An Intercourse with the Natives


WE STAND IN THE middle of New South Wales’ Royal National Park holding hands and looking heavenwards to invoke Yullangur—‘the dreaming’ of the creation serpent—as our guide Les Bursill starts us on a tour of Australia’s sacred sites. ‘The Dreaming’ describes Aborigine Australia’s curiously Brahma-like worldview. According to it, all our realities lie subsumed by a ‘dreaming’ that started at the dawn of time, whenever that was. The fact that the phenomenon is still referred to in the present-continuous is interesting because it speaks of a larger inclusion of the timeline, especially since the arrival of the white man, a moment in history that has spelt nothing but doom for the ‘dreaming’. White Australians first came as a fleet of convicts and prison-guards to serve what was to be a very rigorous punishment. But strangely, they stayed on to give birth to a white nation, very different from what the Aborigine dreaming had ironically intended.

White Australia’s experience of the dreaming has ranged from outright rejection to utter moral confusion. From the early colonialists' point-of-view the native culture (or what was often seen as a lack of it) was in a need of a civilising influence. And they were more than happy to provide it. This began with the taming of Bennelong, a male aboriginal who in 1789 was abducted in keeping with King George III’s wishes “to open an intercourse with the natives, and to conciliate their affections…” Bennelong thus became the first Aboriginal to speak English, dress up like the white man and even cross the seas to pay a visit to England—not quite like a caged exotic, but close.

Since Bennelong, white Australia has time and again tried to ‘conciliate the affections’ of those whom it has tried to rule. The dreaming since then has become an object of much research and creative exploration by white Australians. A sense of this ‘terrible fascination’ (to paraphrase Rudolf Otto) is visible at the souvenir shops and Aboriginal art galleries that have turned sacred totemic art into novelty pieces. It speaks of a process of exoticisation that has squeezed Aborigine culture of its values and humanity. But signs of a cultural sensitivity are gradually showing up. In Warwick Thornton’s touchingly unsentimental film Samson and Delilah (2009) an Aboriginal teenage couple escapes to the city from its community only to find city-life terribly harsh and unforgiving to moneyless wanderers like themselves. It is a fair portrayal of two opposing cultures that have unsuccessfully tried to negotiate each other’s mind space. There exists an interesting Aborigine corroboree or oral narrative about a massacre by the white man whose cow they had stolen and eaten because they were hungry. Since in the Aboriginal sense life is a dreaming it requires no further elaboration; in other words it has no need to assert notions of ownership, enterprise and other capitalist biases. These very ideas, on the other hand, have become cast in stone in the mind of the white West since it was industrialised.

Art has in fact served the Aborigine cause better. As its numinous appeal has been more in keeping with the dreaming way of life. But the wedge driven by the racial policies of the first white settlers have had a lasting effect. Aborigine poet-artist Maggie Walsh speaks of the lack of faith her community feels about the double life most of them live. “When I go back to the community they say, ‘So you wanna become a white woman, eh?’ and here in the city I meet all these wonderful artists and poets who treat me so fine and seem to understand me. I have no choice but to choose a double life.” Most Aussies of a generation or two ago are all too familiar with their treatment of Aborigines, who were often accosted at street corners and told to ‘go back to their own country’.

Internally, Australian racism is often viewed as a ‘hot-blooded’ response to immigrant presumptions but nonetheless it has deeper roots. Australia has been for over 200 years a society running on auto-pilot; a loose mix of white, imperialist and Christian tendencies. And now it suddenly finds itself having to make room for the ‘other’, largely non-white, non-Christian immigrant populations that have been gravitating towards its shores from all corners of the Earth. It is pertinent to recall here that for a long time Australia insisted on a ‘whites only’ immigration policy. It has only in the recent past opened its doors to other races. This makes Aussie claims to a deep-rooted cosmopolitanism rather facile. It’s like a big woman trying to squeeze into a size zero dress.

The ‘Indian issue’ has pained much of the left-leaning press and the intelligentsia but to the majority of Australians ‘it is not a race issue’. Till as late as 2005 white Australia had been at war with its ‘otherness’. In 2005 riots had broken out in Sydney’s Cronulla Beach between Lebanese Australians and whites over a few drunken remarks. A year before that, riots between Aborigines and white Australians had shaken up Palm Island over the custody death of Mulrunji, picked up for being ‘a public nuisance’. A few months before that, Aborigine residents had clashed with the police in Redfern, a Sydney suburb, following the death of Thomas ‘TJ’ Hickey, another Aborigine teenager under police surveillance.

The attacks on Indians have a terrible ring to them, a sense of déjà vu and yet the police and lawmakers continue to treat them as stray disturbances. This betrays an attitude that as a country Australia has not been sincere in facing its demons. It has in fact chosen to look the other way or pride itself for its many ethnic enclaves as a sign of cultural mixing. But in truth mixing in the Aussie sense carries a lot of baggage, especially from the days of its ‘white occupation’. Newcomers to Australia find themselves in a surfacely friendly country that scoffs at any real understanding or abiding interest in the ways of life of its ethnic minorities. It is not surprising then that the exchange between the dominant ethnic group (of white Australians) and the rest gets limited to a cursory stereotyping of the rest by the majority. There is a heart of Australian conservatism, visible some years ago in the anti-immigrant remarks of politician Pauline Hanson, that hasn’t been able to keep up with the spacious geography of the land. Hanson in her book The Truth, had parodied the idea of multiculturalism by suggesting that by 2050 Australia would have a woman president who would be part Chinese, part Indian and part machine. This February she announced her decision to move back to England, the country of her birth. Hanson is not alone in feeling a particular fondness for the ‘mother country’. Australian society, despite appearances is remarkably old-world, attached through a well-tended umbilicus to the idea of an imperial Britain that may itself now be a speck in the amber of time.

In a country living largely in denial of its racist background it is a peculiar group that has taken upon itself to ring the alarm bells. It is a group of artists who have since the Sixties been ardent iconoclasts. Most active among them is ‘light-sculptor’ Roger Foley-Fogg, who also goes by the stage-name of Ellis D. Fogg. Roger tells me how much he is in awe of the Indian idea of ‘Vasudev Kutumbakam’ or the idea of the world as one family. Roger’s February show in Sydney was titled ‘Fire 2010: The Spirit of India’ and it gathered rave reviews from the art world especially because of its timing and its unqualified love for India. The show had featured ‘lumino kinetic’ works or sculptures made of LEDs and inspired by Lakshmi, Marut, Agni, Jal and the mandalas. “These were my personal impressions of the spirit of India,” says Roger, “the subtext of which includes the idea that all matter is made from light and music and the harmony created by their mixing.”

Roger’s ideas about the dreaming and the world as one family go back to his Sixties peer group. “I was first moved by this concept at the Yellow House (a former artists’ commune) nearly 40 years ago through an unpublished cartoon by Martin Sharp titled ‘We are all islands, joined beneath the sea’,” he remembers. Today, the thought of Indo-Oz relations being at their lowest ebb pains him. Roger’s light and film projects about Aborigine culture have tried to hold a mirror to mainstream Australia’s clumsy track-record of handling its otherness.

The biggest part, I believe, of any healing between cultures that have been at odds with each other is a dialogue. And what better way is there than using the language of music, art, literature and films to start that dialogue. Aussie filmmaker Albie Thoms made a case for exactly this kind of a movement in his Seventies’ book Polemics for a New Cinema. Surely there’s no better time than now for Australia to open itself for some healing. To tell stories about its struggle with its otherness, especially through films such as the Aborigine saga of Ten Canoes (2006) or the cross-cultural love story of The Combination (2009). And to take on the bigger challenge of getting mainstream Australia interested in the dreaming.

