The R-word

My post on Keith Windschuttle’s statements defending the White Australia policy drew an interesting response. No-one, as far I can see, was prepared to defend Windschuttle outright, but there was a sudden and startling outbreak of caution. Maybe Windschuttle had been misquoted. Maybe the interview gave a misleading picture of his book and we should all wait to read it. Maybe the term “White Australia policy” was never used officially. Maybe the dictation test was administered so as to admit educated Indians. Maybe my links were inaccurate.

All of this is very uncharacteristic of the blogosphere. The nature of blogging lends itself to summary judgements based on limited evidence, not waiting for years until all the evidence is in. You read the papers, make a judgement and (at least among the better class of bloggers) if you turn out to be wrong, you admit it with good grace. Why has the response in this case been so different ?

I think it’s because of the R-word racism. There is only one real instance of political correctness in Australia today and that is that you are never, ever allowed to call anyone a racist. It’s OK to say that Adolf Hitler was a racist, and that apartheid was racist, but the idea that any actual Australian could be a racist is utterly taboo. Even I can’t resist the Zeitgeist on this one. In my post, I called Windschuttle “a consistent apologist for racism, happy to use racist arguments in support of his cause”.

It’s obvious why this taboo has emerged. Racism is an evil, bloodstained ideology and no one wants to admit association with it. Hence, almost no-one is silly enough to come out with a clear-cut statement like “white people are inherently superior to black people, and should be able to use them as they see fit”.

In this respect, racism is very similar to Communism. But while few people were willing to endorse Soviet Communism openly, particularly after the purges and the exposures of Kruschchev’s secret speech, there were plenty who were always willing to make excuses for the communists along the lines of “you can’t make an omelette without breaking eggs” and so on. With his characteristic turn of phrase, Lenin called people of this type “fellow travellers” to their faces and “useful idiots” behind their backs.

Since his (still unexplained) swing from far left to far right about a decade ago, Windschuttle has consistently sought to excuse racist actions by whites (or, more precisely, British whites) by the usual range of strategies including denial of the facts, quibbling about irrelevant details, denunciation of witnesses and attacks on the victims as subhumans responsible for their own demise[1]. But, in politically correct Australia, that’s not enough reason to call him a racist. So, I’ll just call him a fellow-traveller.

fn1. There’s an obvious model for this kind of thing in the recent historical literature, but I’ll leave the identification as an exercise for readers.

In case people have forgotten Windschuttle’s track record on matters of this kind let’s look at a couple of examples of blatant inconsistency, invariably operating to put whites who might be accused of racism in a good light, and blacks in a bad one. In his book on Tasmania, Windschuttle denies that Aborigines resisting white occupation could be viewed as displaying humanity or compassion on the basis of claims (for which he had almost zero evidence) that they had no words for these concepts. On the other hand, in claiming that the Aborigines were responsible for their own extinction, he accuses them of prostituting their women, a concept that is meaningless in a society without money or formal concepts of trade (leaving aside the well-documented and widespread incidence of rape).

In the interview promoting his new book on White Australia, Windschuttle supports the view, often stated by apologists for the policy, that it was the product of economic incentives. By contrast, in this New Criterion piece on the history of the British Empire, Windschuttle defends the view that the British abolition of slavery was due to moral revulsion rather than economic motives. In other words, when the British (taken here to include white Australians) do the right thing, this is evidence of the moral superiority of British/Christian civilisation. When they do the wrong thing, it’s a “rational and, in a number of ways, progressive, product” of economic circumstances.

If you want to confirm all this, I have a long essay here or you can search the site for chapter and verse.

197 thoughts on “The R-word

  1. Worth reading Windschuttle’s article in today’s Australian. While he may somewhat overstate his case, he also mounts a pretty good argument that others have overstated the opposing case, by a considerably greater margin.

  2. Thanks John.

    It is worthy to note that this applies to white racism as much as black, or brown, or pink with purple pokadots.

    You should be thankful for not ever being the subject of racism. It is not a pleasant experience. In my observation (and experience) people tend to have one of two reactions to it – they either respond violently (physical or verbal) to their assailant, or are so shocked by the unexpectadness of the assault that they curl up into a little ball or run away. This may be sudden in the street, or maybe covert in a workplace. The bottom line is that it hurts. I hope you all remember that when you form your discussion pieces, especially when you contemplate accusing your foes of being “intellectual elites”. Ha!.

    None of this of course detracts from one’s right to form opinions on the matter. It merely gives us all a better understanding of how someone’s opinions form and may lend credibility to said opinion given that this is an issue that happens to be experienced by real people on the ground and not at the comfort of one’s computer (at least where it counts the most).

    But don’t worry John, you’ve got plenty of credibility to throw around. You’re testimonials on the front page are evidence of that.

