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30 May 2017

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The president of Augusta golf club has never presented Tiger Woods with the green jacket after winning the US Masters.
The task was given to a subordinate.

Stunning extra narrative Peter. How gracious that soldier. Frontiers are not just for shirt-fronting, but for meaningful utility of exchange in search of better understanding.

Thanks Chris - wise comments. I would add one thing, racism is all too often the product of ignorance. So we should look to our education systems.

I remember well my first mum-in-law opening up about her experiences in WW2 which she never usually talked about, except for one evening after a few glasses of Gewürztraminer. She had been a trained nurse from Latvia in the Baltic, and after the German occupation was "invited" to work for the German military as a Gasterbeiter (guest worker) a euphemism for forced labour, as nurses were in great demand. After many painful experiences she ended up on the streets of Berlin in 1946, unfortunately in the Russian sector. The Russians were rounding up anyone who was suspected of working for the Germans and sending them back to the mercy of Stalin's gulags and firing squads.

But in those early days before the cold war, allied patrols were allowed into each others sectors.

Some of her family and friends had been captured by Stalin's troops and 'disappeared'. She was sitting on the side of the road weeping, when an American tank pulled up next to her. Out of the top popped an African American soldier. She was scared. As she said "he was the first black man I'd ever seen". But he asked her what was wrong, offered her some American chocolate and then proposed she get into his tank and he would take her to the British sector. She had nothing to lose, so jumped in. He duly dropped her off near the red cross centre, and the rest is history - migration to the UK as a displaced person and subsequent marriage to an English doctor whom she met at the hospital where was working.

She told me "I was scared of that black man, but he helped me and saved my life and gave me a new start."

I entirely agree with Peter Kranz's conclusion that only a very small minority of Australians are genuine racists.

I also think that a great deal of media attention is focussed on the activities of this group, whose significance is grossly overstated and, all too frequently, used as "evidence" that Australia was and remains a racist country.

It is rather like how the very real social problems associated with some remote Aboriginal communities are given great media prominence, leaving people to infer that all Aboriginal people are lazy or drunks or criminals, who routinely beat their wives.

The fact that most Aboriginal people are just trying to get on with their lives without fuss or bother gets entirely missed.

In short, some of our politicians and many social activists, aided and abetted by the media, whether by accident or design, end up reinforcing stereotypes.

Only someone living under a rock on Mars would not know about Australia's lamentable history of entrenched racism, yet many politicians and the media keep endlessly banging on about it as if this country alone had pursued such policies.

This is, of course, completely untrue. Racism, in one form or another, is found all over the world.

Just look at Turkey's treatment of its Kurdish minority today and, in 1915, the extermination of at least 1.5 million of its Armenian minority (which it still officially denies to this day).

How about Japan? It is virtually impossible for an immigrant or refugee to become a Japanese citizen. Even as their population ages rapidly and their need for additional, younger people becomes more acute, Japan resolutely refuses to contemplate immigration as a solution. They just politely say that it is incompatible with their customs and traditions.

What about the USA? Home of the brave, land of the free? I don't think so!

So, we Australians should stop hyperventilating about our purportedly built in racism and recognise that while problems continue to exist, especially for Aboriginal people, we are actually not especially racist at all.

We can and should acknowledge our history but it doesn't need to define us as a nation or a people.

What is more important is that we resolve to stamp out racism in all its forms and continue with the creation of our generally peaceful, prosperous, inclusive, multi-cultural society, that is already the envy of the rest of the world.

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