Sunday, September 20, 2020

Cathy Freeman’s iconic Olympic moment shows the racism Indigenous Australians face

This do-gooder article below is a good example of lazy thought. It casually accuses Australians of racism towards Aborigines but makes no attempt to enquire why that racism exists.

And it does exist. Australians rarely encounter Aborigines as anything but dirty and drunked layabouts and beggars and it is undoubted that they dislike ALL drunken layabout beggars. So that is the simple explanation for why Australians have a low opinion of Aborigines.

And the high rate of intermarriage beween East Asians (mainly Chinese and Filipinas) and Anglo-Australians shows that looking different and coming from different cultures does not of itself normally elicit prejudice. In the Bogardus social distance scale, marriage is the most non-racist category of behaviour. The almost total absence of any friction between Anglos and our large population of East Asians is surely evidence that Australians are NOT racist in general

It is of course true that what is true of the group is not true of all individuals within it. But it is a universal human habit to categorize, as the psychological literature (See here and here) clearly shows. But that literature also shows that once a person becomes known as an individual, the category judgments fall away.

My own father, who was a man of his times, had an Aboriginal friend — solely because the Aboriginal was a hard worker in my father’s trade (“lumberjack”) of cutting down forest trees. He was perfectly friendly to Tommy even though he had the usual negative view of Aborigines in general prevailing at that time. My father greatly respected hard manual work so his friendship with Tommy was an expression of his values

So the human tendency to categorize may be regrettable but it does not generate immovable attitudes. So Freeman received a lot of acceptance and admiration once she became known as an individual. But up to that point the assumption about her was that she was a discreditable type of person. She was judged as a member of her group. That is how the human mind works. It is nothing to do with Australians in particular

Call it racism or call it stereotyping but categorization is a basic human survival mechanism. It enables prediction

Twenty years ago Cathy Freeman stopped the nation not once, but twice in the space of 10 days.

All of Australia watched as Freeman won the 400m in front of 110,000 people at Sydney’s Olympic stadium on September 25, 2000.

Ten days earlier she was unveiled as the secret final torch bearer to light the Olympic cauldron inside the stadium.

It was something Freeman – who had the race of her life just 10 days later – was reluctant to do.

“It wasn’t until I got to Sydney, in those days before the Opening Ceremony that I started to think, ‘OK I have to be in this moment’.”

It was an iconic moment in not only our sporting history but the history of Australia.

Twenty years ago Indigenous Australians were fighting for an apology to the Stolen Generation. Just months before the Olympics 250,000 Indigenous and non-Indigenous Australians had marched across the Sydney Harbour Bridge for reconciliation.

And here was a proud and outspoken Indigenous Australian on the world stage representing Australia.

It’s easy to look back at that moment with rose-tinted glasses. A moment that shows how accepting white Australians have been of Indigenous Australians.

But I have vastly different memories of that opening ceremony.

At an 18th birthday party in country NSW, the family whose daughter was turning 18 had moved the TV outside so everyone could watch the ceremony.

But despite it being a huge moment in our history, there are only two things I remember from that event.

The first was when a young Nikki Webster entered the ceremony surrounded by Aboriginal dancers.

A partygoer – who would have just been 17 or 18 – yelled out that Nikki wasn’t safe with so many Aboriginal men around her.

It was a disgusting comment that shows just how acceptable it was to be openly racist 20 years ago. Sadly, it’s probably still acceptable in some circles today.

When the torch bearers reached the stadium it was a parade of former Australian Olympians who did the final legs. Then it was Cathy’s moment. No one knew she would light the cauldron.

But the decision to use Australia’s greatest athlete at the time didn’t please everyone at the party.

People started to boo as Cathy took the torch and started the final run before lighting the cauldron surrounded by water.

You could just say this was a group of teens who didn’t understand the importance of this moment. They didn’t understand how racist it was to boo a prominent Indigenous woman during one of the biggest moments in her career.

But that would be ignoring how much Freeman had to fight during her whole career.

Like how Australian Commonwealth Games official Arthur Tunstall said Freeman should have been kicked out of the 1994 Commonwealth Games when she carried both the Australian and Aboriginal flags during her victory lap after winning gold in the 200m.

Or when Freeman was just a girl and didn’t receive a trophy after winning a race, instead watching non-Indigenous girls who finished behind her receive them.

“What did upset me at time was my parent’s reaction; they were more upset than me,” Freeman said years later.

It’s easy to look back at Freeman winning the 400m gold in Sydney or lighting the cauldron and forget the racism she faced.

She was even warned in the lead up to the 2000 Games she could be stripped of her medals if she celebrated with the Aboriginal flag. There were concerns it would breach an Olympic rule by being seen as a political gesture. But when she won the 400m, she carried both flags proudly.

The 20th anniversary of Freeman’s gold medal should rightly be celebrated this month as a moment that brought Australians together.

But it should also be a reminder of how much more Indigenous Australians have to fight to be accepted in Australia. And that it’s a fight that still continues.


Much of Queensland’s legislation against farmers was ‘completely unnecessary’

Marine scientist and physicist Professor Peter Ridd says data showing pesticides bear a a negligible impact on the Great Barrier Reef means much of the Queensland government’s new legislation against farmers were “completely unnecessary”.

Professor Ridd said it was recently revealed by the director of the Australian Institute of Marine Science, that only 3 per cent of the whole Great Barrier Reef, the ‘inshore reefs’, was affected by farm pesticides.

He said it was revealed even for the affected 3 per cent, pesticides were a low to negligible risk.

“It’s only 3 per cent of the whole Great Barrier Reef, and even when you look at the data on that … even on that 3 per cent, pesticides are a low to negligible risk,” Professor Ridd told Sky News host Chris Kenny.

