Thanks Adam

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I think Eddie McGuire may have inadvertently done us all (Adam Goodes excepted) a favour with his mug lair attempts at ‘humour’ on Melbourne radio Wednesday morning.

All week I have had the feeling that the Friday incident had been publicly concluded to the self-satisfaction of the AFL and the P.C. ‘chattering classes’.  Eddie’s Presidential response on Friday night was straight out of “Public Relations Crisis Management for Dummies” (though he does seem to struggle with the same mea culpa when he is the mea in question).

By Sunday we were all congratulating ourselves on ‘how far we’d come’, though of course the incident showed there was always the need to be vigilant and reinforce the message.  The problem is that it was all at the level of the superficial – what is spoken in public – not what is felt but only spoken in private.

It came home to me when 3 mates that I know to be decent and compassionate blokes, were all dismissive of the whole issue.  Two are migrants and commented that far worse things were said to them throughout their school years, and they just learned to turn the other cheek.  When I asked how they would respond to the same comments today, they agreed they would “knock their blocks off”.  It is just not something that they continue to encounter in their adult life today.

And there is the first rub – racism or any derogatory sleight is a slippery concept because much of the hurt depends on the background of the recipient – not the intent of the speaker (be it a 13YO or Club President/media magnate).  We all know that in our day to day lives, some people really ‘push our buttons’ because they touch our childhood wounds.

I could turn my back on being called an ‘ape’ – because it is quite obviously ridiculous.  But I was not labelled as sub-human growing up, and have not strived all my life to prove myself as a role model citizen and athlete.

I could take it because it’s ridiculous.  Goodes quite obviously couldn’t and shouldn’t – because it’s so bloody unfair.

My mates could see this, but they still weren’t convinced.  And this is where I started to agree with them.  It is very hard to have a serious debate about the politics of disadvantage, without being labelled as a racist or apologist for the status quo.

Witness #1: Matthew Rendell.  His attempt to have a serious debate within his club and the AFL about the underlying reasons for the increased reluctance to draft new indigenous players (only 3 in the current draft – down from 25% a few years ago) got him vilified and sacked.

My belief is that most Australians have an instinctive belief in the fair go.  They know that aboriginal people were brutalised and massacred in our colonial history, and that well-intentioned but misguided programs of kidnapping and forced assimilation had disastrous consequences up to recent times.

We feel a shame for that history and we want to put it right.  But our instinct is that this requires a hand-up not a hand-out.  There is a deep resentment at welfare dependence, and the culture of complaint/entitlement that creates headlines for some indigenous activists.  My belief is that media shapes negative perceptions by its own ‘dog whistle’ recognition that sensible public policy debates create little interest.  Land rights claims over the CBD, or patronage scandals do.

What has all that got to do with racist taunts over a boundary fence, or pub banter repeated on breakfast radio?  The sense that however ridiculous or unfair it could partly be seen as ‘payback’ for tokenism and counter-productive political correctness.

I’ll put my hand up and say that I think the ‘welcome to country’ ritual invites ridicule by its constant repetition, rather than reinforcing any real sense of occasion or meaning.  I like the Indigenous Round because I love the history of sport and it prompts so many memories of great players and achievements.  But I have some sympathy with a mate who says a Migrants Round or a Back Pockets Round would also give us all a lot of memories of under-recognised past greats.

Our politics is so debased that sport is often the setting and forum for our public policy debates.  So it needs to be an open and honest debate not a tokenistic one.  The more discontents are left to mutter in school yards and front bars, the more likely they are to bubble up in the incoherent rants of 13yo’s and media ‘celebrities’.

When I searched for common ground between myself and my 3 mates, King’s 1963 “I Have a Dream” speech came to mind.  All of us would hope that our “little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.”

Broadly put ‘character’ and the role of family, culture and society in shaping it are at the heart of many of our social concerns – be it drugs, crime or the risk/return on investing in a young footballer.  They are not uniquely indigenous issues as many white families can attest, but prevalence focusses concern about these problems.

That is why it is both so unfair and so right that Adam Goodes is at the centre of this debate.  He is my favorite footballer of the last decade, and why the 2012 Almanac will always be my favorite (until we get NicNait on the cover).  Goodes has most often been my Eagles nemesis over that period, but I have always been awestruck at his skills, smarts and athleticism.

