Tuesday, December 13

Not a Racist Country

This article is currently the second "most e-mailed" article on the New York Times' website. These events are so horrifying that, even I, with my very low opinion of this country and its racial attitudes, have been shocked.

The New York Times' article contains a classic quote from John Howard. He says "I do not accept that there is underlying racism in this country." In a sense, he is correct. 'Underlying' means "To be located under or below" or "Present but not obvious; implicit". Clearly, massive anti-Muslim violence is not 'underlying' racism. Rather, it might be more accurate to call it 'overt'.

However, I don't think Howard is making this subtle semantic point. He is simply denying that there is widespread racism in Australia. It's important to understand what he's trying to do. He wants to ensure that Australians don't engage in any soul searching as a result of this violence. A responsible leader would say 'Thousands of our young people are engaging in racist violence, we must do what we can to understand how this racism is flourishing and do all we can to prevent it.' Howard doesn't want to say that. He doesn't want to say it because he has been carefully exploiting anti-Muslim and anti-aboriginal prejudice for political gain throughout his career. An exploration of the causes of this violence would lead to his door.


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