  3. JC, I’ve been a victim of racism. You see, I’m white, and when I was a child in the newly independent former Belgian Congo, the Force Publique mutinied and started killing all the whites they could find, and never mind whether they were Belgian or not. The Luluabourg community was besieged in a block of flats for three days until a local Belgain paratroop colonel disobeyed orders and made a drop to save us.

    That’s why I take examples of racism as much less serious when they fall materially short of atrocities.

  4. JQ asked for specific experiences of racism.

    I recently asked the same question of my Beijing-born girlfriend, who has lived here since 1990. She says that she’s only had one experience, when an “old lady” muttered something to her at a bus stop.

    For the record, she believes that Australia is likely the least racist country on earth. She says that Chinese society is far more racist.

  5. Katz… I never said potential equals achievement. I also agree that all people are equally deserving of opportunities to develop (despite your weird implication that I don’t).

    I never argued for removing the rights of individuals or that certain classes of humans are inferior. I never argued for discriminatory treatment.

    Are you making this up as you go? You missed the bit about me eating babbies and clubbing penguins. I am also responsible for the Vietnam war, world hunger and reality TV.

    As for experiencing racism… anybody who has been to asian or africa has likely experienced racism (I have plenty of times). In Australia — not as much. Nothing that offended me… just the casual racism of my singapore friends.

  6. Alex — of course you could be Mozart! Or Thorpe. Or Michael Jordan! We all have identical potential! If you question this — you’re an evil racist. 🙂

    btw… from most of my conversations with my asian friends in Australia — they are far more racist to others than others are to them. We joke about it a bit. They say “I’m not racist… but indians are XYZ and you white people are ABC” 🙂 Nobody really gets offended in those conversations because they all (including chinese, indian, malay) all simply assume that racism is normal. When I question them on it, they look at me funny as though I’m talking about an alien concept. Then they say: “typical comment from a white guy”! 😉 lol

    Oh, but I forgot. It’s the white people that are evil. Actually white men. Heterosexual white men. Middle class heterosexual white men. I feel so ashamed.

  7. I’ve never (to my knowledge) been a victim of racist words or acts, but as an Anglo-Celtic child and adolescent at moderately multi-ethnic schools in Melbourne, I was both a witness and a perpetrator (mainly repeating spiteful nonsense about the diets of particular ethnic groups) until I saw the error of my ways at the age of 15.

    In the subsequent thirty years, in the course of taxi journeys, hitch-hiking trips, overhearing conversations in public bars, and participating in conversations with unenlightened friends of friends, I have seen and heard more of the same, and worse, such as the Sydney taxi driver who regretted that our colonist ancestors weren’t more liberal with the poisoned flour. No fine distinctions between racism and culturalism there.

  8. Jack Strocchi,

    Categorisations of “out groups” are very flexible. Read L. Curtis Perry’s “Apes and Angels” on English attitudes to the Irish in the nineteenth century. According to dominant English opinion, the Irish represented the polar opposite to the English to a much greater degree than almost all other groups (races)at the time.

    Today there are some vestiges of these attitudes towards the Irish abroad in England, but racist attitudes, where they exist, have found other targets. I believe that the history of anti-Irish attitudes in England is a fair model for the evolution of racism in many places, including Australia.

    So long as popular prejudice is not reinforced and nourished by public policy the hatred and fear of a specific group of outsiders dissipates over time.

    I may be overstating the case, but it seems to me that our globalising world simply cannot accommodate pockets of xenophobia and ethnocentrism that are too blatant in the eyes of world opinion. This will be more true after the tragically misguided attempt by the United States to transform itself into the Middle Kingdom collapses under the weight of its financial and emotional costs.

    Indicative of the emotional fragility of the US today is the urgency with which Bush is hosing down the panic-inducing idea that the US food supply is subject to terrorist contamination. The food and water supplies are, of course, vulnerable, but the costs of making US food safe are beyond the now enfeebled financial capacity of the US.

  9. John Quiggin at December 6, 2004 09:22 AM

    I haven’t ever been a victim of racism. but I have seen a revival (or rather a return to social acceptability) recently.

    This is a qualitative anecdotal observation. The quantitative statistical observations all point the other way.
    NESB immigration is higher under Howard than Keating. Asian students top the Uni scores. Ethnic exogamy is at a higher rate. Asian students and tourists arrive by the boatload. The incidence of ethnic “racial vilification” are at historic lows. Pragmatic-substantive, rather than dogmatic-symbolic, Reconciliation is now the accepted way forward.
    Whats not to like?
    Ms Hanson was just the rump of the Country Party. Many of her statements criticising ATSIC and ethnic lobbies rorts were unexceptional have been validated by Parliament. The racist part of her politic has been consigned to the Dustbin of History, courtesy of John Howard’s artful politics.
    The so-called Culture Wars are over. The Vital Centre (Howard/Latham) has won. Modern AUS, with its Big Brother/Australian Idol watching constituencies, has moved on.
    Culture History Wars are now waged by a bunch of aging baby boomers (Henderson, Sheridan, Windschuttle v Manne, McIntyre, Reynolds,) raking over the radical embers of their uni salad days. My guess is that there is a institutional subtext of status-scrambling to the ideological supertext of race-debating. Windschuttle is trying to move up the academic status ladder by taking his progressive superiors down a peg or two, using whatever intellectual resources at his disposal. A glorified troll. Bor-ing.
    I repeat my questions. If AUS has reverted to a racist-sympathetic polity:
    Where are the AUS skin-head gangs and neo-nazi parties? Where are the race-baiters in op-ed columns?
    And where is the progressive-liberal outrage over the abuses of the multicultural industry and its associated clients?

