Welcome to Quadrant Online | Login/ Register Cart (0) $0 View Cart
Menu
January 09th 2018 print

Frank K. Salter

The Inherent Racism of SBS

When Ray Martin donned his most earnest expression, rounded up a camera crew and went looking for Australian racism what little he found must have been a grave disappointment. Had he genuinely wished to find obnoxious stereotypes, he might have started with the broadcaster itself

ray martin IIThis article reviews the SBS documentary Is Australia Racist? hosted by Ray Martin and funded by Screen Australia, part of a series shown during “Face up to Racism Week” aired on Sunday, February 26, 2017. The program drew on four leftist professors, and contained numerous factual and methodological shortcomings combined with anti-Anglo bias.

Ray Martin began by stating that Australian society now contains over 300 ethnicities. Martin advised his audience that Australia is a “fabulous melting pot … a nation based on racial diversity”. This view is a staple of multiculturalism. For example, while interviewing Pauline Hanson in early March 2017[1] Barrie Cassidy stated, “Cultural diversity is now Australia’s identity, it is our identity!”

The proposition is nonsense. If Australia’s identity consists of its ethnic diversity, then many countries are more Australian than Australia, because their index of ethnic heterogeneity is much higher. But Nigeria or Brazil are not more Australian than Australia. In fact modern Australia was forged long before large-scale non-European immigration began in the 1970s. It is more accurate to say that Australia is an Anglo-Celtic nation with substantial minorities.

This essay appears in the latest Quadrant.
Subscribe now

Martin’s opening words were not an auspicious introduction to a supposedly serious documentary. The program’s experts did not improve matters.

Martin consulted Professor Kevin Dunn, an academic at the University of Western Sydney who researches and teaches ethnic affairs. Dunn had conducted a survey of Australians’ racial attitudes for the program.[2] The survey formed the basis of the program, and Dunn featured as an expert throughout the show.

In his survey Professor Dunn asked people about their attitudes towards minorities and outgroups. He did not ask about attitudes towards the majority, as if minorities cannot feel or express racism.

Black Africans

Inspired by Dunn’s survey, Martin’s camera team sought to test the claim made by Australians that they would defend others against racial discrimination. They hired actors to pretend to harass another actor publicly, a woman of colour in African dress. Martin’s film crew surreptitiously videoed bystanders’ responses. Would they defend the victim?

The experiment was hardly representative of Australian society. The two actor-racists were white, as were all the passers-by, yet the scenes were filmed in Melbourne, a diverse city. Most of the bystanders did not object, though a few were vocal in their disapproval of the actor-racists.

How realistic was this experiment? The actors’ behaviour—casting rude accusations at a woman who was minding her own business—would have been offensive even without the racist content. Australians find gratuitously offensive remarks unacceptable. Who doesn’t? A valid experimental design would have repeated the scenes without ethnic slurs or innuendo, featuring non-racial abuse. If a similar number of bystanders had objected, that would have indicated that racism is perceived as just a form of rudeness. Fewer or more objections would have indicated that racism is considered a milder or harsher form of rudeness than other types, respectively.

But that would have involved control groups, a normal part of scientific method. The niceties of experimental method were lost on Martin and his team.

Another problem with the “experiment” was its definition of racism. The program adopted a multicultural definition, which portrayed it as unprovoked white aggression against passive non-white victims. In this imaginary universe, minorities are never racist against white people. Indeed, racism is assumed to be a white disease.

Actually minorities are generally more ethnically motivated than majorities, due to such factors as experience of migration, small numbers and tribal culture.[3]

Why didn’t Martin’s experts put him right? They had plenty of opportunities to do so. Martin asked Professor Dunn to interpret the street theatre described above. The expert saw nothing wrong, leaving Martin to add his own editorial comment. Martin said that most bystanders’ failure to defend the black victim was due to an almost tribal preference to be among people like themselves, implying that this was normal. But he added the opinion that in practice we should ignore physical and cultural differences. “It’s easy to understand racism. It’s almost tribal. You like to be amongst people who are like you. But when you don’t know them, you’re afraid, and that’s all part of ignorance.”

Neither Martin nor his expert advisers asked how many bystanders intervene when white people are treated nastily. No comparison was shown. There is a considerable literature on the broader subject, which finds that bystanders are often unsure of the situation, unsure of the norms applying to that situation, and afraid that the aggressor will turn on them. Intervention is more common when there are only a few bystanders.

Martin next spoke with Jafri, a black immigrant from Uganda, who claimed that his only experience of racism occurred in Australia. He was filmed educating the Melbourne public about the evil of racism, by holding up a placard to that effect. He received many positive responses, but he noted that this was not always the case. Some passers-by made disparaging remarks, some racist.

Jafri complained that he was racially profiled, that it was difficult to rent houses, that police questioned black people for no reason.

Martin asked another expert, Professor Andrew Markus of Monash University, to interpret. Markus agreed that the Melbourne public had not treated the African man well. Professor Dunn commented that there was no evidence that Africans increase crime. But 20 per cent of Australians surveyed thought they did. Martin referred to the 20 per cent figure to claim that such “preconceptions” are a problem.