© Dhiraj Singh 2010

Comments

  1. I enjoyed reading ur article that gave a glimpse of the hx of Australia and cld. get an undertsanding of their mistreatment towards Indians. I am not sure how many of us are even aware of Brahma's worldview that life is a dream..(thanks to my Father who shared this perspective) kind of interesting to find a parallel in Yullangur's work "the dreaming.I kind of questioned myself to know Rogers awareness abt. ‘Vasudev Kutumbakam’ and highlighting it, unfortunately, we r ignorant abt. our own culture, atleast me. It was fascinating overall to read abt. these concepts!

    ReplyDelete
  2. Nicely written Dhiraj but dont forget us Ozzies are not alone...these days ALL nations/states have urban tribes of disaffected, disturbed and drugged out youth who obey only their ancient animal territorial instincts to attack the 'other', anyone who is different. Australia may be different than many nations in that we spend enormous sums of money and encourage vast media coverage to try to find a way to help our aboriginal brothers and sisters to help themselves. Its not easy. There are no easy solutions. We slowly move in the right direction. Two steps forward one step back. To apologise for past wrongs and acknowledge the problem is an important, but just the first, positive step. Many other countries in the world today could learn from Australia about reconciliation with their own mistreated indigenous groups . NB: I try to discourage the use of the word 'racism' as it is too easily seized upon by the ignorant as a war cry and that helps no one. The 'R' word oversimplifies a very complex problem and offers no solution. ++++positivity.

    ReplyDelete
  3. superbly written--covers pretty much -- yet not preachy.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Francesca EmersonMay 23, 2010 at 9:07 PM

    Well written Dhiraj . Sometime as an outsider we can see below the surface where the problems lay hidden. I find myself, here in Selma, struggling with some of the same issues. The otherness which is not talked about. Here though it's "Them" I know we need to acknowledge there's a problem and find a solution rather than blaming and complaining. Healing starts with dialogue.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Continued......and then there are those "white supremacists" the straighteners, totalitarians, usually fascists, those who think the world would be perfect if they got rid of the riff-raff. Those who worry that somewhere someone might be having some fun. Those who think the solution to problems would be to bomb the Pakistanis and Dacoits "into the stone age". I think they are the descendants of the Neanderthals who know deep in their hearts that they are headed for extinction as the world moves forward. They know they are headed for irrelevance and are resentful. I love the thinker Ouspensky who said long ago that the logical evolution of a fascist society would result in the Earth becoming a termite mound with perfect hierarchical control of society, everyone knows their place or dies and great air conditioning. Perfect. Its the war of the Dionesians vs the Apollonians and the latter are very boring so we cant let them win!

    ReplyDelete
  6. Many Anglo-Indins flocked Australia. Who do they indentify themselves with? How are they coping with racism. Do they live with the pure whites, or have they formed separate colonies?

    ReplyDelete
  7. Wow amazing…and exactly my sentiments…..I had real trouble with the feeling that Oz was very racist at its core and that at sometime it would boil over….. incredible piece and I may send it on to a few oz pals, hopefully liberal. Really admire yr writing. Yr such a stunning couple.

    ReplyDelete
  8. Australians are NOT racists. But there is a dominant character of racism below the surface for all non-whites to see and experience. Is it paradoxical? Well, in a kind of conflicting ways, the reality is indeed complex. There are about 2 million Australians who would go out of their ways to make others welcome and happy. But there is an equal number of people if not more who are just the opposite. You may call them ‘unaustralians’. But the complexity starts from there because those ‘unaustralians’ claim themselves as true blue Australians. They can be indeed racist however much Mr Roger Foley would be disappointed by the ‘R’ word.

    Do not get me wrong. Those ‘unaustralians’ may even include well-settled migrants from India too. There is a vast group in the middle who change their attitudes based on the prevalent political views that get dominance over everything else. So when M/s Malcolm Fraser, Bob Hawk and Paul Keating were at the helm, racism was dormant and when the later leaders could be ‘seen’ as supporting such 'dormant' views racism re-emerged at the appropriate time. Pauline Hanson was just a ‘tool’ and not an in-depth racist by any stretch of imaginations. When her ‘use-by-date’ exceeded she too was persecuted thoroughly and tossed over.

    The alarming state of affairs is that even government officers indulge in ‘actions’ that may point to ‘racial’ prejudice at the heart of their decisions. That is very disturbing; but does not seem to have moved any political figure that matters to address the under-currents, yet!

    Congratulations, Dhiraj Singh for a very 'balanced' observation. Cheers

    ReplyDelete
  9. Excellent piece! I esp love the title... it speaks volumes!

    ReplyDelete
  10. We have seen examples of Aussie racism on the cricket pitch and read reports about the attacks on Indians. But now it all makes sense why Aussies are the way they are. Thanks Dhiraj.

    ReplyDelete
  11. What an excellent piece you have written. I truly admire your ability to so quickly take up and understand the issues facing we first Australians.

    ReplyDelete
  12. your piece cud've been better though...

    ReplyDelete
  13. Rog, I think reconciliation is great but it should follow a sense of genuine remorse, which in the best of times is a rare trait among habitual opressors.. for e.g. in South Africa it was Mandela who suggested the setting up of 'truth and reconciliation commissions' to reach out to the whites... whereas no such initiative was seen coming from them... I am not saying Australia was ever as bad as Apartheid South Africa, am only saying the there are undercurrents of the "R' word, perhaps it is only a certain WASP superiority over the rest...

    ReplyDelete
  14. Believe me all the Ozzies I know are extremely remorseful about past and some of the present treatment of Aboriginal folk. And all our politicians are as well. When the treatment of Aborigines by some people...not just white folk... was revealed to us we found it hard to believe! Incredibly moved and saddened we were and are...so you will read a lot about how people are trying to help the situation in the press every day...What other country can you say that about? Some help works and is good some help is bad and doesn't. Some stories are very positive and some negative. But we are all trying....apologising and are remorseful ....except of course the reactionary Neanderthal throwbacks and they are a dying breed...sadly...I would like to think they could be redeemed and reconciled as well. ! But I am a cock-eyed optimist!! +++R

    ReplyDelete
  15. I guess Mr Roger Foley-Fogg is speaking for a minority of Aussies... but his observations are welcome!

    ReplyDelete
  16. Good article, Dhiraj, painstaking analysis and interesting to see the reactions

    ReplyDelete
  17. I think Roger speaks for a majority of Australians. Neanderthal dumbasses exist everywhere, including Australia and India.

    ReplyDelete
  18. Very nicely written, I must read up on the Aboriginal mythology with its stark resemblance to hinduism. Also I think the problem of new immigrants making the struggle for the inhabitants tougher is universal, like in Mumbai or in the US. All places have seen the inhabitants react aggressively against the migrants, trying to prove an almost idiotic ownership of the resourcefulness of the land they were born on.

    ReplyDelete
  19. Thanks big D. Those Tea Party ratbags in the USA remind me of my own generations Yippie ratbags who remind me of the Neanderthals. I would prefer them reconciled and educated...but thats just my naïve dream....its impossible to reason with a social psychopath!..or so the psychiatrists say! But hey perhaps I am being 'racist' toward Neanderthals? 'racist' toward social psychopaths? Or perhaps Mr Punch had the right answer, just knock them out of the ring! +++R

    ReplyDelete
  20. With due respect to Mr Roger Foley and his comments, one feels sympathy for his fancifulness portrayed as optimism. Honourable Malcolm Fraser resigned from the political party that he once led as the PM! A commentator to this (SMH 26 may 2010) said, “Both main (and not so main) parties have been sliding to the right for years, and I rather suspect Fraser is now left of Rudd. I don't think even Fraser would be acceptable to the increasingly right wing ALP who seem to be more concerned to prove that they are better right wing conservatives than the Coalition”. Speaks volumes for the current politicians and their work against racism! In his response (SMH 26 May 2010) to Sir Bob Geldof who described Australia's treatment of Aborigines as absurd' and 'economically stupid', Mr Peter Costello the ex-treasurer and 2IC of John Howard implies ‘health clinics and schools ‘paid for by taxpayers’ in Aboriginal communities was a akin to some favour!

