Worried about Racism

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Feb 13th, 2004, 10:12 AM
  #21
 
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Neil

Don't hold your breath, Neil. We may have scared air1975 off. It would be nice to have feedback.

I agree with your last thoughts and don't think you look through rose-coloured glasses. I don't take it seriously when we are told we must erase racism. Like we can do that?

I do think the One Nation Party did some damage for certain minorities. I was somewhat intimidated by the media news at a time when Australia was a dream vacation for us. But as you say, things have changed and I have no qualms travelling in Australia but do have for travelling in some areas in the US. Not necessarily for racism but for crime. So air1975 could take that into consideration.

In the current issue of Globetrotting published by Goway it mentions that travel to Tasmania has increased 20% in 2003, and carries a one-page descriptive piece and tour on the back page. Looks like we've chosen the right place to visit.

I've been having trouble entering Fodor Travel Talk and took someone's suggestion to go through Netscape. It works 100%.

I will be back with a question on our trip six weeks.
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Feb 13th, 2004, 10:17 AM
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I meant to add that I don't believe air1975's fears about Australia are common among non-"Anglo" Americans or Canadians now.
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Feb 13th, 2004, 04:18 PM
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Michi, the One Nation Party received unwarranted oxygen from a media hungry, as always, for sensation, and (**warning: bias follows**) was not swatted down at the outset by our prime minister, who is a dab hand at wedge politics himself.

A further boost was given by the emergence of one Pauline Hanson, a spokesperson who, while no Einstein, instinctively knew how to tap into the fear and resentment felt by some people feeling marginalised by rapid economic and social change and all too willing to blame the minorities they think are being coddled.

Pauline did supply some unintentional humour, such as when, asked on TV if she were xenophobic, couldn't answer the question, not knowing what the word meant. Anyway, she's out of jail now (sentenced for electoral fraud, conviction quashed on appeal), hasn't had any luck in her attempts to return to public life but at least can revel in the role of St Pauline the Martyr.

By the way, last weekend's state election in Queensland (ONP's spiritual home) resulted in another landslide win for the Labor Party. Less than 1 in 20 electors voted for One Nation and one of their two sitting MPs was defeated.

Maybe I'd better stop giving them oxygen now! Yes, I wish we could eliminate racism, but I fear it's an inescapable part of the human condition. The best we can do is to make its public expression unacceptable and fight discrimination.

Tasmania at long last seems to be having an economic resurgence, which is good to see. Enjoy your visit.
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Feb 13th, 2004, 11:26 PM
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Michi - in the interests of stamping out discrimination I should have said that in the past Tasmanians were occasionally subjected to the sort of hurtful humour that a Canadian acquaintance once told me used to be directed towards "Newfies", and which a Welsh friend also remembers being the victim of in England. New Zealanders also have long been the target of such calumnies in this country. While I will spare readers' finer sensibilities at this point, sheep, and occasionally other livestock, feature prominently in these libels. My sole purpose in posting this information is to advise vistors to Van Diemen's Land to resist any temptation to recycle these old chestnuts, as I believe they are seldom well received. If anyone wants a couple of examples of such discrimination, in the interests of anthropological research, please email me.
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Feb 14th, 2004, 10:51 AM
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Interesting information, Neil. Definitely Newfie jokes have been around for many years. Don't hear them as much any more or maybe I am out of circulation more. I hope it's because we are more sensitive.

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Feb 14th, 2004, 08:21 PM
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I try to be a SNAG but I'm not very successful, Michi, so I still laugh at jokes in poor taste. Even an English joke I once heard that managed to slander both the Australians and Irish at one stroke.

Jokes may be the last refuge of the politically incorrect, but they're pretty democratic, I reckon, insofar as nobody's entirely safe from them, even WASPs like me. I accept that it may be harder for a Tasmanian to come up with a Mainlander joke, but what's life without a challenge?

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Feb 15th, 2004, 02:50 PM
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Hey everyone. Sorry to have started this discussion and then not participated in it... I was out of town for a little while, and couldn't log in.

Its great to hear everybody's opinions and takes on the question of racism. I appreciate everybody's help and advice. If I offended anybody by my question, I do apologize as it was not my intention to offend or inflame.

NeilOz - I have really enjoyed reading your comments. Yes, I do know that racism is present in every country.. I was just concerned about the LEVEL of racism in Sydney. The media reports I had referred to included a guidebook, and a few newspaper articles I've read over the years.

However, after having read everybody's comments )people living there, people who've vistied Australia), it seems that my anxieties were fairly unfounded and that almost everyone has had positive experiences in Oz. That is great, and I am truly excited about a future visit to Australia!

By the way, what is a whinger???
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Feb 15th, 2004, 04:47 PM
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Yeah air1975
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Feb 15th, 2004, 05:13 PM
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Hey, good to see you're back, air1975! No, I'm sure you didn't offend anyone, and I'm sorry if my first post sounded a little grumpy. Distortions abound in the mass media and it was maddening for many Australians to know that the political party we were talking about got so much air time in Asia that some people in neighbouring countries like Singapore and Malaysia were seriously convinced that the aforesaid accidental politician Pauline Hanson was our prime minister!! Unfortunately, good news doesn't sell newspapers.

