Wednesday, August 05, 2015
THE ADAM GOODES CONTROVERSY IN AUSTRALIA
In a still ongoing furore, Australian opinion has been rather riven by the situation of part-Aboriginal footballer Adam Goodes. Whenever he steps onto the field he he is greeted by extensive booing. A lot of self-preeners in the media and elsewhere claim that the booing is "racist". The one fact you need to know to evaluate that claim is that Goodes played for ten years without being booed. The booing has happened only recently. So if racism is at work, why was he not booed earlier?. His Aboriginalness has not changed.
You may also need to know that many of the game's greats have also been the subject of constant booing during games, something Wayne Carey, James Hird, Jason Akermanis and Nick Riewoldt have dealt with in their careers.
I present below in chronological order some of the posts about the matter.
Adam Goodes isn’t booed for the colour of his skin. He is booed for acting like a pillock
The controversy over part-Aboriginal footballer Adam Goodes continues. The crowds boo him a lot and the powers that be are trying to stop that. It has just been handed down from on high that such booing is "racist".
What the wise-heads are ignoring is that Goodes is aggressive, confrontational and a whiner. He has done a lot to make himself unpopular. He recently did some sort of Aboriginal war dance on the football field, complete with an imaginary spear thrown in the direction of the opposing fans -- Not exactly the "mature discussion about the state of race relations in this country" that his Leftist supporters have called for.
The latest episode in the uproar is here. It seems that he just has to run onto the field now to get booed. He has made himself an oppositional figure.
MIRANDA DEVINE (below) summed Goodes up pretty well a month ago. I am not sure why she uses British slang but "pillock" translates roughly into American slang as "jerk". Old-fashioned Australians might say "galah".
I’m sorry, but people are not booing Adam Goodes because he’s Aboriginal. They’re booing him because he acts like a pillock from time to time. And if Sydney Swans CEO Andrew Ireland is genuinely interested in race relations then he shouldn’t cry “racist” with no evidence.
It’s obvious to any footy-lover that the fans boo Goodes because:
1. It’s become a thing;
2. He deliberately taunts opposition fans;
3. He is accused of staging for free kicks, in contravention of the rules of fair play
4. No one has forgotten how he singled out a 13 year old girl in the Collingwood crowd and sicced security onto her after she called him an “ape”;
5. He was rewarded for outing this powerless little girl with the honour of Australian of the Year which he then turned into a grievance pulpit to bag Australia as a racist nation.
Unlike most sports gurus in this town, I loved Goodes’ indigenous war dance last month as the Swans beat Carlton. For one thing, it’s about time we beat the Kiwis and their haka at their own game.
For another, he just did it so well. Bravo, I say. He stole the show.
But he also served it up to the opposition fans, deliberately riling them up. That’s what he does.
So when he gets booed, it’s just the crowd’s natural response to his invitation. It’s a tough game that Goodes started and only he can finish.
But for sports administrators and sanctimonious journalists to denounce the crowds as somehow anti-Aboriginal is the real racism. It’s that sort of patronising victim-pandering that holds Aboriginals down.
If Adam Goodes wants to be a pillock, good for him. He will be booed like any other pillock, no matter what the colour of their skin.
A Leftist martyr is born
Attempts to stop people booing aggressive part-Aboriginal football player Adam Goodes have backfired. An attempt was made to suppress the booing by branding it as "racist". That caused great offence among the many who simply thought Goodes was a bad sportsman. The outcome was a wave of statements in reply about Goodes being offensive --e.g. here.
I think I should mention that AFL legend Jason Akermanis got booed a lot in his day. But unlike Adam Goodes, Akermanis is white. So, you know. Not racist booing. Akermanis has in fact called Goodes a "sook", which translates fairly well as "unmanly" -- a very bad image in football.
The criticisms have now got to Goodes and he appears to have departed football. After being accused of being racists, the fans would undoubtedly erupt into a storm of booing if ever Goodes stepped onto the field again. His position really is untenable.