    Working in Geraldton, a country town about 400 Km north of Perth, I have experienced the reality myself, for I was the ‘other’ or the ‘rest’ for the whites. I know why Geraldton was called the ‘racist capital’ of Australia on those days. The national capital, Canberra though 1000s of miles away from Geraldton, comes close in character. If a well-educated, articulate professional from India could face discrimination on an everyday basis, it is easy to surmise what would the natives who feel historically frustrated and thus resentful get!

    This is not to paint the whole of Australia as racist. There are a lot of good people like in any other country. The ‘unaustralians’ are not a dying breed unfortunately but a thriving tribe. Denying this will only jeopardise the safety and security of everyone in the long run.

    ReplyDelete
  21. Many thanks again :)
    Luv has made a very important point about the immigrant experience being alike for obvious reasons... but I think there is also an element of prejudice... evident in the experience of our friend 'R U Sure'

    ReplyDelete
  22. there is racism everywhere, including India. that's the bad news. everybody could jump on me for condoning racism now. but when i say there's racism everywhere, the assertion should not be equated to "get used to it"! It means, combatting it is always an ongoing struggle/battle, and one has to be mildly optimistic - but because it is easy to give up. Especially when confronted by the reality that racism in one form or another will continue to exist. A depressing thought by true. No hard-core racist will ever listen to a non-racist's reasoning and say "gee, i'm sorry i was a racist. it is so bad" and repent. But some soft-core racists, who just get caught up in peer-pressure, crowd behaviour will think twice. And then it is upto us not to pander politicians who pander to racist sentiments.

    Not to expand the canvas here, but just as Luv points out: look, in South Asia there is racist-like steretotyping, hatred and yes killing too. The extremist Muslims, Hindus, Tamils, Sinahelese and many sub-groups within these groups (the Shias, the Sunnis, the varoius castes, the non-tribals against the tribals, etc. etc.). Depressingly enough, this crap is fairly universal. Which is NOT to say that we can relax and say, "shit happens, get used to it". To the contrary, I promote combatting racism of all kinds everywhere - except when it comes to the Neanderthals who are also found everywhere and it is difficult to reason with them.

    ReplyDelete
  23. NB I am a low tech person and cannot get the paragraphs right on this computing machine, sorry
    Well said Commonsense!!! ........................................
    Thinking further. My subjective opinions can only come from my experiences. So perhaps you might indulge me to share a few.......................

    I have spent much time in the Kimberley and been subject to bad reactions from clean well dressed tourists because I was wearing untidy clothes sitting on the grass under the trees in the park where its cool with my Gija mates in Kununurra...................

    I have been patronised with my black friend when going to the white mans church in Selma Alabama..................

    I have been attacked by black folk when accidentally getting the through subway to Harlem in the 70s.....................

    I have had looks of disapproval when going to expensive tourist hotels with a Ghanaian girlfriend in Accra.....................

    As an older man I have been accused by passers by of misdeeds when walking down the street in Accra with a young black boy, my friends son...................

    I have been bewildered as a young man in the 50s when our politicians had a white Australia immigration policy while at the same time thousands of Australians were trying their hardest to brown their bodies sunbaking on the beach!...................

    etc etc. It has taken me many years to reach conclusions about what racism is. See above notes.................

    How can it be fixed.................................
    dont rely on politicians. They are followers not leaders. They have to go along with the lowest common denominator of intelligence or they lose their jobs. They cannot tell the truth about anything much, not drugs, not war, not racism. The flaws of democracy........................

    In my opinionTWO things should be done right now....ONE- vast sums of money spent on compulsory education and TWO-the shock jocks and others in Australia and in India should be put in jail for stirring up the low IQ part of the population into a thoughtless mob....Huxley's crowd intoxication...........................

    My point in all this correspondence is that after looking at the record of all other countries including India's behaviour to their least powerful most marginalised and poorest people I think that per head of population Australia comes out looking pretty good........................

    Maybe I am wrong.......................

    Tell me where indigenous people are loved and cared for better..........................

    I would love to know......................++++R

    ReplyDelete
  24. Roger:

    "Tell me where indigenous people are loved and cared for better.........................."

    possibly New Zealand...you should see how tribals are thought of and treated in India. Right here on this blog DC, in this day and age, presumably well meaning folks will call them "innocent and child like". This happened just a few weeks ago, but I will not mention any names...the lands they live on are constantly being grabbed in the name of "development" etc.

    once again, the point is NOT that just because we have the same crap, let's not blame Australian neanderthals. It is a universal problem and the more we reflect on our own unchallenged assumptions, the better off society everywhere will be. As a human, i have no choice but to condemn "racism" (in all its varieties, including what is known in India as "communalism", "casteism" etc.) but without the illusion of ever completely doing away with it. Such is life.

    ReplyDelete
  25. I meant:

    "once again, the point is NOT that just because we have the same crap, let's not blame Australian neanderthals alone. there are enough neanderthals, too many unfortunately, to go around...let's keep the pressure on them"

    ReplyDelete
  26. Yeah pressure!!!! Humour Irony and Satire works very well in bringing people together. Thats why wog is now an acceptable term in Oz for a Greek person...a team of Greek boys made a very funny movie "Wogs out of Work". And Italians are accepted because of a funny book about Australians called "They are a Weird Mob".

    I am very happy to be a cracker when I go to New York and get a big laugh. And in India I wear a label on my jacket that says "Hajni Kal Daneliwad" - "not today but tomorrow thankyou" which I flash at all the beggars, dacoits, poor people who approach me and I get smiles in return every time. I reward a big smile with a few rupees! "No I dont want the baby or a peacock fan just your smile!"

    Australians love to call their best mates "you old bastard" so insults as humour work well!!! But dont try that unless you know the person well!

    Lighten up everyone....

    By the way I have a couple of neanderthal mates who aqre very nice wear clean clothes and shave a lot and they are wondering why everyone on this message stick is racist toward Neanderthals??

    I guess some tinted folk are murderers, paedophiles and rapists while some tinted folk are very nice people.

    and some bleached folk are murderes , paedophiles and rapists while some bleached folk are very nice people.

    Just think for yourself and question authority and sooner or later things will get better.

    By the way Dhiraj just as your Rahuil Ghandi is encouraging you to use the term 'poor people ' and not the term 'untouchable' nor 'dacoit' many indigenous Ozzies find the terms 'native' and 'tribe' to be equally offensive...my Gija friends call themselves a 'mob' or just 'black'. Life can be a balancing act.

    And my black american friend doesn't mind what you call her as long as you call her

    As Jimmy Edwards said long ago...." ahhhh Australia that land of wandering tribes of Aboriginals and Unoriginals"


    ++R

    ReplyDelete
  27. Just a small correction lest he be accused of you-know-what: Roger's label says "Aaj nahi kal, dhanyavad!"... and not what he's written up there :)

    ReplyDelete
  28. Dhiraj,

    You beat me to it, which is good!

    However, I am impressed that Roger remembers something that is reasonably close to what he intended to say. Which is very good too :)

    ReplyDelete
  29. Message #14 from Roger Foley reads, "Believe me all the Ozzies I know are extremely remorseful…..”. Message #27 says, “By the way I have a couple of neanderthal mates…”

    Glad that you are opening up to the reality…

    Further, Roger agrees that 'politicians are followers not leaders'. True! Who do they follow? The people, the maximum number of people in their electorate that would reward them as votes, right? Would that not demonstrate that their lack of support to anti-racist programs could be because that would not get them votes? Does that not in turn mean that the society is not ready to get rid of its distorted images of the 'other' or 'the rest' of 'them' (different from the 'us')?