  10. Alex,

    “Katz, you are nuts. Are you really suggesting that I was born with the potential to be another Beethoven or Einstein?”

    Yes Alex, but better than that, you’ve been born with the potential to be the best Alex you can be.


  11. Just returning to your original comment john

    No-one, as far I can see, was prepared to defend Windschuttle outright, but there was a sudden and startling outbreak of caution. …
    All of this is very uncharacteristic of the blogosphere

    I think this is a good sign. Too often in the past decade has the left, feeling in control of the majority viewpoint (especially on racial and historical issues) dismissed rather than debated the issues raised.

    Of course many who do can later easily defend their positions, but just as many cant and seem to join the pack in renouncing & ignoring the arguments. Unfortunately that doesn’t deter the foolish claims as we may hope and with a right wing which maintains a persecution complex, this dismissal gives them further evidence that they aren’t getting a fair go.

    That’s why they celebrate people like Windschuttle & Hanson, because they get us lefties so worked up. Its like the kid in class who when asked to answer a question on the days topic deliberately chooses a wrong answer to spite the teacher.
    It’s a sign of the rights intellectual struggle that they have to cheer such extremists, but also a pox on the left as we haven’t been able to counter such foolish arguments to our political benefit.

    If we are to justify our hold on the majority viewpoint on these issues then it is even more vital that we coherently & carefully analyze & discuss the claims put forward, unfortunately even the ludicrous ones.

  12. One of the reasons Windschuttle has become so prominent despite his all to obvious whitewashing of Australian history is the double standards of many cultural leftists (or post-modernist ex-Marxists). While they are quick to seize on transgressions by mainstream society, both real and imagined, they generally go to great extremes to excuse the excesses of minority groups (e.g. Muslims) or label racist anyone who criticises these excesses.

    Taking the piss out of Christianity is OK (as is attacking Israel at every opportunity) – eg Life of Brian, PissChrist etc but not Islam. Such double standards are not simply limited to a small number of political correct cretins but infect academia. Just look at Middle Eastern studies in the United States where senior figures (John Esposito etc) have repeatedly played down the extent of Islamic extremism in the Muslim world and, in the process, often put a positive spin on the actions of major human rights abusers such as Hassan el Turabi (Sudanese religious leader).

  13. Admittedly I was at first under the impression that White Australia was a racist thing. But now seek forgiveness as I have learnt that indeed it was a simple matter of the workers preserving their terms of employment. An old song of the time illustrates that the concern was purely with protecting against scab labour and was in no way racist.

    Should an orphan ask assistance
    Would you drive him from you door
    And educate a Chinkie
    To import some thousands more.
    Sum Sings, Tan Moons and Saw Chows
    With Fuch Chongs and Ah Foys
    To practice their vile debauchery
    And increase the unemployed.


  14. Every discussion of “racism” becomes one of definition. This is of course amusing because there is nothing wrong with preferrring one “race” over another. It is a natural human reaction. “Racism” is only a problem if it leads to the commission of a crime. Thus, if you kill someone because he is of another race, the fact that the killer may have illogically hated the victim because he was of a different ethnicity is irrelevant; the only crime that occurred was the murder.

    The White Australia was a kind of “racism” that did not lead to any crime. It is also the case that the host nation always has the right to refuse entry to anybody it so wishes. Therefore, even if the WAP was “racist”, it really doesn’t matter.

  15. Except that if racism were leading to murders then as a root cause it is a problem. Murder is the what and racism is the why.

    The White Australia Policy may not matter to racists but it does to others.

  16. Culture History Wars are now waged by a bunch of aging baby boomers (Henderson, Sheridan, Windschuttle v Manne, McIntyre, Reynolds,) raking over the radical embers of their uni salad days. My guess is that there is a institutional subtext of status-scrambling to the ideological supertext of race-debating.

    Couldn’t agree more, Jack. I just wish you were also right with this comment:

    The so-called Culture Wars are over.

  17. toryhere writes:

    “[. . .]there is nothing wrong with preferrring one ‘race’ over another. It is a natural human reaction. ‘Racism’ is only a problem if it leads to the commission of a crime.”

    So if it leads to morally wrong behaviour which isn’t mentioned in the criminal code, then it’s OK? I think not.