The assertion that Africans do not show elevated rates of crime allowed Jafri and Martin and Dunn to portray negative attitudes towards Jafri and other African immigrants as unfounded, the product of ignorance and bigotry. And it was an absolute claim—that there is no evidence whatsoever of different ethnic crime rates.

No one referred to widespread news reports of Sudanese youth crime and riots in Melbourne in recent years, the sort of reports that might have influenced public perceptions. A few minutes of online research confirms that perception. Data provided by the Australian Bureau of Statistics indicate that in 2011[4] the rate of serious crime for Australians born in Sudan was at least three times the Australian average.[5] That is probably an underestimate because it omits crime committed by individuals of Sudanese descent born in Australia. Among slow-to-assimilate immigrant and refugee communities crime rates often increase in the second generation.[6]

The denial of an African crime problem has a history. In 2005 Professor Andrew Fraser lost his position at Macquarie University for warning that African immigration would increase crime.[7] One of his inquisitors was Ray Martin, who accused Fraser of racism. Another inquisitor was the Human Rights Commission, which adjudicated a complaint made against the professor based on section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act. Fraser’s attempt to argue his case in a scholarly journal, the Deakin Law Review, was censored by the vice-chancellor of Deakin University, who summarily ordered his article to be removed, despite it having passed peer review.

In 2010 journalist Andrew Bolt reported that Victoria Police was hiding evidence of high African crime rates.[8] Some honest police officers have felt it necessary to warn the public. In 2014 former New South Wales assistant police commissioner Ken McKay warned that African refugees pose a criminal threat.[9]

Overseas evidence provides comparisons. African-Americans show high rates of imprisonment, as is the case with British citizens of African descent. For example, in the 2011 London riots blacks were overrepresented among those charged by a factor of seven. A similar figure emerges from normal street crime statistics.[10]

Whatever the cause of group differences in crime rates, the evidence supports the opinion of the 20 per cent of respondents who associated black Africans with crime. Eighty per cent of Australians were ignorant of a well-established correlation. Ray Martin and his academic advisers were among the ignorant, but unlike the general public had no excuse.

So far the SBS program resembled propaganda. I wondered whether it would improve with the next topic.

Martin returned to his initial question, whether opening our doors to different races and religions has made us more tolerant or more racist? “Is Australia a multicultural success story, or are we racist?” Here he used “multicultural” to mean diversity, not an ideology.

He turned to Professor Markus for an answer. Markus stated that four out of five Australians support multiculturalism. He did not discuss the meaning of that term. Were his respondents supporting the fact of diversity or the ideology of minority interests? He left it at that, giving the impression that multiculturalism is working well.

Markus did not report his own finding that verbal support for multiculturalism is not a reliable sign of multicultural harmony. Based on his work with the Scanlon Surveys of Social Cohesion at Monash University, Markus found that verbal support for multiculturalism can have little connection with personal experience of diversity. Markus found that people could simultaneously offer verbal support for multiculturalism while reporting their personal alienation in neighbourhoods of heavy migrant settlement. “The highest level of support [for multiculturalism] is obtained for general propositions, lower levels of support when the question is specific.”[11]

Then Markus told Martin that there had been a dramatic change in racial views since the 1960s, evident in the acceptance of immigration. He failed to explain that unrestricted immigration was never voted on by the electorate and was instead imposed by the mainstream parties and media. Nor did he admit that his own research shows a hardening of ethnic attitudes among Australians who experience substantial diversity. In a 2012 comparison of neighbourhoods with low and high migrant settlement, Markus concluded, “This finding supports Putnam’s interpretation that ethnic diversity has a significant negative impact on social cohesion.”[12] Robert D. Putnam is the Harvard political scientist who conducted a large-scale study of ethnic diversity in the United States. Numerous studies in different cultures have replicated Putnam’s finding that diversity causes many people to feel less at home, less supported by neighbours, less optimistic, less safe.[13] This is especially true when Muslims figure in the mix.[14] This behaviour is not limited to white people. It is normal evolved human behaviour.[15]

 

Muslims

Martin next examined discrimination against Muslims. How does a documentary on racism deal with Islam, which is a religion, not a race? People of all races have converted to Islam. Race is a matter of physical difference caused by genes, while religion is a matter of culture and belief.

Professor Dunn helped square the circle by explaining that racism now includes behaviour towards cultures, not only races. Professor Markus agreed. Now racism is defined very broadly. It can mean almost anything, he exclaimed. Another academic, Yin Paradies, also agreed. Paradies is Professor of Race Relations at Deakin University. He explained that now “racism” includes discrimination towards religions. A sense of cultural incompatibility has replaced the sense of racial superiority.[16]

So that did it! The program seamlessly transferred the language of anti-racism to behaviour towards a religion. The three experts agreed to adopt this language. There were no dissenters. No one suggested a more nuanced terminology, using words such as “chauvinism”, “ethnocentrism”, “xenophobia” or “sectarianism”. Instead, these were all rolled into “racism”.

