya John. And I’ll try to be nice here on!

  25. One other thing, again I think T-Bone you are at cross purposes with Michael.

    One writer is recognising a theory as theory.

    The other writer is ascribing truth to a theory (albeit a well-established and accepted theory).

    Work out who is who. Who is the fundamentalist here?

  26. Michael Viljoen says:

    T-Bone,
    You accuse me of saying we should scrap teaching evolution to kids. I never said that. You’re getting lost in your hyperbole.

    I said we need to be more critical in how and what we’re teaching our kids. That is, we need to be discerning and assess carefully what they’re being taught. I don’t know why you would want to disagree.

    You say kids today aren’t taught that any particular race of humans is more evolved than the others. Well it’s a good thing they’re not. Yet that is exactly what they were being taught just a few decades ago. The memory of such teaching came over the fence, directed at Adam Goodes a few weeks ago.

    Are you saying that everything Darwin taught in the 19th Century should be taught verbatim and uncritically? I would hope not.

    But look at the hyperbolic reaction you’ve given at the mere mention that someone might even question certain ideas. Is that how you want science teaching conducted? That if any student dares to raise their hand and question the validity of something, they’re met with a tirade of vehemence and sarcasm?

    If kids in school are not taught anymore that any particular race of humans is more evolved than the others, it’s because at some point in time the old and accepted scientific ‘facts’ were allowed to be challenged and scrutinised. 

    But, given your theory, why is it that one ‘race’ is not more evolved than any other, considering their supposed tens of thousands of years of separation? (Do we just admit to a secular miracle?)

  27. Michael Viljoen says:

    When I challenged you for hard evidence for evolution, what you put forward was variety amongst people, dogs, and moths. That is, when we start to investigate people, dogs, and moths we then see the wonderful variety and diversity capable within those kinds. But in the end we finish with people, dogs, and moths. That hardly explains the origin of people or dogs or moths. It certainly doesn’t prove that people were ever anything other than people.

    My understanding of genetics certainly supports my belief that all people are very closely related. But you need to get over this hurdle that says all reasonably minded people accept evolution theory. I don’t, and I’ve spoken with numerous highly credentialed scientists who also do not accept that humans share ancestry with apes.

  28. Hi Michael

    Just out of courtesy to you, in that you’ve gone to the trouble of responding to my regrettable publicity stunt last week, I’m happy to post this one last comment on this matter. It is: I disagree.

  29. Hi Michael,

    I’ve come up with something that might help you get your head around Darwin’s wonderful discovery.

    Consider this formula:

    i) Dismiss god and creationism as unscientific concepts form a pre-scientific age
    ii) Add measurable scientific data like the plasticity of all living things, fossils etc
    iii) Add a billion years.

    Outcome? It all adds up to evolution.

  30. Michael Viljoen says:

    T-Bone,
    Thanks for the tip. I hope you don’t mind if I disagree. I’ve considered the formula. It doesn’t add up.

    If we’re after something measurable, then it couldn’t be billions of years. For no one was around to measure that far back. But the many millions of years are useful for settings things back into the realm of the imagination, where with a degree of plasticity anything is possible.

    Fossils are measurable, but they appear in the record suddenly and fully formed. They don’t appear to speak for evolution.

    But thanks for your thoughts. I’ll probably make this my last comment. The issues are deep. I would hope people might allow themselves to reflect even a little.

    In challenging racism, I’ve found one very positive story that amazingly shows potential of what could be. In this example of inter-racial brotherhood, George ‘Snow’ Wilson donated a kidney to his Vietnam War mate, Bill Coolburra.

    That Bill and Snow’s donor compatibility could be possible for such a transplant would be surprising to many, considering the difficulty of finding compatible organ donors and that their respective ‘races’ were supposedly separated for tens or hundreds of thousands of years. You can get the full story here:
    http://creation.com/blood-brothers

    The kidney transplant story is based in historic and scientific fact. It helps us to go beyond mere theory, imagination, or philosophy.

    And your theory still leaves me wondering why it is with the wonderful plasticity of humankind and eons of time lived apart, all races should all end up being equal. (I’ve never seen a footy ladder progress with all the teams finishing equal.)

  31. Michael

    I was thinking the other day about how our legal system would work if you and your kind were in the mix. Like, if we took your unforensic approach to solving crime, we’d never put crims away. I mean, Science has put forward fingerprints, a smoking gun and a semen stain and you still refute it. Mate, Al Capone and co would love to inhabit the wacky universe that you get around in.

