Australia Day Corso racist displays: Sharon realises she’s busted, rings 2GB

manlyaustraliaday

Oh my, is this a dud fauxpology.

The Daily Telegraph has audio from 2GB, which took a phone call purporting to be from one of a group of three young people photographed on Australia Day. They had a scrawled Australian map on their bellies with the inscription “FUCK OFF WE’RE FULL”.

Transcript:

Chris Smith: Still on this: you may have picked up the paper today, and certainly you would have heard our discussions on the programme yesterday, about those who were at Manly, at at least one location, who had written on their stomachs as they headed down the Corso, “NO WE’RE FULL.” And there were a couple of other individuals who had “LEBS” attached to that, etc etc. Which if it wasn’t borderline racism, it was close enough to it.

I’ve got one of those girls who was featured in the Telegraph today, who put that on her stomach no doubt, just calling into the programme. This is in the same light of those who behaved badly, I think that’s a fair comment.

Uh, Sharon, is it, from Cherrybrook, hello Sharon.

Sharon: Hi, um, how are you today?

Smith: I’m ok. Did you see your photo in the paper today, did you?

Sharon: Yes, I did read that today.

Smith: Tell us

[something is cut, possibly her talking about the “FUCK OFF WE’RE FULL” slogan]

Smith: Take that out. I want to keep that phone call on, if I can. Can I go back to you. You can’t say what you just said on the radio, which is why I’ve taken that out. But you said “EFF OFF WE’RE FULL”. Have you?

Sharon: Yep.

Smith: Why?

Sharon: Um, because we … we didn’t actually meant it, in … in a racist way at all? Yes, it was racist, and stuff, but it was for the peop – it – it – I don’t know how explain it. It wasn’t against anyone in partic – especially in Australia.

Smith: Do you wish you hadn’t done it, though?

Sharon: Yes I do.

Smith: Why?

Sharon: “Because, it’s like Australia Day, it was sort of bringing, like, it wasn’t a happy thing, it wasn’t, like, we were representing Australia, we should be representing it in a good way, not sort of in a racist way. Sort of thing.

Smith: Well, that’s spot on. Can I just also clarify something though. There are people in this country from foreign lands who don’t like Australia. They are among the minority. But we talk about them on the radio quite often. You understand, though, that the majority of those who come here from all lands, including probably your ancestors, have skills to offer, are productive, love this country, and would like you to help them assimilate. You understand that, don’t you?

Sharon: Yeah, absolutely. Yeah, ummm…. um. [slowly] The three of us would ..really..like..to..apologise for that. We did not mean any offence at all to anyone, and we’d love to take it back. And we also, taking that picture, did not know that that would be going in the newspaper, and that also brings, like, the fact that it’s going around everywhere sort of thing? And I’d really like to apologise, and they feel exactly the same way, and yeah basically we’re just really sorry for that. And … yeah.

Smith: It’s a gutsy thing to say ‘sorry’. What’ve your family said?

Sharon: Um, my family haven’t seen it. Um –

Smith: Yet.

Sharon: Yet. But um – I think that the [?] thing is, some people our age as well, well some of them actually agree with it, sort of thing? Which was also not, like, a great thing, but, um, it was more the older people who were taking offence to it, and we didn’t like mean to at all, so.

Smith: Alright. As I say, it’s a gutsy thing to say ‘sorry’. Hopefully Australia Day next year will be a completely different event. For you.

Sharon: Oh, yeah, absolutely. And we’d also like to say that we actually weren’t drinking, we weren’t doing anything, we’re actually only sixteen, and we…. yeah.

Smith: But you still shoulda known better.

Sharon: Yep. I know.

Smith: Thanks for calling in.

Sharon: OK. Thankyou.

I don’t know where to start with this fuckery.

“Borderline” racism?

Sloganeering “FUCK OFF WE’RE FULL” isn’t actually “bad behaviour”, but is just “in the same light”?

“We didn’t mean it in a racist way”?

“But not against an individual, so it’s ok”?

“It was aimed at people who aren’t in Australia right now, so it doesn’t really count”?

“The biggest problem with this was that we should only represent teh happy on Australia Day”?

“Only furriners who work hard and are productive and patriotic and assimilate are tolerable, because they’re Good Little Immigrants”?

“We’re really sorry we got caught”?

“We weren’t drunk, so it was ok”?