Professor Dunn introduced an additional term, “Islamophobia”, which he stated is a form of racism now common worldwide. He used the label without qualification, implying that all those critical of Islam are experiencing a phobic reaction, an irrational and extreme aversion to a stimulus. And no allowance was made for rational criticisms of Islam.

Dr Charles Miller, a researcher in the School of Politics and International Relations at the Australian National University, doubts the validity of the term. “The term ‘Islamophobic’ is frequently used to describe anti-Islam groups, yet this term is disputed and controversial, with some alleging that it is a loaded term used to silence debate about aspects of Islam, even amongst Muslims themselves.”[17] Miller prefers the more descriptive term “anti-Islam”. His content analysis of anti-Islamic groups confirms this choice, because they express concerns about terror and political threats.

None of the four academics on the SBS program acknowledged doubts about “Islamophobia”. Instead, Martin introduced Professor Andrew Jakubowicz, a sociologist at the University of Technology Sydney, who thought it relevant to note that in 1998 only 3 per cent of Australians saw Muslims as a problem, compared to 45 per cent who saw Indochinese as a problem. Dunn and Martin agreed and implied that the present high rate of negative views towards Muslims is irrational.

None of the experts tried to explain popular disquiet with Islam. There was no mention of the rapid rise in Muslim numbers, of Muslim gangs, of the low intermarriage rate, of flight away from Muslim suburbs, of anti-social behaviour of young Muslim men, of the hundreds of Muslims in Australia who have volunteered or tried to volunteer to fight for Islamist forces in the Middle East. And there was no mention of Islamist terrorism or attempted terrorism against Australians.

The group criticised Pauline Hanson for opposing Muslim immigration, but failed to explain the widespread support for her policy. In 2013, even before the first domestic terrorist attacks, a Roy Morgan poll found that 53.4 per cent agreed that the government should enact laws banning Islamic clothing that covers the face, 44 per cent saw a strong relationship between Islam and terrorist acts, 50.2 per cent thought the government should ban sharia law, and 57.3 per cent were concerned about Islam in the world today. Only 16.4 per cent agreed that Australia was a better place due to Islam, while 70.6 per cent disagreed. [18]

Nor did the program attempt to explain the fact that critical attitudes towards Islam often focus exclusively on that religion. “Islamophobia” is often not part of a generalised dislike of immigrants or non-Christians. Professor Markus’s own Scanlon Survey data reveal many respondents with negative attitudes to Islam. The 2014 Scanlon area study asked respondents to express personal attitudes towards two non-Christian religious groups, Muslims and Buddhists. Eleven per cent were strongly negative towards Muslims, but only 2 per cent were strongly negative towards Buddhists. More broadly, 5 per cent or fewer of responses were “very negative” or “negative” towards Buddhists or Christians. But five times that number, 25 per cent, were negative towards Muslims.[19] The asymmetry in attitudes towards Buddhists and Muslims has continued since 2010 when the Scanlon surveys first included these questions. The contrast was striking even among the 37 per cent of respondents who strongly endorsed multiculturalism. Supporters of multiculturalism generally report positive attitudes towards minorities, and only a small minority (2 per cent) were negative towards Buddhists. But nine times that number, 18 per cent, were negative towards Muslims.

Markus did not discuss these findings, though they came from his own survey. Neither did Markus object to Dunn’s use of the term “Islamophobia”. If Markus does accept the term, at which point does he believe that dislike of Islam becomes phobic, like the paralysing fear of snakes? Is moderate dislike of Islam phobic? Or does that term only apply to strongly negative attitudes? And what about negativity to Buddhism? Does Professor Dunn think that Buddhaphobia is a global phenomenon? If not, why? Buddhists have migrated all around the world. And what about Christophobia? Why are these terms not in use? Uncritical adoption of the term “Islamophobia” does not raise confidence in the objectivity of Ray Martin or his experts.

Next, Martin interviewed a Turkish Muslim in Melbourne, Nail Aykan, the general manager of the Islamic Council of Victoria, who stated that the turn against Islam began with 9/11, the terrorist attack on the Twin Towers in New York and the Pentagon in Washington.

Mr Aykan said his community wants a new purpose-built grand mosque. He wondered why that was controversial, because the original mosque attracted no objections for thirty-five years.

Dunn commented that 25 per cent of his survey respondents opposed mosques being built in their neighbourhood. Martin stated that the opposition to mosques was marked by “hysteria surrounding Muslims” and had a “racial agenda”. “It’s a bit disturbing.” He then referred to increased racial abuse directed at Muslims, citing the statistic that 77 per cent of Muslim women have experienced “racism”.

Remarkably, neither the experts nor Martin noted the obvious difference between a makeshift mosque situated in a nondescript warehouse and a purpose-built grand mosque. Could it be that people knew what the differences would be—minarets, domes and ever more Muslims congregating in their suburb?

