Right-wing media falsehoods at heart of racial hatred

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(Twitter image via @johndory49)

With Sydney Swans champion Adam Goodes set to return to senior AFL footy today, the racists who hounded him from the field are being named at last. Alan Austin fills in some gaps. And proposes the solution.

ADAM GOODES is not the first prominent Indigenous sportsperson to expose racism in Australia aggressively. So why is he copping the sustained, highly public battering never meted out to Charlie Perkins, Michael Long, Nicky Winmar or Nova Peris?

Nor is he the first Indigenous Australian of the Year to have spoken out. So why were Mick Dodson, Lowitja O’Donoghue and Galarrwuy Yunupingu never openly booed?

The answer is that none of those was vilified by the arrayed forces of the Murdoch media and commercial radio shock jocks who – with their empires crumbling – foment racial hatred to maintain audience and power.

Some courageous media outlets have identified those leading the racist attacks on Goodes. Independent Australia on Monday named 2GB’s Alan Jones – found guilty of inciting racial hatred in the 2005 Sydney race riots – and Murdoch columnist Andrew Bolt – also found to be a racist in Eatock v Bolt in 2011. It also named Daily Telegraph columnist Miranda Devine.

Bolt and Jones are the lions of Leyonhjelm’s loopy libertarians, the blue-eyed boys of Brandis’s bigots. Others have joined them in attacking Goodes.

The ABC’s Media Watch on Monday outed these three plus Murdoch’s Rita Panahi and Paul Murray, Fairfax’s Paul Sheehan and ex-footballers Sam Newman, Karl Langdon and Jason Akermanis.

New Matilda also identified 3AW’s Neil Mitchell and Professor Barry Spurr.

These have been named but not necessarily shamed. As Andrew Bolt demonstrated emphatically, lying about marginalised Indigenous people, inciting hatred and then losing a high profile Federal Court case is a sure fire route to success inside a racist industry.

Justice Mordecai Bromberg found that Bolt had violated the racial discrimination act by fabricating many deliberate lies – more than 19 by our count – about the people identified.

He found that falsehoods are central to racism:

‘Untruths are at the heart of racial prejudice and intolerance. When not misused, truth will not generally cause the kind of offence section 18C [of the racial discrimination act] is concerned with. Untruths generally will and regularly do.’ (paragraph 390)

So what are the falsehoods relating to Adam Goodes? There are at least eight.

1. This is not about race

As he did in the Eatock matter, Bolt denies his attacks on Goodes are racially motivated:

‘No, Goodes is not booed because of his “race” – with ugly exceptions – but because of what he does.’

The judge was not persuaded in 2011. Nor should anyone be now.

2. Goodes intimidated a young girl who called him an ape

Bolt said:

‘Singling out a girl for public humiliation, like that, I thought was wrong ...’

Goodes did not choose to humiliate the girl. The AFL protocols urge players to report racial taunts. Goodes was following procedures.

Intriguingly, The Australian actually got this right when slapping Bolt down in the current in-house spat between Murdoch’s national broadsheet and its opinion writer for the state papers.

Chip Le Grand wrote:

She [the 13 year-old girl] also wrote a letter to Goodes: “Dear Adam. It was good to talk to you on the phone. I’m sorry for being racist. I didn’t mean any harm ...”

That is where the story should have ended. Instead, it is being ­reprised and twisted to cast Goodes as a rich and powerful sports star who bullied a little girl.

Correct. Just a pity The Australian didn’t name those doing the malicious twisting.

Goodes: "not her fault, she's 13 .. I don't put any blame on her...the person who needs the most support right now is that little girl.."

3. Goodes does not deserve to be 2014 Australian of the Year

According to Neil Mitchell:

“It is unfortunate in retrospect that Adam was made Australian of the Year. Because it all seems to have come from that. It’s turned him into a politician.”

Miranda Devine’s tawdry attack was headed ‘Adam Goodes is a bad choice for Australian of the Year’.

4. Goodes used his role as Australian of the Year to trash his nation

Andrew Bolt again:

‘Yet Goodes was rewarded for his disproportionate reaction by being named Australian of the Year, a position he used to trash the country that had awarded him this great honour.’

The opposite is true. His speeches reveal pride in his country and in both sides of his ancestry, along with an honest assessment of issues still unresolved:

“I hope we can be proud of our heritage regardless of the colour of our skin and be proud to be Australian ... I'm so grateful for this award and this honour, however ... the ultimate reward is when all Australians see each other as equals and treat each other as equals.”

5. His mimed spear-throwing war dance displayed physical aggression

An incensed Sam Newman told Goodes via Channel Nine’s Footy Show that his war dance in May "goaded" and "provoked" opposition fans:

“If you’re going to provoke people ... by the gesture of spear-throwing at a crowd, a cheer squad, you better not be surprised if you get ... a reaction.”

First, there was no forward thrust of the right arm at all, as the video clearly shows. Whatever imaginary item the raised hand was holding was not thrown.

According to Goodes himself, the dance was a tribute, not a provocation.

Melbourne flash mob does spear-carrying war dance in support of Goodes - brilliant!

6. Goodes plays the victim so just needs to toughen up

According to Alan Jones:

“The man is always a victim, then he became Australian of the Year and tells us that we’re all racists, every time he speaks ...”

Neil Mitchell used the term "fragile" three times within a minute in one interview.

This may be valid if the verbal abuse only impacted him.

But as Goodes insists, it doesn’t:

“I have family members who can’t take it as well as I can. They react with violence, with drinking, drugs. These types of things are a coping mechanism because people don’t understand how much racial abuse can hurt people. It can put people into depression ...”

7. Racism is no longer a serious issue in Australia

Neil Mitchell again:

“I’m sick of the continued sniping. At times Adam Goodes seems not to like Australia ... Yes, parts of our history are not decent but we have moved on from that.”

No. The fact that so many commentators, including Mitchell, are outraged at Goodes’ moderate activism is evidence the nation has not moved on.

8. Uppity blackfellers who bite the hand that feeds them must be punished.

“They’re booing Adam Goodes because they don’t like him, and they don’t like his behaviour, they don’t like the spear-throwing and the running in and doing a war dance and so on and provoking people ... Adam Goodes can fix all this by changing his behaviour.”

That from Alan Jones is strikingly similar to Bolt’s victim blaming in the articles which ran afoul of the racial discrimination act in 2011. The judge found:

‘The language was not simply colourful, as Mr Bolt’s counsel described it. It was language chosen by Mr Bolt in writing articles intended to confront those that he accused with “the consequences of their actions” and done with the expectation that they would be both “offended” and “upset” and in the hope that they would be “remorseful” (the words quoted are Mr Bolt’s).’ (paragraph 412)

Bolt's tilt to host Media Watch - Definitely experienced says Micallef: inflammatory, distorts the truth, disrespectful, intimadatory 

This journalism, the judge determined, was motivated by racial hatred.

Can this be excised from Australia’s sporting and cultural life? Yes, it can. It requires a simple boycott of employers of the writers who incite this hatred, and of advertisers who pay them.

Pass this downfield. Maintain offensive pressure. Until the siren.

You can follow Alan Austin on Twitter @AlanTheAmazing.

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