“But but it was really ok. Because the racist young folks around us agreed with us, and it’s just you fuddy duddy old folks who have a problem with racism. Racism is the new trend and the way of the future dontcha know. Get with the program”?

“This is all about your ‘gutsy’ personal journey”?

Sole good thing: He talked about her ancestors being immigrants. [Note that Smith, an “unashamed” imperialist, is not at all convincing around this topic.]

Confident guess: if she hadn’t been readily identifiable in the photo, this conversation would not have happened.

Second confident guess: No one wants or needs Sharon’s toxically-white assistance to “help them assimilate”. For fuck’s sake.



Categories: social justice, violence

Tags: , ,

51 replies

  1. The thing that bothers me is that these kids must have wandered around on Australia Day and posed happily for that photo fairly unaware or unbothered by how blantantly racist and horrible and offensive they were being. How casual and mainstream this behaviour is – its just chilling.
    “if she hadn’t been readily identifiable in the photo, this conversation would not have happened.” Seconded.

  2. Nothing much has changed in 50 years has it? Her racism is so pathetic, she doesn’t even know why she feels it, and has no idea to whom it is directed. Just some vague objection to the other. I doubt she has an independent opinion at all.
    I remember as a young teenager thinking that Australia’s population was more than enough, and we didn’t need any more people on environmental grounds. I wonder whether any of this rubbish has its origins in that sort of uninformed thinking.
    And I’m sure Nathan Rees, who measures our teenagers by their potential employability, would completely agree with Smith’s assessment of a “good little immigrant”.
    Ariane’s last blog post..Why, yes, it is.

  3. Please don’t bite my head off here, genuine question. Why is being anti-immigration racist? “No Lebs”, yes that’s racist no question. Arguing that the country is ‘full’ though (vast empty interior notwithstanding), that’s more about economic competition and viability than race, surely? Thoughtless, yes. Rude, certainly. Racist?
    Deus Ex Macintosh’s last blog post..Only buses should be bendy

  4. DEM, your “don’t bite my head off” indicates to me that you know damn well you’re engaging in denialism/apologetics, and that you know that that’s inappropriate for this thread.
    The girl herself says it was racist.
    Get back to me when we have an epidemic of screaming yobbos threatening white folk with English, Swedish and Canadian accents on the streets. Get back to me when those people are afraid to go out on certain days. OK?

  5. DEM, your “don’t bite my head off” indicates to me that you know damn well you’re engaging in denialism/apologetics, and that you know that that’s inappropriate for this thread.

    Or that I’m a regular…
    I do not deny that racism CAN be behind an anti-immigration stance. (Bad thing. Naughty racists.) I just don’t think it is fair to assume that racism can be the ONLY motivation behind an anti-immigration stance. I think it’s important for people to be allowed the space to express an anti-immigration standpoint without an overwhelming knee-jerk reaction that racism the source of their objections.
    “We didn’t mean it in a racist way” is what the girl says in your transcript.
    Deus Ex Macintosh’s last blog post..Unreasonable doubt

  6. But she follows “we didn’t mean it in a racist way” up with “Yes, it was racist.”
    I have heard people argue for zero net immigration in Australia on environmental grounds, in a way that did not seem racist to me (although of course there could be implicit racism behind it), BUT, I think the imagery here makes it pretty clear that that’s not what was motivating these kids. The way that the Australian flag has been associated with the Cronulla riots and other racist activites on previous Australia days automatically renders the “fuck off, we’re full” message as racist (not to mention that I’ve never heard anyone arguing against immigration for environmental reasons use inflammatory language like that).
    As for the radio presenter– privilege in action, yet again. The girl rings up because she did something wrong, and her half-hearted apology means that she gets told how big and brave she is. Honestly, I somethings think that the easiest way for white people to get anti-racist cookies is to say something racist and then act vaguely contrite.

  7. Also the girl got off fairly easy in that she wasn’t grilled on the connection between what was written on her and her friends bodies and the behaviour of the mob going down the Corso later and attacking people.