    Despite all the negativities of division and discriminations in India, people from the disadvantaged backgrounds became President of India, Chief Justice of India and chief ministers in many states.

    With all the symbolisms of apologies and remorsefulness, why is it that no individuals from the native Australians could ever come up? While commenting on the positives there would be a lot of aboriginal names brought up as high achievers within Australia's social milieu.

    Cheers.

    ReplyDelete
  30. “Roger speaks for a majority of Australians”. Indeed true.

    At first that majority will be defensive. “No one I know is a racist”, they would claim.

    Then narrate a few experiences overseas that hardly compare to what the victims are complaining about. White men have been found scouting for young boys/girls in poor countries and sometimes convicted of paedophilia. So a white man in circumstances similar will attract scrutiny. It IS stereotyping but unfortunate. Similarly a Muslim woman in her veil may attract scrutiny in any of the airports. It is also stereotyping but inevitable given the reality of terrorism. In either of the above cases, it is because of someone in similar appearance have committed crimes and that is the reason for the unfairness.

    Are we talking about mere stereotyping as above or plain intolerance? Can you just rationalise such acts narrating some experience of inconvenience? I have been accosted by different customs officials at least a dozen times before I could get out of the airport on my return to Australia. That is a minor inconvenience because those officials can not differentiate a Hindu from a Muslim or an Indian from a person from the middle-east. That may be stereotyping but I am not talking bout similar experiences when I talk about blatant abuses of power against me for the only reason that I am non-white.

    Then make self-congratulatory statements. “Many other countries in the world today could learn from Australia about reconciliation with their own mistreated indigenous groups”.

    Then challenge how it is like in India. “My point in all this correspondence is that after looking at the record of all other countries including India's behaviour to their least powerful most marginalised and poorest people I think that per head of population Australia comes out looking pretty good........................”.

    Roger was kind enough not to get to this. But usually the final argument would be: “If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen. If you don’t like it here, no body is holding you here. You have the great Australian freedom to go back to your country (repeated by even people like John Howard, the previous PM and Kevin Rudd the current PM)”.

    The solution? “the shock jocks and others in Australia and in India should be put in jail for stirring up the low IQ part of the population into a thoughtless mob....Huxley's crowd intoxication...........................”. It is not the people of low IQ who are against addressing racism within the society. It is the people with reasonable and above average IQ but do not care one way or the other.

    No one is interested to paint Australia as racist when there is no concern. But majority of Australians are in denial. At best one hears, “But we are all trying....apologising and are remorseful”. Indeed! But there ends the whole discussion.

    People like Dilraj Singh are doing a service of inestimable value. Citizens and residents of Indian origin too have some self-interest in highlighting the issues. Indians may accept everything as their fate in general. But there is a growing population of migrants from other countries that would respond in kind and with violence, which will lead to more intolerance against the ‘rest’. More intolerance would bring more resentment and that in turn more violence, all in a vicious cycle. People of Indian origin will be at the receiving end from intolerance of the dominant community as well as from the violence of the resentful. That will not be something that anyone would love to be in. Just a thought!

    ReplyDelete
  31. R U SURE, are you sure you cannot be more succinct?

    whatever you do, please don't adopt my verbal diarrhea as a model. try to imbibe my wisdom, not my wordiness :)

    canada is doing a great job of dealing with issues of intolerance. not perfect, but i'm talking of real-world standards.

    ReplyDelete
  32. Could be, if you were the only reader, CS (#32); was not talking about Canada either. Glad that you quoted real-world standards too. Succint enough? Cheers ;-0)

    ReplyDelete
  33. RU Sure,

    True you did not bring in Canada. I did. Bringing in Canada is not toally irrelevant to the important issues Dhiraj has raised. Like Australia, it has a colonial history. But it has re-tooled itself reasonably successfully. It is an example of a society where they are dealing reasonably with the most diversity in the world - linguistic, religious, ethnic, racial, aboriginal - you name it, it's there. at least based on my frequent visits there and a long stint as a university student...

    What canada has achieved may never fit the model some idealists desire, but in the "real world" this is about as good as it gets. Hence my reference to the "real world" - as opposed to the idealized ideal world which will never be actualized.

    cheers; no offense intended :)

    ReplyDelete
  34. Hey RU Sure RU Sure?

    Just at the top of your text:

    You say - "White men have been found scouting for young boys/girls in poor countries and sometimes convicted of paedophilia. "-

    Do I detect a bit of the 'R' word here? And a bit of sexism? Are not a great number of these men Black? And very often women are involved as well?

    You write “usually the final argument would be: If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen."

    Are you putting words in my mouth there?

    I dont think the majority of people are racist or not racist....Most people dont think at all at all!!!

    Its the unethical and immoral shock jocks who stir things up and tell all those Morons what to think and how to vote. Politicians have to go along with that to a degree...however every now and then a strong and ethical politician comes along and does the right thing...

    Thats why my solution is to put shock jocks in jail!! It wont happen of course.

    OOOps and now I am being racist toward my Moron friends.....like the Neanderthals they think about almost nothing at all until their ancient animal territorial instincts...that we all have....are kicked into action by the above mention media.

    They have other sides to their nature that are very good, I like them and by being their friend I can counter what I see as their bad side.. my friends have now got over their aversion to the 'other' and they now appreciate and like my black and my other marginalised friends. They have seen that 'other' people are humans too and sometimes very interesting humans. So not racist or Sexist or other -ist anymore. I hope.

    Thats the kind of education i mean. It really works. No one else can do it.

    Just you.

    So make friends with a racist white man or racist black man or woman today and dont attack them, gently re-educate them.....

    Their aversion to the 'other' is
    1- just an ancient instinct that has passed its 'use by' date, for this era.
    2-through bad parenting. See 'American History X'
    3- and lack of education in schools.
    4- and is the way cunning Social Psychopaths control people and you cant do anything about them. trying to educate a SP just re-inforces their belief that you are wrong. Just jail them.

    If you want to win the R war I think you have to surrender. In the right way! Become an honourable warrior. I think thats a Sufi concept.

    Thats what I aim for in my flawed manner! Something like that.

    So come on over and I will give you a hug.

    ++XXR


    And Hey Commonsense...dont get too locked into your subjective 'real world' or nothing will ever change for you. The dreamers are the ones who shift us forward ...slowly...but it moves! The paradigm that is!

    ++R

    ReplyDelete
  35. My gosh....sorry my posts go on and on...Here is a short one....

    A poem by Ogden Nash:

    "See the happy moron, He doesn't give a damn. I wish I were a moron- My God, perhaps I am!"

    objective meaning.... You are a Moron.
    subjective meaning...A wise man admits he knows nothing...
    from the Morons Self Justification Research Institute.

    Love All
    +++XXXR

    ReplyDelete
  36. R U Sure:

    "- "White men have been found scouting for young boys/girls in poor countries and sometimes convicted of paedophilia. "-

    Roger:

    "Do I detect a bit of the 'R' word here? And a bit of sexism? Are not a great number of these men Black? And very often women are involved as well?"

    Roger, i detect more than a bit of R here. Contrary to stereotypes, the Japanese men do it more than others in Southeast Asia. Yet, it is fun to blame the "white man", right? This is not to stereotype Japanese men, but just to point out that we should not get carried away with sanctimonious self-righteousness. Non-sanctimonius self-righteousness ain't that bad.

    Roger: yes, I live too much in the real world!