To me he will always be like James Brown: “the hardest working man in football”.

No one else could so rightly point to the absurdity of those taunts when applied to him.  But because they are unfairly targeted we can’t ignore that there are real underlying issues we need to debate and not ignore as inappropriate or ‘racist’.

Above all I want to enjoy more breathtaking performances like Friday night’s, so I hope that Goode’s role as a cultural lightning rod does not diminish his on-field brilliance.

Comments

  1. “The sense that however ridiculous or unfair it could partly be seen as ‘payback’ for tokenism and counter-productive political correctness”.

    PB – I think you are spot on. True freedom of speech requires that no one has the right NOT to be offended. We need to hear stupid, thoughtless, baseless comments in order that the absurdity of racism is visible. If we try to silence ALL comment it will simply create resentment.

    I actually felt sorry for Eddie. Put your hand up if you’ve never said anything really dumb. Eddie is a lot of things, but racist isn’t one of them. However he is about to pay a price.

  2. Andrew Fithall says:

    Peter. This is a very good article. I just could not believe that EMc said what he did yesterday. I had two separate conversations yesterday with friends who, like your mates, thought that Goodes’ response was over the top. In my HR work, whenever I am talking to employees about harassment awareness and bullying, I emphasise that it is the person on the receiving end who decides whether or not an action or a word is an issue. A joke which may be acceptable to one group of people does not mean that the same joke will be okay with everyone. Who is doing the action or saying the words can also be a factor. The N word may be acceptable between African Americans, but totally unacceptable when used by others.

  3. Lord Bogan says:

    Thoughtful, measured piece PB.

    The stand taken by Adam Goodes and Harry O has transcended the primarily symbolic Winmar gesture from 1993. Goodes and Harry are pointing the finger back at the society that marginalises and vilifies them for being a certain color.

    The English language, predominantly created by white folk, associates blackness and darkness with fear and negativity. It’s not a natural state of affairs. It’s eons of conditioning that informs and deforms our mode of communication.

    Reading the responses on Harry’s Facebook post has been an eye-opener. The amount of Collingwood fans that stated :”Why don’t you fuck off back to Brazil” startled me. So much for ‘side by side”.

    I was proud of Eddie last Friday night, but I think he needs to get out of Toorak and spend ‘real’ time with indigenous and multicultural and LGBT communities if he is to be taken seriously as a club president and media man. He has form in making fun of minority groups: ‘Felafel land’, ‘Brokeback Mountain’ , ‘Brighton Grammar poofs’ etc. He comes across as a two-faced hypocrite and his credibility has taken a massive pounding (self-inflicted) I might add. I don’t see how he can continue as Collingwood president in light of this fiasco. His comments were not a ‘slip of the tounge’ or ‘inadvertant’. They were conditioned responses and a bloke in his position has to wear the consequences of his carelessness.

  4. Mark Doyle says:

    I agree with the sentiments of this article. I also agree with Harry O’Brien that Australia has a culture of ‘casual rascism’. Inappropiate language used by football supporters and other members of society demonstrates a lack of knowledge, understanding and respect of different races, cultures and language; it is an indication of the poor standards of education in Australia especially in respect of moral and ethical philosophy and history. With respect to the Adam Goodes incident last friday night, Eddie Mcguire’s main concern was to limit the bad publicity for the Collingwood Football Club brand, rather than to show any empathy for Adam Goodes’s feelings. With respect to his performance on MMM radio, I suspect that it was nothing more than a cynical publicity stunt to improve ratings. With respect to Harry O’Brien’s comments that Australia has a culture of casual rascism, I am sure that we have all experienced comments at places such as the local football and golf club, workplaces, shopping centres etc. of people, and mainly men, making derisory comments about aboriginal people, asylum seeking refugees, taxi drivers from some Asian country or call centre people from some Asian country.

  5. Peter Schumacher says:

    This was the best discussion yet on this matter.

    I have certainly received some “chatter” on my thoughts some along the lines too that it is up to the recipient of a taunt as to how he/she will react. In other words YOU are responsible for your own feelings.