Goodes seems to me to be less than half Aboriginal in terms of ancestry but, if he were a tribal Aborigine, a wave of disapproval would certainly weigh heavily upon him. Tribal Aborigines can be, and still are, "sung" to death. The singing consists of the men of the tribe sitting down together and chanting disapproval of the person for hours on end. The target of such chanting will simply die. So it is probable that Goodes is feeling very distressed by the turn of events.
The Left however will see Goodes as a victim and see his eclipse as proof that all Australians are racists. He will be celebrated in song and dance for decades as a Leftist hero. There will undoubtedly be Horst Wessel songs about him. That he might have deserved his eclipse and that he might be to blame for his own downfall will not be considered
As it has been revealed AFL star Adam Goodes has been granted indefinite leave over the controversy involving 'racist' fans who boo him, the mother of the girl he first called out has demanded an apology and said he should 'man up and take' the abuse.
The woman, identified only as Joanne, said the abuse Goodes receives from fans on a weekly basis stems from how he treated her daughter - who racially abused the player in 2013 when she called him an 'ape'.
'If he hadn't have done it he wouldn't be having the problems he'd be having now,' according to the Sydney Morning Herald. 'He probably should apologise because maybe he should have picked his target a little bit better.
'I don't think Julia was treated fairly at all. It was the way he carried on on the ground that made them do what they did. If he hadn't have carried on like a pork chop it wouldn't have mattered.'
The woman also accused Goodes of being too sensitive when it comes to abuse he receives, and said he needs to 'man up and just take it if he wants to play the game'.
The comments come after Sydney announced Goodes would miss at least this Saturday's game with the Adelaide Crows, in a statement released on Wednesday evening.
Swans CEO Andrew Ireland said the decision to grant the premiership champion a leave of absence from the club was made due to the damage the scandal is doing to his mental well-being.
'Adam is sick and tired of this behaviour. It has been happening for too long and it has taken its toll,' Mr Ireland said. 'As a club we are working with Adam and those close to him and supporting him through what is a really difficult time. 'We will give Adam all the time he needs. We will keep supporting him and he will return to the Club whenever he is ready.'
The announcement comes after the debate over fans heckling of the Indigenous star was reignited last weekend following a tribute paid to the star during Sydney's clash with West Coast.
After kicking a goal, Lewis Jetta - another of Sydney's Indigenous players - performed a tribal dance, which he later dedicated to his friend and mentor. The dance included a spear-throwing action, which was directed by Jetta at fans who had booed Goodes throughout the match. Goodes performed a similar dance during a game in June during the AFL's Indigenous round.
On Tuesday, the Swans slammed fans who boo Goodes as 'racist'. 'Should anyone choose to deride Adam through booing, then they are part of something that is inherently racist and totally unacceptable,' Mr Ireland said. 'The people involved in this behaviour can justify it any way they like. Our Club calls it racism.
'Adam is sick of it. He is tired and drained by it. It is something that has weighed down on him for some time. 'He is frustrated that he is constantly the face of such negativity.'
The club's statement came amid reports Goodes was on the verge of walking away from the sport entirely as a result of the abuse he has endured.
The AFL Players Association released a statement on Tuesday, calling for an immediate end to the attacks on Goodes.
We believe that Adam has been vilified for calling out racism, for expressing his views on Aboriginal issues, and for celebrating and promoting his proud cultural background. This is not something for which Adam should be vilified – it is something for which he should be celebrated.'
The race row around Goodes dates back to May 2013, when he pointed out a person in the crowd during a game at the Melbourne Cricket Ground for calling him an ape. The supporter was removed from the ground.
The person who made the comment turned out to be a 13-year-old girl, who Goodes later spoke with to discuss how her comments hurt him because of his Aboriginal background.
Critics of Goodes said he called out a minor who was too immature to take responsibility for the comments, and suggest fans boo him because they dislike his on-field behaviour and not because of his race.