“(Which) basically means a lot of this new legislation the Queensland government is bringing on against farmers is completely unnecessary.”


Green hypocrites and gutless banks holding up power to the people

That Australia needs a big new power station on the east coast is obvious. The $64,000 question is where? While everyone wants one, they do not wish to live near one. “Not in my backyard” is the cry from householders who still want their airconditioning running year round. As we dither and dally over the where, the need becomes more critical. You have to be old enough to remember the days when Neville Wran was premier to recall the “brown-outs”. Different parts of the state would be robbed through periods of inadequate power and no power at all. If one of those incidents occurs at the height of summer or the depth of winter, people die.

When Victoria closed its dirty brown-coal plant at Hazelwood it may have done us an environmental favour but it meant that other states had to increase the amount of power they produced to bridge the shortfall. So we adopted the approach of stretching out the power we had, knowing full well that we were only delaying the inevitable.

We can’t dawdle any longer. Our weak-willed banks lack the courage to back a new power station built by the private sector.

If this desperately needed power station is ever going to be built it will be with government money. It will be bitterly opposed by those who see nothing incongruous about turning the lights on tonight when they get home. No bank will risk losing tens of thousands of customers by shovelling money into this development, regardless of how worthy it might be.

Our banks run up the white flag and begin a quick retreat with the first whiff of grapeshot. “Principle be damned” is their motto as they race to find the lowest common denominator.

The financial services royal commission did much more than highlight corruption and malpractice in that system. It undermined our faith in our institutions. The AMP was the pinnacle of Australian business success. It was big and it was ours. I can recall my parents taking me to the top of the old AMP building to look out over the harbour. Just the mention of AMP invoked national pride. Watching its executives being grilled was not a pretty sight. They even stole money off dead people.

They say a rort is not a rort if you are in on it. At the AMP everyone had a rort going – robbing customers. Under new management the company is rebuilding; I wish them well, but it is a mighty task. You can easily rebuild physical structures but trust is different altogether and it takes longer. It would be a great idea if these boards had a consumer representative – a genuine independent who could apply a smell test to board decisions, particularly executive remuneration.

We waste talent in this country. Tony Abbott, a Rhodes scholar before becoming Prime Minister of Australia, was offered nothing when he left politics. He had to go to London to find work. That’s pathetic. You need to have a national memory bank and you have that by keeping those who made our history on our shores to educate, stimulate and nurture those Australians smart enough to know that the only way forward is to look to the past to find out what works and what doesn’t.

The US presidential election is near and brilliant colleague Rowan Dean predicts a landslide victory for Donald Trump, notwithstanding the polls. I am not inclined to rubbish Dean’s claim; he made a mug of me rightly predicting Scott Morrison’s victory over Bill Shorten. Joe Biden – an uninspiring candidate – may lead in the polls but then he has to get Americans out to vote. This will happen only if there is a sufficient number of Americans who want to dump Trump.

Why is it that the best the Democrats can produce is a doddery near-octogenarian flat out remembering what room he is in? Is he fit and able enough to handle all the complexities of the toughest job in the world? It is hard to come up with a confident, positive answer to that. What will this man do in a life-and-death crisis when it is his finger on the button? Will his mind be on the job or will it wander? Let us hope and pray that we never find out.

Sometimes democracy seems not all that it is cracked up to be. While the rulers of its greatest potential enemies, China and Russia, are presidents for life, the US President faces the people every four years. Incumbents don’t often get beaten but Jimmy Carter only got one bite of the cherry when his Georgian mafia showed they were well short of having whatever it takes to control all the levers of American government.

Trump is terrific for people like me. Journalists and commentators know he provides us with rich pickings. For that reason a part of my brain tells me to support him. My whole brain then kicks in and I return to sanity.


Big changes to Australian citizenship test flagged

The citizenship test has been modified so that aspiring Australians will need to correctly answer questions about the country’s values, the federal government is expected to announce.

The 20-question multiple choice test, which requires a 75 per cent overall mark to pass, will from November include five questions about Australian values – all of which must be answered correctly.

Acting Immigration Minister Alan Tudge is due to introduce the changes on Thursday to coincide with Australian Citizenship Day, when more than 100 citizenship ceremonies will take place across the country.

“The updated citizenship test will have new and more meaningful questions that require potential citizens to understand and commit to our values like freedom of speech, mutual respect, equality of opportunity, the importance of democracy and the rule of law.”

The new values-based queries will include questions such as should people in Australia make an effort to learn English, are people free to choose who they marry or not marry, do religious laws override Australian law and is it acceptable for a husband to be violent towards his wife if she has disobeyed or disrespected him.

Questions in the current test focus on Australian history and government.


Farmers reach ‘crisis point’ over shortage of labor

President of NSW Farmers James Jackson says the agricultural industry is at “crisis point” as crops are not being harvested due to a shortage of laborers.

It comes as the agriculture industry’s usual influx of backpackers who join the fruit-picking force at an estimated worth of $13 billion has been impeded by the coronavirus pandemic.

“In NSW, Victoria and South Australia, it’s looking like a pretty good cereal harvest and we do need casual labor that,” Mr Jackson told Sky News host Alan Jones.

“For the horticultural crops, we need labor for that. “We are looking and it’s five minutes to midnight on this because it’s starting to become the busy season for horticulture.”


Posted by John J. Ray (M.A.; Ph.D.). For a daily critique of Leftist activities, see DISSECTING LEFTISM. To keep up with attacks on free speech see Tongue Tied. Also, don’t forget your daily roundup of pro-environment but anti-Greenie news and commentary at GREENIE WATCH . Email me here

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