    This is not a new idea of course but it is one that I have always found troubling. Surely the abuser particularly in these instances is culpable as well.

    I think that right now two decent people and possibly a third person as well if one counts the thirteen year old as well, have been really damaged and I hope so much that they can get on with their lives despite the hurt. In particular I hope that Goodes and indeed all of our indigenous players have a blinder this week.

    The bottom line. If this results in a better society after all of the introspection has taken place we will all be better off.

  6. Thanks for that Peter B.
    When my kids asked me why the term was hurtful, I went into a long discource which I hope they began to grasp. I also referred them to Greg Baum’s article in Tuesday’s Age:
    http://www.theage.com.au/afl/afl-news/goodes-critics-way-off-mark-20130527-2n7kr.html

  7. Alternatively, one could read Andrew Bolt in today’s Herald Sun, proving once again he is across Aboriginal issues.

  8. This is the best exposition and analysis of the ‘Adam Goodes Affair’ I have come across. Peter has put it in perspective and the article should be given really wide coverage, not just among the Almanackers. But of course it won’t because most of the media is not concerned with sensible public policy debates on ‘minor issues’. As Peter says -it is only when a land rights issue over the CBD emerges that we hear anything.
    Congratulations Adam Goodes for teaching us all something, and let’s hope that Eddie learns to consider the other person before going for the ratings next time.

  9. Andrew Fithall says:

    From ABC The Drum website, an article by Noah Riseman on the history that explains how “ape” is a racist slur. http://www.abc.net.au/unleashed/4722082.html

  10. cowshedend says:

    Lovely piece, measured and well articulated.

  11. PB

    Excellent piece.

    I too have found myself being challenged by two friends of mine, who I was staggered to hear both thought this was a beat-up, over-reaction and couldn’t understand why Goodes was hurt by the Friday night comments. I was trying to explain to them that calling me an ape for poor hygenie or posture was nothing compared to saying it to an indigenous man. I was disappointed in them, and felt that if they, as educated people with the means, access and ability to receive news and decipher arguments and listen to reason still felt this was too much, what hope did many others have.

    The blame lies in many areas, and I find myself for once in deep agreement with Mark Doyle.

    The young girl who made the Friday comment chose a word that she knew would cause offence and I cannot accept she didn’t have some inclination that calling a man of colour that word woudl be an issue. But what hope has she got when he family chose to let her be marched out with security guards to the boos of the crowd while they sat and watched the match finish.

    She isn’t too young to know: if my own 13 year old son said that, I’d be heartbroken and wonder what he’d been taught by teachers and by me all these years. In many ways, kids do know better, as they in my experience judge by colour and background far less than adults do.

    I am a white Australian male from the eastern suburbs of Melbourne, so I know nothing of racial abuse and prejudice. For people like us to say ‘they should get over it, harden up” or they can’t get why calling a man of colour a name like “ape” is wrong, is just plain worng.

    Well written and a great contribution to a serious issue we still have as a country

    Sean

  12. Dave Nadel says:

    A thought provoking piece, Peter,with which I mostly agree . I disagree with you about the “welcome to country” performances. It may be ritualised but it helps to remind us in whose country we are living.

    On the current issue, I have always had mixed feelings about Eddie McGuire. He clearly has had a lot to do with the success of Collingwood both on and off the field, but he did so by destroying the internal democracy of the club (we haven’t had a contested election to the board in over a decade) and more seriously he moved the leadership and general atmosphere of the club a long way from working class Collingwood and the suburbs along the Hurstbridge and Epping lines.

    I was always aware that Eddie had two bob each way in his Footy Show days when it came to Sam Newman’s vile sexism, racism and upper class snobbery. Eddie would look embarrassed or concerned while Sam showed his contempt for anyone who wasn’t a rich Anglo male like himself, while at the same time being obviously aware that Sam’s piggishness was good for ratings. I also had some reservations about Eddie’s role as a loyal retainer to James Packer.

    But I did think he was serious about his opposition to racism. Collingwood has changed markedly since Nicky Winmar lifted his jumper at Victoria Park and it wasn’t due to the angry letters that a minority of left wing Pie supporters like myself wrote to Allan McAlister. The leadership in the fight to transform attitudes to race at Collingwood came from the top.