Goodes has played 365 games for Sydney since debuting in 1999, and has twice won the Brownlow Medal - the award given to the league's best player. He was also named Australian of the Year in 2014. [So was the crooked Tim Flannery]
I can tell you how Adam Goodes feels. Every Indigenous person has felt it
Australian TV personality Stan Grant has a permanent suntan that he has inherited from his part-Aboriginal family. Otherwise he has little resemblance to a tribal aborigine -- no heavy brow ridge, no flat nose etc.
Yet in his essay below he speaks for all Aborigines. That would be regarded as rather challengeable under normal circumstances but the place of Aborigines in Australian law is not normal. Andrew Bolt was successfully prosecuted for challenging the right of certain light-skinned people to be regarded as Aborigines. So I had better not challenge it. Both Grant and Goodes are however "legal" Aborigines so Grant may well speak for Goodes.
I might note that I shared dinner with an Aboriginal lady last night. She has blue eyes but she is an Aboriginal in Australian law. She is my sister in law. She and her husband host a family BBQ on Australia day each year.
Grant's essay below has however been praised and it is certainly unusual in that it does not denigrate Australia and Australian society in general. Grant recognizes much that is praiseworthy instead. The balance of his writing is obviously a large part of what has made his essay probably the most praised on the subject.
The great failure of his essay is however a failure to look at root causes. I am sure that his growing up as a person with Aboriginal ancestry did give him problems and that his view that others in his situation suffered similarly has some merit but WHY was he in such a difficult situation? And the answer is clear enough. He does hint at it. Aborigines as a whole have been lamentably unable to adjust to the white society in which they are now submerged. People are often kind to them and appreciaste good points that they have -- I do -- but the reality is that their own behaviour relegates them to the bottom of every heap.
So can we do anything about it? That is surely the most important question. I think it is a dubious claim that anybody has a "responsibility" for the behaviour of others but white Australia has nonetheless via its governments assumed a responsibility to improve the lot of Aborigines. But everything that could be tried has been tried as far as I can see -- by the Federal government and the State governments -- under both Leftist and conservative regimes. There are for instance all sorts of schemes of an "affirmative action" type designed to help Aborigines. Yet Aborigines go backwards if anything. Have we not discharged our purported "responsibilities"? What more could we do?
There was a time when Aborigines had to provide for themselves and many of them had employment in rural industries (as cowboys etc.)but an "equal pay" mandate from the courts put an end to that. Now they mostly live on welfare -- and the slow destruction of all values and standards usually produced by welfare is only too evident.
So how does that affect the Adam Goodes furore? I think it should make us understanding of the sensitivity over his part-Aboriginal ancestry that Goodes obviously feels but it should also help us to understand that white society too has values that are deeply felt, ideas about being a "bad sport" etc. By his touchy and aggressive behaviour Goodes has set the two sets of values on collision course and in so doing hurt himself deeply. He would have done well to do as Grant has done by not making waves.
And the accusations of racism that have polluted the air over the matter can only entrench bitterness and anger
I have wondered for days if I should say anything about Adam Goodes.
My inclination is to look for common ground, to be diplomatic. Some of the fault is with Adam. Maybe he’s been unnecessarily provocative. Racism? Perhaps. Perhaps the crowds just don’t like him.
Yes, I could make a case for all of that. But there are enough people making those arguments and all power to them.
Here’s what I can do. I can tell you what it is like for us. I can tell you what Adam must be feeling, because I’ve felt it. Because every Indigenous person I know has felt it.
It may not be what you want to hear. Australians are proud of their tolerance yet can be perplexed when challenged on race, their response often defensive.
I may be overly sensitive. I may see insult where none is intended. Maybe my position of relative success and privilege today should have healed deep scars of racism and the pain of growing up Indigenous in Australia. The same could be said of Adam. And perhaps that is right.
But this is how Australia makes us feel. Estranged in the land of our ancestors, marooned by the tides of history on the fringes of one of the richest and demonstrably most peaceful, secure and cohesive nations on earth.
The “wealth for toil” we praise in our anthem has remained out of our reach. Our position at the bottom of every socio-economic indicator tragically belies the Australian economic miracle.
“Australians all let us rejoice” can ring hollow to us. Ours is more troubled patriotism. Our allegiance to Australia, our pride in this country undercut by the dark realities of our existence.