  8. DEM: she had ‘fuck off we’re full’ inside a map of Australia, with a giant flag over her shoulders and Australian flags all over her face and body. Over here now I stiffen everytime I see young people draped in flags or with Southern Cross tattoos, it’s become a signal of a troublingly hostile and aggressive nationalism amongst young people that seems to have more to do with fun in trouble than anything else. Big Day Out 2008 was full of pissed hostile teenagers slurring their speech, acting volatile, hooting out ‘WHOOO Cronulla’ while Tom Morello played (Tom being DECIDEDLY left wing political, this was NOT coming from his music)
    I would suggest that while a discussion of economic and ecological ramifications of immigration would not mean that everyone here would assume the writer to be racist (unless there was some automatic assumption that immigration will destroy the economy since there is much evidence over here that we need more immigration for a stronger economy) this is an entirely different thing.
    She didn’t have:
    “As a young Australian I’m concerned that the resources of my country are dwindling too quickly and in order for that to slow down I would think that slowing immigration would be a good move, though I’m open to contradiction, please approach me to discuss over coffee” written on her stomach.
    “Fuck off we’re full”? On Australia Day? Which is Invasion Day? You’re standing there with your blonde blonde hair and saying this? After the race riots? With the flag and all it symbolises after Cronulla? There’s just no way that’s not racism. Not borderline, not close to borderline, flat out arrogant, ignorant, arsehole idiot teenaged racism. And she should own it and the full force of the shame it brings.
    My father was (I guess still is) a racist fool, and I grew up hearing all about how we ought to ‘get rid of the *wogs*’. One day in class at eleven or twelve, asked what we would do as Prime Minister, I opened my mouth and repeated him verbatim – the class stopped, and my good Greek and Lebanese friends look at me with betrayal and shock. I have never to this day felt more shame than over that.
    Over unthinkingly repeating racism I’d absorbed in the home – the fact is I didn’t mean it. But I said it, so tough shit over me and my intention. I said it, I was racist, I hurt people, and I shocked myself deeply enough to shut my mouth and think about my attitudes, about the lives and feelings of others and about ensuring my words reflected my own thoughts.
    I’m just not quite so sure why we’re all so ‘careful’ with the word racist – as if we’re calling people murderers or paedophiles. Racism is prevalent in society, people expressing it, particularly when young is not surprising – it’s being picked up on it, called on it that allows people to question their own beliefs and assumptions and change for the better.
    fuckpoliteness’s last blog post..One last look at that Sacred Heart

  9. I’m just not quite so sure why we’re all so ‘careful’ with the word racist – as if we’re calling people murderers or paedophiles.

    Probably because people who aren’t murderers/paedophiles know that they’re not, so they can just got to outraged innocence without a second’s thought.
    In contrast, being called out for expressing racism requires them to think: if they are honest then in our racist society they will have had some racist thoughts because we’re swimming in it, and examining internalised reflexive racism is a challenge indeed.
    People don’t like to be challenged to hard work on their consciousness, and those of us who have been thoroughly socialised have also internalised the “you shouldn’t make people feel awkward” thing, so there’s a hesitation in calling out people on racism (sexism, classism). That’s the challenge for those of us working against bigoted oppressions: getting over our own socialisation to be polite in situations where a challenge is called for.

  10. Shorter version: stupid radio host interviews even more stupid airhead. Nothing worth taking notice of

  11. Tigtog said:
    In contrast, being called out for expressing racism requires them to think: if they are honest then in our racist society they will have had some racist thoughts because we’re swimming in it, and examining internalised reflexive racism is a challenge indeed.
    Exactly– I think that people often use a backwards logic when racism comes into play, that goes something like this:
    Premise 1: Racism is bad.
    Premise 2: I am not a bad person.
    Conclusion: As a not-bad person, I am incapable of racism, and none of my thoughts or actions can be deemed racist.
    Oz Ozzie said:
    Nothing worth taking notice of
    If we don’t take notice of it, if we don’t call this stuff out, then who will? Should we simply let this sort of thing go, without speaking out against it?

  12. Oz Ozzie, your default position seems to be to deny other peoples’ interpretations of life situations and to imply that it isn’t possible to analyse human behaviour. I’ve seen this over and over again. Why do you frequent this, and my blog? You don’t seem to like feminists or progressive analysis of social phenomena much. Are you just torturing yourself? Is it a hairshirt thing?

  13. Pressed Submit too soon,
    …I didn’t mean that as snarkily as it sounds, OO, I’m genuinely interested as to why you bother, because you don’t seem to find social commentary useful at all and that’s what Cast Iron Balcony and HAT are all about. I just think it might be happier for everyone if you read and discussed rather than always “move along, nothing to see here, you’re being silly!”
    About those three above: None of them wearing hats. Hmph. Skin cancer is on the cards.