    Racism is about regarding person A less favourably than person B when you don’t know enough about them to make any kind of judgement about the sort of individual person they are. And it’s about treating them less favourably (in terms of immigration approval, employment, renting a house, approving a loan, admission to university, etc., etc.), not on the basis of anything person A has done or any attribute of person A which is relevant to a decision about these matters, but purely because they belong to a particular group of people labelled a “race”. Do I need to explain what is morally wrong with this?

  18. Jack,

    Darp is currently running a campaign to expose and get rid of the Patriotic Youth League, a white supremacist group with a moderate public front. They’re most active in Newcastle and around Sydney.

    These people are definitely around and if you check the PYL posts on Darp’s site, you’ll see that there’s plenty of outrage, and a fair bit of action being mobilised.

  19. “Culture History Wars are now waged by a bunch of aging baby boomers (Henderson, Sheridan, Windschuttle v Manne, McIntyre, Reynolds,) raking over the radical embers of their uni salad days. My guess is that there is a institutional subtext of status-scrambling to the ideological supertext of race-debating.”

    It’s possible to pathologise the explanation for every human motive and every human act, from choice of religion to choice of mobile phone plan.

    So what? If we treat everyone who disagreement as evidence of mental illness, the only logical solution is to declare the whole country to be an asylum and turn over its administration to specialists who treat the criminally insane.

    It may sound old-fashioned but the only way to have an intelligent conversation is to assume the sanity and good will of your interlocutor until you have very good evidence to the contrary.

  20. “Taking the piss out of Christianity is OK (as is attacking Israel at every opportunity) – eg Life of Brian…”

    Having just seen Life of Brian recently for the first time in ages, I can assure you it takes the piss out of everything except Jesus Christ.

    I’m also intrigued by the line of arguement that goes “You think Australia’s racist? You should see how bad it is in other places” Which it is as I’ve seen m’self. But somehow this arguement seems so well, morally relative. After all two wrongs don’t make a right, as Arthur Calwell almost said.

    And what is this “culturalist” thing? Is it like Intelligent Design? Eg: “Of course I don’t believe God created the earth 6000 years ago, however…”

    And how did that hypen get into ‘Anglo-Saxon’?

    I’m with Senator Bulworth here in advocating a program of progressive racial deconstruction by gettin’ yer freak on.

  21. Why (for most participants here) was the WAP wrong, morally?

    More generally, why (for most participants here) is it wrong for people (of any colour or race) to wish to associate with their own kind and to deny access to their society to other peoples? I ask this whether or not they regard others as inferior, sub-human, alien etc, or even superior, but do not persecute them and wish them no harm.

    Now I realise this may appear to be a provocative question given the nature of this blog site but you have my word that provocation is not my intention. It is really the more general question above that I am interested in. It seems to be taken as axiomatic here that one should welcome other peoples to one’s shores. Why?

  22. As one of those Australian-Born Asians that are tangentially and obliquely referred to in this interesting debate, there’s no question in my mind that Windscuttle is, in his own ham-fisted way, an apologist for the racist viewpoints that begat the White Australia Policy. My father was very nearly a victim of this Policy during the early seventies – although he was a legal migrant with valuable skills (a highly experienced biochemist, now retired), he was about to be deported, even though he had already qualified for PR and Citizenship. If it hadn’t been for a change in Government at that time, I have no doubt that I’d be raised in Malaysia instead of Australia.

    The argument of racist bigots like Pauline Hanson is that Asians “don’t assimilate”. You only have to look at families like my own, or John So (the re-elected Mayor of Melbourne) to realise what a huge lie this is. If Asians are generally so inferior to Anglo-Saxon Australians, then why was one of them elected Mayor of Melbourne? Why was my father the second-in-charge of his division if he wasn’t qualified enough to keep the job? It’s the achievements of people like these that make such erroneous claims a complete and total lie. Asians can “assimilate” into Australia just fine, without compromising their own sense of identity or culture.

    Sorry for the rant, but debates like these have been a personal obesession of mine since 1996. I can’t help but get involved, even when I know I probably shouldn’t.

  23. IRA: $150,000? Quiggin, as I recall, has a Federation Fellowship, which carries a salary of about $240K.

    Of course, bringing this fact up is both rude and irrelevant, but if you’re gonna do it then you might as well be accurate about it.

    Of course, for that kind of money you’d think we could get somebody better than Quiggin, who right here has managed to spend a few thousand words attacking Windschuttle’s historical article without addressing, or even mentioning, any of the points therein.

  24. Alex,

    what is your point? Are you saying that you can’t match Einstein or Mozart because you are part of an inferior race, and that your ancestors should therefore have been denied entry to our fair land?

    Jorge, Prof Q’s point, in this post at least, is made by Windschuttle’s very argument: it now offends right wing PC to call the WHITE Australia policy “racist”. Whether it’s origins were in visceral hatred of “the other”, or in protectionism, it was still a system of judging people and affording them different rights, privileges and status according to their race. QED, it was racist.

