Monday, January 20, 2020
Leftists run as if from the plague if they encounter conservative discourse. They have to. So much of what they believe is contrary to the facts that they have a desperate need not to be proved wrong. Conservatives have no such fears. Conservatives just want to know what the facts are. Conservatism is built around the facts. Mr Gradgrind was probably a conservative.
So I read Leftist articles almost daily. They can have useful facts in them but never the whole facts. So I had a look at the current article below from the far-Left "New Matilda" site. It is written by Rosie Latimer, who is a medical student. I feel sorry for any patients she may one day have. The heading on her article reads "Climate Change Is Science Not Politics. So Can We Talk About It Yet?"
Yet she mentions NOT ONE scientific fact in her article. She probably knows none. She uses "science" as a sort of magic word that opens all doors. She relies on a fictitious "consensus" among scientists to "prove" the reality of global warming. Has no-one ever told her that once there was a consensus among all good men that the earth was flat? Science relies on facts, not opinions.
I reproduce just her opening paragraphs below. I give the link for you to read the whole article if you are interested in any more "ad hominem" fallacies
Australia is under attack from unprecedented bushfires, which are decimating our country, leaving a trail of physical, mental, and emotional destruction. Many have lost loved ones, homes, and some of our native plants and animals are facing extinction.
People are suffering under the toxic smoke that is billowing throughout Australia and the Pacific.
Yet in the face of this, our government and the Murdoch media contend this is not the time to discuss climate change, because the discussion of climate change is a political issue.
Climate change is not a political issue.
There is overwhelming scientific consensus that global warming is occurring, caused by humans emitting greenhouse gases. The world has drawn links between Australia’s love affair with a coal-based economy and the bushfires ravaging our great nation.
This should be a bi-partisan issue, an issue that unites us all. So why is it a Liberal calling card to deny climate change, and a Labor calling card to let them?
Monday, January 6, 2020
We have read in the papers in recent days many stories about various acts of generosity towards bushfire victims and firefighters. Chris Graham, Publisher/Editor of the Leftist webzine "New Matilda" has a story up at the moment about such an act of generosity that he describes as "very close to my heart".
What makes it so close to his heart appears to be that it has a racial angle. Leftists never cease obsessing about race. The story is that a Black Family Offered Their Home To Bushfire Victims.
All very nice of course but Chris plays down certain facts, the most salient of which is that the family is NOT Aboriginal except in a legal sense. They look white.
<img height=300 width=600 src="https://newmatilda.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/Knight-family-740x357.jpg">
So whatever motivates their generosity can most economically be ascribed to their WHITE ancestry.
Secondly, the home being offered is one that the family vacated some time ago. They own it but it is not their current home.
Thirdly, the home is located in a place far away from the bushfires so is not likely to be of help to most of the victims.
Nonetheless it is of course a generous offer but that it "vindicates" blacks in any sense would be a large stretch. If Chris thinks it does the story is closer to his anus than his heart.
Read it here: https://newmatilda.com/2020/01/06/still-too-strong-for-you-karen-black-family-targeted-by-white-neighbours-offer-their-home-to-bushfire-victims/
Sunday, September 15, 2019
<i>A small news review in Far-Leftist e-ine "New Matilda" under the heading "CPAC & The High Court: Fighting For Australia’s Future" caught my eye. Below is its introduction:</i>
"As the basic freedoms of all Australians are whittled away, conservatives met to chant ‘send her back’. Stuart Rees reports.
Two events in early August cast a shadow over Australia’s supposed fair go, human rights respecting democracy. The American Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) held a meeting to fight to ‘protect the future’; and the High Court ruled that the federal government may restrict the right of public servants to express political views, thereby upholding a decision to sack a public servant for anonymously criticizing her employer, the Department of Immigration.
Speakers at the CPAC meeting included Fox News commentators, gun-owning enthusiasts from the US National Rifle Association, former PM Tony Abbot, One Nation state politician Mark Latham and Britain’s Brexit Party leader Nigel Farage. In Sydney in the wake of mass shooting in El Paso Texas and Dayton Ohio, the participants arrived following Trump rants about Congresswomen of the wrong colour going back to where they came from. Farage had been invited in the context of his support for English nationalism, racism and opposition to Europe.
