Racism: The Disease

The disease of racism, like melanoma, comes to the surface with disappointing regularity. And, like melanoma, it will go metastatic if not addressed promptly. Once metastatic, it will be much more difficult to deal with. Words like ‘intractable’, ‘entrenched’, and ‘incurable’ come to mind.

The latest high-profile casualty is, of course, Stan Grant. But there have been many others before him and, regrettably, more will come after. Remember Adam Goodes?

And, in a form of victim blaming, racism frequently excuses itself at the expense of the hapless victim. The phrase, ‘he (or she) should be used to it by now’, crops up with such regularity I feel like throwing a brick through the nearest window every time I hear it said. Goodes copped it, and I’m waiting, with anger in my heart, for some white-shoed bigot to use it apropos Grant.

There’s an unstated – perhaps taboo – irony here. It’s this. No matter how white you’d like to insist your skin is, should you take the trouble to track your forebears – those who have had roots in this country – just a tad back into the mists of past time, there’s a fair chance you will find that you – yes, you – have indigenous genes in your inherited make-up. The more racist a person’s stance is, the more they’ll try to deny the reality behind this simple human consequence. To them, it’s an unpalatable and unconscionable reality.

We should all make the point of asking ourselves, ‘Who do you think you are?’, and the answer may not always come back as Irish. Or Norwegian.

So, perhaps racism is a form of what is known by psychologists as ‘projection’. You fear the demons that your genetic make-up might possibly contain, so you rail against those who definitively fit the bill.

Doing the rounds in some Twitter-infested circles is another example of projection. It is the pejorative expression ‘Stan Grant’s rant’, possibly made in reference to Grant’s performance in his former role – famously cut short – as host of the ABC’s iconic Q & A program, a program in which a studio audience is invited to direct questions on current issues to a supposedly expert panel. Anybody who has watched this program knows that Stan Grant does not rant. He is quietly spoken, almost to a fault. Perhaps the person who coined this alliterative but un-clever phrase is the actual ranter, and he/she is determined to offload their perceived fault onto somebody of whom they feel resentful.

Let me venture a personal opinion. Of all the people who have hosted Q & A since its inception, Stan Grant has been the most able. The way he deals with difficult people on the panel and in the audience is admirable. He is always firmly in control, but never in an offensive way. Quietly and politely, he brings back politicians determined to push their own barrow to the point under discussion. I am sorry to see him go, shoved out as he was by bigots and (it appears) by insensitive ABC management.

In time (which has the ability to mitigate the effects of all slings and arrows), I feel sure we shall see Stan Grant in some other role. I certainly hope so. I very much look forward to that.

Bastards of all stripes, and particularly racist bastards, must not be allowed to get away with putting good and worthy people down.