    Good grief.

  25. Sean, I was expressing my amazement at the statement by Katz “all human beings share identical potential”.

  26. “Of course, for that kind of money you’d think we could get somebody better than Quiggin”

    You’re getting me for free, Jorge. If you want to see the stuff I get paid for, go here

  27. OK spacehamster if you are an asian why arent you using an asian name like Won Hung Lo? By using the obviously anglo name spacehamster you are compromising my Aussie sense of identity and culture – sob!!

  28. JC,
    I personally have been a victim of racism in another country. The racism was directed at my accent which resembled that of a regional group resented by my powerful arrogant opinionated white fundamentalist boss for racist historical reasons. It happened that I was NOT a member of that regional group. A female associate of my boss told me one day ” you’ll never get anywhere d unless you change the way you speak”.
    The adverse treatment I got was very distressing and to stand up for my right required considerable courage. I did not give way to the pressures but did not handle them perfectly. My very survival was threatened though. Another friend later told me that they admired my courage in the face of this treatment.

  29. The changing tones of what is PC or not under is illustrated in this argument. That KW is given so much press to promote his views, where evidence is altered to suit a world view which is very forgiving of the White Australia Policy, is evidence of how racism may not be the name – but it is the game.

    We may be importing people from the Horn of Africa these days but we will still expect them to do the dirty work. I remember times when people seriously discussed whether Italians and Greeks were really white people ie it was a slippery slope to let them into the country under the now disputed but very clear White Australia Policy.

    There are still many derogatory terms used about Indigenous Australian. The Palm Island and Redfern riots occurred as a result of the strong perception in these Indigenous communities that actions were racist. An Aboriginal woman who dresses well and is educated and senior in rank has cried in front of me, a stranger, because of the withering looks she receives daily when she walks into shops in the city.

    Keith Windschuttle is not encouraging debate but encouraging racism – he is a fellow traveller indeed – but how much easier it is to blame those without power or a voice than it is to confront the real history of oppression that saw Aboriginal people hunted in the South East of South Australia or manacled for crimes in the Flinders Ranges committed by another Aboriginal person for daring to try and protect precious water from theft by white shepherds.

    Let’s not examine the issue of Aboriginal People moved to “camps” far from their traditional lands which just happened to be where new white settlers wished to move.

    It is debatable to say that Aboriginal women prostituted themselves rather than admit the ugly side of white men who abused power relationships by rape and then gave food to make their rape OK. Not in every situation but too often.

    No KW is a racist not a fellow traveller as he is not interested in what actually happened but more interested in rewriting the history of the country and proving historians labelled “leftist” wrong. If he was interested in the truth he would have to admit that there is more to truth than the writings or omissions of the victor.

  30. Len Dripping,

    Your question is easy to answer. ‘My kind’ of person is not defined by skin colour or native language. The gentle burmese lady next door is much more my kind of person than the foul-mouthed Scottish oaf on the other side of her. Anyone who thinks that a person’s true qualities can be predicted from surface characteristics is a bigot, and a racist is a subspecies of bigot. Bigots manage to find someone to despise, someone to label as ‘not our kind’, even when there are no differences in skin colour, language or religion. Are you a bigot, by any chance?

  31. Michael Burgess

    You are slipping. You forgot to mention Chomsky, Pilger, acid in women’s faces, and how you were sacked for questioning David Suzuki.

  32. And so what, ‘d”?

    Are yer gonna reveal, ta-da! that it happened while yer were an Aussie/Yank/white South African/Canuck in the UK/Europe or any comination of the above, thereby proving white folks suffer from racism too so it’s not a big deal?

    That doesn’t prove anything except yer not half the sneaky smartarse commentator yer thought yer were.

  33. Jill, I think where I have a problem with people throwing around charges of racism is when they focus on that, missing the point completely. You describe your friend as someone who “dresses well and is educated and senior in rank”, then you go on to describe how she was upset. But that, while nothing to do with her skin colour, is also an external and superficial categorising. It is just as wrong to upset someone who is not like that. Using terms like racism allows people to slip into forgetting that hurting people is the wrong thing here, that is t would be just as wrong to hurt someone who didn’t fit the description “dresses well and is educated and senior in rank”.

    I can see the point in using concepts like racism to analyse and to frame policies, but to make it the test of morality is a sort of idolatry, confusing means with ends. It’s like all those idiot Americans who go on about terrorists killing innocents, as though it was right to kill other people (it usually isn’t, though cases may differ).

    It’s that fundamental confusion that I object to, that makes people consider repression to be a righteous act and forget persuasion and true conversion. You should be able to imagine a John Newton come to grace without losing his fundamental self, but there are people around here who would be happy to thwart the John Newtons and consider that a moral rather than a practical victory. There is a fundamental failure of morality and compassion in people who think that is righteous, and yes, they are paving the way for any who come after and wield their own agendas with that as precedent.