  14. “There are people in this country from foreign lands who don’t like Australia. They are among the minority. But we talk about them on the radio quite often.”
    Um, that’s pretty much all these rightwing reactionary talkback pigs talk about. This makes me sick; it’s the Smiths and the Hadleys and the Jones’ who promote these racist views, then they get to make like the nice guys by pretending to be stern with some kid who has absorbed them.

  15. Every year I’m increasingly nervous about going out on January 26. I see cabs driving around coated in Australian flags and my stomach drops 3 feet (though I know some of this is immigrant drivers who do it as a defence, that’s not my initial reaction). I see people draped in Australian flags and I break into a sweat. And I have the, well, privilege, of being able to wonder if I’m going to pass as white today. Others don’t have any hope of that, but even having that hope is coupled with the feeling of “and if I do pass today, how many of them think I agree?”
    And all of that is why I know I want to see white people in particular calling this shit out. Among other reasons.

  16. These three young, blonde idiots wouldn’t have the conceptual tools to have a sophisticated discussion about the environment and immigration. Why have they latched onto this racist rubbish? What do they gain from it? Some sort of sense of superiority? I just don’t understand this whole phenomenon?

  17. Someone (I can’t remember who…) made a blog post earlier this week asking that we not be so afraid of the flag, given it is not the flag which is doing us wrong. And I understand the point she was making, I do, but at the same time I don’t want to have to purposely pass during the day in order to feel safe, which is what I’d have to do in order to stop being scared. And that’s not really the best option.
    Jennifer, re: passing as agreement: I worry about that too. That’s why I try not to be silent (but it’s difficult. I had to get off a train once after I refused to be silent because I was genuinely worried I was about to get bashed).
    stephanie’s last blog post..only pregnant women can eat what they want

  18. Can we lay off the use of “blonde” in the perjorative sense? Some of us are naturally light-haired and are really over blonde jokes which are basically misogynistic.
    As to blaming kids for absorbing the cultural and social norms that they are steeped in from an early age, let’s not do that either.
    I’m not letting them off the hook; I worry a lot about the willingness of Gen- Yers to take on all patriarchy’s uglies, but these kids grew up under Howardism ffs. They’re misinformed but they’re not idiots.

  19. Christ on a bike at the interviewer, “It’s a gutsy thing to say you’re sorry.” No, it’s not. Not when you don’t mean it, not when you make excuses for it, not when you don’t even seem to get WHY your actions were offensive, not when you come from a community or family or area where you may suffer no ill consequences or feedback for what you did.
    It ain’t gutsy if you’re just covering your ass.

  20. You’re quite right to object to ‘blonde’ as an insult, so sorry about that. But I reserve my right to call them idiots. I know lots of smart kids who also grew up in the Howard years and they haven’t imbibed theses ideas.

  21. I hate this kind of shit.
    I feel increasingly bad about Australia Day because of this. I would like to celebrate my country, but I feel like if I do, on this day that is (a) invasion day and (b) like a bloody cattle call for idiots like these three, then I’m clearly standing With Them and not Against Them as I’d like to. I shudder when I see the flag too. So I settle for guilt and talking about how it is invasion day to people at barbecues I get invited to. Great.
    I’ve avoided the Big Day Out since the 2006 one. I’m white, but with an Italian heritage and name. Walking around I look like I’d be fine but damn it feels dangerous there. Some nasty stuff happened that day. Plus it’s a sea of white faces anyway, which is an extremely weird feeling in a city like Sydney.
    Oh and on another note – I hate the blonde insults too, but I read the ‘blonde blonde hair’ as a description of a privileged kind of person. I’ll pay it though.

  22. No worries, Fine. How about, they’ve absorbed some idiotic views and are behaving in an idiotic manner?

  23. I like that P.P.

  24. Jennifer, re: passing as agreement: I worry about that too. That’s why I try not to be silent (but it’s difficult. I had to get off a train once after I refused to be silent because I was genuinely worried I was about to get bashed).
    Exactly, stephanie. I didn’t mean to gloss over the danger of speaking out, because for those of us who pass, speaking out often results in not passing anymore, which brings the double whammy of being the target, and the baggage that comes with folk thinking they were ‘tricked’ because you weren’t wearing a sign.
    PP, I hear what you’re saying about Gen Y and Howardism, but I will point out that I’m Gen Y, which obviously doesn’t break the whole concept. However I wonder, from my own experience, whether the willingness of GenY to take on all the kyriarchal toxicity is actually more a function of various lines of privilege intersecting with the temporal/generational context. Not in all cases, obv. But more as a general trend. Interested to see what others have observed.