    I now wonder whether Eddie was actually being credited for work done by Mick Malthouse and Nathan Buckley. There is no doubt that Mick and Bucks are anti-racist because you can prove it from actual actions rather than PR gestures. I know for a fact that Mick insisted on playing Leon Davis. I suspect that this was because he wanted Collingwood supporters to have an indigenous champion to cheer as part of challenging racial prejudices. Buckley has all sorts of links with the indigenous community going back to his adolescence in Darwin.

    Peter is right that Eddie’s response on Friday night was straight from the PR handbook but I was prepared to believe that it was sincere. His performance on MMM undermines that. It might have been a slip of the tongue, it might also have been a reflection of what he really thinks when he is not watching his words. It may also have been the hubris of the golden boy who thinks he can get away saying anything because everyone knows that he is a “good bloke” who would never seriously say anything objectionable. But in the end Eddie’s motivations don”t matter. What matters is that racism is unacceptable.

  13. Tasman Hughes says:

    I think Eddy Maguire should be sacked. What a disgrace. He obviously doesn’t understand that these “jokes” can cut someone deeply. I’m at loss to explain what he was trying to achieve by saying what he did. He’s just dragged all this pain back for Adam Goodes. I’ll lose all faith in society if this racist is not sacked.
    He shouldn’t be able to get away with it.

  14. Tasman Hughes says:

    I’ve just watched the news. I’ve lost all faith in society.

    The injustice of it is too much. Nathan Buckley is a ridiculous idiot. Perhaps no one is perfect, but Maguire is one particularly imperfect person.

    The whole of Collingwood, excluding Harry O’Brien, should be ashamed of themselves.

  15. Earl O'Neill says:

    Peter, that’s a fantastic piece of writing, thank you for gifting us with it and thank you for inspiring some thoughtfulness.

  16. Tasman Hughes says:

    His article’s a bit like yours, Earl. In fact, it was so similar I just wrote the same comment.

  17. My solution to the problem is this: before Eddie opens his mouth again he should a) get to choose from 4 multiple responses; b) be able to phone a friend; c) canvas a studio audience; and d) consider shutting the f@#* up (FOR ONCE!!) Alternatively, he could flesh out the latent racism that occupies his blackened heart and do something about it. Falafel jibes, homophobia, this gaff … three strikes says your OUT!!!!!

    PS Top class writing Pete

    PPS: Mark Doyle … I can’t belive it, but your tone for once suited a piece!!

  18. Dear Peter, and all the writers above. It’s great to have a place to think and reflect together, and its taken me a few days to get to read the article. It’s been a ride, the incidents, the fall out and the surprise and the not so surprised. I have had so many reactions, and I offer these thoughts.

    I watched the wonderful Marngrook Footy Show last night, I wanted to hear an indigenous response, an indigenous conversation and it reminded me how dignified and thoughtful these chaps are. Gilly says we’ve all talked and talked, and hopefully, we have all learned something, and now it’s time to stop the talk and get back to work on how we live.
    This is in a week where he and Nicky Winmar spoke with Mike
    Sheahan on Open Mike, and I was floored listening to them trying to explain to Mike how frightened they had been, Nicky didn’t play a month of football after that incident, there were threats and phone calls and fear. We “others” just don’t get it, what it’s like to live with daily experiences of racism. And Mike didn’t get it either. Good for him for trying to understand, but it isn’t the job of indigenous people or Harry O’Brien to educate us, it is our job to educate ourselves and those around us.
    I am always floored at the generosity of Koori people I meet or hear, Adam Goodes was angry and hurt and we got to experience some of the collective shame about this incident. We are all capable of hurting others and we are all capable of racism and racist thoughts, its what we do with them, it’s how we behave, it’s how it informs us and how we can reflect on it that’s important.

    Eddy “Everywhere” as my sister calls him, has learned that even he can do too much, and that if exhaustion is the reason he slipped, he needs to learn to do less and think more, give himself time to reflect and heal. To genuinely learn from this. Take time out, not as a punishment, but take the space to learn something from this that can help himself an others around him to have a different experience. You can’t be everywhere, do everything, be everything to everybody, there has to be moments of quiet reflection to check oneself. He needs that right now.