It must be admitted that Australia once ran a "whites only" immigration policy, and while that was a long time ago, memories can be long. That policy was the product of an insecure country of a few million Anglo-Celts on the edge of Asia, far removed frm their roots and fearful of cultural obliteration (not to mention a labour movement scared that cheap foreign labour would depress their hard-won pay and working conditions).

I remember getting involved in a discussion about the "white Australia" policy in Singapore in the early '70s. Ironically, I was arguing against it (along with a Sinaporean colleague) while an Indian collegue was defending Australia's right to have it! Well, it was history by then anyway, but it was a weird argument.

Fact is that Australia (and Sydney in particular) now has so many people from all parts of Asian origin that even if we wanted to engage in racist behaviour we wouldn't have the energy. You'll see what I mean when you get here. But I'd be surprised indeed if you found Sydney any different from San Francisco, say, in that respect. Only the occasional ratbag is a vocal racist, and I very much doubt that you'll strike one of those.

Slang terms: a "ratbag" is a pronounced eccentric; a "raving ratbag" is worse, in fact as mad as a cut snake. A "whinger" is a whiner or constant complainer and is pronounced with a soft "g", "winjer". A "bloody whinger" is worse. "A whingeing bastard" is really bad. People don't like drinking with whingers. My personal favourite "as flash as a rat with a gold tooth", applied to someone decked out in especially fine apparel.

The extent to which Australians use weird slang (especially that last term) is also exaggerated overseas, so you shouldn't need a phrase book to enjoy your visit.



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Feb 15th, 2004, 08:51 PM
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As flash as a rat with a gold tooth! I love it!
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Feb 16th, 2004, 11:39 AM
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>>>>>>I try to be a SNAG but I'm not very successful, Michi, so I still laugh at jokes in poor taste.<<<<<<

Huh, Neil?

An acronym web page gave me these choices:

* School Nutrition Action Group
* Seafloor Noise Advisory Group
* Sensitive New Age Guy
* Society of North American Goldsmiths
* Student Nurses' Association of Guam

I take it from the context that you meant Sensitive New Age Guy.
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Feb 16th, 2004, 11:54 AM
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You've got it, Judy. "Sensitive New Age Guy" is what I keep getting told I need to aspire to. Somehow it just hasn't stuck.

air1975, the saying "as flash as a rat with a gold tooth" once won a magazine competition for best Australian slang expression, but the truth is I'd never heard it before. At the risk of lowering the tone of this forum (who, me?), I think second place went to "he was hanging around like fart in a phone box".

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Feb 16th, 2004, 01:00 PM
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My 2 slang choices are:

1/ up and down like a bride's nightie

2/ a subtle as a fart in a megaphone
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Feb 16th, 2004, 06:43 PM
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.......and for those desperate for a beer who are "dry as a dead dingo's donger"
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Feb 16th, 2004, 08:11 PM
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Or as dry as a Pommy's bathmat..... (er, sorry, I forgot that we're trying to reassure visitors about Australia)
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Feb 18th, 2004, 12:12 PM
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Don't want to prolong this thread beyond its natural life, but I couldn't help passing on the news that a member of parliament in the state of South Australia has announced her decision to oppose a bill that would ban the eating of cats and dogs, on the grounds that it would discriminate against certain ethnic groups. Now there's a warrior in the cause of tolerance! Maybe I'll send her my Filipino recipe for stewed dog.


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Feb 19th, 2004, 11:33 AM
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air1975

I am of Indian orgin living in the US - we visted Australia in 2001 - we did not experience any racism. We loved the place - easily the best vacation we've had.

This was a few months after 9/11 and it was actually a relief to be in a country where people would come up to you smile and say - you from India mate - and talk about cricket instead of being glared at as "Arabs" and "Muslims". Again not to offend any Americans on this forum or tar everone with the same brush - but things were not comfortable for a while.

But yes brush up your knowledge of cricket, several people talked about it, I'd lost touch but hubby and our friends keep up - it made for some interesting conversation. Go and have a great time.
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Feb 22nd, 2004, 08:30 PM
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Indie, you could have something there. Today's "Sydney Morning Herald" reports that "Four young Australians on a trip to the United States last month were hauled off a domestic flight, handcuffed and held for five hours on apparent suspicions of terrorism, based on what they believe was 'ethnic profiling'..... The incident at Newark Liberty* International airport ... has left the men, aged in their early 20s, humiliated and anxious about how terrorism fears and racial stereotyping may affect their future travel." These lads are all of Sri Lankan origin.

The full story is at www.smh.com.au.
Ironically, Australia lent military support to American intervention in Afghanistan and is one of the very few countries with troops in Iraq.

* nice touch, that!
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