Allan Takes Aim Blog

An old adage has an answer to racism

Posted on: 1 June 2013

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An old adage has an answer to racism

Common sense is thought a valuable quality and the people who possess it worth their weight in gold. Let me declare immediately that I lay no claim to having common sense which is probably why my value on the gold scale is minus. However, if the behaviour of many Australians surrounding an incident at a recent Australian Rules football match in Melbourne is anything to go by, it seems I am in good company.

The incident in question was a 13 years old girl calling Swans’ player Adam Goodes an “ape’.” When pointed out to Mr Goodes, an Aboriginal, he accused her of being racist. Well in Scotland, and more years ago than I care to remember, I heard players being called ape at football matches by spectators of roughly the same age as the girl. None of the players were Aboriginal; all were indigenous Scots.

I have to say also that during my fairly long life I have been called names I didn’t like but remembering the old adage “sticks and stones many break my bones but names swill never hurt me” and the accompanying common sense advice given me by my parents that people who name call will get their come-uppance one day, I always pay name callers no heed.

Unfortunately by his simple and, I think, un-necessary act, Mr Goodes created interest in a minor matter and in the process unleashed a storm of interest, driven in my view by ill- informed political correctness that might well damage the young lady for years to come and do little to advance the Aboriginal cause. It may even destroy the work of many other people. Nonetheless, with the young girl cast as a racist, many media and some non-media people courting publicity turned a proverbial mole hill into a mountain.

But hey the media said: it’s too good a story to let it pass, though what connection the word ‘ape’ has with racism, I am at a loss to understand. Sadly, it seems that many people subscribe to the Humpty Dumpty view that “When I use a word,” Humpty Dumpty said in rather a scornful tone, “it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less.”
“The question is,” said Alice, “whether you can make words mean so many different things.”
“The question is,” said Humpty Dumpty, “which is to be master – that’s all.”
(Through the Looking Glass, Chapter 6)I.

At the time of the incident, the young girl apologised to Mr Goodes who, to his credit showed common sense and accepted her apology. Collingwood President Mr Eddie McGuire, a well- known media performer also apologised to the player, for which he received praise.

Unfortunately, the story in the media brought out the usual brigade of do-gooders who wanted to have their say about the incident. And because, I am given to understand, Mr McGuire was less than popular with his media peer group the story continued.

He was then pursued relentlessly and put under pressure to such an extent that in his own radio show he  gaffed by commenting that Mr Goodes might be usefully employed in publicity for the soon to be released film, ”King Kong.”

Many voices called for him to be sacked from various positions while some said he should stand down. Of course it’s easy to sit on the sidelines and say he should have known better but do all of us act well under strong pressure?

Fortunately for Mr McGuire,  no doubt in light of his efforts to assist Aboriginal development, colleagues began to see how ridiculous it was that a man who had offered his apologies for something he didn’t do and made a comment under pressure, decided he should retain Presidency of the football club.

Unfortunately for him, he will have to appear before an Australian Football League panel to be punished for his transgressions. I understand that in expiation of his sins he must be educated to know what is politically correct.

However, it seems to me that a lot more would be achieved if all of us used our common sense and heeded the wisdom of the old adage I mentioned earlier.

N.B. I do not know the young girl, or Mr Goodes or Mr McGuire, apart from which, the football I follow is played with a round ball.

Comment welcome.

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2 Responses to "An old adage has an answer to racism"

The equivalent term here is monkey and had a long association if use from whites to blacks. Perhaps due to some superficial physical resemblance or perhaps to a perception of blacks being inferior. Regardless, even tho such comments and name calling have am equally long history in sports or time to encourage people to root for not against. It creates a much more positive atmosphere.

Thanks . I am pleased to get an American’s view of thre matter.

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