Down With ‘Socialism’
Although advertised as fighting for Australia’s future, the conservatives’ future only emerged in comments concerning an agreed enemy, a mirage-like ghost called ‘socialism.’"
<i>"I stopped reading at that point. If the 20 million killed by Stalin in the Soviet Union and the 6 million killed by Hitler were a mirage, I don't know what real human beings look like. Socialism is a dread malady of the human brain that seems to be forever lurking in the brains of a substantial number of the population. It is no ghost. It is a dread enemy to be opposed at every step.
And Bill Shorten's range of proposed new taxes and regulations was an unambiguous step towards it. It was only the solid conservatism of my fellow-countrymen in North Queensland that blocked it. In the recent Federal election, Shorten did not get one seat outside Queensland's Southeast corner. That was enough to sink him. We sank Gough Whitlam in the same way. Shorten would have been a perfect Soviet apparatchik</i>
Tuesday, May 28, 2019
Greens leader Bob Brown
<i>For an alleged Labor party to put Greenie causes ahead of worker welfare was epic folly. Coal miners are workers too and they make a good dollar. Labor now need to divorce themselves from their happy marriage to the Greens</i>
Still trying to figure out how Labor lost another unloseable election? The pollsters got it wrong, the bookies got it wrong, the punters got it wrong the ABC and most of the mainstream media got it wrong. And obviously Bill Shorten got it very wrong.
Bob Hawke got it right when he said, “Never underestimate the intelligence of The Australian voters". He probably should have added, “Especially in Queensland", where Labor lost two seats and the LNP shored up their margins even in Peter Dutton’s Dickson, where Labor and GetUp put in a huge effort.
We even saw the spectacle of another ex-Labor PM Paul Keating, shakily urge voters to “drive a stake through his dark political heart".
Why did they all get it so far off the mark? Well Queenslanders don’t take kindly to a bunch of ratbags from the south telling them how to run their economy and create jobs. So Bob Brown’s Anti-Adani Convoy couldn’t have come at a better time for the LNP. Waving banners shouting “Coal Kills" and “Block Adani" floated like a lead balloon over a State which reaps billions from coal exports.
This folly combined with Shorten’s fence sitting and the Palaszczuk Government’s stalling over issues such as the numbers of a common bush bird, the black-throated finch. Anastacia must be worried she’ll be next.
The LNP increased its vote substantially in the previously very marginal seat of Flynn, which was high on the Labor wish list. Centered on the major coal port of Gladstone and held by Ken O’Dowd since 2010, it also takes in an extensive agriculture and beef area including the North Burnett region.
Rockhampton’s Michelle Landry increased her LNP winning margin in neighbouring Capricornia and in Dawson, centred on Mackay, the so-called Member for Manila, George Christensen, gained another big unexpected win. Further north in Townsville, Labor’s Cathy O’Toole was out-gunned by war veteran LNP candidate, Phillip Thompson. In all these centres, jobs and the economy were major factors.
Combine all that with Labor’s big taxing agenda, its hit at self-funded retirees, negative gearing, Capital GainsTax, the blank cheque it sought for an un-costed, over-ambitious climate policy (including a controversial push for 50 percent electric vehicle sales by 2030), and the result in Queensland and most other States is not surprising.
Add the arrogant advice to retirees and investors from Labor’s Treasury spokesman and candidate for the top job, Chris Bowen, “If you don’t like it, don’t vote Labor".
Good advice. So the voters said it’s not time to risk Shorten, we’ll stick with Scott Morrison and a stable economy.
Now it looks likely Morrison will gain an absolute majority and enjoy a major opportunity to grow his influence over the coming term.
Sunday, March 17, 2019
John Tomlinson is a welfare academic. In the far-Left "New Matilda" <a href="https://newmatilda.com/2019/03/13/pell-co-australian-conservatism-hypocrisys-bastard-cousin/">he writes</a>:
"I have always had a grudging tolerance for the classical conservative position with its defence of the established order, a belief in the imperfection of human beings, the necessity of privilege and leadership. Associated with the conservative position is adherence to traditional values (such as the primacy of the extended family), the importance of work and of sexual restraint, the sanctity of private property and an abhorrence of utopian social change."
