Wednesday, 20 August 2014

Recognise the racism?

I don't think I'm the only one in this country who would argue political correctness is on steroids. You really only have to open a paper or turn on the radio to hear it every day.

How often do we hear about large corporations aiming to have more women in senior positions in order to avoid being labelled misogynists? How many times do we hear our politicians publicly apologising for comments they previously stood by due to public perception or pressure? Since when does a 13 year old girl get paraded through a crowd and detained by police for over two hours for calling an Indigenous footballer an ape? Why has Lego just produced female professional Lego characters even though it has traditionally identified its characters as gender neutral?

A topic that has played a large part in the rise of political correctness is racism.
While racism should never be tolerated and human people should be respected as dignified and equal in terms of their humanity, the push to end racism, especially in relation to Indigenous people in Australia, has led to a politically correct attitude that has gone so far one way, it is actually contradicting itself.

Qantas recently branded one of their QantasLink Q400 planes with the logo of the Recognise campaign and has announced it will brand its entire Q400 fleet with the logo in the near future.
In an attempt to put an end to racial vilification and to recognise Indigenous Australians and Torres Straight Islanders in the Constitution, Qantas, and Recognise, has commenced a campaign that divides people based on race and is therefore logically racist.

Andrew Bolt landed himself in hot water on The Bolt Report on Sunday morning when he suggested the Recognise Campaign was racist. Dr Craig Emerson accused him of being a racist based on his own criteria (that's a whole different story and relates to Bolt’s Federal Court loss under Sections 18C and 18D of the Racial Discrimination Act 1975). However, I couldn't agree more with Bolt in this instance. The Recognise campaign is a Government funded movement that divides people based on race. I fail to see how it is not racist.

In an attempt to raise awareness about racial vilification and ultimately have Indigenous people recognised in the Constitution, the whole campaign is actually at odds with the very reason it exists. It is dividing people based on race in order to stop dividing people based on race.
If the Government was going to alter the Constitution to recognise anyone, surely it would be an alteration that includes all Australians and promotes a message of harmony between all people. Wouldn’t that demonstrate we, as a country, are acting on our favourite buzz words; “equality”,” tolerance” and “multi-culturalism”? Recognise is pushing an agenda based on race and Qantas, (and the Government who helps fund it), are promoting it because it is politically correct to do so.
I’m not even sure the Recognise movement is in the best interests of Indigenous communities in this country. It certainly isn’t according to Celeste Liddle, an Indigenous blogger and columnist with The Guardian. Liddle recently wrote:

"Recognise is a Government-funded campaign to push a particular view, and it is using populist means to do so. So where is the government funding for the oppositional Indigenous views to run their campaign? Why are the anti-voices from an Indigenous perspective stuck utilising social media to try and raise awareness with meagre media coverage, while Recognise gets copious funding to travel around the country, pose for photo opportunities, hold concerts and sell t-shirts? Exactly how democratically ethical is it that the Government is only funding an organisation that promotes its own policy platform (and that of the opposition and the major minor party as well)?

Apparently, when the referendum is announced, there will be funding for both sides of the argument to state their cases, but considering that one side will have been funded to promote their cause years before the other, exactly how fair and balanced is this?"
Adam Goodes is one of the faces of the Recognise campaign, having dug his heels in regarding racism since famously pointing out a 13 year old girl for calling him an ape at an AFL game at the MCG last year. The 13 year old girl was subsequently detached from her grandmother, paraded through the crowd and detained by police for over 2 hours to be interrogated about her comment.
Goodes was later awarded Australian of the year for, as Miranda Devine claimed, “victimising a powerless 13 year old girl from a disadvantaged background”.

Don't tell me political correctness hasn't gone too far.

The Qantas move follows a similar potentially racist move by global accounting firm PwC when they announced they are aiming to have 5% of their partnership represented by people of Asian background by 2016. Could you imagine Adam Goodes was gunning for partnership at PwC and was disregarded because he wasn't Asian?
You could possibly mount an argument that discrimination based on race is reasonable in a situation where we are trying to remedy previous inequalities. The argument for Indigenous Australians would be that it is desirable to treat Aboriginal people in a preferential manner because we (white Europeans/Australians) were the cause of so much previous inequality, such as the stolen generation.
This is a dangerous precedent to set. How long do you allow preferential treatment of one race over another? How can you argue inequality based on race for other groups of people if you’re allowing preferential treatment of Indigenous people? At what point does the preferential treatment make up for the previous harms done? When you reach the make up point, how do you simply change society’s attitude of giving Indigenous people preferential treatment?
The push to recognise Indigenous people has gone too far and has become largely a game of political correctness. I would argue it is not in the best interest of the majority of Indigenous people and has become racist in the way it divides people.

Nobody should get preferential treatment or be divided based on race. Sadly, the Recognise and Qantas joint venture aims to do both.

All the best,
Dom Meese


  1. Dom. Cant agree with on this one. Dont see how acknowledging there were people here when europeans arrived divides us. I would be happy to see the first inhabitants of this land recognized in constitution. As for the 13 year old girl. .. do we allow racial abuse for people under 14? (Please dont pretend calling a dark skinned male a primate is not racial. The Indian cricket team tried that a few summers back.) A few hours in a safe and secure environment. .. oh the trauma. If you feel the current state of the aboriginal people is purely their own doing and should not be afford any special treatment then just say so (I disagree for what its worth). I do agree the Bolt law needs to be repelled. I believe they go too far. Bangers

  2. Thanks for the comment Bangers! You've made some good points but I feel we will end up agreeing to disagree. Firstly, I don't think the state of Aboriginal people is purely their own doing. Far from it. However, I don't think recognising them in the Constitution based purely on race is the answer. Dividing people based on race (and this is a division - ie whether or not you will be recognised in the Constitution is determined by your race) is not something we should be striving for in any situation.
    I think we can and I think we pretty much already do acknowledge the Aboriginal people as the first inhabitants of the land so I don't see a need to recognise them in the Constitution based purely on race.
    I'm not sure about the Bolt laws. 18D can exempt you from 18C and therefore allows freedom of speech. Where Bolt went wrong was that 18D only protects you if you are making factually accurate statements, which he was not.