    I watched the Footy Show too, and for once, I was proud in their response. They said it was now up to supporters to change. Players have had education, Eddie will get education, the young girl with get education, but we supporters need to remember that what is yelled out in the heat of football, has meaning. It is not acceptable to either the players or the people sitting around to use football as a free for all for insults, racisim, rudeness. The footballers are just blokes, sons and fathers and brothers, who are out their for their job. As Gilly from Marngrook said last night, indigenous footballers are often playing for their indigenous families, as a way of standing up and playing for each other. The people who see them as family, not by the colour of their skin.
    I am always floored when supporters behind me in the St.Kilda reserved seating are insulting to our own players who are doing poorly. If people can attack their own, they have no reservation in attacking the “other”. I wonder if umpires have to debrief with the kind of rubbish that’s thrown at them constantly.

    We can say we don’t mean to hurt, but as Peter said, and others have said, we do hurt the other and we need to know that and make reparation, and the reparation starts with owning and dealing with our own thought and behaviours into the future.

    Finally, can I say how much I love the Almanac community. This site, the founders of this site, and all the people it has bought together, we all create an opportunity for reflection and thought and I appreciate that greatly.

    Yvette Wroby

  19. Michael Viljoen says:

    Why is using the term ‘ape’ as an insult (as opposed to other animals) racist? 

    Justifications for racism increased markedly after the publication and popularity of the book, ‘On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life, Charles Darwin, 1859’.

    Through the rise of evolutionary beliefs, it was viewed that black people were closer to the apes. Darwin believed that the non-white races were stuck at an early stage in their evolutionary ascent from the apes, having been preserved with those earlier levels of mental and moral development.

    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.

    In all the fuss, the media is missing the real point; one could say the elephant in the room. Is that a racist comment too? Of course not.

  20. Michael,

    Dark skin is not related to a less advanced state of evolution, it is to do with evolving near the equator. The forebears of us whites (who could not cut in Africa, to quote Henry Miller), have lighter skin because we evolved in temperate climes. Also, genetics prove that we are all related the same species. Don’t know how you came up with what you came up with, but its flawed on many many levels. As for calling black people “apes”? My God, did you just come out of a coma or something???????????????

  21. Michael V,
    Darwin made remarks as a young anthropologist that are insulting by todays standards. They are also clearly proven wrong by his later theory of evolution. He was a committed Christian when he made the remarks, as, I suppose, are you, judging by your fatheaded comments on evolutionary theory. It began as a theory. It is now among the best proven facts in science. The fact some use it (in total biological ignorance) to make racist claims doesn’t disprove evolution.
    Racism did veer into vile claims that some races were less evolved than others after evolutionary theory. Before evolution was discovered you couldn’t accuse someone of being less evolved. But the fact privileged people used this new knowledge as a tool to claim superiority is best blamed on humanity, rather than Darwin. In pre-Darwinian times racists simply said they were “Chosen by God” and you guys weren’t. Matter of fact they still say this. And peoples who weren’t chosen by God were lower (or non) beings. Darwin didn’t start racism.
    Society hasn’t trapped itself in any contradiction. You’ve tangled yourself in a confusion.
    Answer me this… are you a creationist?

  22. Michael

    What a surpise that you teach Bible studies (as per your profile of this site.) I guess its safe to assume that your agenda is to use this situation to debunk evolution (as is reinforced by your statement “Yet we still educate our kids with evolution theory.”) Can I just say that I’m disgusted that you’re trying to twist Adam Goodes’s suffering into a forum for your superstitious beliefs. Using this situation to make a arguement for intelligent design is as offensive to me as it preposterous. Can I please ask that if you have anything further to add on this matter that you restrict it to addressing Adam Goodes’s anguish. Anything less than that is sickening.

  23. The Wrap says:

    Thanks for kicking this one off Mr B. Thought provoking and revealing. I’ve been away contemplating the wondrous glory of the everlasting stars along the Barcoo for a few days and missed full fury of this discussion. (Something that might help Michael V clear his head of its frozen, muddleheaded ideology – contemplating the wondrous glory of the everlasting stars))

    And while this thread – and forum – is about the hurt to Adam Goodes and everyone else who has suffered from racial taunts and insensitiveness while pursing the meanings deeply imbedded our indigenous game, there are two things I’d like to say about racism in Australia.

