“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.