That's not a bad definition of conservatism. The thing he leaves out of the definition, however, is the key to his whole attack on Australian conservatism. He leaves out the importance of individual responsibility. He clearly believes instead in social responsibility. He sees no problem in taking money off people who have earned it and giving it to people who have not earned it. Conservatives do see a moral problem there but in a classical conservative way resort to compromise: Do it but limit it as far as possible. Tomlinson is clearly uninterested in limits to redistribution.
He seems in fact to be uninterested in balance of any sort. Take his comments on Cardinal Pell. That anybody might take a nuanced view of His Eminence fills him with rage. He writes:
"Amongst those who gave court character references there was a ‘Craven’ vice chancellor of the Catholic University, an ex-‘socially conservative’ prime minister who had a track record of being reluctant to sack ex-Governor General, Peter Hollingsworth (who had previously been an Anglican Archbishop, who was, at the time, enmeshed in his own scandal).
It takes a particular style of myogenous, misanthropic troglodyte, with a total commitment to turning away from the obvious towards the promotion of arch-conservatism to stand where these men found themselves. They can’t claim to have been blinded by God, and fear and light – it is just that they have lost sight of any sense of right.
Then, of course, there were the trainee galahs in the media such as Andrew Bolt and Janet Albrechtsen who despite, the twelve and true finding Pell guilty of five counts of child molestation, declared the Cardinal innocent.
Howard, Craven, Albrechtsen and Bolt are all part of a right-wing putsch determined to drive out decency and humanity from our nation. But are they conservatives in the classical meaning of the term? In Howard’s court reference for Pell he writes:
“I am aware he has been convicted of those charges; that an appeal against the conviction has been lodged and that he maintains his innocence in respect of these charges. None of these matters alter my opinion of the Cardinal.I suppose that when Pell was rabidly denouncing gay sex, same sex marriage, abortion, divorce, adultery and environmentalism Howard considered him to be “displaying much courage and holding to his values and beliefs, irrespective of the prevailing wisdom of the time". Clearly as the same sex plebiscite established, Pell was neither reflecting the general will nor the wisdom of the time.
“Cardinal Pell is a person of both high intelligence and exemplary character. Strength and sincerity have always been features of his personality. I have always found him to be lacking hypocrisy and cant. In his chosen vocation he has frequently displayed much courage and held to his values and beliefs, irrespective of the prevailing wisdom of the time."
The schmozzle of ideas professed by Pell, Howard, Craven, Albrechtsen and Bolt seem to have little to do with sexual constraint or conservatism generally but rather more to do with a particular reading of a neoliberal, protofascist conception of conservatism.
That anyone should doubt the guilt of His Eminence can only be due to foul motives in Tomlinson's view. The thought that His Eminence might be the victim of a wrongful conviction cannot apparently be allowed into Tomlinson's mind. If Tomlinson had any kind of balance in his mind he might have considered the prosecution ongoing in Britain at the moment of the fantasist <a href="https://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2019/02/18/nick-man-sparked-westminster-child-abuse-probe-pleads-not-guilty/">"Nick"</a> -- a man who did immense damage with his lies. His Eminence was convicted on one count by one accuser. Could that accuser also be a fantasist? His story was certainly replete with improbabilities
And wrongful convictions generally are a dime a dozen. Black men are exonerated of serious crimes in the USA on an almost weekly basis. Are Catholics seen as negatively to some people in Australia as blacks are in America?
We have certainly seen other instances of wrongful convictions that seem to have arisen from a jaundiced view of a group to which an innocent person belongs. Take the notorious case of Welsh footballer <a href="http://jonjayray.com/short/ched.html">Ched Evans</a>. Evans spent a couple of years in jail and had a couple of unsuccessful appeals before he was finally exonerated. So how come? Evan was convicted of rape under the leadership of a gaggle of feminist officials even though the alleged rapee had consented and had never lodged any complaint about Evans. The big mistake Evans made appears to have been being a typical footballer -- a type anathema to feminists. The one male involved in the prosecution thought Evans had no case to answer.