Seeds of suspicion and mistrust are planted early in the Indigenous child. Stories of suffering, humiliation and racism told at the feet of our parents and grandparents feed an identity that struggles to reconcile a pride in heritage with the forlorn realities of a life of defeat.
From childhood I often cringed against my race. To be Aboriginal was to be ashamed. Ashamed of our poverty. Ashamed of the second-hand clothes with the giveaway smell of mothballs and another boy’s name on the shirt collar.
Ashamed of the way my mother and grandmother had to go to the Smith Family or Salvation Army for food vouchers. Ashamed of the onions and mince that made up too many meals.
We were ashamed of the bastardised wreckage of a culture that we clung to. This wasn’t the Dreamtime. This was mangy dogs and broken glass.
Like the Goodes family, we moved constantly as my father chased work. But wherever we went we found our place always on the fringes. What semblance of pride we carried too easily laid low by a mocking glance or a schoolyard joke.
We were the blacks. So easily recognised not just by the colour of our skin but by the whiff of desperation and danger we cloaked ourselves in. What resentment we harboured, we too often turned on ourselves, played out in wild scrambling brawls from the playground to the showgrounds that sent the same message: stay away from the blacks.
There was humour and there was love and there was survival. And as I grew older I pieced together the truth that we didn’t choose this. We are the detritus of the brutality of the Australian frontier.
As Australia welcomed waves of migrants and built a rich, diverse, tolerant society, we remained a reminder of what was lost, what was taken, what was destroyed to scaffold the building of this nation’s prosperity.
We survived the “smoothing of the dying pillow” of extermination to end up on the bottom rung of the ladder of assimilation. Too many of us remain there still. Look to the statistics: the worst health, housing, education, the lowest life expectancy, highest infant mortality. An Indigenous youth has more chance of being locked up than educated.
If good fortune or good genes means you are among the lucky few to find an escape route then you face a choice: to “go along to get along”, mind your manners, count your blessings and hide in the comfort of the Australian dream; or to infuse your success with an indignation and a righteousness that will demand this country does not look away from its responsibilities and its history.
I found a path through education that led to journalism. A love of knowledge and an inquisitiveness that has shot me through with anger. A deeper understanding of history, of politics, of economics, leaving me resentful of our suffering.
I wrestle with that anger as the boy I was wrestled with his shame. I want to see the good in a society that defies the history of its treatment of my people.
It is the legacy of my grandfather who signed up to fight a war for a country that didn’t recognise his humanity, let alone his citizenship. It is the lesson of the example of the lives of my mother and father, my uncles and aunties. Lives of decency and hard work and responsibility and rooted in our identity as Indigenous Australians.
When I was 16 I summoned the courage to speak to my class. As the only Indigenous kid, the only Aboriginal person my schoolmates had met, I wanted to tell my family’s story. My teacher was proud and encouraging. When class returned after lunch the words “be kind to abos” were scrawled across the blackboard.
The rejection, the humiliation, cut me to the core.
This is the journey too of Adam Goodes. A man whose physical gifts have set him above and given him a platform available to so few and whose courage demands that he use it to speak to us all.
Events in recent years have sent Adam on a quest to understand the history of his people, to challenge stereotypes and perceptions. I have spoken to him about this. I recognise in him the same quest I see in myself. It is a conversation I have had with so many of my Indigenous brothers and sisters.
This is rare air for anyone, let alone a footballer. He has faltered at times and the expression of his anger at our history and his pride in his identity has been challenging, if not divisive.
The events of 2013 when he called out a 13-year-old girl for a racial taunt opened a wound that has only deepened. To some the girl was unfairly vilified. Adam’s war dance of this year challenged and scared some people. His talent, the way he plays the game, alienates others.
And now we have this, a crescendo of boos. The racial motivation of some giving succour to the variously defined hatred of others.
