More than 200 years after white people stole the Australian continent from its Aboriginal owners, they still feel threatened when there is a public display of black culture.
Nothing else can account for the reaction of people after Aboriginal Australian Rules footballer Adam Goodes broke out into a war dance after kicking a goal last Friday. The dance came during one of the games in the so-called Indigenous Round, when the Australian Football League celebrates the contribution that Indigenous players have made to the game.
Leading the way in decrying Goodes’ wonderful gesture was Dermott Brereton, one of the great players of the past, but a man with a dubious record when it comes to racism on the field. Brereton said the celebration was outdated. “The significance of these war dances is they come from another era and they are significant in the fact that it’s between two tribes who do it before they go out and kill each other. Is it a great thing to have in this day and age? I don’t think so,” he said.
Of course, nobody highlighted the fact that the same Brereton has confessed to racially abusing Aboriginal player Chris Lewis in the 1991 grand final. This is where he is coming from. That he would not like such a dance is not surprising.
And then there was Eddie McGuire, one of the many closet racists who are in a position to spout their opinion. McGuire belongs to the “I am not a racist, but…” school of thought. His reaction to Goodes’ celebration was typical.
“We’ve never seen that (celebration) before and I don’t think we ever want to see it again to be perfectly honest, regardless of what it is,” McGuire said on air at half-time. Who exactly is McGuire to decide what people want or do not want?
There is a massive mantle of guilt still hanging over Australia and white people do not want to be reminded of the genocide which was indulged in when the country was occupied by the British on the pretext that it was terra nullius or empty space.
That fiction was exposed in 1992.
When Aborigines and others whose skin is not white stay out of sight and generally observe the white man’s norms and customs, it is all fine and dandy. But try stepping out of that chastity belt, and all hell erupts.
It speaks of a lack of education, of insularity, of closed-mindedness. And our neighbours, New Zealand, rub that in every time there is a sporting contest between the two countries, because New Zealand boldly proclaims that it is proud of its first peoples by singing the national anthem in their language first. When the New Zealand rugby team plays, they do a Maori war dance before the game.
Australia? Oh, the people still feel guilt about the theft of the continent. And when people like Goodes remind them of the fact that this is an Aboriginal country, they try to shout them down.