The two examples I have just given are from Britain but Australians will remember the quite notorious case of Lindy Chamberlain -- where a devout Christian woman -- wife of a Pastor -- was convicted of murdering her baby -- on precisely zero evidence. She was however a Seventh Day Adventist and a redneck jury apparently saw that as "weird" and making the woman capable of anything. She spent some years in prison before she was finally exonerated.
So conservatives -- such as myself -- are simply being cautious until we know the outcome of his Eminence's appeal. Could he have been convicted not because of anything he did personally but because of the evil deeds of others in his church? Being cautious is very conservative, after all. It may even be definitional of conservatism. The foul motives that Tomlinson attributes to conservatives in relation to Cardinal Pell in reality reveal the foul and bigoted mind of John Tomlinson.
Wednesday, October 10, 2018
I put up here a great deal in support of Christians and Christian causes but since I am myself an extreme atheist in the manner of analytical philosophers like Rudolf Carnap, it seems only reasonable that I present an atheist POV occasionally. None of the difficulties for theism presented below will disdturb committed Christians but they deserve to be presented.
It always amuses me that both Christians and atheists consider one another to be totally unreasonable. They both have a point. Atheists consider it unreasonanble to believe in an undetectable object and Christians believe it unreasonable to believe the vast complexity around us happened by chance. Partly for that reason I never argue for or against belief in God, Thor, Zeus or whoever he is
I do however believe in the Devil. I think Islam is ample proof of his influence
The fact reported below that Australian young people are much more religious than their elders is certainly an interesting finding. I suspect it reflects the uncertainties of the modern world -- where the Left have done a pretty good job of throwing all values into question. The existence of God is much better argued for than most traditional beliefs are so young people cling on to the only firm anchor they can find. And they find in Christianity a rich system of thinking and values that guides them well through life and its challenges.
I myself am profoundly grateful for my fundamentalist youth. It was much more helpful to me than believing in the absurd Leftist gospel that "There is no such thing as Right and Wrong". How can they expect anyone to draw philosophical nourishment from such an etiolated body of thought?
I am still mostly guided in my life by Christian principles. They work for me. I even "take a little wine for my stomach's sake" from time to time (1 Timothy 5:23)
The promise of an afterlife – to meet departed family and friends – appeals to many, but especially younger Australians. Are private religious schools playing a part? And why do they dismiss the evidence of physics, asks Brian Morris.
Against all odds, it seems the concept of going to heaven holds far greater significance for the young than for those who are closer – numerically – to death! We need to confront ‘the D word’ itself, but let’s first get a handle on why the idea of paradise has gripped contemporary youth – more so than pensioners.
A national Essential poll shows 40% of all Australians believe in heaven. But the crucial figure is that a staggering 51% of those aged 18-34 hold such a belief! This compares to just 29% of the public who are over 55 years old. The young are almost twice as fixated with an afterlife than those closer to pension age! Why is that?
Is it insecurity or religiosity? One suggestion points to the fact that 40% of secondary students now attend private religious schools – a rate far higher than all other Western nations. There has been an exponential growth in government funding for private Catholic and Anglican schools since the 1960s – from a base of almost zero.
Others suggest that a similar rise in Special Religious Instruction (SRI) and chaplains in public schools has led to the Christianisation of education across the nation. These government-funded programs are run by evangelical Christian organisations in each state – with Catholic and Anglican private schools proselytising their own religions. And do millennials then stay at home too long, with a childhood faith, instead of getting out into the real world?
Since colonisation, Christianity instilled belief in an afterlife. It’s reflected on a daily basis in mainstream media, in film and on television – and in our obsession with sport. No game passes without players pointing skyward when scoring a goal, or honouring a deceased team or family member with hands reaching towards heaven.
But the biggest problem is that we don’t talk about death!
