Almost everyone is. It is natural for people to feel better than those who are different to them. We rarely feel that people who are different to us are better than us – luckier, yes; better, no. If being racist is feeling better than others of a different race, this is natural enough. Just look at dogs and acts. We just hope that people are well brought up enough to cancel, control or at least conceal part of our make-up that can cause real harm to others. If you hear someone say ‘I am not a racist’, you therefore wonder why. The statement suggests that the contrary is the case.
A piece by George Megalogenis in The Monthly looks at our spotty record.
When Sir Henry Parkes wanted to stop Chinese coming in, he said:
I disclaim any aversion to the Chinese people settled in this country. I have for thirty years, at many times and often, borne testimony to their law-abiding, industrious, thrifty and peaceable character, and I have never for a single moment joined with those who have held them up as in many respects more disreputable than a similar number of English subjects.
Another time, it was the Irish.
I would advance every opposition in my power to the bringing here of a majority of people from Ireland. I hope I may be able to express this opinion boldly and without reserve, without being charged with bigotry or with a dislike to the Irish people.
(Is bigotry something to be charged for?)
According to the citation, Chifley was not apologising when he accused the government of preferring ‘dagoes’ to ‘heroes’, a phrase that would have got him a job with a recent P M.
Arthur Calwell was not PM which may be just as well. His disclaimer in favour of White Australia was the most nauseating of all.
My Celtic ancestry has given me as tender and as sentimental a heart as the next man. But unlike the irresponsible newspapers and the addle-headed sentimentalists, I have a stern duty to my country and my countrymen.
How like Andrew Bolt. This will hurt me more than it hurts you. Don’t they see that singling out people by the ancestry of their race is where the whole bloody problem starts?
Well, racism is not the subject for a bullshit column. But a sometime PM called Forde gets the Jaffas for pure bullshit on the dagoes. He said that he was not ‘opposed to the Italians as a race’:
We admit that they make good settlers, and are useful workers. I recognise too that they are white men, and that their country is noted for its art, science, and learning.
Bonzer, Cobber, but what about their bloody opera?
Poet of the month: Gwen Harwood
I see that lost enchantment wake
in light, on water, and the spirit
like a loved guest on earth can take
its need and its delight, and wander
freely. The dazzling moments burn
to time again. In simple twilight
water speaks peace, the swallows turn
in lessening arcs. The dry reeds rustle
and part to the nightwind free.
The heart holds, like remembered music,
a landscape grown too dark to see.
(From Alla Siciliana)