Apparently There Is Racism In Australia!
Shock Horror! I thought the Prime Minister said Australia did not have a Racism problem?!? OK, cyncism aside for a moment. Recently, the South African cricket captain, Graeme Smith warned that English cricketer Monty Panesar would face “unbelievable abuse” from Australian cricket fans in the upcoming tour. Well, not surprisingly, the prediction as already come […]
Shock Horror! I thought the Prime Minister said Australia did not have a Racism problem?!?
OK, cyncism aside for a moment.
Recently, the South African cricket captain, Graeme Smith warned that English cricketer Monty Panesar would face “unbelievable abuse” from Australian cricket fans in the upcoming tour. Well, not surprisingly, the prediction as already come true. Smith’s prediction was based on the experience of South Africa’s cricketers last year and despite attempts to “deal” with the issue, it seems the problem of racism in Australian Cricket is not going away any time soon.
In a lot of ways, cricket-writer and novelist Malcolm Knox’s comments in 2003 sum up the problem (so permit me to indulge in an extended quote),
Racism in Australia is insidious, unadmitted. We have few proud racists. There is no open Klan or National Front here. Our white supremacist fringe – the 10 per cent of voters represented in the late-’90s by Pauline Hanson but who, in the 2001 election, swung back in step with Howard’s dance of Arab-phobia – do not admit to racism. Hanson’s platform of cutting non-white immigration and government assistance to Aborigines was coded as a call from “mainstream Australia” for “fairness” (no pun intended). When Howard talks of pre-emptive strikes against terrorists in Asia, and of de-democratising the rights of non-white asylum seekers, his favourite phrasing is “ordinary Australians think . . .” All ills can be cured if everybody just stops whingeing and swallows the (white, male, resolutely middle-class and anti-intellectual) panacea of “mateship”.
By raising this, one risks being labelled politically correct and a troublemaker. Three years ago, when India toured Australia, I interviewed Indian-Australians who were supporting India. I found two reasons.
One was that it is natural not to let go of one’s birthplace. Presumably those Australians who impose cultural-assimilation policies upon new arrivals are not the ones who slag Greg Norman for his American accent; presumably those who say Muslims should renounce their language and religion once they become Australians are not the ones who accuse Clive James and Germaine Greer of “selling out” their Australian-ness to Britain.
Yet a more pungent reason for those Indian flags at the Sydney Cricket Ground was that fathers resented the exclusion of their sons from local and school teams. Every family I interviewed had a story of a boy who had been shut out of the “in” group because of his race, or his teetotalism, or some other cultural difference.
Lest this be taken as paranoia, one need only look at the make-up of Australian cricket teams at senior levels. The most common name in the Sydney phone book is Lee – and they’re not relatives of Brett – yet all our teams can boast is the occasional Kasprowicz or Di Venuto. If you want a cultural snapshot of Australia in the 1950s, look no further than our cricket.
Rather than shame, our cricket community tends to feel pride in this ethnic wholeness. Yet the Lehmann case has shown that an excess of our greatest strengths – unity, certainty, simplicity – has become our greatest weakness.
Australian triumphalism masks the fact that we lag a generation behind England in resolving the race debate. While English sporting clubs struggle to harmonise different cultures, Australian clubs fix the problem by leaving non-whites out.
This is something I touched on a while back, in relation to the Cronulla Riots of last year. Following on from that story, it seems that not only are more riots likley, but they were actually fuelled by Racism (regardless of John Howard’s asinine claims to the contrary (for more on the story see this and this).
It really is time for Australia to face up to its problem, admit the breadth of the issue and deal with it. A failure to do so will only breed more resentment and more confrontations, which in time will undermine a society that has an aweful lot of good going for it.
[tags] Cricket, Australia, Racism, Cronulla [/tags]