Perhaps the change in public attitudes towards Islam reflected experience? Martin himself documented the dramatic rise in Muslim worshippers at the mosque in recent years. A new mosque was needed because demand had grown from a few hundred in the 1980s to several thousand now. Friday evening prayers are crowded, taking up three floors of the building over two separate sessions. The program showed worshippers overflowing onto the footpath.

There was no attempt to understand why so many Australians oppose mosques. Again, there was no discussion of Muslim behaviour, including terrorism.

Then Martin introduced another experiment based around a Muslim woman, Rahila, dressed in a niqab, a headpiece that covers the face but not the eyes. The first person to show attention was a white man who proselytised: “Jesus loves you, because he made you.” Rahila was then criticised by a white man annoyed with her face covering. He told her, “We saved you from persecution. Then you dress like that! Why don’t you become part of our culture?” This incident demonstrated the unpleasant treatment that Muslim women can experience in public, though the criticism was cultural, not racial, and sought inclusion, not exclusion.

Next the actress was seen at a Reclaim Australia rally opposed to Islamic immigration. She was spoken to pleasantly by a white woman supporting the rally, who reassured her that she was safe.

Rahila got into an argument, then someone complained, and the police supervising the rally moved her on. They said she was endangering the peace. During her interaction with the police, another female Reclaim supporter gave loud evidence in her support, telling the police in forceful tones that Rahila had been peaceful. Thus a woman in a niqab received bystander support at an allegedly racist rally.

Martin commented that in opposing “Islamophobia”, there was still a long road ahead. But his own camera had revealed that Rahila was more often shown kindness than aggression, even at a Reclaim rally.

The program’s segment on Muslims stereotyped critics of Islam as racist and “Islamophobic”. There was no attempt to hear opposing sides, no consultation with experts to explain the disapproval of Muslims, no discussion with ordinary citizens critical of Islam. Instead the militant Reclaim rally was featured to represent that point of view.

Aborigines

Alleged racism against indigenous Australians came next. Viewers were informed that indigenous Australians now rank fourth in unpopularity behind Muslims, Middle Easterners and Africans. In the 1980s they were the most vilified group in the country. No explanation was provided. Instead scenes were shown of an Australian “Black Lives Matter” rally, where the speaker made various claims about disadvantage. One was that indigenous Australians suffer racial vilification due to “institutionalised racism”. Another was that they are the most incarcerated people on earth. Again, neither Martin nor his advisers offered an explanation.

One protester carried a placard showing an Aboriginal flag and the words: “Always was, always will be, Aboriginal land”, essentially the message delivered by acknowledgment-of-country ceremonies at Australian schools.

Martin stated that his great-great-grandmother was Aboriginal, a Kamilaroi woman, and that his ancestry has helped him feel passionately about Aboriginal disadvantage. This is quite an admission, that ethnic-identity helped motivate concern for indigenous disadvantage. Ray Martin is viewed as part of the ideological Left, but admits that he is partly motivated by ethnic identity, which is typically viewed as a right-wing value.

Professor Dunn reported that Aboriginal Australians experience racism at double the rate of other groups. Fully 65 per cent of Aborigines report being treated disrespectfully because of their race, while 58 per cent report being mistrusted because of their race. No explanation was provided for this invidious treatment, though the program implied that it was gratuitous, based on ignorance and bigotry.

Martin introduced Josh, a young Aboriginal man, who complained about disrespect and suspicion. He reported being followed in supermarkets and shops by security staff.

Instead of providing an explanation, Martin (of all people) was quick to judge the Australian public. He claimed that suspicion of Aboriginal criminality was unfair. He offered no statistics on Aboriginal crime rates, though such evidence would seem necessary to any judgment. In fact, indigenous crime rates, as measured by imprisonment rates, are high. The Australian Bureau of Statistics provides data indicating that in Victoria in 2016 indigenous people were imprisoned at thirteen times the rate of non-indigenous.[20] In Western Australia the ratio is 19.9 times, and for Australia as a whole the ratio is 15.2 times.

Martin’s team conducted an experiment involving Josh. First, a white actor used a hacksaw to cut through the chain securing a parked bicycle in a busy pedestrian area. Some bystanders noticed but no one objected. However, when Josh performed the same actions, police arrived and wrestled him to the ground. The film crew intervened to have him freed.

Martin expressed puzzlement. Why the different responses, when the only difference was race? Dunn was not surprised because his survey found that Aborigines experience more mistrust and disrespect than other citizens.

Because neither Dunn or Martin offered statistics on indigenous crime rates, the impression was given that white attitudes were gratuitous, not based at all on experience. And the context, the examples shown, and the filmed experiments made clear that the culprits were white.

It would have taken but a minute for Martin to put himself in the shoes of shopkeepers and cite some well-known statistics on indigenous crime rates. One of the program’s experts should have been able to explain that indigenous people are overrepresented thirteen-fold in the criminal courts and as a result draw the attention of shop managers. Why assume a racial motive?

Perhaps Australians have reason to fear young Aboriginal men in particular. In Western Australia Aboriginal boys and young men may show higher rates of offending. In that state in 2016, young people suffering from Foetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder are overrepresented among juvenile offenders. [21] Fully 70 per cent of juveniles suffering from FASD were indigenous, and 90 per cent were boys.