  25. I hope it doesn’t sound like I’m defending them because I’m more alarmed every year at the displays of ethnocentricity and nationalism by this generation, particularly the males. I live in the sutherland shire and I swear the flags and the southern cross tattoos get bigger every year. I’m just more down with blaming the system that it stems from than with the kids themselves.

  26. PP, certainly the system has much to answer for, but I’m not sure it’s an either/or, and I worry that the emphasis on ‘not blaming them’ doesn’t take much to twist into ‘there’s nothing you can do’. I’m all for pointing out that the systems are pretty toxic, but these kids still need to be held accountable, because otherwise they risk getting pulled into the good person = not racist loop Beppie mentioned above.
    That said, I didn’t take that you were defending them, just wanted to expand a bit on what you were saying.

  27. I hear you, Jennifer, and you know, my daughter is obviously gen y as well and she loathes the aus-centric sub-culture. I don’t mean to generalise, really sorry about that.
    I think some contributing factors are definitely male plus white privilege, and also some unexamined class privilege (in this area at least because this is quite an affluent middle class neighbourhood).
    This on top of an ultra conservative political climate and post 9/11 Islamophobia.

  28. Oh totally, they should be held accountable. My way of doing that (in my ideal world) would be to teach them sociology and feminist theory, which I guess in my ideal world they would already be learning because it would be part of the national curriculum. It’s much easier to not be racist if you understand the social structure and how privilege functions within it.

  29. Hendo, I’ve been to the BDO in 07 and 09, and 06 was a one off, as far as I can tell. There is the odd flag, but I haven’t seen any dickheadery associated with them. It’s good see at least one (sort of) community has shunned the trend.
    I couldn’t tell you if it is still a sea of white faces, it would probably have to be 80% something else for me to notice. For some reason I have to actively look to notice.

  30. Hi Helen
    Why do I bother? I’m no feministe – you noticed – but I’m not disinterested in progressive analysis of human behaviour, and I read a assorted set of contrarian blogs to enrich my day. Though I do generally only make contrarian comments, that’s when I disagree. It’s not my intent to deny other people’s interpretation, or to imply that it’s impossible to analyse, but it’s easy to over-analyse without seeing other possibilities.
    > move along, nothing to see here
    Well, I do think that this applies this time. I mean, this is talkback radio, yes? Still, I shouldn’t have been so flippant, because this is worth making a stand over, and it is an issue I feel strongly about.

  31. At BDO 2008 in Adelaide my partner and I got pushed around, sworn at and yelled at because we were wearing ‘chink hats’ – we’re both white (although easily mistaken for Middle Eastern if he hasn’t trimmed his beard and I’m wearing a headscarf). It was about the whitest place i’ve ever been and I’m from Brisbane initially. We were over festivals anyway, and only went to see RATM/Morello and that pretty much solidified our desire to never ever go to a festival again.
    I live in Melbourne but was in Brissie for the day – it’s gotten to the point we just don’t go out on Australia Day. Mostly because my brother-in-law has this innate thing about bullies and will go on the offensive if he sees someone being harrassed and we end up backing him up and it’s all way too fraught with danger to even bother. Not when dickheads like this lot walk around like they aren’t being intimidating or obnoxious and anyone who speaks up is the troublesome one.

  32. Ozzie: maybe a good first step would be to stop assuming that every time we post about something like this, it’s because we’re surprised, or because it is somehow escaped our notice that this is an uphill battle.
    If you take that away, all you have left is you needling at us because we care; and that’s a rather difficult-to-defend position. (You seem to have realised this, and resiled from it, which is a plus.)

  33. I’d say there is a lot of privilege going on here, classism as well as rascism.
    Growing up and still living in the same area as these kids, it’s a VERY conservative area. It’s very middle class, about the family, about working hard and “not relying on the government to fix everything” (as I heard our local member say on Australia Day – ableism anyone?).
    It’s a good area generally, has a pretty strong community feel with a high level of volunteering, “good for raising a family” (nuclear hetero families of course, gays/single parents/divorcees frowned upon)(61% over age of 15 are married [49.6% nationally], 6.9% separated or divorced [11.3% nationally]).
    The problem is that, due to lack of public transport/infrastructure, it’s an historically relatively insular area. I remember growing up going to Parramatta or Macquarie (nearest major shopping centres outside immediate area) was a rarity, let alone the city or anywhere else. Transport has improved a little since then but I think it still holds true.
    I attended a fair few local Australia Day celebrations this year. They were great community affairs. I didn’t see anything that really caused me concern though thinking about it if someone was non-White I’d imagine there would be some pressure there to “pass” or be a “good little immigrant”. Good community but strong in-built nationalism and distrust of anything “unAustralian”.