    ReplyDelete
  37. An even shorter post.

    Commonsense: I am all for non-sanctimonious self - righteousness..its the best that we can have..

    and everyone: Todays Sydney Morning Herald when you search for 'reconciliation' has this interesting history of the past 10 years in Oz.. This should add a bit of spice to the discussion!

    http://www.smh.com.au/national/the-road-to-reconciliation-20100527-whuv.html

    ++XXR

    ReplyDelete
  38. I agree... it is the dreamers who shift us forward... it is they who, to quote Salman Rushdie who quoted Saul Bellow, "open the universe a little more"... that is why 'the dreaming' way of life becomes so precious.

    ReplyDelete
  39. Roger and Dhiraj,

    I totally agree; we need dreamers, otherwise this would be a more vivious world. I like dreams about a more equal world and I do dream about it. this is not an unrealistic dream - at least in terms of hoping for improvement, rather than instant or permanent equality.

    yet, there are dreams and dreams.

    pipe dream = me dreaming about being the next queen of north korea

    ReplyDelete
  40. Now we are totally off the topic...queen eh!.... And where are our friends RU Sure and RU Right? Come back guys we love you!

    I think we started on about Ozzies bashing Indians. Oz Racism. Front page news in all the tabloids and about page 3 in the broadsheets and news Items of India.. Resulting in a vast decrease in Indian tourists and students coming to Oz.

    1- I blame the young and ignorant usually unemployed drug fuelled gangs who roam the streets in every major city in the world. In Oz these gangs are usually the sons and daughters of poor migrant groups who fled from any of over 100 nations that racially discriminated against them and now they call Australia home. Most would not know an Indian if they saw one. They tell our indigenous people to go back to their own country!!....They just see someone different and alone with ipods computers and fancy shoes.

    Radio shock jocks and our tabloid press drive them and their parents into a frenzy and then crowd intoxication kicks in and they see its OK to bash different people. A video game turned into reality. Watch the crowd at any football match!

    Points to consider:

    It seems that Oz with New Zealand and Canada is one of the better places in the world to avoid racial discrimination and where governments are doing something about it. For contrast Try Fiji or Pakistan or.....

    Indians being attacked is the front page story.....when its later revealed that the Indian man who was burned did it himself when trying to set fire to his car for the insurance. And the Indian baby was murdered by an India neighbour...these stories are buried in the back of the paper...

    and consider linguistics. Loaded words. Words that have a affect way beyond their definition.

    The very word 'Racist' has become a word that stirs up unhealthy emotions...I would prefer that journalists did not use it at all.

    and while we are at it the word 'black' and 'white' stir up emotions in an unhealthy way. black is always something bad...its a black day....white is always something good...

    and the use of the phrase 'Black and White' automatically sets up an unhealthy duality... like War and Peace.... Good and bad... Yes and no....you are either for us or against us.....etc.... we need a modified language that takes into consideration the middle ground. Thats where life is.

    And the middle, the in between Black and White is not Gray! It is all the colours of the rainbow and a fun and healthy place to be!

    Edward de Bono invented as new word...'Po'.... as an answer to a question when the answer is neither 'yes' nor 'no'.....

    If, as they say, all humankind are descended from the successive migrating waves of peoples from Africa then perhaps white folk could be called 'bleached'

    Along with education I think a sense of humour is required to make our world a better place.....and lets face it they will never ever be able to program a computer to make up a good joke!

    thats what makes us carbon based bipeds unique in the universe.

    ++XXR

    ReplyDelete
  41. Mr Roger Holey-Fogg seems to have taken the comments as an attack on the white men in general and him in particular. I regret if any of my words share any grades of such colour and it was never intended. In fact I forgot to thank Roger for giving me examples through his own post that I quoted subsequently to illustrate. As Kirti or CS pointed out, it would be a minority who would be willing to listen the other side and debate with the aggrieved. My angst however was that a majority of that minority is in reality defensive often and reluctant to acknowledge the hurt that the other side is trying to express.

    Can any problem be ever solved without recognising the fact that there is a problem? Dreams would of course motivate people to act. Still, there is a difference between dreams and commitment. Social harmony is an essential ingredient of peaceful coexistence. Mutual respect among the disparate members in a society �" irrespective of its class hierarchy (if any) �" is a must for such harmony to sustain and in turn lead to the welfare of humanity as a whole. My intentions would only succeed when you and others realise the uphill battle that a disadvantaged person confront in Australia to have equal rights, respect and opportunity. Let me repeat! It is nobody’s intention to paint Australia as racist unfairly. But it is in everyone’s responsibility to strive for a better world for all including the disadvantaged amongst us and around us.

    Incidentally, I am concerned when the words are selectively quoted to imply a motive. When I made a statement about white men being suspected of paedophilia, I did write, “It IS stereotyping but unfortunate”. Now CS would understand why one can not take chances to be succinct on online forums particularly when topics are debated passionately ;-0) And no offense taken too, CS on your having fun.

    Kindly be assured Roger that I do not have any ill-feelings against anyone, let alone against you, a very honest person who is willing to take part in discussions alone. I qalso thank you for giving me material to write about if any thing ;-0)

    Cheers.

    ReplyDelete
  42. A bit more details of the current state of affairs....

    Australia was one of the first to ratify United Nations Convention on Elimination of all forms of Racial Discrimination (CERD) and under art 2(1)(d) of CERD (prohibit and bring to an end, by all appropriate means, including legislation as required by circumstances, racial discrimination by any persons, group or organization) enacted Racial Discrimination Act (RDA) in 1975.

    Prof Gaze (Faculty of Law, University of Melbourne) noted, “… there is reason to be seriously concerned about the lack of effectiveness of the RDA in protecting equality rights. ….. We know, however, that issues to do with race, ethnicity and religious and cultural diversity have deep echoes in the subconscious, and concern fundamental issues about groups, membership, belonging, inclusion and exclusion (Banton 1994; Baker et al 2000). …………. Although legislation cannot be expected to eliminate the attitudes that lead to xenophobia and racism, it should be able to challenge social practices that, visibly or not, allocate benefits and access to resources on this basis. ………… The inability of those in privileged groups to see their own privilege can make it very difficult for them to recognise disadvantage as something distinct from their own experience”.

    Human Rights and the Equal Opportunities Commission (HREOC) is the first port of call for all discrimination complaints. Despite the HREOC Act mandates that the commission should assist the complainants, it is not uncommon that the commission rejects complaints. In one case a lady from the indigenous background had to go all the way to a federal court seeking directions to the commission to accept her complaint! The commission does not have power to order damages and the claims need to go to courts. Hunyor, J in ‘Sydney Law Review’ [2003] Vol.25:535 in 'Skin-deep: Proof and Inferences of Racial Discrimination in Employment', noted, “The courts have generally regarded allegations of racial discrimination as being of such seriousness that they require a higher standard of evidence….”. A typical example would be ‘Sharma v Legal Aid Queensland’ and it is to be noted that Mr Sharma, the complainant was a solicitor of Indian origin.

    In a dissenting judgement in NSW v Amery & Ors [2006] 226 ALR 196 and empathising with the victims, honourable Kirby (recently retired from the apex court) noted, “.. .(this case) joins a series, unbroken in the past decade, in which this court has decided appeals unfavourably to claimants for relief under anti-discrimination and equal opportunity legislation. …….. It was not always so. In the early days of state and federal anti-discrimination legislation, this court, by its approach to questions of validity and application, upheld those laws and gave them a meaning that rendered them effective. ……… The wheel has turned. In no decision of this court in the past decade concerned with anti-discrimination laws, federal or state, has a party claiming relief on a ground of discrimination succeeded. If the decision in the courts below was unfavourable to the claimants, it was affirmed. If it was favorable, it was reversed”.