Regarding the police officer’s rough handling of Josh, Martin or one of his experts should have noted Bureau of Statistics data indicating that the most common offences for which indigenous people were imprisoned were acts intended to cause injury (33 per cent), while that type of offence was committed by only 17 per cent of non-indigenous prisoners.[22] Could it be that the officers were protecting themselves based on the reputation of Aboriginal offenders?

How could a responsible program not state facts so relevant to judging motivation? Such omissions were typical of the SBS program.

The next experiment centred on Bec, an Aboriginal woman, who reported that she was unfairly followed and disrespected in stores “all the time”. She claimed to have been subjected to bag searches her whole life. Martin added that research had shown that shopping centres were among the most notorious places for racist conduct, implying white-against-black discrimination.

Bec entered several shops, beginning with an up-market jewellery store. In all she was treated courteously. She was surprised. “This is not normal for me.” Martin and his team repeated the experiment with Bec over several days in different shopping centres. Again, staff were courteous. The program deserves praise for showing this footage. As a result of this positive result, Bec revised her lifelong attitude and declared herself unashamed of her Aboriginality.

Professor Dunn reported surveys indicating that only 9 per cent of Australians are hostile to Aborigines. Martin stated that this is a big improvement since 1967 when 90 per cent of Australians admitted to having prejudiced views towards Aboriginal people. He did not explain how this high rate of prejudice allowed 91 per cent of voters to consent to the 1967 referendum to include indigenous people in the census. If Australians were horribly racist in the 1960s, why did they demand that Aborigines be given equal rights?

Dunn’s comments were contradictory. On the one hand he was not surprised by the police officers’ harsh response to Josh because his research found high levels of mistrust and disrespect towards indigenous people. But neither was he surprised at Bec’s good treatment, claiming that only 9 per cent of Australians express hostility to Aborigines.

Going by the thirteen-fold imprisonment rate, it would have been reasonable for Martin to have explained why well-informed shopkeepers should not feel greater concern about shoppers of Aboriginal appearance, especially in the case of young men.

Changing Australians’ racist behaviour

Next Martin went to the Shannon Company, a specialist communications firm whose services include “Behaviour Change”. Martin wanted to find out how to change racist behaviour.

This looked promising until it became clear that Martin only wanted to change discrimination by Anglos against minorities. Minority behaviour did not interest him. He did not seek to reduce high rates of street crime and drunkenness, carjacking, rioting, home invasions, gang crime, anti-social behaviour, volunteering for overseas terrorist armies, the ethnic stacking of branches of political parties, voting along ethnic or religious lines, or the disparagement of Anzac Day or Australia Day.

The only racial and religious discrimination of interest to Martin and his experts was that shown by the Anglo majority. They did not allow for the fact that inter-group attitudes and behaviours can be based on experience. For them many mainstream Australians, but not minorities, are motivated by blind ignorance and bigotry.

Martin wondered aloud about the factors that might determine Australians’ bad racial attitudes. Ominously, he hinted it had something to do with “manipulation”. Then followed an illuminating lesson on how the media can manipulate beliefs.

Professor Dunn reported his research finding that attitudes can change surprisingly easily. One third of Australians are subject to sudden change in attitudes, “depending on the political discourse and the debates at the time”. No one noted that a willingness to change racial attitude is consistent with openness to evidence and reason.

Martin discussed the framing effect, by which the media and politicians can shape reports of the same events to create positive or negative attitudes. He introduced a marketing expert, Bill Shannon, who explained how framing works. The same event can be framed to yield different attitudes.

Martin asked him if selection of words and pictures influenced public attitudes towards asylum seekers? Shannon replied, no doubt about that. Viewers were then shown excerpts of an experiment at Shannon Company which changed participants’ attitudes towards asylum seekers by altering the framing of news reports. In the study, 78 per cent of participants changed their attitude towards the asylum seekers due to framing. Presumably such manipulation could be facilitated by systematic censorship of facts by individuals presented as experts.

Martin then implied that talkback radio and the commercial media often frame news stories to put immigrants and asylum seekers in a bad light. He did not name SBS or the ABC or the public education establishment but urged viewers to also question his show, and check its assertions. Good advice.

Program ending

Martin and the experts made concluding assessments about the state of racism in Australia. Martin thought not all was gloomy. Three quarters of those answering the survey thought that racism is a problem and that something should be done to fix it.

Professor Dunn concluded that Australia is and isn’t racist. Yes, we have a history of racism and some groups have bad experiences. But lots of Australians recognise that racism is a problem, which means there is also a lot of anti-racism. Professor Markus concluded that Australia has done better than the rest of the world, because integration is successful, and the economy is prosperous. Professor Jakubowicz, who helped research the program, thought that compared to other countries Australia rates fairly well. Nevertheless, he thought Australians should not be happy with that result.