  34. Just wanted to say this has been an interesting post to read, though I don’t feel equipped to comment much.
    Though I will argue that no matter where you go in the world, it’s almost impossible to separate anti-immigration sentiment from racism. Germany and Turkish residents, America and…well, nearly everyone…, the UK and Pakistani people, the list goes on and on. It’s hard to pull away the ‘we just want our kind of people here’ concept from white privilege. As a potential émigré to the UK, I’m pretty certain that I’ll be treated far differently as an English-speaking white person of partial Anglo-Saxon descent than anyone arriving from China or Egypt or Guatemala. It’s practically a given. Though the anti-immigration sentiment still applies slightly (don’t Americans have their own country, grumble grumble), it wouldn’t be extreme or potentially violent.
    And that’s race and culture related, full stop.

  35. “Well, I do think that this applies this time. I mean, this is talkback radio, yes?”
    I think you under-estimate the power of talkback, Ozzie. Middle-class white het males getting paid to spruik their prejudices toward minorities from a highly privileged platform for several hours a day enables them to stir up hatred out of nothing. It becomes a very powerful discursive force within the public arena, that manifests in all kinds of ugly ways, Cronulla Riots being just the more extreme example.

  36. Hardy har ha Sharon & co., hope the embarrassment factor is significant and that the photo lives on and on.

  37. Curiosities – living down the coast, at the town playing host to one of the major Universities of Shirelings I’ve also heard a story about the fact it’s the ‘whitest’ area of NSW (Which would play into the image of the area being extremely insular – sexually, racially and socially). Wondering where you’re getting your figures from, and if you can confirm/deny this rumour? :)
    Bene – just so long as you pass as white and aren’t Polish, is my understanding of racist sentiment from some of the English people I know.

  38. Aphie–yeah, I’d heard about the Polish immigration situation over in the UK…another can of worms to address that.

  39. Aphie, if you look at the ABS (Aus Bureau Statistics) website, you can search individual suburbs to get a demographic.

  40. It’s amazing that after all these years, some people still think racism is funny, even accidentally it’s not funny. But it’s not that fair to blame the Anglo-Saxons every time a white person blurted out some thing stupid, he or she could have ancestors from Continental Europe.
    I just feel bad for the kids who don’t have fair skin, they may have the perfect OZ accent and see themselves as true blue but every now and then things like this pop up, sad !
    Australia is beautifully unique, you only have to travel overseas to know it, so lets help discourage these kinds of mindset, lets live our lives as per the lyrics of our National Anthem Advance Australia Fair

  41. Erm, CNgo, while you’re working on discouraging mindsets, how about having a look at why you think a person has to have a certain accent and skin colour to be “true blue”?
    Also, “I just feel bad for the kids who don’t have fair skin…”? I read that to mean you believe all people wish they were white, which is pretty damn offensive in my book.

  42. You whole post is offensive, CNgo, and not one I would expect to have to read here. How about re-thinking the notion that there needs to be any kind of “true blue” ideal to live up to in the first place?
    Oh, and screw the national anthem.

  43. Bene – just so long as you pass as white and aren’t Polish, is my understanding of racist sentiment from some of the English people I know.

    Aphie/Bene, the tensions over Polish immigration to the UK is a good example of the difference between actual racism and resentment of economic competition.
    If you ask your English friends I seriously doubt they have anything against Poles racially or culturally. They are not perceived as inferior or undesirable, and I don’t know anyone who would consider them racially different than ‘white’ Brits these days. Historically there has been a close relationship between the two countries since WWII when the Polish government in exile was based here and Poles fought alongside Brits in the armed forces. Most are socially conservative, catholic and assimilate without problems.
    Any hostility expressed to Poles is entirely based on economic competition. When Poland joined the EU, Britain was one of only two countries who allowed them the same unrestricted labour access as existing EU members (the treaties say ANY citizen of an EU country has the right to work throughout the European Economic Area). The UK didn’t even monitor who was coming in and massively underestimated the numbers that actually arrived (tens of thousands versus half a million) – this has put a lot of a pressure on local authority services like housing and education which were pretty stressed to start with.
    In the labour market Poles are perceived as harder working than their British counterparts and even well qualified professionals are willing to work for the minimum wage as it is more than they would earn at home, so many employers actively prefer to hire Poles as they are seen as having a better attitude than locals.
    The universal expression of hostility is that Poles are “taking our jobs” not that they’re racially or culturally undesirable or taking advantage of the welfare system.
    I still don’t think that is racist (even though do I think it’s incorrect).

