Some of my Facebook 'friends' demonstrate the depth and sophistication of their political philosophy by indicating that they 'Like' a particular posting. I take note of what they like, occasionally 'Like' what they like, even 'Share' if I think their opinions should be further exposed to the public gaze.
Naturally Adam Goodes has been the subject of many Facebook postings and Twitter tweetings.
I like Mike Baird's Faceook posting - I think he probably voiced the opinion of most Australians - into our lives some booing will fall, but this time it's gone too far, so let's indicate our respect for our Australian of the Year by getting on with the game.
Australia can proudly claim to be the least racist nation in the world. More than 200 nationalities are learning to live together with relatively few problems. A majority of indigenous people have non-indigenous partners. 80% of second generation Australians marry partners of nationalities other than their own.
Most Australians have suffered from racism or had ancestors who did. My ancestors were slaughtered at Culloden and Glencoe, and evicted from their traditional lands to make way for sheep in the Highlands. Some, Protestants, were shipped off to Ireland to civilise the troublesome Irish Catholics. No wonder I was raised hating sheep, Englishmen and Catholics.
The Irish were certainly considered to be an inferior race, and suffered accordingly.
One of my uncles was disowned by the family for marrying a Catholic. Ironically, his brother, my father, married the daughter of a defrocked Catholic priest, excommunicated for marrying a Free Presbyterian woman.
One of my great-aunts married a Chinese man. Quong Tart was born in China, and made his fortune on the goldfields of Australia. He was highly respected as a philanthropist, community leader, businessman and multicultural socialite. He was an excellent cricketer. He had a passion for Robbie Burns, wore a kilt and played the bagpipes. In 1902 he was savagely bashed, never recovered and died in 1903. The community erected a statue at Ashfield that celebrates his life.
That tells me a lot about racism - it only takes a few to make it turn nasty, and those few are always with us. Then there are those who profit from racism, including those who make it a political issue and those who fan the flames, and I think they are the worst kind of racists.
These days our racism tends to less physically violent than in some countries - we are more likely to jeer than to kill. Not that this makes it easy for those who are abused, and it requires an unreasonable degree of forbearance from them, but perhaps that is what is required.
Bernice Johnson, lead singer in Sweet Honey in the Rock, participated in freedom marches in the American South. She has this to say of her experiences:
I look at love as a strategy. I'm not talking about you're walking down the street and your heart's going thump, thump, thump every time you see somebody. 'Cause that may be what you feel, but I don't know what it says about what you do. During the civil rights movement, there was this thing about you can be in this march, but if somebody hits you you couldn't hit them back. You knew you were going to be in the march, 'cause you were going to die if you weren't in the march, so you'd just tell yourself if somebody hits me I'm not going to hit them back. But, then they would explain to you that that had something to do with love. Now you didn't feel it - if somebody hits you, you don't feel "Oh I love you!". You just act - you do an act of love, which is a very intellectually driven phenomenon, it's a very practical, strategic phenomenon. When you meet somebody else, you are going to connect in a way that is not driven by hate or greed.
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