Helen Razer On Making Australia Racist-er Again #MARA


As the furore over an Australian cartoon about American tennis player Serena Williams rages on, Helen Razer calls game, set and match on the low hanging fruit of racial outrage.

Is Australia Racist?

Great, and at last. A fresh question for our debate-o-tainment.

Is Australia Racist??

Let the contest of ideas begin.

Of course, the answer will be “NO”.  Few of us suspect a nation established in violent, racist theft might have some lingering issues with racism. (You touch up a brutal invasion with the frail colonial lie that they cannot possibly be human ONE TIME.)  But, to truly learn if Australia, whose immigration policies are openly championed by Europe’s hard-as-hate anti-immigration right-wing, is racist? What a thrill ride this will be. Are there one or two racist items left in Australia’s shed of crazed denial (shed next to figurines of much-adored concrete native, not shed still holding Aboriginal children in torture conditions) we must debate.

This important debate was provoked by a drawing. Claimed as a likeness of Serena Williams, the alleged drawing gave me no visual hint of that great athlete at all. For a time, I did not know what this object might be and then I recognised it as the work of a traumatised patient.

My particular guess: the artist was a teen newly rescued from a Gippsland supremacy-and-baking cult and the art was produced when Nurse asked him to draw his feelings about Grand White Guru Wizard Tim. New Matilda notes that reports have since emerged that a “Murdoch pissdrip” called Mark or Sharlene or similar shat the thing out after eating a full box of Faber-Castells in one of her many office attempts at self-harm. We may never know the truth.

What do we know? That THIS is a spanker of a question. Is Australia Racist? Or, better: can we Make Australia Racister Again? #MARA

Important White Australians consider such questions today, as they are legally obliged to do. They will soon Start the Conversation on breakfast television, they will next Raise Awareness on Q&A and in time will make the very prudent choice of Steve “Honk if You Heart Ethno-nationalism” Bannon for moderator in chief.

Sure. You may not agree with Steve’s efficient and colossal distribution of explicitly racist lies about the Blacks, the Muslims or the Mexicans. But, you must agree with Leigh Sales and Sarah Ferguson and Tracey Spicer that the free expression of an asset-rich tub of Goldman Sachs shit who did nothing but express his stink freely and at maximum dribble for years before plopping, empty, into history’s remainder bin everywhere but this stupid place is “super-smart”. Ms Spicer claimed this as the opinion of her young son. If it is true that Spicer Jr mistook Steven’s account of the “white working class” as the truest and most powerful evil in the USA for “alternative facts”, well. Lock our alt-liter of the future into a date with Tony Jones right now.

Is Australia Racist? Tony wants to know.

“No. It is impossible to be racist, for I am Spicer, the Intellectual Dark Web. I am excessively delighted to be white, but this does not mean that my Web is all White. There may be no — how does the communist fuckboi say? — Person of Complexion on my Web. But I am open to that continuing to be the non-racist case for as long as the white working-class demands that I tell it things it did not previously think. Further. Ours is a nation-place whose moneyed elite dresses only in foreign suits. From Italy. Which is a race of course, last time I checked. And, yes, Tony, perhaps my bestselling guide to good posture always when smacking a bitch does make me the Jordan Peterson of our days, but this is a matter for the history men to put down in White English, perhaps in books.”

Slow down, Helen. Steady yourself, as Julia Gillard did not before extending the life of the Northern Territory intervention and imposing surveillance, curious punishment and a loss of the most basic rights on Aboriginal people for, um, reasons. Which were likely cartoons.

Before deciding on our Racist Australia Rating by poll, we will ask “is this racist picture of very evident racism racist?” We do this for a solid week. This will serve the pleasure of the genuine racists, the reactionary opportunists who wield racism as a tool of division and control while attributing their own invention to the “white working class”, the stupid journalists who so eagerly mistake the little charge of danger in their pants for The Conversation Australia Has To Have and, of course, those white liberals whose chance to say “I condemn this racist picture” comes but once a week.

However, I must admit that I have inspected the image for racism and come to a decision. I find it to be racist. I am no authority in the rich visual history of racism and racist acts of all sorts go unnoticed by me, particularly if these are my own. Even so, this racism is hard not to spot.  This is not “blink and you’ll miss it” racism. It is racist in the style of the ALP Right at a Chinese restaurant. One that very briefly failed to deliver five prawn toasts to the mouths of the faceless men.

