Sunday, September 14, 2008

By global standards, Australia is NOT a racist country

I have mentioned before that I watch with dismay the constant stream of searches on Australian racism. The latest was a search on "why are Australians so racist" from someone in Arlington Virginia.

Running the same search again, I noticed a pattern. There are mainly two types of posts. The first are posts from Australia saying that we are. Just two quotes:

  • Australia is a backwater, a racist and inward-looking country - from an on-line opinion article
  • White Australia was founded upon invasion, theft, and genocide. It was subsequently shaped by social inequality - from a South Australian organisation.

Then we have overseas posts or articles that largely reflect Australian stated views back to us.

In the middle are a group of posts and stories that try to redress the balance - if australians are all racist how come I see so many black africans with white women girlfriends and white men with asian girlfriends read one.

Those inwardly focused Australians, and I include the media in this, who for a variety of reasons stereotype Australia as racist, or who are so concerned to fight against racism that they make race issues central regardless of other things, are doing this country a great dis-service.

Is there racism in Australia, yes. Is racism in Australia bad by global standards, no. Is Australia a racist country, no.

Many years ago when I was co-editor of a university student newspaper, we deliberately ran two stories together in the one edition, one on racism in the Soviet Union, the second on racism in China. Our intent then was to redress what we saw as an unbalanced local debate.

The position today is no different. Should we fight against racism, yes. Should we recognise the errors and mistakes from our own past, yes. Should we so obsess with our sins that we forget the broader picture, no.

In a sad way, the worst culprits in all this are those in Australian society who feel most strongly about past injustices. In their desire to set things right, to stop things happening again, they are doing the country great harm.

Postscript

In a comment, rummuser said...

I came here by accident while surfing and felt that I should share my two bits for what they are worth. I have visited Australia and have had some wonderful experiences with Australians. I am an Indian and did not experience the slightest racism, overt or covert, that I did experience in some European countries and in the USA. I have close relatives who are Australian citizens who do not experience any racism and would not live any where else. I may be an exception, I do not know. My personal experiences however should give some support to your own conclusions.

Nice to hear from you, RM.

4 comments:

rummuser said...

I came here by accident while surfing and felt that I should share my two bits for what they are worth. I have visited Australia and have had some wonderful experiences with Australians. I am an Indian and did not experience the slightest racism, overt or covert, that I did experience in some European countries and in the USA. I have close relatives who are Australian citizens who do not experience any racism and would not live any where else. I may be an exception, I do not know. My personal experiences however should give some support to your own conclusions.

rummuser said...

I wish to send you an email to the address given on your blog. Unfortunately, it keeps bouncing. Is there a change to your email address?

My email address, in case you wish to write separately is rummuser@rummuser.com

Jim Belshaw said...

Runmuser, thank you very much for this. I am in China and have limited internet connection. Will come back to you when I am in Australia

Jim Belshaw said...

Hi rummuser. Sorry for the delay in responding. I have been in China. I will bring your comment up as a postscript on the main post.

The email address should work - ndarala(at)optusnet(dot)com(au). Emails are coming through.I will add the address at a post on your blog.