I am seriously growing tired of our ingrained national racism. The only things tire me more are the predictable denials, from a conga-line of apologists, that usually follow racist incidents in Australia.
Racism is bigoted, ignorant prejudice and serves no useful purpose whatsoever in a progressive, liberal society. Racism is a cancer that must be cut out, and eradicated. If there was ever a good reason for zero tolerance on any subject in society, racism is at, or very near, the top of the list together with misogyny and homophobia.
In my recent piece condemning the Reclaim Australia rallies I quoted, with approval, Tim Soutphommasane, academic, political philosopher, social commentator, writer and columnist, and Race Discrimination Commissioner at the Australian Human Rights Commission, on the subject of racism:
Racism is like a cockroach of civilised society. It is vile, revolting, and it breeds prodigiously. Few things appear capable of eradicating it. It seems always to return, no matter what we do to stamp it out.
We must stamp on the cockroach of racism (8 April 2013)
That brings me to Adam Goodes, one of Australia’s greatest AFL players, and the response by the crowds to his presence on the football field. This is not a new phenomenon and has been going on for a while.
- Adam Goodes ‘gutted’ by racial slur but wants AFL fan educated (ABC News, 24 May 2013)
- Swans star Adam Goodes branded an ‘ape’ on disgusting Facebook page in latest grubby race attack on indigenous footballer (Daily Mail Australia, 21 May 2014)
- Adam Goodes racially abused by Essendon fan in Friday night clash at Etihad Stadium, Western Bulldogs apologise to Demon Neville Jetta (Herald Sun, 21 May 2014)
- Police probe racist slurs aimed at Buddy, Goodes (AFL News, 25 August 2014)
- AFL star Adam Goodes’ Wikipedia page hijacked by racist vandals (Daily Mail Australia, 29 May 2015)
- Sydney Swans’ Adam Goodes celebrates goal with Indigenous war dance, ruffles feathers (The Sydney Morning Herald, 30 May 2015)
How dare Australia’s best indigenous AFL player take pride in his heritage and celebrate a goal, while playing in the indigenous round of the game, with an indigenous dance?! When I saw Adam Goodes’ dance on television I found it a heartwarming, proud and historical sporting moment. It was a heartfelt demonstration of pride in his heritage. Adam Goodes should be celebrated and encouraged, not condemned.
Booing him because he chooses ‘to parade his indigenous credentials strongly’ is pure, undeniable racism, and we can, and we must, bring an end to racism at the football, and in society generally!
I appreciate the AFL is a robust and physical football code that exudes aggression and exuberance that is absorbed and often magnified by the fans. I also understand the AFL, like most sporting codes, comes with a healthy level of sledging.
Nevertheless, the ongoing systematic racial abuse and taunting of Adam Goodes is simply unacceptable. Racist taunts are not ‘banter.’
Sadly some of our media does not rise above the muck either:
- Adam Goodes is a bad choice for Australian of the Year (The Daily Telegraph, 29 January 2014)
- Andrew Bolt takes on Adam Goodes (2GB, 6 March 2014)
- ‘Victim’ Adam Goodes just crying wolf over war dance (The Herald Sun, 31 May 2015)
Some say the vitriol directed at Adam Goodes is not racist, and the crowds react to him as such because he is ‘arrogant’.
For argument’s sake lets presume for a moment that Australian of the Year Adam Goodes is ‘arrogant’. How would that excuse, or explain, the racist taunts?!
It does not.
And not as if the AFL does not have a history of cocksure, arrogant, and even thuggish, players. I have seen far worse behaviour, on and off the field, from AFL players over the years than refusing to accept racist behaviour from the crowds, or taking pride in one’s indigenous culture.
What we are seeing is racism, pure and simple.
Racism. It Stops With Me.