    Or in other words, the victims of racism too - and not only the natives - were royally ‘intercoursed’ if I may borrow from the title!

    Roger may be right when he says, most people would not ‘think’ at all. “There is a disjuncture between racism and a cognisable act of discrimination (Prof Gaze quoting Thornton)”. That is the whole point. Most people do not seem to think how their actions contribute to Australia being called a racist nation. Isn’t it unfortunate but only addressable if committed to?

    Cheers.

    ReplyDelete
  43. This is no co-incidence that Oz is being made into a scapegoat... Scapegoats are often the ones waiting to be butchered... in this case in an argument :) why wud we 'accuse' Oz for being 'Racist' when the cries against it are at their prime!!

    ReplyDelete
  44. I also see a lot of merit in what Roger Foley-Fogg has to say... R U Sure... it is 'Foley' and not 'Holey'!!!

    ReplyDelete
  45. I also see a lot of merit in what Roger Foley-Fogg has to say... R U Sure... it is 'Foley' and not 'Holey'!!!

    ReplyDelete
  46. Thank you Kirti, for pointing it out and my apologies Roger for the typo of your name.

    No one will hold you, Roger responsible for ‘how Australia is perceived’ to the rest. Unwittingly, though your ‘defensive’ responses reinforce the reality on how most Australians react in general to such a perception. And you are one of the most open-minded, well travelled and articulate one; so you can imagine how the rest will take it. That is the issue, namely denial.

    No one is ‘scape-goating’ Australia or accusing Australia of being racist unfairly. Exposing the reality for people to see is only with a view to get that problem addressed, which is in everyone’s interests. Indian media or journalists have no vested interests against Australia or are not targeting Australia. If any thing, most media houses in India are part owned by the western media houses. Conspiracy theory is the first resort of the confused; being confused is the first step to awareness too if addressed properly.

    There is no point in comparing Australia to India or clubbing with New Zealand or Canada. Canada has been more successful than others. New Zealand has been more successful with its indigenous population and utilising its migrants but the issues of racism within the society is on par with that of Australia. New Zealand has studied why the skills that migrants bring to the country are squandered (Ref: ‘Unpacking Barriers to Professional Migrant Employment’ by Judy Hunter, School of Social Sciences and Cultural Studies, Massey University; ‘Being accepted: The experience of discrimination and social exclusion by immigrants and refugees in New Zealand’ by Butcher, Spoonley & Trilin; etc ). Australia has not done such attempts so far as far as I know. I checked with migrant resource centre and searched on the research projects but did not see any similar attempts to identify or address the squandered skills in Australian context. Many migrants from India are underemployed or unemployed.

    The plight of the victims to racism is very complex. The society is largely oblivious to the fact that racism exists. People do not see the impact of racism that denies ‘basic’ rights to the victim in contrast to the denial of privileges that whites normally face overseas and equate to the experience of non-whites in Australia. As mentioned before, the inability of those in privileged groups to see their own privilege can make it very difficult for them to recognise disadvantage as something distinct from their own experience. The courts can not punish people for their beliefs and hence look for ‘acts’. It can not ‘infer’ acts from consequences because similar consequences could be produced by different acts. That is why it is a social issue rather than a mere judicial issue. Yet when the courts can not impose exemplary penalties on the errant, the social acceptance of the malaise does not get addressed. That is why more wide-spread awareness about racism is required to combat it effectively.

    While at the surface Australia is not, beneath the surface it is and that is what Mr Van Rudd said by ‘The Dominant Culture In Australia Is A Racist Culture’ in his interview with an Indian Magazine. He could say so openly only because he was the nephew of the prime minister. Any one voicing concerns about the levels of inequity within the society should not necessarily be seen as ‘enemies’ either.

    As the Prime Minister Wen Jiabao of the People's Republic of China said (Sudheendra Kulkarni, Indian Express 30 May 2010), “We should respect multiculturalism. This world is multicultural and ‘multi-civilisational’; and it has existed in the past, exists today and will exist in the future”. Cheers.

    P.S: India is in a difficult position with the ‘Mumbai Murderer’. Either way, the ‘terrorists’ will use it to their propaganda against India and its liberal way of life. What the terrorists want is to overthrow India into part of an Islamic caliphate. They would be unlikely to care for the well-being of any foot-soldiers like Kasab.

    ReplyDelete
  47. My sincere apologies, to Dhiraj Singh too for misspelling your name in my post above.

    ReplyDelete
  48. Roger:

    "And Commonsense....In Canada and New Zealand did not the colonisers defeat the indigenous population by giving them guns so they could kill each other more efficiently?"

    True, but only in the past. Distant past. The land claims settlements with the indigenous populations, while not perfect, are probably the best anywhere, anytime. that is a big step.

    ReplyDelete
  49. We dont seem to be making much progress here. I was hoping more folk with mature life experiences would enter this discussion as in my view it is not helpful - in a practical sense- quoting third parties from their books and papers unless you are seeking a University degree. And I think we all seek a practical solution...right?

    Then there is the linguistic problem. No one can never really ever say something 'IS' something. All you can say with authority is that such and such SEEMS Like so and so to me.

    Fill in the blanks any way you wish.

    In a country called.......................I have seen with my own eyes a number of people who appeared to be....................harass and threaten with words or deeds another person who appeared to be of a different racial background.

    and/or

    In a country called ....................I have personally been unreasonably threatened by word or deed by person or persons who appeared to be of a different racial background.


    You can then say that country.....................has at least..................number of people living or visiting in it who have demonstrated what seems to be a racist attitude.


    Now I put it to you that everyone on the planet could fill in those blanks according to their own subjective experiences. All of us could do this for every country.

    So we could say many people in many countries sometimes seem to behave like racists, not just the people in one country and that this behaviour causes pain to the people on the receiving end. Some people receiving pain, the Irish for instance, laugh it off and some dont.

    Why is there this racism between every country and within every country? In my view it is an Ancient Animal Territorial Instinct common to all humans and animals and perhaps also the plants! And that this instinct was necessary to drive evolution.

    Civilisation however requires us to put aside those instincts and learn to live together harmoniously. The world is getting smaller.

    In my view.
    It would help us all live together harmoniously by not using that R word whenever we feel offended by something someone does or says. By not by acting like children.......we should act like grown ups are supposed to behave. Adults.

    And I think that somehow we have to educate people, and convince them to QUESTION AUTHORITY and THINK FOR THEMSELVES instead of following the latest rants of shock jocks, journalists and social psychopathic control freaks of all races.

    This improvement is going to take a long time.

    We can all help by not stirring things up! Hence my objection to the R word being used as a lazy generalisation for any country.

    As the fishermen of Kokrobite say on the sides of their hand carved fishing boats..."LOVE ALL" but chill out and love yourself first.

    A sense of humour could be the most important weapon for the honourable warrior.


    a poem by Augustus De Morgan:
    Great fleas have little fleas upon their backs to bite 'em,
    And little fleas have lesser fleas, and so ad infinitum.
    And the great fleas themselves, in turn, have greater fleas to go on,
    While these again have greater still, and greater still, and so on."

    They call me foggy but things are getting clearer all the time!
    ++XXR

    ReplyDelete
  50. Dear Mr Foley,
    I strongly disagree with you there. If we were to base our life decisions purely on subjective experience and thinking then we wouldn't go very far, and end up living in ivory towers of our own creation. It is after all the wise man who learns from others' mistakes. Besides in a country the size of India if lawmakers, policymakers went purely by subjective experience they wouldn't get too far in solving the countries massive problems. Even scholars and academicians when they quote primary and secondary sources are working towards a more general enlightenment.