To Adam’s ears, the ears of so many Indigenous people, these boos are a howl of humiliation. A howl that echoes across two centuries of invasion, dispossession and suffering. Others can parse their words and look for other explanations, but we see race and only race. How can we see anything else when race is what we have clung to even as it has been used as a reason to reject us.
I found refuge outside Australia. My many years working in Asia, the Middle East, Europe and Africa liberated me. Here were the problems of other peoples and other lands. Here I was an observer freed from the shackles of my own country’s history.
I still wonder if it would be easier to leave again.
But people – like Adam Goodes, other Indigenous sportsmen and women who are standing with him, his non-Indigenous teammates and rivals who support him, and my non-Indigenous wife, my children and their friends of all colours and the people of goodwill who don’t have the answers but want to keep asking questions of how we can all be better – maybe they all make it worth staying.
An Aboriginal voice on Adam Goodes
Dallas Scott's comments below confirm my impression that the behaviour by Goodes was very un-Aboriginal. In my experience, Aborigines are quiet, retiring, complaisant people, anything but confrontational people. The aggression displayed by Goodes reflects his largely white ancestry, not his small degree of Aboriginal ancestry
Sections of our media, together with the hierarchy of the unnecessary at the AFL, are now lying to protect Adam Goodes: “They’re not booing you Adam, they’re just displaying their deep seated racism the only way they can."
Of course, we have the regular roster of apologists come out, shaming the country and our society for cutting down a sports star who happens to have Aboriginal blood as part of his racial make-up. The caring, informed and sensitive city dwellers who, despite their alabaster skin tone and lack of racial diversity, can not only see, smell and hear racism, but tragically, are so deeply affected by it that they feel they must differentiate themselves from the white person next to them by pointing at them and screaming racist long enough and loud enough that somehow, somewhere in the midst of all their righteous shouting, their own skin tone will be forgotten or ignored.
One thing I’ve come to understand about our society is that often, those who see themselves as the most tolerant, educated and enlightened are usually most racist, close-minded of all. These types were the first to pick up their keyboard or a microphone and declare that speaking negatively about the so-called ‘war dance’ effort from Adam Goodes over the weekend means that we are culturally ignorant, yet in making such a claim, have themselves ignored an entire segment of the Aboriginal community, who are appalled at the ‘performance’. In wanting us to be a homogenous community capable of only thinking and feeling one way, therefore enabling them to have the correct information and be ‘right’, they are guilty of the same crime they are continually accusing an entire nation of – RACISM.
The fact is, some Aboriginal people, myself included, saw that embarrassing display and did not feel pride. Instead, we felt shame, and a sense of sadness and loss. Some of this stems from seeing yet more of our traditions mocked and traded upon, invented and earning overnight acclaim, for little more than cheap thrills while the long standing traditions are ignored, left to die quietly and uncelebrated until they are forgotten and lost forever. Some of this comes from the fact we're tired of the theatrics, and how his need for attention will play out for the rest of us, and creep a little into our own lives. For an urban blackfella like me, I hate the fact that all of a sudden my opinion is relevant. I haven’t written a blog post in almost a year, or bothered to watch free to air television in even longer, yet received two messages on my phone today – one from SBS and the other from 2GB, wanting to know what I think about the whole Goodes drama and depending on what I think, whether they want to hear from me.
Views like mine, that are contrary to the representations being made by the rabid, name-calling media, are ignored or rejected by all those who simply want to brand every incident or comment with an ‘ism’, because the object of their outrage is never to stimulate an educated debate or a discussion, but rather they wish to simply stand on their given podium and recite their narcissistic lecture, a pointless exercise for them to reinforce their followers that they alone are a bastion of cultural relevance, understanding and compassion. Sadly, theses ‘enlightened’ folks also tend to take their cues on history from the most removed people of a culture, merely because they tend to occupy the cubicle or apartment next to them, or speak with the most authoritarian voice or sense of victimhood – a sure sign that they must know what they are on about, according to our current high standards of journalism in this country – instead of seeking the truth and looking for those with knowledge that comes from a life of lived tradition, rather than being well removed from it.