Spanker of a question, though. Can’t wait for the answers on the telly. You know. Those answers that fail to answer, but succeed as powerful branding messages for that always-on-the-panel White Polemicist. That Important Thinker who’d endorse the taste of child-flesh if they suspected it would sell their shit to Paleo Dads, Co-sleeping Mums and other early adopters.

Is Australia Racist? Tony wants to know.

“As an intersectional feminist with white and cis privilege and a new baby who will select their gender from the genders I describe in my new book about genders all of which I researched in my own imagination, I believe it is essential to raise my voice in solidarity with my new speaking tour, which bravely engages the topic of Why I Care About Racism Probably Loads More Than You, and say with no fear that I am the least racist and the very angriest about racism in every capital city throughout the month of November. A VIP anti-racist luxury experience of me, available at Ticketek now. ”

The question. Of this white week and our ruling class. Is Australia Racist?!!

Great topic. And, new. Shiny and new, like a virgin. I am like a virgin. I am exactly her, touched down-there for the first time since Wednesday after lunch. Touched by another cycle of hand-shandies addressing the same question as though it were even permissible or human to ask.

If ‘Is Australia Racist’ is a new deliberation, then I have never truly known the contours of my down-there. If Australia isn’t racist, then I guess we can say old Jimmy Cook really won the first ever ‘Is Australia Racist’ panel show debate when he declared Terra Nullius, which is a Latin phrase meaning “Can’t be racist. No-one here to racist at. Checkmate!”

This will continue. This question that is not a question and is posed only to serve those whose comfort is re-established by their relation to it. I am not a racist. I am a racist. I am an anti-racist or I am a non-racist free-thinking brand.

If the measure of racism were a genuine concern for those establishment figures who say the rate is so low as to be imperceptible or so high, they personally feel its pain, then they would really learn to measure. They would not speak only when directed to by Murdoch. They would be routinely enraged or unmoved by things outside a cartoon. They would reconsider that the racist picture is not the origin of racism itself, they would look to the reality that produced it.

They would count the deaths, the surveillance, the cruel incarceration, the policy, of which there is record. They would understand that their eager denial or affirmation of racism within a cartoon is not a hard-won truth, but itself an obfuscation of the truth in which they claim such interest.

To say that “this is not my Australia” or to say “this is a free Australia that makes me unashamed” is to be satisfied by a drawing. To be satisfied that Australia is just non-racist you, not a racist complex.  To be satisfied with the merest hint of the force of racism.

And, no, I’m not claiming to chase that truth with real commitment. I do not claim to be pure, good, or to have great sensitivity to racism or any anti-racist or free speech expertise. I claim only that there is a pattern which is not so hard to recall.

It goes like this:  white orgasms of shame or pride explode when Rupert’s mob gets the tip-off that it’s time for the Leading Voices to be led away from the possibility of talking about Australia. Outside cartoons. We who do not lead now follow this big conversation away from Australia in its entirety..  We speak strongly about racism, but we are as estranged from the ostensible strength of our speech. And, we have been hopeless in forming a view about the thing we all agree is bad—not one of wants to be known as a racist, right?—and how it is maintained and made new like a virgin

And THEN. We say: Let’s Start the Conversation. And we converse about nothing much at all.

I propose that we Stop the Conversation. I propose that a complex like racism does not start with a cartoon. I propose that the cartoon has a minor role in this #MARA. I propose that to Call Out one person, one cartoon, one film that is disagreeable or important for its bravely pro-free racist speech will bring us no knowledge at all.

I propose that respectful debate is a crock and that it is not had by us. It is had by the same seven clones. And we are misled that their speech is free, and not in the service of their political or brand power. We believe that their ideas are the only ideas and so the same jaded white unconscious shouts the same idea from us.

We are talking white shit. We are recycling white shit in our heads. We are so faithful to this received non-thought and so overwhelmed by the possibility that we may appear racist, we just cannot identify the complex and the patterns of racism.

It’s not that you’re a racist. Nobody is. We’re just too busy looking for the evidence of racism, we will fail to know the crime.

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Helen Razer in an Australian writer, author and avowed Marxist. She is based in Melbourne and writes regularly for Crikey.com