    When you say: "Why is there this racism between every country and within every country? In my view it is an Ancient Animal Territorial Instinct common to all humans and animals and perhaps also the plants!" you are essentially condoning it or brushing it under the carpet. The whole point of these posts have been the central theme of the article: that is first to accept that there is a problem and then open a dialogue to address it. Living in denial or 'unacceptance' will only cause the problem to further fester.
    Thanx
    K

    ReplyDelete
  51. Ok Kirti, a fair enough view but in my opinion there is no such thing as an objective opinion...Everyone has tunnel vision. All opinions are subjective in my subjective opinion...which does not mean that one cannot have epiphanies and illuminations from the work of others....the wise man may learn from what he perceives as others mistakes but in my opinion a wiser man learns from his own mistakes. The problems of Australia, india and the world can only be solved by the collective will of individuals, not by legislation nor by waving those big sticks around. in my opinion.

    i dont think acknowledging something necessarily condones it nor brushes it under the carpet. Knowledge of where these feelings might come from can give us the tools to redirect our lives through the focus of our will and maybe make things a little better.

    I thought the central theme of Dhiraj's article was that he found Australia to be a racist nation and what can we do about it. Do you really believe this Dhiraj?

    OK I have agreed that in my experience:
    Australia has some people who are racist.
    India has some people who are racist.
    AND all countries seem to have some people who are racist.

    On that basis i dont think it is at all helpful to call any particular country 'R'. Not helpful at all. Its like calling names at school.

    I dont know how this could be called 'denial'. it is a broader agreement.

    'R' is a world problem. Calling any particular country racist is an insulting generalisation and will make the problem worse. It sets up a duality trip, us vs them, then an argument and no meaningful dialogue.

    Perhaps I have not made myself clear. If so i am sorry about that however I have made some suggestions how these problems could be addressed. Are there any other suggestions?

    +R

    ReplyDelete
  52. IN CONCLUSION:
    Thakyou everyone for these discussions. I have now decided what my art should say…the concept:

    My hypothesis is that folk need to take more responsibility for the quality of their own lives - with a little help from their friends.

    And that you and I, by the exercise of our personal will and by postitive thoughts words and deeds can help all of us evolve to a higher and less primitive animal state.

    In my view it is the practical application of tolerance that determines the future of 'R'. This is more important than any legislation or thought experiment. Here are three positive thoughts that work for me and that I will incorporate into my artwork:

    1- Progress can be accelerated by the careful application of language…by not using the R word

    2- And by not setting up dualities. By inserting Multicoloured between Black and White, by inserting Mediation between War and Peace by inserting The World between Us and Them, by inserting ‘I am for the world’ between ‘are you for us?’ and ‘or against us?’, by inserting Po between Yes and No and so on. I never use even numbers for anything!

    3- By education, that is an education so strong as to overcome bad parenting, bad role models and to overcome bad leadership both civil and religious. An education that teaches us to question authority and think for ourselves. Learning how to learn and so forth.

    In these ways I think some progress can be made. I think.


    Here are three news stories and one radio broadcast from the past week

    All the people mentioned are Australians.
    Some Black some White some Multicoloured,
    some Good some Bad some just plain Human:

    ONE:

    “Throughout Arnhem Land I am sensing a slow rebirth as people realise the future can be only in our hands, not sitting around waiting for government handouts.”

    Says the highly respected indigenous leader Galarrwuy Yunupingu in The Australian June 1st, 2010. NOTE: he did not write the header! That was a sub editor who did not understand the story!

    See the whole story at: www.theaustralian.com.au search for Galarrwuy Yunupingu on June 1. Big Broither wont let me put in the URLs

    TWO:

    The Australian June 8th, 2010 A full page story about a sadly all too typical indigenous community in The Kimberley. A story of Beauty and Sadness.

    Hope at last for 'hell on earth' is the headline
    http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/features/hope-at-last-for-hell-on-earth/story-e6frg6z6-1225876662037



    THREE:

    The Sunday Age, June 6, 2010
    By Noel Pearson, a highly respected indigenous leader: In 1999, he launched the ''our responsibilities agenda, which was meant to complement the rights agenda''.

    Read the full page story at:
    www.theage.com.au search for Noel Pearson on June 6th



    RADIO NATIONAL

    And to finish on a happy and light note ��" serious fun! - the most important message of the week in my view:

    Aboriginal Humour: Philip Adams talks with Indigenous scholar Lillian Holt on Late night Live May 31, 2010

    Read comments and listen in to this delightful lady:
    http://www.abc.net.au/rn/latenightlive/stories/2010/2911903.htm

    happy thoughts to you all

    +++XXXR

    ReplyDelete
  53. Roger,

    I generally agree with you.

    Except when you say:

    "On that basis i dont think it is at all helpful to call any particular country 'R'. Not helpful at all....Calling any particular country racist is an insulting generalisation and will make the problem worse."

    overall true too, but I must point out some exceptions:

    1. South Africa under the Apartheid regime

    2. Nazi Germany

    etc. etc. etc. These were racist countries because it was part of state policy. There were for sure some anti-racists and non-racistst there and they resisted, made their position amply clear (Nadine Gordimer in South Africa etc.), but these were inherently racist countries, and it was quite helpful to characterize them as such.

    ReplyDelete
  54. Welcome back Commonsense....

    Exceptions noted and understood however I myself would prefer to use the phrase "countries with legislated racial discrimination" rather than saying the countries were 'R".

    There is an easily understood way out with the first statement - eg change the legislation. However if the country is indeed seen as 'R' the only way out is to delete the country which is very unfair to the many fair minded people in both those countries in that situation. The many good South Africans and the many good Germans. What about them? How do we lend them support if they have all been tarred by the same brush?

    I am trying to indicate that 'R' is an emotionally loaded word that can lead us to more conflict not less, in my view and should be replaced by other words.

    Other examples of loaded words are WEED instead of PLANT which is an emotional response when they pop up in your lawn and are immediately destroyed despite the fact that many of these despised plants can be useful...or perhaps I am just playing with words here.

    The two examples you site are, in my view, examples of:

    1. racial discrimination through malthusian fear of numbers and ethnological ignorance in the first case and

    2.racial discrimination through state takeover by psychopathic criminals subverting the meaning of Darwin's theory of evolution for their own advantage in the second case.

    So perhaps legislation can make a state 'R' But is this helpful in our current situation?

    And Commonsense i think that calling those countries "inherently racist" if you use the term in the sense that 'R' is "an essential constituent" of the country is not helpful. That seems to leave no way out at all

    Here is an exercise I use.

    If we agree that all countries very likely have some citizens within them who practice racial discrimination. Including our own country. Then perhaps we say that our own country be it India or Australia, is 'RACIST'?

    If you say that, how does that make you feel?

    Lets apply this for example to the situation in Gaza. Who practices racial discrimination there? What good can come from calling either of the opponents by the 'R' word?

    I dont think calling countries or people 'R' leads to reconciliation or mediation which in my view is the midpoint the median and the mean point where a dialogue and mutual understanding can be started. Perhaps mediation is the only way out of the mire. I think so.

    I guess you are right in saying that it was quite helpful at the time to characterise those regimes as 'R' but only in the short term! It made the posters easy to write and the concepts easy to understand for the masses. However there was a lot of collateral damage caused by this simplification. WHITE=BAD, BLACK=GOOD, then transpose the terms. No room for MEDIATION at all.

    But what about our world today?

    Perhaps Commonsense we can agree to disagree on this? I am happy to. Thats what i call mediation!

    ++XXR

    ReplyDelete
  55. Roger:

    "Perhaps Commonsense we can agree to disagree on this? I am happy to."

    Actually, I do agree with what you say. The distinction between country that have "legislated racism" vs. the concept of "inherently racist countries" makes sense to me. There are always a substantial number of folks in any society with legistlated racism, who are non-racist and even anti-racist...

