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Good racism is a bad idea

By Syd Hickman - posted Friday, 31 July 2015

I am a Sydney AFL fan and have been cheering Adam Goodes for many years. The booing problem is very sad but the media analysis has been worse. It has produced more of the righteous nonsense that helped cause the problem.

The AFL has a great record in opposing racism, ensuring all teams have aboriginal players and promoting positive images at major events. The booing is not simple racism and while Goodes has never been popular with opposing sides, as Cyril Rioli is for example, the booing is clearly related to recent events.

For a start, booing people has a long tradition in Australian sport. Umpires cop it every week. Politicians have almost stopped going to sporting events because they get booed so enthusiastically whenever they show their heads. Telling people they can not boo whoever they choose at the footy is to tell them to they are not worthy to have any public voice at all. It should not be a surprise that they react strongly to that idea.


And part of the point is that Goodes, by becoming Australian of the Year with a self-appointed task of telling everyone to stop being racist, has become a politician.

Clearly all those would-be intellectuals with newspaper columns to carry their daily or weekly rants fail to understand how it feels to have no public voice.

Then there is the matter of interacting with spectators. Sports people have always known it is dangerous to react to provocation from the crowd. Goodes broke that rule in dobbing in the girl who abused him at the Collingwood game.

Performing an aggressive war dance towards a group of an opposing team's spectators took this breach to a more dangerous plane. It should not be a surprise that if you engage in racially charged aggressive acts toward people they will quite probably react with the only aggressive but legal response they are permitted to make.

But the bigger issue involves the wider race debate. In this time of great self righteousness a lot of ordinary Australians are getting tired of being told how racist they are, and how nasty they are about refugees, and how sexist, how homophobic, and any other ists or ics that that commentators can dream up.

Another part of the problem is the gap between how people see themselves and how others see them. Goodes projects himself as a proud aboriginal man battling the evil force of racism.


He is probably seen, by people who are actually battling to survive each week, as a rich, successful football and media star who has had a great life and would never have to work again if chose. Victimhood is barely credible.

The underlying problem is the desire for 'good' racism. The 'Recognise' campaign, of which Goodes is an active part, aims to eliminate bad racism from the Australian constitution while making it inherently racist by singling out one group of people for special mention on the basis of race.

And then there is the process. The sight of large numbers of so-called aboriginal leaders [who are their followers?] attending meetings with the Prime Minister, only to agree on more conferences to discuss a couple of paragraphs that will have no effect on the lives of any aboriginal people, apart from those attending the conferences, does not engender good will.

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About the Author

Syd Hickman has worked as a school teacher, soldier, Commonwealth and State public servant, on the staff of a Premier, as chief of Staff to a Federal Minister and leader of the Opposition, and has survived for more than a decade in the small business world.

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