Dunn stated that younger people are better than older, such that 86 per cent of eighteen-to-twenty-five-year-olds support racial diversity, compared to only 77 per cent of those over sixty-five. One reason for this is that schools have become effective in teaching anti-racism. Markus thought we might be seeing generational change. He stated that more people are tolerant, and many young people don’t see skin colour any more. Jakubowicz was careful not to let Australia off the hook, concluding that we are a country with a racist past trying not to have a racist future.

Martin was in a generous mood, concluding that Australia is not a racist country. He noted that Australians despise racism. They want to do something about it. “It is up to us how tolerant we are.”

Conclusion

This review of “Is Australia Racist?” reveals frequent shoddy scholarship and ideological bias. Programs of this low quality have been a hallmark of public broadcasting’s treatment of immigration and ethnic themes for almost half a century, mirrored by politicisation of the social sciences.

This program represents a betrayal of public broadcasting standards. It is acceptable for a program to take the perspective of an ethnic or religious group, so long as this does not degenerate into vilification, as this program did. It is unacceptable to break with basic standards of truth-telling at any point in any program. There should be balance across programs or channels, but balance has been missing from public broadcasting for decades, in violation of the ABC and SBS charters.

The appalling standard of the program must be sheeted home in large part to the four academics who collaborated in its making. They are part of the systemic politicisation of academia that originated in the 1960s.

Evidence of the intellectual corruption of the humanities and social science is widespread. Commenting on the leftist, pro-Obama, anti-Trump lean of the United States Studies Centre at Sydney University, Gerard Henderson attributed it to the fact that “the social science areas of most Australian—and most American—tertiary institutions are similar to the ABC. Namely, they are conservative-free zones where academics tend to agree with one another in a leftist kind of way. Any conservatives are reluctant to state their views in the public debate.” Leftist dominance has been too powerful for Liberal governments to oppose.[23]

The SBS program did not lean only to the Left. There is reason to doubt that multiculturalism is really a leftist phenomenon. The SBS program’s attack on Anglo-Australians reveals that, despite its rhetoric, it can be seen as coming not from the Left but from individuals motivated by ethnic loyalty. Multiculturalists mobilise ethnic constituents, their tribes, by alleging threats from another tribe, Anglo Australia. Such appeals to tribal loyalty are not modern or progressive.

An audit of free speech in Australian universities conducted by Matthew Lesh of the Institute of Public Affairs in 2016 found censorship being practised in 98 per cent of institutions.[24] Censorship was substantial in 80 per cent, moderate in 18 per cent, and absent from only one university, the University of New England.

While the multicultural Left holds on to its taxpayer-funded citadels in public broadcasting and education, citizens and students will continue to be indoctrinated with hateful lies about their nation and its history.

 

[1] Barrie Cassidy interview of Pauline Hanson, Insiders, ABC, 5 March 2017. http://iview.abc.net.au/programs/insiders/NC1715V004S00#playing

[2] “The ‘Is Australia Racist?’ survey was conducted by Professor Kevin Dunn at Western Sydney University. An online survey, using a commercial survey provider, of a total of 6001 Australians examined attitudes to cultural difference, tolerance of specific groups, ideology of nation, perceptions of Anglo-Celtic privilege, belief in racism, racial separatism and racial hierarchy, and experiences of racism.” http://www.sbs.com.au/guide/article/2017/02/01/face-racism-what-you-need-know?cid=inbody:santilla-chingaipe-tells-viewers-to-date-my-race, accessed 14 March 2017].

[3] Salter, F. (2002). Risky Transactions. Berghahn Press, London.

[4] Data from the 2016 census were probably not available when the program was being made.

[5] Data come from “Table 5 Prisoners, selected country of birth by selected most serious offences/charges”, http://www.abs.gov.au/AUSSTATS/[email protected]/DetailsPage/4517.02011, accessed 14 March 2017. For these most serious offences and charges, there were 89 Sudanese-born prisoners and 23,082 Australian-born prisoners. In 2011 there were 19,370 Sudanese-born residents in Australia (http://www.censusdata.abs.gov.au/census_services/getproduct/census/2011/quickstat/4105_0, accessed 13 March 2017). There were 16.96 mill. Australian-born residents.

The rates of imprisonment per 1000 were: 4.59 Sudanese-born, 1.36 Australian-born.

Subsidiary: In 2011, 75.4% of the Australian population was native born (http://abs.gov.au/websitedbs/censushome.nsf/home/CO-59, accessed 13 March 2017). Total population in 2011 = 22.5 million.

The calculations are rough approximations, because: (1) data are based on different years; (2) the imprisonment data do not include juveniles, who might account for a disproportionate share of the crime; and (3) for simplicity I used population data not broken down by age and sex. Also, I could not find imprisonment rates for Sudanese in Victoria, where the SBS documentary was filmed.

[7] Duffy, M. (2005). Freedom of speech takes a fall. The Sydney Morning Herald. Sydney, Fairfax.

[8] Bolt, A. (2010, 19 March). Tell truth on ethnic crime. Herald-Sun. http://www.heraldsun.com.au/opinion/tell-truth-on-ethnic-crime/story-e6frfhqf-1225842538542 (accessed 10 March 2017).