Society needs to get over this end-of-life taboo – to discuss and challenge the sugar-coated religious myth that claims we will all meet up with our loved ones (and pets) when we die and go to heaven. Before confronting the concrete scientific evidence (below) – and how we can better handle the emotional aspects of death – just dwell on this thought for one moment.
Isn’t paradise already just a little crowded? Think about who those you would meet – not only the entire cohort of your departed relatives, your friends and ancestors – but all the people you have detested; and those who gave you so much grief during your lifetime.
Then there’s the rest – every human who died! Research shows that, by 2050, an estimated 113 billion people will have lived and died on planet Earth; so heaven is already a seething mass of ‘souls’. For eternity!
The average punter has great difficulty conceptualising ‘eternity’. Most can’t even grasp the fact of our universe being 13.8 billion years old – or Earth a mere 4.5 billion. The concept is starkly illustrated in a fascinating book, A History of the World in 10 1/2 chapters. While fictional, it focuses the mind on a serious problem with infinity.
Chapter 10 sees our hero arrive in heaven, choosing to spend all his time eating luxurious food, having endless sex, and playing golf. After several thousand years he’s sick of food and sex, and on each heavenly golf course he hits holes-in-one on every par 3. He pleads to be released from this endless “perfect existence” and asks if others finally yearn to be free; to actually “die”. With a short pause for effect, the answer was plain. “Everyone!”
Books on near-death experiences, and visits to heaven, are legion. A recent best seller was Proof of Heaven by Dr Eben Alexander – a neurosurgeon, no less. Alexander sold more than 2 million copies before his claims were debunked. Among those who contested his story was Professor Sean Carroll, a particle physicist and high-profile science communicator. Carroll said there could only be two possibilities for Alexander’s spiritual encounter:
(1) Either some ill-defined metaphysical substance, not subject to the known laws of physics, interacted with the atoms of his brain in ways that have eluded every controlled experiment ever performed in the history of science; or
(2) People hallucinate when they are nearly dead.
Professor Carroll’s detailed explanation of Physics and Immortality spells out precisely why an immaterial ‘soul’ does not exist.
Carroll worked with the team that discovered the Higgs Boson at Geneva’s Large Hadron Collider. He could not be more explicit;
“If there are other waves, particles or forces sufficient to externally influence the brain, then we would know about them … Within Quantum Field Theory, there can’t be a new collection of ‘spirit particles’ and ‘spirit forces’ that interact with our regular atoms, because we would have detected them in existing experiments… You would have to demonstrate evidence of a completely new realm of reality, obeying very different rules than everything we know about physics.”
The 3 links above are needed to fully understand why there is no ‘soul’. But science does not devalue the need for compassion and empathy in the face of raw emotions that come with our personal experiences of death. It is necessary to face up to reality – but there are alternatives to religion in coping with end of life crises.
Discussing death openly and honestly – and publicly through the media – is a first step in helping to ease the extreme distress that many suffer with their own fear of death.
The ‘Golden Age of Athens’ pre-dates Christianity by four centuries – it led to a crucial period of new philosophical thought about life and death, about government and democracy, and how ordinary people could live a more fulfilled and contented life.
The philosophical principles of stoicism remain popular today. It’s based on three central themes. ‘Perception’, how we choose to view events; ‘Action’, how we deal with events we can control (and those we can’t); and then there’s ‘Will’ – training ourselves to deal honestly and ethically with events in our own lives. Following the full regime of stoicism may seem daunting; but after filtering the basic principles it becomes somewhat easier to apply.
The stoic approach to dealing with death – of family, friends, or oneself – is particularly relevant. Initially, it may appear morbid to periodically remind ourselves of one’s mortality. But if we consider this approach to death deeply enough, we soon come to realise the benefits of a greatly improved mental state.
The stark alternative for most people is to ignore the inevitable, and to be completely consumed by grief when family or friends die unexpectedly. Religion holds its privileged status based on fear – fear of not believing in God, fear of the unknown, and especially the fear of death. It’s a cruel deception that society needs to overcome.
By sugar-coating mortality with the myth of everlasting heaven, religion simply deprives us all of the ways and means to better cope with the end of life. While stoicism may not be the complete solution for all, it is clear that the basic principles of ‘philosophical ethics’ – honesty, reason, compassion, and love – would be a far better alternative than teaching schoolchildren obedience to God and religious ritual.