    Firstly, it’s alive and well. To smugly suggest otherwise – yes AFL spin doctors, that means you – would fly in the face of recent & not so recent outbursts on public transport, talkback radio, and comments from public figures – yes Eddie, you’re a public figure with all the responsibilities that go with that appellation. I don’t know where it comes from but it ranges from the naive to the vicious.

    The other thing I’d like to say, and of this we can be proud, we are trying our level best to eliminate it from our social consciousness. Anyone who has worked or travelled overseas couldn’t help but notice the innate cultural ethnic divides, not to mention the overt legislative ethnic & religious inequality imbedded in the laws of some countries. We don’t burn temples, mosques or churches, we haven’t considered ethnic cleansing as a solution for a few decades now, and people – mostly – speak out when they witness racism.

    Whether it’s an education thing, or whether it’s in our hard wiring is always going to open to debate, but if it’s in our DNA we’re going to have to evolve ourselves out of it – and very very promptly. This planet is getting very very crowded, very very quickly, and if we’re not able to accept each other on an equal footing it’s going to get very very ugly very very soon.

    As for Eddie – to paraphrase Dolly Parton – you can take the boy out of Broady, but you can’t take the Broady out of the boy. His running of the Footy Show, his time at Channel 9, and his radio program has always appealed to the lowest common denominator. The sooner he gets a good boning the sooner we’ll be able to move forward as a society.

    Now Mr B, there’s another little matter you and I have to decide upon -Monday’s investment opportunity. Since I’ve been away, The Striped Marvels have morphed into The Endangered Species – once again. JTH has the Wedgies winning by 24 – which more or less matches Tommy Waterhouse’s line. (I thought they were going to do something about him?) How about we have a bottle of Margaret River Merlot to a Heathcote Cab Sav on the outcome – with The Tiges getting a 4 goal start?

  24. Hey Wrap

    Beautiful work mate. I reckon you’ve nailed this better than anyone.

  25. Michael Viljoen says:

    T Bone,
    As the author of this article said, “… there are real underlying issues we need to debate and not ignore as inappropriate …”

    I love footy. I hate racism. And I have as much right as anyone here to speak and address the issue of racism, it’s causes and possible steps towards a more inclusive society.

    It seems you’ve  read my profile, so you might also have read the article (FootyAlmanac, 27/5), which showed to what degree our family has been affected by racism. To be accurate, my profile does not say that I’m a Bible teacher. It’s says I work for a Bible translation organisation. We work with minority languages; peoples who are often among the most poor and marginalised.

    That said, I well understand some of the genetics relating to skin colour. I’ve seen the outworking of this in the colour variation within my own immediate family, as well as the variation in eye colour, curly and straight hair, etc. I know that genetically all people are very closely related. Most apparent differences are very superficial. We can unite around this type of awareness. 

    Yet that is hardly what evolutionists were predicting in the wake of Darwinian philosophy. The point (also made in the articles linked above from The Age and the ABC The Drum website) is that the ape slur is offensive to non-whites because of those prevailing beliefs leading to them being treated as subspecies, and the associated subjugation and genocides, etc. 

    Yet without the belief that evolution theory is true, the insult has no sting. Yet we continue to impress on kids the truth value of Darwinian theory, to the extent that we often say it’s beyond challenge. No 19th  Century philosophy deserves such status, or such protection.

  26. Michael Viljoen says:

    Ajc,
    With much of what you say I’d agree: that racism didn’t start with Darwin (I never said it did); that the truth value of such a theory is independent of whether anyone uses or misuses it to racially abuse others.

    But what you say here is the main point ‘Before evolution was discovered you couldn’t accuse someone of being less evolved;’ but clearly afterwards you could. 

    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.

  27. Michael,

    Firstly, Evolution is a whole lot more than a philosophy and a theory. It is a fact: wholly proven, resoundingly substantiated and unshakably embraced.

    Secondly, your contention that questioning evolution might be a good start to addressing racism is laughable. It’s like saying if we questioned physics we could stop scientists from creating A Bombs! Or if we questioned biology we could stop germs from infecting wounds!!! In short, Michael, racism is not caused by theories, it’s caused by the evil in man.