  44. Sorry Jet and PP and anyone else who took offence to my comments, I am sure I have been misunderstood for what I really wished to say was that we should discourage the mindset of different races mean different people, not now, not in today’s world, not with our cumulative knowledge, not when we are splitting atoms to understand the origin of all things… and beside all that we all migrated from Africa 60,000 years ago and all from the same family group : )
    Remember the old days when the kids in the Eastern Suburbs used to call kids from the Western Suburbs “Westies” and graffiti like “Go home Westies !”, some people thought it was funny then !
    Being true blue is to work hard, be generous and fair, I never see being fair skin is a prerequisite to join the club and this is what I understand of our National Anthem
    “…For those who’ve come across the seas
    We’ve boundless plains to share,
    With courage let us all combine
    To advance Australia fair…”
    Thanks for threads anyway, it was like a nice short black (coffee : ) to kick start my Wednesday, and today will be a beautiful day for me, yes you guessed it, I’m an expat currently working oversea, Cheers !

  45. Thing is, DEM, from personal observation, I would argue that the sentiment regarding Polish immigration is somewhat codified in terms of ethnicity. The Polish émigré community is codified as other. It’s not solely economic when there’s a very definite social underpinning (especially in regards to speaking English). And I would argue otherwise about cultural undesirability, for that matter–how much mainstreaming has Polish culture had into the greater UK cultural arena–and then there’re class issues…
    I’m very reminded of the way several groups of white immigrants (including, incidentally, Polish people; in full disclosure, I am partially of Polish descent) were treated here in the US, basically. All I can say is that from an outsider’s perspective, things read differently.

  46. Thing is, DEM, from personal observation, I would argue that the sentiment regarding Polish immigration is somewhat codified in terms of ethnicity.

    Yes. “They’re taking ‘our’ jobs” only works as a whinge if there is an underlying understanding between interlocutors that “They don’t deserve them”, and if there is am ingrained concept of “us” and “them” in the first place.

  47. No, CNgo, you haven’t been misunderstood. You may have misunderstood this post, though.
    In your first paragraph you are contending that either race does not exist or should not exist in a social context – I can’t tell which. Either way, that is offensive, and incorrect. That attitude dismisses the history and heritage of people who have experienced oppression as a result of their race, and it attempts to erase that history by blithely assuming everyone is just like you. Have you ever educated yourself on what white privilege means?
    In your second paragraph, you do in fact assume everyone is just like you by making – I gather – references to Sydney-specific class-based insults. You also compare classism to racism, and they are not the same thing in the slightest. “Westie go home” is not a racist remark, and not in any way comparable to the hatred expressed in the photograph this post is about.
    But you did compare the two insults, and you thought the latter was “funny”. What does that say about what you really think of Sharon and friends’ outing? Just a bit of larrikin hijinks, perhaps?

  48. Yes Jet, now looking back I think I should not have made any comment here at all for I must have tuned to a different wavelength.

    It has been good to hear your post though, very passionate and not incorrect, I will give it some thought, may be something good will come out of it.

  49. This shows how barbarian and narrow minded Aussies are..Education is the third source of income for Australia..Just imagine what would the country be like without Asians and foreigners coming to study in Australia..Where is your brain? If ur so racist, don’t eat any Asian food, don’t buy any of Asian products, don’t travel to other countries, and just stick to your own kind..Australian is a developed country but these racists in the country are so under-developed..People come to study or only live in Australia for a short period of time. I’m one of them and I can tell you that I’m only here for one year education and I’ll leave as soon as I graduate..Lots of us don’t even wanna be here..When I go back to my country, i will not come back to Australia again. And, i’ll make sure to tell my friends and the public that Australia isn’t such a nice place for education, tourism, and livin

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