I used to dance as a kid. Most of the kids who grew up in our house did it, but I have no intention of my own children doing the same. My reluctance has nothing to do with them being of mixed heritage though, and everything to do with cultural appropriation. I said I used to ‘dance’ as a kid, because that is really all it was. I was dressed in a lap-lap and painted up, was taught the moves the rest of the kids were doing, but it was all just a show. The dances were not ones passed on to us from our Elders, performed for a specific reason or during a time of unique and special celebration that led me to understand my culture in a meaningful way, but rather a collection of dance moves put together by a choreographer who may or may not have had a distant Aboriginal ancestor she found out about in her mid-thirties. A few documentaries and books from the library later, she had all the cultural awareness she felt she needed, and as a bunch of children not yet trusted with much knowledge, we didn’t know any better. We danced for smiling crowds of educated, enlightened people who clapped politely while murmuring “Oh, how cultural”, as they watched us enraptured. I would smile back at them and dance harder, oblivious to what I was doing and simply happy to receive positive praise and attention from a crowd of people I didn’t even know. But I was no better than a performing monkey to them, and for all their education and compassion, those crowds were the most racist people of all. Their wisdom and understanding of Aboriginal people and culture was a passing fetish, and in an effort to appease them, I was walking all over my own culture for their amusement, all of us completely ignorant to this heartbreaking fact.
After becoming a man, I learned better. I learned that our chants, and our dances are sacred. They are powerful and special secrets, not entertainment for the masses or political statements designed to make sure you get yet another mention in the nightly news. I also took it to heart that the title of ‘Warrior’ is like respect. It is always earned, not merely given because of the colour of your skin or your heritage. I am proud to say that some of my own ancestors include great Warriors - men who fought and died to protect their families and their way of life, and faced enormous battles that I could never fully comprehend from where I sit today, in a relative position of privilege by comparison, however you look at the statistics and facts. It would make a mockery of the suffering and heroism of my ancestors to assign a title of great reverence and historical significance, such as ‘Warrior’, to a person whose fame and heroism is derived from little more than the ability to show up a few weekends a year and kick a leather ball around an overly groomed piece of paddock.
As Adam walks out for his next game, before making his way onto that perfectly manicured stadium lawn, I suggest he take a deep, slow breath and reflect upon the reality of his life. Rather than having to emerge from the sheds for the ‘coloured people’, kept separate from the white folks playing beside him, he will run out after being supported by his entire team, not kept to the back. When he is thirsty, he doesn’t have to take a drink at the appropriately labelled drinking fountain, set aside for only folks with his racial identity, but rather will be served like a prince, with a special servant whose only job is to provide refreshments for the thirsty players, regardless of their skin colour or heritage. As he drives his brand new sports car to training, where he looks around at the other players arriving in their equally expensive vehicles and stops to realise he is paid just as much as them, if not more, he should perhaps pause a moment and wonder about whether he is fighting a war that has already been won, and instead of complaining from his position at the top, realise how those on the bottom rungs might be sick of hearing him whinging and would much rather he just got on with life.
A good comment from Mark Allinson following the above blog post:
What a great post – I couldn’t agree more! I am a white fella, and I am ashamed of my people. No, not the ones who boo Adam Goodes, but the “educated” elites in the universities and the media who are so quick to point out the “racism” of their “ignorant” fellow Ozzies. Climbing up on the soapbox of their oh so superior morality gives them a sense of being “higher” beings, more moral, more special than their benighted “red-necked” fellows. Apparent self-hatred of the culture affords them a delicious degree of personal self-love. Even at the cost of social cohesion they will indulge their disgusting lust for self-loving superiority.
And these are the people who see “racism” everywhere they look. For some of them, it’s almost as if they are safely projecting onto others something they dare not examine in themselves, I think. For others it is a stick with which to bash their culture for left-wing political purposes. All in all, these elites are the true agents of division in our culture, and I am ashamed of them. I love the aboriginal people and I want us all to live together as Australians, not as “us” and “them”, which is why I boo Adam Goodes and the other race-baiters.
Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.
American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.
For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS and DISSECTING LEFTISM. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here.