Future generations would avoid the trap of today’s millennials who continue to shun science and instead cling to religious concepts of an afterlife.
A ‘soul’ that miraculously ascends to heaven, only to re-unite with 113 billion other souls – for the whole of eternity! Just like our golfing hero, that sounds more like purgatory!
Wednesday, September 19, 2018
I don't know why I occasionally put up rejoinders to Leftist screeches. I guess I feel that a full picture of the matters concerned has to be available. And Leftist writing usually leaves out such an enormous amount of the full story that I really feel annoyed at such deception.
The woman writing below, Caitlin Prince, apparently works in some sort of welfare role among Aborigines and appears to do so largely as a result of her political convictions. And a big part of those convictions is that Australians generally are racist. But what evidence does she muster for that conviction? Just three anecdotes. But you can prove anything by anecdotes. I could report far more anecdotes that prove Australians generally to be racially tolerant. So she falls at the first hurdle in her rant.
So her claim that "defensive anger" is the common response to accounts of the deplorable situation of Aborigines is also just another anecdote. That she is a racist is however clear. She criticizes "white men of Anglo-Celtic or European background." Why does she have to bring their race into it? Why can she not outline the words and deeds of particular people in her criticisms? Instead she resorts to lazy generalizations with no detectible substance in them.
Another of her broad brush strokes is to say that "mostly racism is unconscious and internalised". How does she know? Does she have a mind-reading machine? She does not. Instead she relies on her deductions about the motives behind various words and deeds that she has observed. There is a very long history in psychology of failed attempts to read minds but she is not humbled by that. She knows better.
One of her observations, however, is probably right. She says that the poor state of Aborigines evokes feelings of powerlessness in whites. She does not however confront a major reason why. Successive Australian governments, State and Federal, Left and Right have all set in train big efforts to improve the situation of Aborigines -- but nothing works. If anything, the situation of Aborigines has gone downhill since the era of the missionaries. People of all sorts have racked their brains to come up with solutions but none have succeeded. People feel powerless in the face of Aboriginal degradation because they really ARE powerless.
She says that the problem for Aborigines is "the thick walls of indifference, denial, and defensive anger that characterises so much of our country’s response to our First Nations". If that were so, how come that so many government programs have over a long period been tried in an attempt to help Aborigines?
So the sad state of Aborigines is NOT the result of racism. It is something in Aboriginals themselves. And that something is not too mysterious. They have over many thousands of years adapted brilliantly to a hunter-gatherer life -- but that life is no more.
So what is her solution to the undoubted problems of Aborigines? It is pathetic. It is a "national conversation". She is completely oblivious of all the conversations that have gone before. She lives only in the present, as Leftists usually do.
As it happens, the lady in my life spent many years among Aborigines providing them with real professional services -- medical services -- paid for by one of those "racist" Australian governments. She tells me something that the angry sourpuss below gives no hint of. She tells me that she LIKES Aborigines. And having seen much of what has been done to and for Aborigines by well-intentioned governments, she is firm in her view that no outside help will do much for Aborigines. She believes that any solution for their plight must arise from among Aborigines themselves. I think she is right.
Last week, a nine-year-old refused to stand for the national anthem to protest its lack of recognition of First Nations, and the country erupted in anger. High profile, fully grown adults publicly called her a brat and threatened to “kick her up the backside”.
In the same week, Mark Knight’s cartoon of Serena Williams was criticised internationally as racist, and Australian media doubled down to defend it. “Welcome to PC world” the Herald Sun published on its front page, while Knight accused the world of “going crazy” and suspended his Twitter account.
Meanwhile, two Aboriginal teenagers died in Perth running away from police, and communities pushed again for government action on the high rates of Aboriginal deaths in custody. Yeah — how dare people suggest Australia is racist!