    PS: on this being your last post, thank god … or is that thank Buddha, or thank Mohammed or thank Zeus … with all the god there’s been through the ages, one gets confused.

    PPS: also, thanks for link to the religious website propagating religious nonsense which subverts hard science. It’ll come in handy for some laughs down the track

  32. You haven’t covered yourself in glory here, T-Bone. I’ve never enjoyed an overly aggressive approach – in life or on this site. I enjoyed Michael’s contribution, I would like to think he would feel welcome to post another at the Almanac but I wouldn’t be surprised if he chose not to. Disappointing.

  33. Michael, thanks for your original contribution. I appreciate the time and thought involved.

  34. Hi Cookie

    Yeah, you’re right. I know I keep over stepping the mark with Michael. Shouldn’t have signed off with that ‘thank god, it’s your last post’ bit. Apologies again. I have no right to sound off like I’m happty to see the back of anyone. Regrettable.

    My awful manners aside, I still find Michaels attempts to steer the focus away from the original issue infuriating. His agenda all along has been to cultivate a ridiculous notion that teaching evoultion to kids is the root of our problem with racism. As I discussed with John H in a private email, we do not teach kids that man ascended from rodent to ape to black man to white man, we teach that man developed in several stages from a lesser lifeform to a human .. one that represents all races. Michaels attempts to smear that has been calculated and insidious. But here I am going over the same ole same ole …

    Cheers Cookie … sorry I’ve been such a boor and just to put this to bed my end, I won’t make another comment on this matter as a penance.

  35. Zitter, are you coming to an Almanac lunch soon? Would be good to catch up for a beer.

  36. I have anger mangement Tuesday, Thursday and Fridays and I go on archaeological digs most other days. In between all that I spend my time working on a manifesto (rant!) against religion. But you know what, coz you and John and thes rest of the folks on this site are such wonderful people, I’ll make an effort first chance I get. What day are they?

  37. June 28 – Almanac lunch at the All Nations Hotel in Richmond. 12.30 for 1pm. Join Brian Matthews as he chats about footy, writing and the joy of following the St Kilda Football Club.

  38. It’s in my diary!

  39. Michael Viljoen says:

    T-Bone,
    You say I was getting away from the central issue. That is not true. The central issue is whether or not it is fair and reasonable in modern, civilised society to call a football player of indigenous background an ‘ape’, and if not, why not. (We mostly agree it is not.) Quite plainly, the issue is related somewhat to beliefs surrounding the theory of evolution. So to discuss this openly, as I have, is not steering away from the issue. It is the issue.

    You accuse me of saying that the teaching of evolution is the root problem of racism. I never said this. I said that historically it has been one contributing factor.

    On the other hand, it is you who have tried to steer the issue onto secondary issues such as the nature of Biblical interpretation, or justice based on forensic evidence.

    On this last issue, I made reference to this in another Almanac article “Masters Golf and Justice”, after Adam Scott won this year’s US Masters. I pointed out the coincidence in history between the Australian near misses at Augusta National starting with Greg Norman in 1981 and finishing with Scott’s victory in 2013, roughly covering the same 32 year period that Lindy Chamberlain was seeking Justice in the Northern Territory and federal courts (1980-2012). She eventually received justice, as did Australian golf.

    So for you to suggest that forensic evidence is the key to solving all crime is just absurd. The greatest legal injustice that this country has ever seen came on the back of faulty forensic evidence. All of the eye-witnesses who were present on the night of the disappearance of Azaria Chamberlain were in agreement that Lindy Chamberlain was telling the truth. We all learned a valuable lesson about comparing the value of ‘expert’ forensic evidence versus eye-witness testimony.

    Cookie,
    Thanks for your kind words. It’s appreciated.

  40. Michael

    Good luck with your beliefs. And as for arguing this any further, I needn’t. Truth and good sense has prevailed and evolution is taught to our children. Just as it should be.

  41. Peter_B says:

    Mr T-Bone,
    May I recommend Voltaire. “I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it.” On his death bed after a life time of criticising the church he accepted the Catholic Last Rites saying “now is not the time to be making new enemies.”

  42. Peter

    Yeah I love the irony of that. Still Voltaire convinces me as a man who was across what religion was all about. It was he who said “If there wasn’t a god, they’d be a need to create one’ wasn’t it? Clever bugger. On the deathbed thing, put it down to a weak moment or a man hedging his bets. When your about to go, who knows how desperate you’ll get to try anything.

    PS Great piece on Dave Warner

  43. Michael Viljoen says:

    How did the lunch go, Cookie? I’m sorry I couldn’t make it.

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