    In closing Michael, can you answer this question:

    How do you translate “Burn in Hell” in the many Cameroon languages you’ve come across?? And further, when you do, can you describe the terror in the little Cameroony childrens eyes when you do?

  28. Geoffrey Ward says:

    Collingwood is a club with an abysmal record on the issue of racism. I was at Victoria Park as a guest of a Collingwood member the day of the famous Nicky Winmar photograph. The racist filth directed at Nicky and Gilbert McAdam just stunned me. Sadly, Collingwood has a long way to go it seems. Eddie’s “King Kong” references to Adam Goodes were clearly racial vilification. Australia has a long way to go in confronting racism. The fiction that ‘political correctness’ had gone so far that ordinary Autralians were being silenced was a cynical construct brilliantly utilised by John Howard. As Peter says in his piece, “Our politics is so debased that sport is often the setting and forum for our public policy debate.” This public debate about racism and racist speech is sorely needed and people need to be honest with themselves not belittle the seriousness of the subject.

  29. Dave Nadel says:

    Racism is a sign of societal immaturity. In non literate societies most peoples only recognise their tribe as true humans. As society evolves they gradually recognise fellow nationals and ultimately the whole of humanity as their fellows. Social Darwinism was an excuse for Nineteenth and Twentieth Century racism but I would have thought that the defeat of Fascism in the 1940s would have discredited Social Darwinism. And Social Darwinism does not discredit the theory of evolution any more than Stalinism discredits the theory of socialism.

    The old Testament declares that it is God’s will that the sons of Japeth shall inherit the tents of the sons of Ham or some such nonsense. The South African preachers and the US Southern Christians used to use this line to justify Apartheid and Jim Crowe laws. Racists will find any rationalisation to justify their prejudices and their privileges but it is all just a sign of backwardness and eventually societies grow up.

  30. The Wrap says:

    Still no confirmation Mr B. We aren’t getting cold feet are we? Tommy Waterhouse would have had the ticket written by now. Surely four snaggers isn’t too much to ask. La Cras or Nick Nat Nui could kick that on their own in the opening stanza.

    It’s been a healthy debate all right. Robust, with plenty of twists and turns. It may not have solved the problem overnight, but racism and racial smugness got a good airing and, more importantly, a good dusting.

    And while I’ve got you there Michael V, you don’t think it might be more constructive for multi-lingual Africa if you were translating books that taught the folk how use small scale hydro, wind & solar technology to generate on-site power, dynamo generated communication technology (as in pedal radio), how to improve local & regional hygiene while at the same time re-cycling waste materials, how to build up soil structure & harvest water for irrigation (as in Keyline farming), and how be part of the life chain rather than translating a book on how to be fruitful & multiply, have dominion over every living thing that moveth upon the Earth – including women & slaves, and incorporates an instruction manual for the genocide of anyone who sits on land you may covet? I mean really, isn’t this where we came in?

  31. Wow Wrap. Did that come out in one go like a stream of consciousness, or was it a labour of love, honed and honed, to you had it just right? Loved it either way.

    Now on Michael again. I kind of feel a little lousy about going at him like an attack dog on the weekend. In re reading his article and comments, my minds eye pictures a sensative man, who, for all his misguided ideas, means well. I imagined how shocked he must have been to have triggered all the hostility and mockery than ensued after his posts. I beleive I was the most hostile and I can’t help but regret what transpired. I still feel that his contributions were unhelpful but I wish I had my time over so as to tackle them in a more civilised way. Anyway, I guess this is an apology Micheal, so if you’re out there in cyberspace, I hope you accept it. Cheers.

  32. The Wrap says:

    Yeah, fair enough T Bone, you’re right. Nothing personal Michael, you’re only doing what your conscience tells you. It’s just that everywhere you find the bullets flying these days we seem to find someone waving a bunch of religious tracts that vilify the other mob in the name of a higher, irrefutable deity. Now I’m sorry, but that’s racism. Pure & simple. We have two clear choices; we can either stop doing it, embrace our fellow humans, accept their differences and move on to a higher plain – or we can keep going around in circles until there’s no one left to champion any particular deity. Because this time around we have the technology to make a thorough job of it.

