Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Australians racist? Not even

Gavin Atkins has given an Australian's perspective on Randeep Hooda's earlier piece on racism in Australia. Now it's my turn.

I don't see the assaults and robberies of Indians in Australia as necessarily racist acts although some might well be. Here's an example from personal experience (Oh No! this crazy Beck guy is going to tell us another boring personal story); you decide if it's relevant.

Back in the 1970s I several times visited a friend living and studying in San Miguel de Allende, Mexico, just north of Mexico City. Americans were very popular with the business community but not so much so amongst the less well-off locals. Many of the young bucks, who hung out in groups, were outright antagonistic to Yanks. Walking around town could be a real adventure. The young hoons would gawk at us, talking animatedly amongst themselves as we approached, often laughing loudly and passing rude comments, making it obvious they thought us ridiculous. Hoons on the move had the right of way: if you didn't give them a wide berth they'd hip and shoulder you.Young females (many inclined to tempt fate by dressing provocatively) were special targets, often suffering a combination bump-grope (I told you not to wear that halter top) accompanied by the inevitable "whore" jibe. It was even more scary at night – best to not venture out of the well-lit areas in the town centre. Robberies and minor assaults weren't an everyday event but did happen.

Many foreigners lived in compounds surrounded by formidable glass shard-topped walls. Break ins were nonetheless common. In one particularly nasty incident two thugs made it over a wall, past a German Shepard and into a residence where they sexually assaulted a female and beat up her companion, making off with everything they could carry.

Were these incidents racially motivated? Not in my opinion. The young local males identified foreigners by appearnce but couldn't have cared less about where they were from. Nope, they resented us because we were outsiders on their territory who were better off than they were. Even more provocative, we had bright futures whereas these guys had no realistic hope of significantly improving their lot in life, ever. Stealing our stuff and giving us a good thumping would have been very satisfying.

It's probably pretty much the same here in Australia. Ockers target young upwardly mobile Indians more due to envy than racism.

Randeep is definitely right about Aussies insulting foreigners, however; it's part of Australian culture. Everyone insults everyone else's nationality or race, or both. Hell, I even make sarcastic remarks to my doctor about being from Ghana – he's a top bloke and I obviously wouldn't let him treat me if I thought him less than competent. I really couldn't care less where he's from or that he's about as black as it's possible to be. In fact he's so black.. Oops, better save that for later.

And boy, do I ever cop plenty of abuse: Americans are all stupid (elected that ass-hole Bush not once but twice, didn't you), fast-food-eating, loud-mouthed, gun obsessed weirdos who want to take over the world. Hmm, come to think of it... Anyway, "septic tank" is Aussie rhyming slang for Yank, invariably shortened to simply "septic". That's when I'm not being referred to as a "fuckin' American", not offence intended. And oddly, any Aussie that calls you "bastard" will likely be a friend for life.

In short, down under everybody insults everybody. So it's not at all suprising that Randeep was called a "curry muncher"; in Australia that's almost a term of affection.

Update: For a nationality and race insults blast from the past go here – don't come crying to me if you're offended.


Anonymous Sanj said...

I get where you're coming from JF but on reading Randeep's piece I think he's more pointing towards getting a bit of respect by standing up for yourself or by embracing the culture and joining in with the banter.

5:35 PM  
Anonymous 1.618 said...

Good stuff!

7:43 PM  

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