  34. Oh, Katz, you might want to follow up the link on my home page to what the Constitutional Centenary Foundation did when I tried to expose certain sorts of republicans as racists by showing them for what they were. That is just precisely the sort of repression and distortion that anti-racism leads to, a direct contradiction of the claimed purposes of these pharisaical hypocrites, setting up rules for compassion while disregarding the spirit of compassion.

    Do you really want to stand with them? For to mock what I have told you as objectively totalitarian is indeed – objectively – to be an enemy of truth and a servant of the lie.

  35. In re ‘Wilsonian’ nationalism, Gordon is perhaps unaware that Woodrow Wilson, American Liberal Saint because of his support for the League of Nations, was the most viscious racist ever to sit in the White House. His first act as president was to fire all black federal workers (as University President he had previously kept his school all-white); his review of a movie made of a close friend’s book, The Klansman (Birth of a Nation) was ‘it’s all true.’

  36. “…You describe your friend as someone who “dresses well and is educated and senior in rank”, then you go on to describe how she was upset. But that, while nothing to do with her skin colour,…”

    Um.. Jill’s comment explicitly said it had everything to do with her race/skin colour.

    You don’t work as a paramedic do you PM Lawrence? ‘cos I’d hate to get CPR from you while suffering from a compound fracture.

    “Oh, Katz, you might want to follow up the link on my home page to what the Constitutional Centenary Foundation did when I tried to expose certain sorts of republicans as racists by showing them for what they were. ”

    I did and…huh? It seems to be an overly detailed, longwinded and poorly laid out account of a confused procedural bitchfight amongst a fringe group of constitutional activists.

    Not doubt what went down then is still fresh in your mind, but in the absence of context, or indeed relevance to this discussion, this means nothing to me, Vienna. Perhaps you could provide a quick 50 word precis explaining why it’s germane to this thread.

  37. A historical, not political, question: did any other nations on Earth have native ethnophilic – alien ethnophobic settlement/preference policies?
    Was AUS the only nation on earth where the state explicitly preferred its own kind?
    Or did every other nation on earth regulate its settlement/preferences on ethnic grounds?
    Or were other nations less ethno-communitarian and more individually libertarian – socially egalitarian in their treatment of Others?
    Morality, as proven by Evolution, is Relative, not Absolute. So if we are going to condemn the WAP in retrospect then we should know what were the prevailing standards in contemporary times and comparable places.
    (Self-defensive Post Script: I support a cosmopolitan-integrative settlement policy which discriminates on the basis of the migrants cultural psychology rather than biological physiology.)

  38. Jack,

    I’m curious. How does evolution prove that morality is relative, not absolute?

    On the issue of relative vs. absolute morality, I don’t think anyone here condemning KW is arguing that Australians were significantly more racist than other people at the time of the WAP, but that doesn’t mean they weren’t racist.

    Morality may be a relative concept, but racism isn’t. Either you discriminate on the basis of race or you don’t. The WAP did, so it’s racist.

  39. Jack Strocchi,

    Are the United States and New Zealand comparable enough?

    From apparently reliable web sites:


    1907: President Theodore Roosevelt enters into “Gentlemen’s Agreement” with Japan to limit Japanese immigration to the mainland and Hawaii. (A provision allows family members induding wives of Japanese to immigrate, thus allowing the Japanese to begin families and build their community.) It also includes a ban on further Korean immigration to the United States as laborers, thus opening up farming jobs in Hawaii for Filipinos. Korean immigration virtually ends during the period of Japanese occupation (1910-45) and does not resume until the Immigration Act of 1965 is passed.

    New Zealand:

    “The Poll Tax was unjustly imposed on Chinese immigrants in New Zealand over a period of just over half a century from 1881 to 1944 under the Chinese Immigrants Act 1881 (payment waived 1934). The imposition of the Poll Tax was an integral pan of the history of Chinese settlement in New Zealand. It is pertinent to the history of New Zealand and its identity.

    “The Poll Tax was only imposed on immigrants of Chinese ethnicity. As such the carrying out of such a policy was aimed at restricting immigrants who were Chinese from emigrating to New Zealand simply based on the fact that they were Chinese. No other ethnic group was required to overcome such a hurdle before entering New Zealand.”

    It seems that both of these countries followed racist immigration policies.

    The United States enshrined official racism into its constitution in the administration and enumeration of African slaves and Native Americans. In New Zealand the Treaty of Waitangi compelled recognition of the property rights and authority structure of the Maori. This bi-culturalism had its most immediate result in reserved seats in the New Zealand Parliament for Maori franchise.

    Neither of these countries enshrined racist provisions against intending immigrants in their Constitution. This appears to have been a uniquely Australian response. And let’s notforget that it embarrassed and angered the British Government at the time. So it appears Australia was an outlier if not an actual pariah nation even in the first decade of the twentieth century.