    ReplyDelete
  56. I liked this: "The biggest part, I believe, of any healing between cultures that have been at odds with each other is a dialogue. And what better way is there than using the language of music, art, literature and films to start that dialogue"... this is cool... I have firmly believe that Sports and Music (art) have the ONLY power to Unite the world...as we respect brilliant athletes/musicians no matter where they are from... good read.. Dhiraj!!

    ReplyDelete
  57. Thanks, Nitin! You're right spot on about the power of art, music and sports as tools for bringing people together as one... as tools of transcendence and cohesion... but do you think their cementing capacity is short-lived as the 'reality of the ground' almost always seems to overwhelm the euphoria?

    ReplyDelete
  58. Evolution is very slow. But, if we try hard and are vigilant, evolution slowly moves in a positive direction. In my view.+R

    ReplyDelete
  59. agree with dialogue too--but sincere efforts please,not like the incessant "dialogues" of the governments--where both meet,handshakes all around and arrange next meetings.!

    ReplyDelete
  60. Dhiraj? Interesting you mention "do you think their cementing capacity is short-lived as the 'reality of the ground' almost always seems to overwhelm the euphoria? ", I think we can use them as tools, with globalization and mass immigration, I guess we are inching towards the "one world".. and we need many athletes/Artists (e.g Bono) who make it their mission, and from time to time like earthquake in Chile/Haiti, artists from all over have come together to raise fund and help rebuild the region... so perhaps it is more powerful when it is short lived.....!

    ReplyDelete
  61. Champaklal BhogilalJune 21, 2010 at 9:42 AM

    Unrelated to the topic:

    Swedish anthropologist Dr. Carl Lumholtz (A Victorian racist) interviewed several cannibalistic aboriginal tribes in Australia.

    According to them Asians and other aboriginals, who ate less meat and lots of veggies, tasted better.

    Carnivorous caucasians were considered bad meat. Too salty and nauseating for their taste buds.

    ReplyDelete
  62. I PROTEST this falsehood.....on behalf of my indigenous mates..... please read this from Wikipedia...

    ".....Lumholtz travelled to Australia in 1880, where he spent ten months from 1882-1883 amongst the indigenous inhabitants of the Herbert-Burdekin region in North Queensland. He wrote a book about his experience, Among Cannibals: An Account of Four Years' Travels in Australia and of Camp Life with the Aborigines of Queensland, first published in 1889......

    .....AND CAREFULLY NOTE THIS PART.....

    .......It should be pointed out that regardless of the title of the book, Queensland Aboriginals were not (and still are not) known to consume human flesh."

    However of course ALL meat eaters of NEARLY ALL nationalities have been known to eat human flesh when put in a position of eating whats available or death by starvation....Including us white or bleached folk...there are many many recorded incidents of cannibalism amongst white folk... from lost soccer players to escaped convicts to starving soldiers everywhere etc etc.

    Maybe not so much in Vegetarian India....perhaps!
    However
    there is NO evidence that Australian Aborigines ever did this.... it would be anathema to their spiritual beliefs as i know them.

    So i dont think this helps our discussion at all and stirs up the racist muck gratuitously.

    Roger (the bleached Australian)

    ReplyDelete
  63. contrary to myths, there is no evidence of systematic cannibalism anywhere in the world. it does happen, but when it does, it is under special circumstances - starvation, particular rituals etc. no human community has ever depended entirely on cannibalism for its nutritional needs. according to anthropologists.

    ReplyDelete
  64. beautiful blog..pls visit mine and be a follower.. thanks and God bless..

    http://forlots.blogspot.com/

    ReplyDelete
  65. beautiful blog..pls visit mine and be a follower.. thanks and God bless..

    http://forlots.blogspot.com/

    ReplyDelete
  66. beautiful blog..pls visit mine to,and be a follower..thanks and God bless..http://forlots.blogspot.com/

    ReplyDelete
  67. That makes sense commonsense otherwise it would be a devolutionary step! They would eat themselves out of existence!

    By the way #62 Champaklal if Dr Lumholtz was in fact given that information by indigenous Australians...do you think it might just have been good old Australian humour ? We often use irony when confronted by foolish 'expert' opinions.

    See the URL for Oz indigenous humour in my posting above.

    ReplyDelete
  68. it's been long since u wrote some,...miss ur writing...get a fresh piece over!

    ReplyDelete
  69. Hey there Dhiraj ,............................. Our black friend Maggie Walsh has asked me to ask you to take down comments attributed to her and also to alter your heading

    ................................. She says that she was not informed that any off-the-cuff remarks by her would be used and published as a story .........................

    She didn't know you were a journalist nor did she know she was being interviewed, she met you as artist to artist ..............................

    And she and her family find this reference inaccurate to her 'real' views and distasteful. ...............................................

    Also she wants you to know that her family in Palm Island find the title "Intercourse with the Natives" very embarrassing and insulting because of its sexual/dominant definition and its colonial/paternalistic tone toward her people, her mob ......................................................................

    I know you have no ill will or bad intent Dhiraj, quite the contrary ...............

    but you might like to think about a compromise to help sooth an already wounded woman, people and friend. Palm Island is a very distressed society where as you know a policeman murdered a local black man and got away with it! ........................................

    and journalistic freedoms aside ...........................................

    May i suggest " Interaction with the mob" as a happy alternative?...

    Over to you buddy. see you next month.

    ReplyDelete
  70. This is posted as opinion and not news. On the personal request to the author to excise a comment, it should be treated as such and considered, as its just one sentence in a much larger article...

    The term 'native' has no pejorative meaning, IMO, in fact, 'mob' is far more negative.

    ReplyDelete
  71. Dear Dhiraj, 'Imagined' to you but 'real' to her. Anyway I have passed on the Palm Island mob's feelings about it as i promised to do and will pass your feelings to Maggie when she gets back to town......

    Dear Aaman, A point of correction/explanation different cultures have different definitions for everyday words..I find it interesting wherever I go that a word that is everyday in one locale can be an insult in another.

    Our tribal Black folk have grown up in a white with gun culture where they were treated as 'Natives' defined as 'simple uncivilised people' . Much like folk in India in days gone by. Uneducated English is often their third language after their mobs everyday language, the mob next door's different language and speaking Kriol to white folk etc etc and they themselves much prefer to be called, as they call themselves, 'the mob' as in 'the Halls Creek mob' etc etc.

    My only message to you all is the advice to St Augustine, when in Rome if you want to get to know the Romans and be their friend, its best to do as the Romans do.

    I hope this helps with your understanding of our Black people, our Mobs from the bush and the desert.

    Not that I am an expert. I am just wishing for you to be friends and passing along a message from a friend who does not have the skills nor technology to contact you herself.

    Please dont shoot the messenger he is only doing his best!
    +++R

    ReplyDelete
  72. The peice is good, sensitive to the "otherness". But Vasudev
    Kutumbakam' is a concept we mouth and dont believe. Look at our
    treatment of the 'other'

    ReplyDelete
  73. true, I agree, but we've also had a 'heritage of heterodoxy' that's existed among us, like this vortex that has existed inspite of us... inspite of our pathological addiction to divisions and hierarchies... it's almost like a spirit that possesses us in moments intense crises... We had the Gulabi Gang Commander-in-Chief in office today and it was nice to hear her put this premise thus: "Jab jab samaj mein bhrashtachaar badh jata hai, tab tab bhagwan avatarit hote hain" it was curious because she was referring to herself and her group's (rather brave) efforts at fighting excesses on women and the poor in Bundelkhand. It was interesting to hear her as she is as 'other' as one can get in the Hindi belt.

    ReplyDelete

Post a Comment

Popular Posts