I can’t imagine how it felt to be Aboriginal during this (not atypical) week. Although I don’t have to imagine — Celeste Liddle (@Utopiana), the Aboriginal writer and activist, tweeted:
"We’re constantly stuck trying to remind white people of the humanity of Aboriginal people – particularly Aboriginal women and children. It’s tiring, devastating and as we continually end up back in the same place, clearly not working. Sort your shit out, Australia"
— Celeste Liddle (@Utopiana) September 17, 2018
Emotions run high when it comes to the topic of racism and First Nations people. The fact that a nine-year-old can elicit such a venomous rebuke from senators and media personalities is testament to that. In my experience though, it isn’t only alt-right conservatives who have strong emotions about this topic. In the past eight years that I’ve worked in remote Aboriginal communities, every non-Aboriginal person I’ve worked with has experienced a strong reaction to the interface of Australia’s race relations.
Defensive anger is a common reaction to having your worldview challenged. Researcher Megan Boler believes it’s an attempt to protect not only one’s beliefs but one’s “precarious sense of identity”; a defence of one’s investment in the values of the dominant culture.
The problem with growing up within the dominant culture is that it’s easy to be oblivious to anything outside of it. As Tim Soutphommasane, the outgoing Race Discrimination Commissioner, recently pointed out in The Griffith Review, Australia’s media and political structures are still dominated by white men of Anglo-Celtic or European background. While in reality, Australia is far more culturally diverse, the positions that shape both the nation’s policies and stories we tell about it, are still dominated by Anglo-Australians.
When voices from outside the dominant culture do reach us, their perspectives are unexpected, drawn from life experience beyond our shared frames of reference. Their criticism can feel like it’s come out of the blue.
Knight said his cartoon wasn’t about race. Perhaps he was naive to the history of caricature that represented black people as infantile sambos. His intention may not have been racist. As white people, we often mistakenly believe that racism requires a conscious belief that black people are less human than us, but mostly racism is unconscious and internalised.
It’s all the more bewildering to be accused of racism when it isn’t your intention, such as a health professional who wants to help, discovering they’ve unknowingly offended their Aboriginal client; or a well-intentioned teacher, who had no idea teaching only in English to a community with a different first language, might cause harm. Or perhaps a cartoonist, who prided himself on insightful social commentary, but had his blind spots pointed out.
Frequently, we react defensively and insist our actions aren’t racist when we’d be better served by realising we didn’t know it was racist and listening to people of colour to understand why, without minimising or denying their concerns.
Anger is not the only emotional response I see in non-Aboriginal people when confronted with our country’s racism. Some people respond with grief and sadness, others with guilt and shame. Nearly always, there are feelings of helplessness that easily flick over into dissociation, numbness and denial. Megan Boler writes that denial “feeds on our lack of awareness of how powerlessness functions, effects, feeds on, and drains our sense of agency and power as active creators of self and world-representations. By powerlessness I mean a state that is usually silent and mutates into guilt and denial that gnaws at us….”
Our country struggles with meaningful recognition of our First Nations, in part due to these feelings of powerlessness and being overwhelmed. We are divided, black from white, by the privilege of being able to drift off into denial. Aboriginal people remain pressed up against the painful consequences of racism with the daily deaths, incarceration, and illness of their family members. Non-Aboriginal Australians on the other hand, bump along, failing to grapple with the overwhelming task of reckoning with our genocidal history and its ongoing legacy.
People of colour refer to “white fragility”, and while I think the term is fair (if the suffering could be weighed, there would be no competition), unless we respond wisely to emotions triggered by discussions of racism, we’re not going to progress the national conversation. Emerging from denial is like thawing from ice; it comes with the pins and needles of moving out of a long-held, contracted position. It’s painful, and people react emotionally.
I’ve worked for eight years now in remote health. I often feel paralysed, at a loss as to how to break through the thick walls of indifference, denial, and defensive anger that characterises so much of our country’s response to our First Nations.
How can I, as one voice, possibly affect it? I want to run away, to not face it. And right there, in the choice to not confront racism, is white privilege.
The moment I choose to do nothing, the moment I stop wrestling with my emotions and slip instead into denial and avoidance, I act out the privilege that has and continues to cause so much harm to our First Nations.
To do nothing is to be complicit.
What a painful thing to have to face.