    A caveat: to identify a policy as racist is not automatically to condemn it morally. But it should be remembered that Deakin, Higgins and other members of the Australian Government in 1901 at the time of passage of the Immigration Act were a bit shame-faced about the way in which Australia expressed its racism.

  40. Katz
    A brief summary of Pinker’s thesis goes like this:..

    It seems that I need to quote Pinker more specifically to demonstrate that THE BLANK SLATE’s title is not the reason I referred to the book. The most relevant part is the chapter on The Fear of Inequality, and I quote key parts below which are more informative that Qs spin on the book.

    I suspect, despite your rhetorical and dismissive “sigh” that we are substatially in agreement.

    The Blank Slate – from the chapter on The Fear of Inequality

    Taking all these processes into account, we get the following picture. People are qualitatively the same but may differ quantitatively. The quantitative difference& are small in biological terms, and they are found to a far greater ex- tent among the individual members of an ethnic group or race than between ethnic groups or races. These are reassuring findings. Any racist ideology that holds that the members of an ethnic group are all alike, or that one ethnic group differs fundamentally from another, is based on false assumptions about our biology.
    But biology does not let us off the hook entirely. Individuals are not genetically identical, and it is unlikely that the differences affect every part of the body except the brain. And though genetic differences between races and ethnic groups are much smaller than those among individuals, they are not nonexistent …

    So COULD DISCOVERIES in biology turn out to justify racism and sexism? Ab- solutely not! The case against bigotry is not a factual claim that humans are biologically indistinguishable. It is a moral stance that condemns judging an individual according to the average traits of certain groups to which the individual belongs. Enlightened societies choose to ignore race, sex, and ethnicity in hiring, promotion, salary, school admissions, and the criminal justice system because the alternative is morally repugnant. Discriminating against people on the basis of race, sex, or ethnicity would be unfair, penalizing them for traits over which they have no control. It would perpetuate the injustices of the past, in which African Americans, women, and other groups were enslaved or oppressed. It would rend society into hostile factions and could escalate into horrific persecution. But none of these arguments against discrimination depends on whether groups of people are or are not geneticallv indistinguishable.
    Far from being conducive to discrimination, a conception of human nature is the reason we oppose it…

  41. As we’ve opened up Pinker and the R word , why not consider Richard Dawkins too:

    Richard Dawkins 2004 “The Ancestors Tale”. – Chapter containing the Grasshoppers Tale, p357 ff. On differences between races.
    It is genuinely true that, if you measure the total variation in the human species, and then partition it into between-race component and a within –race component, the between-race component is a very small fraction of the total. Most of the variation among humans can be found within races as well as between them. Only a small admixture of extra variation distinguishes races from each other. That is all correct. What is not correct is the inference that race is therefore a meaningless concept. This point has been clearly made by the distinguished Cambridge geneticist A. W. F. Edwards in a recent paper called ‘Human genetic diversity: Lewontin’s fallacy’. R. C. Lewontin is an equally distinguished Cambridge (Mass.) geneticist, known for the strength of his political convictions and his weakness for dragging them into science at every possible opportunity. Lewontin’s view of race has become near-universal orthodoxy in scientific circles. He wrote, in a famous paper of 1972:

    It is clear that our perception of relatively large differences between human races and subgroups, as compared to the variation within these groups, is indeed a biased perception and that, based on randomly chosen genetic differences. human races and populations are remarkably similar to each other. with the largest part by far of human variation being accounted for by the differences between individuals.

    This is, of course, exactly the point I accepted above, not surprisingly since what I wrote was largely based on Lewontin. But see how Lewontin goes on:

    Human racial classification is of no social value and is positively destructive of social and human relations. Since such racial classification is now seen to be of virtually no genetic or taxonomic significance either. no justification can be offered for its continuance.
    We can all happily agree that human racial classification is of no social value ‘ and is positively destructive of social and human relations. That is one reason why I object to ticking boxes in forms and why I object to positive discrimination in job selection. But that doesn’t mean that race is of ‘virtually no genetic or taxonomic significance’. This is Edwards’s point, and he reasons as follows. However small the racial partition of the total variation may be, if such racial characteristics as there are are highly correlated with other racial character-
    istics, they are by definition informative, and therefore of taxonomic significance. Informative means something quite precise. An informative statement is one that tells you something you didn’t know before. The information content of a statement is measured as reduction in prior uncertainty. Reduction in prior uncertainty, in turn, is measured as a change in probabilities. This provides a way to make the information content of a message mathematically precise, but we don’t need to bother with that.- If I tell you Evelyn is male, you immediately know a whole lot of things about him. Your prior uncertainty about the shape of his genitals is reduced (though not obliterated). You now know facts you didn’t know before about his chromosomes, his hormones and other aspects of his biochemistry, and there is a quantitative reduction in your prior uncertainty about the depth of his voice, and the distribution of his facial hair and of his body fat and musculature.