[9] Morri, M. (2014, 9 May). Former assistant police commissioner Ken McKay says African refugees pose a criminal threat. Daily Telegraph. http://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/news/nsw/former-assistant-police-commissioner-ken-mckay-says-african-refugees-pose-a-criminal-threat/story-fni0cx12-1226911642496 (accessed 9 May 2014).

[10] Ministry of Justice. (2011). The statistical bulletin of the Ministry of Justice on the public disorder of 6th-9th August 2011, as reviewed by David Starkey (2012). The 2011 English summer riots revisited. Telegraph, 5 August. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/uknews/law-and-order/9453633/The-2011-English-summer-riots-revisited.html, accessed 10 March 2017.

[13] Putnam, R. D. (2007). “E Pluribus Unum: Diversity and community in the twenty-first century. The 2006 Johan Skytte Prize lecture.” Scandinavian Political Studies 30: 137-174.

[14] Salter, F. (2016). A social impact study of mosques in Australian neighbourhoods. Social Technologies Consultancy, Sydney. https://www.dropbox.com/s/6ozdq0c45mc42w0/Salter160707mosqueSIA.pdf?dl=0

[15] Salter, F. K. (2007). Ethnic nepotism as heuristic: Risky transactions and public altruism. Oxford handbook of evolutionary psychology. R. I. M. Dunbar and L. Barrett. Oxford, Oxford University Press: 541-551.

[16] Professor Paradies assumes that racial discrimination is generally caused by belief in group superiority. That is an unsupported assertion and runs counter to the academic literature on ethnic relations.

[17] Miller, C. (2017). “Australia’s anti-Islam right in their own words. Text as data analysis of social media content.” Australian Journal of Political Science 52(3): 383-401, http://dx.doi.org/310.1080/10361146.10362017.11324561, p. 384.

[18] Morgan, R. (2013). Australian attitudes to Islam: National omnibus poll. Melbourne: Q Society, http://www.qsociety.org.au/downloads/QSoc_Morgan_Poll_Islam.pdf, accessed 8 June 2016.

[20] Australian Bureau of Statistics (2016). Table 16 Imprisonment rate, selected characteristics by state/territory. http://www.abs.gov.au/AUSSTATS/[email protected]/DetailsPage/4517.02016?OpenDocument, accessed 14 March 2017.

[21] Paige Taylor (2017). One in three juvenile offenders have FASD, The Australian, 3 March 2017, p. 4. http://www.theaustralian.com.au/national-affairs/one-in-three-juvenile-offenders-have-foetal-alcohol-spectrum-disorder/news-story/80da7569c316c734b3099979e7e684f8.

FASD inhibits rehabilitation partly due to the very low IQs associated with it.

[23] Henderson, Gerard (2017). Conservative values not safe in liberal academic hands. The Weekend Australian, 1-2 April, p. 22. http://www.theaustralian.com.au/opinion/columnists/gerard-henderson/conservative-values-and-money-unsafe-in-liberal-academic-hands/news-story/2b357640f0eddfdaf6e9403a8ec1c94b, accessed 4 April 2017.

[24] Lesh, Matthew (2016). Free speech on campus audit 2016, Institute of Public Affairs. http://ipa.org.au/publications/2496/free-speech-on-campus-audit-2016, accessed 4 April 2017.

Comments [15]

  1. Egil says:

    Manipulation of truth/facts is core MO of the left, something this analysis efficiently confirms.
    The adaptation and/or redefinition of words and terms to their liking,
    is something they are clever at and pursue relentlessly.
    Referring to themselves as progressives, for instance, is plain daylight robbery of a positive term.
    They have not earned the term in any way or form.
    Consequently they should be referred to as “progressives” or regressives if accuracy matters.
    That they now redefine the term racism to include muslims, is a disturbing example of how “progressives”
    and “intellectuals” willingly/purposefully distort reality and impose their political correctness.
    If I, for arguably good reasons, question/criticize Islam when talking to a white/black/brown, whatever race Muslim,
    I am questioning/criticizing a culture/religion/justice system/political system.
    There is no race component.
    This is so obvious that only a “progressive” “intellectual” with a political agenda would fail to notice it.

    • ianl says:

      > ” … only a “progressive” “intellectual” with a political agenda would fail to notice it”

      Such people do not *fail* to notice, Egil, they simply trample over the fact. As you correctly say, unilateral redefinition of words such as race is a useful tool for them. Race now includes cultural concepts, they have decided, so that criticising some cultural aspect can and will be smeared as racist. The vicious use of the word “denier” is another sharp example.

  2. Bran Dee says:

    Maybe “progressives” are really ‘churners’. Forever reaching for something new and revolutionary but which often has been tried before under another name in another age. They try Marxism, socialism, Leninism, communism, Green environmentalism; so churning from one Utopian deception to another and then back to the start.
    Intermarriage bridges racial divides and mixed blood Ray Martin could be a testimony to this racial reconciliation but instead he makes mischief.
    FK Salter has exhibited restraint under provocation. Well done.

