I’m not a racist, but…

“Everyone knows the rules at Collingwood: if you racially vilify anybody, it’s zero tolerance. You’re out.” – Eddie McGuire, Collingwood president

WHEN the well-known Daily Show comedian, John Oliver, visited Australia earlier this year to make a series of clips on the issue of gun control, he used some of the material he had gathered for his regular podcast as well.

One statement cut through – Australians are comfortable about racism. And very specific about whom they are racist towards.

That sense of comfort has been underlined over the last week. Adam Goodes, an Australian rules footballer of Aboriginal descent, was called an ape by a 13-year-old fan of the Collingwood club. Collingwood was at the receiving end of a thrashing in a game played in Melbourne, and Goodes was one of those who was really handing it out on the field.

For his efforts, he had to put up with a racial insult.

The president of the club, Eddie McGuire, made a big show of apologising, and painting himself as a man against racism.

On Wednesday (May 29), McGuire, a man who wears many hats, suggested on a radio show which he hosts that Goodes should be used in an advertisement for King Kong.

King Kong if, of course, a big ape. And McGuire has made it clear that he associates Goodes with an ape. Nothing more needs to be said.

We can protest till we are blue in the face that we are not this or that as far as our attitudes go. But it is only what is inside us that comes out. And it tells the world who we really are.

McGuire is now trying his level best to extricate himself from the situation in which he has landed himself. Of course, he won’t quit. Like all white people who indulge in casual racism, he will lie low, pretend to be sorry and move on.

The problem with casual racism is that those against whom it is directed do not react strongly enough. As one writer, Sam de Brito, has pointed out, if there were serious consequences, then people would be careful about what they said.

But in Australia, one can indulge in the most vile racism and get away with it. The entrenched racism is a hallmark of society.

The Australian Football League will put McGuire through its racial and religious vilification process. It is doubtful that it will change anything in McGuire’s make-up.

By his statement, McGuire has made it clear to all and sundry that he is another one of those closet racists. Now that is clear, we know what to expect from the man in the future.

Giving women false hope

ONE of the characteristics of the internet age is the lack of thought that is evident in peoples’ reaction to events.

Somehow everyone feels the need to react quickly. This may well be due to the fact that we have grown used to instantaneous gratification.

So many things that once took a long time to obtain or see, are now available at the click of a mouse. It creates a false sense of expectation and also a sense that life can always be lived at that pace.

Thus it is not surprising to see the reactions to the article by actress Angelina Jolie in the The New York Times, announcing that she had undergone a double mastectomy so that she could reduce the chance that she would die of breast cancer.

Nobody has a thoughtful word, everybody has become part of a cheer squad.

Jolie writes that she has the BRCA1 gene and her doctors had estimated that she had a 87 percent chance of developing breast cancer and a 50 percent chance of developing ovarian cancer.

Her mother, she writes, died of breast cancer at the age of 56 and she says she can now tell her children that they don’t need to fear they will lose to her to this form of cancer.

Inherent in this statement is the claim, though not overtly, that Jolie has increased her lifespan. But is that really true? Can a human being cheat death? Can we put off the day of reckoning, the day when the grim reaper arrives?

I fear very much that this false impression is being given to whoever reads Jolie’s article. And it is wrong. We all have a time appointed to die. And even if we encase ourselves in concrete, to protect ourselves from any kind of injury, death will come, right on time.

One may even be able to cheat taxes. But not death.

There are a few other disturbing things in Jolie’s essay. She writes that breast cancer kills 458,000 women every year, mostly in low- and middle-income countries. Can women from these countries ever entertain the thought of having a gene scan to find out their chances of dying of breast cancer?

The breast cancer genes are patented by a company known as Myriad Genetics and it controls the test for the genes. The test can be done only in the US – a doctor in Australia told a close relative this recently – and it costs a good amount, in excess of $US3000. Certainly, no woman in a poor or developing country would be able to even dream about having the test done.

Not only can Jolie afford to have the test done, she can also get the best possible silicone job after the mastectomy to ensure that, outwardly, everything looks as it was before. Her career will not suffer. Her essay tends to give false hope to many women.

Was there really a need to publicise this in the way it has been done? If it was a matter of reassuring her children would it not have been better kept within the confines or her own family? One wonders.

Given the politically correct era we live in, most people do not dare to contradict anything a woman says or does. Apparently, there can never be a case when a woman says or does something that is wrong, immoral, deceitful or illogical. The response is always that the person who is critical is being so because the speaker/writer is a woman.

Another view of Jolie’s act is here.

Is this where Fox News got its slogan?

FOX News is now the most widely watched television channel in the US. One cannot call it a news channel because most of what it dispenses is right-ring propaganda.

It is doubtful whether it would spread to the extent it has in any other country. But in the US, lots of people are poorly educated and unable to tell fact from fiction.

Hence there seems to be a logical reason for Fox’s financial success.clean_and_balanced

One of the hallmarks of the channel is its slogan – “fair and balanced”. Of course, it is anything but fair and balanced – it is biased and skewed to extreme right-wing views.

Fox is not the only organisation, however, to test out this slogan. The maker of a shampoo, Head and Shoulders, came up with something similar (right) a long, long time ago.

Did Fox use this bottle as inspiration for its slogan? One wonders.

Australia begins to pay for Howard’s profligacy

FOR 11 years from 1996, the conservative Liberal Party and National Party, in coalition, ran Australia. During those years, there was a mining boom and loads and loads of money floating around.

But the government used it mostly to bribe middle-class voters by offering them, well, bribes. It ensured that they stayed in power. It’s called pork-barrelling in the country.

But it did the country no favours.

A baby bonus of $5000 was introduced. All you had to do was to have a child. Pretty simple. Most of the money that was doled out to women who had babies was, according to anecdotal evidence, invested in colour TVs and similar things.

The government also introduced a 30 per cent rebate on private health insurance. Even the richest in the land were given this rebate if they took out a policy. There is no way to imagine a greater waste of money.

It could well have been used to improve the public system known as Medicare which is one of the best in the world. But the conservatives let that system become run down.

A third waste of money by the Lib-Nat coalition was the first home-buyers grant. A sum of up to $7000 was paid to those buying their first home.

This has created a massive housing bubble as many people who could not afford suddenly found that they could buy homes. Estate agents scrapped requirements for a 10 per cent down payment – which is normal – and just sold homes to people who are eligible for the grant.

In the years to come, this will come home to roost and bite the country in the bum badly.

But try telling that to the bogans who are now home-owners.

It is a massive waste of money and all the funds that have been spent on these three vote-buying exercises could well have been used to build some better infrastructure for the country.

They could have put in a place an insurance scheme for the disabled. Or built better broadband for the whole country. Or improved the education system. Or built a fast rail system for those cities which lack them. Or…

But the Liberals’ leader John Howard, who was the prime minister for all of those 11 years, is a man with the imagination of a dry bone. And the morals of a Brooklyn hoodlum.

Now that the mining boom is over, the present-day government, a Labor coalition with the Greens and independents, has just brought down a budget with an $18 billion deficit.

The time of reckoning has arrived.