  42. Heil,herr windscuttle!
    Jack stroppy asks naievely-where are the racists?
    Come to WA jack,where we have had fire bomb attacks on chinese restaurants,some ten years ago,some a few months ago.
    The same gang puts up thousands of anti asian bills on poles and bus shelters with a crude
    drawing of an asian stereotype.
    Come to WA jack,where our local rag the worst australian prints some horrendous letters-usually from the same people.
    I remember the odium heaped on cathy freeman after winning that gold medal and daring to fly the aboriginal flag-don’t ya hate uppity blacks!

  43. I see the most hate here coming from lefties against racists… not by racists against other races.

    I also see a lot of stupid arguments. The fact that there is an asia mayor of melbourne is hardly proof of the virtues or vices of asian immigration.

    As for all the talk of “evil bigots”… do you arrogant bastards realise that you’re condemning nearly the entire populations of asia and africa… and probably the world? Would you really have this much hatred against a racist if the racist was non-white (which most are)?

    Personally, I can see little value in holding on to such hatred. But the left seem to enjoy it.

    Oh, and the PYL is a small band of kids… hardly a huge racist underground movement. To hold them up as the proof of Australia’s racism is to pretty much declare Australia an overwhelmingly non-racist country.

  44. As a matter of natural and social history, it is the case that organisms evolved moral codes Relative to niche-specific environments. I set aside more abstract considerations regarding the Ontology of Ethics.
    I do not deny that there are human-specific moral universals (eg anti-murder, incest etc). But Life, owing to the inevitability of evolutionary mutation, cannot have a moral code with an Absolute (ie perpetuitive and pervasive) universal moral obligation.
    In any case, there is something special about all morality. (Pun Intended). Lions and chimpanzees have moral codes, evolved relative to their niches, and these are definitely not identical to hominid morality.
    Hominids are famous for constructing a spectrum of moral horses for different social courses. Darwin was shocked by the Wasp’s behaviour, but could not bring himself to call it Absolutely immoral. She was only looking after her kids. If that is what it took to allow human survival then humans would do the same. (In fact we do anyway: anyone who has bought battery farm food for their family is as guilty as the Wasp.)
    Life, as depicted by Darwin and explained by Crick/Watson, is a single lineage with local and temporal (individual and special) differentiatons. The different branches adopt or adapt different codes of niche-specific behaviour that assist in survival, sexual and social operations in different environments. The
    “environment” includes everything outside the genetic nucleus.
    These (moral, mores, modal) behavioural codes may be fairly described as having relative validity, depending on the state, and rate of change, in the environment. Thus, if the environment radically changes then different moral codes are required. Or the organism, and its genetic line, dies out.
    These codes may be acquisitively adopted by nurtural-intutive, or cultural-intellective, learning processes. Changes within the genetic nucleus will also bring forth behavioural changes. They will be heritably adapted and become part of the organisms natural-instinctive decision making code.
    I agree with Pr Q that WAP, as a matter of historical fact, was intrinsically racist. It was practiced as such, and on that basis, by Federation Australians.
    Whether WAP was especially vicious or virtuous depends, as I have argued, on whether this moral code was out of line with prevailing standards amongst comparable populations. I think that it was more conservative than the generally progressive standards upheld throughout the Empire. But Britain was considerably less vulnerable than Australia to invasion etc. Who are we to judge?
    What none can deny was that WAP was extremely popular amongst voters. In a democracy its the numbers that count.
    It is the case that WAP was a defensive-passive form of racism. (Setting aside treatment of Native Indigenes.) It was therefore less objectionable than the offensive-aggressive form of genocidal racism practised by Nazi Germany.
    This has not stopped multicultural industrialists, like Pr. Kalantzis, from likening Federation Australians to Nazi genocidal fascists. Godwins Law was made with our Wets in mind.
    But Wet Revolutionaries are always coming out with nonsense like that. It is not surprising that Dry Reactionaries, like Windschuttle, are drawn to refute this folly. Thus does Wet stupidity and inanity make its own decline a dialectical inevitability.

  45. The incidence of militant White racism in AUS, in WA, QLD and Newcastle, are bad and should be subject to legal and moral constraints. FWIW I support the Racial Vilification Act. But AUS White Racism is statistically insignificant in size and politically trivial in effect.
    Intra-ethnic racist violence (between NESBs or against Caucasian natives) is a more significant problem, especially where it overlaps with ethnic criminal gangs. It should be noted that the greatest victims of this kind of violence are ethnic communities, esp more vulnerable women and children.
    Rational discussion and lawful regulation of this is occasionaly subjected to Pee-Cee taboo. Multicultural industrialists prefer to bump up investment in their cosy little neo-tribalist racket, rather than constrain actual and existing racial offences.

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