  3. Jody says:

    As Noel Pearson says, “the soft bigotry of low expectations”.

  4. As I wrote replying to the article by Keith Windshuttle, “…the settlement of Australia by a more advanced people/civilisation than aboriginal society was inevitable. More, the settlement by the British was the most benign in recorded human history. Whenever somebody wants to lecture me on the virtues of ‘reconciliation’ [whatever it is supposed to mean] I always ask who am I supposed to be reconciled with? Descendants of the first wave of aboriginal migrants? Or the descendants of the latter aboriginal migration waves?
    I would also add for the benefit of the Ray Martins and other leftists – is everybody who doesn’t want his/her daughters or grand-daughters to undergo FMG Islamophobic? Is Thomas Sowell [to my mind the USA's premier living economist/philosopher - and a negro/African American] a ‘racist’ because he has stated on more than one occasion that he feels safer in predominantly white communities than he does when in majority black communities?

  5. Salome says:

    What’s this ‘Anglo’ nonsense? ‘Anglo’ isn’t a word by itself–it’s the first half of a compound. So, Anglo-WHAT? If we’re not allowed to use perfectly reasonable compounds like Afro-American or Afro-Caribbean for fear of insulting people of African heritage, then I hardly see how Anglo-nothing doesn’t insult people of English heritage.

  6. Alistair says:

    They are a sad group of individuals still hanging on desperately for the great backlash which will demonstrate for all time just how racist we are.

  7. Tricone says:

    There was intermarriage between settlers and aborigines practically since day 1.

    Talking about “white Australians” and “indigenous Australians” as if they are discrete homogenous groups is the real racism. Naturally, greatly promoted by ABC, SBS and other interested parties who make careers out of division.

    It was only a few years ago that the BBC was reporting concerns about loss of culture among aboriginals since now around 50% “marry out”.

  8. Keith Kennelly says:

    Ray Martin is merely another discredited journalist flailing about trying to remain relevant.

    He often now simply also comes across as another frustrated left wing politician.

  9. padraic says:

    Excellent article. SBS is the pits when it comes to racially abusing us older Australians (i.e. the ones who opened up the immigration floodgates after WW2 out of compassion). Recently Steve Bannon, in relation to the USA, said “We are not a nation of migrants; we are a nation of citizens.” and in November this year Tanya Plibersek said “All school kids should be encouraged to learn the citizenship pledge and recite it at school” (Not bad for someone who has previously said “Australia is a nation of migrants”). If these two concepts were adopted it would assist in integration. There are two versions of the pledge – one mentions God and the other does not. This one is the same except for the words “under God”. ……………..

    “From this time forward I pledge my loyalty to Australia and its people. whose democratic beliefs I share, whose rights and liberties I respect, and whose laws I will uphold and obey.” If that was said daily in schools by impressionable young children it would lead them to a respect for the law and to having pride in their country – more relevant towards good citizenship than are lessons in gender fluidity.

    As I have mentioned before, formalized “multiculturalism” is putting our migrants in ethnic boxes thus isolating them from the mainstream and treating them as mini countries within our country, complete with “spokesmen”. Victoria is the worst practitioner of the new racism. It’s no wonder their kids feel isolated. It is the new Left racism, but dressed up in the faux clothes of “caring”. And so patronizing – migrants from Commonwealth countries in Africa and others like India or Canada lived in countries with almost the same systems as ours of law and jurisprudence, education, medicine, commerce, parliament, military, policing etc and particularly the English language which is the official language in Zambia for instance and is used in India. Migrants from these Commonwealth countries are more likely to fit in more quickly than those from China or Afghanistan, for example, and should not be encouraged to form their “multicultural” ghettos.

    In the past, migrants formed social or cultural clubs and similar organisations but these were informal and no “spokesmen” were involved. Outside these meeting places the migrants conducted their lives as mainstream citizens and were proud citizens of their new country. SBS is different – full of self loathing losers and racists.

  10. Lawrie Ayres says:

    The left is wholly funded by taxpayers. The ABC the universities, the education system, the public service are all taxpayer funded so the answer is to defund those we can and restrict the others. Universities should be wholly responsible for their own funding as any other business selling a product, in their case, a degree. Being responsible for the collection of student fees might concentrate the university focus on providing degrees only in areas where employment is assured. The arts would be the big losers along with the leftist professors.

    • whitelaughter says:

      The simplest way to begin this would be to link govt funding to the repaid of student debts such as HECS; this would strangle the burger flipping degrees. Linking the funding to economic growth could also help: students might find protesting Adani less tempting if a closed mine means reduced Austudy.

      The current govt’s claim that they can’t get cuts through is bollocks. All govt money bills must be renewed annually; simply refusing to pass any money bills for an govt org with blocked cuts would deal with the matter.

  11. Losthope says:

    With the fear of getting personal, would you expect anything less of Ray Martin. Clearly, his 60 minutes emotive bias is difficult to shake .

  12. Losthope says:

    Oh, and one more point, where does Ray live? Next to a mosque, surround by Sudanese gangs? No isn’t hink so .