    I’ll concede there’s a need deep,down inside us to feel superior about ourselves, and to demonise the neighbours. But isn’t that why God created Football?

  33. Michael Viljoen says:

    Wrap,
    I always thought that God created football to keep Victorians warm during the long winter months. Everything else about it was a bonus.

    In reply to what you’ve said above, I’m all for scientific advancement. I don’t know anyone that’s not. (You’re welcome to come over and help teach, if you like.) But it’s not a competition between science and the spiritual. We want to advance in our scientific thinking and in our spiritual well being. Modern Western science rode in on the back of the Reformation and those centuries that followed. And history shows that our greatest pioneers of science (Newton, Mendel, Pascal [since you mention hydraulics], Pasteur [since you mention germ theory], and Faraday [since you mention electricity]) were also all deeply religious men.

    T-Bone had it right when he said racism is caused by the evil in man. That is, it’s a spiritual problem. And spiritual problems are tackled with spiritual solutions. As linguists approaching a largely unwritten language, if we ask what book the people would like translated first, overwhelmingly the response is ‘the Bible’. I know totally secular or non-Christian linguists also who work with minority languages who would admit the same thing.

  34. Michael Viljoen says:

    T-Bone,
    The emotional responses arising in the thread above doesn’t surprise me too much. I’ve seen it before when you touch on sacred cows or people’s deeply held views. I don’t take things personally (or try not to). I like to stick to the issues.

    In this case the issue is why the monkey slur cuts to the heart of peoples of certain background or lineage so much; to the point that a single word coming over the fence from a teenager can stop a professional football match, and such a slur be a sanctionable offense within the stadium. And if you want to say that it has nothing to do with the theory of evolution, then I think you’re missing something rather obvious. To some extent I agree with Dave, that if people want to be prejudiced against other ethnic groups, they’ll come up with any excuse. But to clearly analyse what actually occurred in this Adam Goodes incident is to see certain factors at work. The evolution link is as clear as germs and infections, physics and atom bombs.

    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.

  35. 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.

  36. Michael Viljoen says:

    T-Bone,
    I asked if you had any hard evidence for evolution. What you propose is the variety amongst human beings. We’re a mixture of fat and skinny, tall and short, and carry a variety of shades and colours. 

    While that could describe a lot of the Premiership line-ups of the 1970s; humans do come in numerous shapes and sizes, and are very adaptable, but that doesn’t necessitate that our ancestral relations once swung from trees or dragged their knuckles on the ground.

    Saying human variety shows that we evolved from something non-human is like saying that since coaching styles and game plans have varied over the years, then Aussie Rules must have sometime evolved from English soccer.

    This is hardly what I’d call hard proof. It doesn’t even follow logically.

  37. Neil Anderson says:

    What a great choice for Australian of the year. A great leader and role-model for indigenous Australians. I knew he was something special after hearing him speak as he received his Brownlows.
    I wrote a one-act play last year called ‘White Maggot’. It was months after the ‘Goodes’ incidents, but sub-consciously I must have been thinking about what happened, because it was about racial abuse to a star player.
    As a way of explaining how some people can’t see why the victim is upset about being called ‘names’, I turned the social setting on its head. In my story the victim was a white recruit in an all-aboriginal rugby team in Queensland. The Club,, town and government were administered by Indigenous Australians and the white population were the ‘fringe-dwellers’ in this case and they had to learn to fit in to survive.
    I am now waiting to see if the play is accepted for a performance, ironically in a fairly conservative ‘white’ town in western Queensland.
    The first task for that theatre-group will be to audition three aboriginal actors if the play does go ahead.
    I will try and convince some other theatre-companies to take it on if all else fails because it’s a nice subtle way ( with a bit of comedy ) to tackle racism.

  38. Malcolm Ashwood says:

    Great article Peter on a subject we have moved forward on but still have a long way to go you hav produced a balanced sensible analysis of what has occurred I too was amazed at Eddies comment . Racism will always be a hard 1 , in that what some 1 may regard as a clever joke another person finds it deeply offensive
    I hope that a comprehensive list of what Adam does re charity etc is done as for any 1 to knock Shane Crawford for his amazing contribution in 2013 it must be significant
    Thanks Peter v well written !

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