Friday, December 16, 2005

Man Elected By Australians Optimistic About Australian Character

Some controversy over John Howard (or, as he is sometimes known, HoWARd - zing!) having said this:
I do not accept that there is underlying racism in this country. I have always taken a more optimistic view of the character of the Australian people. I do not believe Australians are racist.
I don't think the linked post is bad, although I think treating the Cronulla riot as primarily an outbreak of white racism is missing the point. To quibble, though: if this is an "abnegation of leadership", are we to presume that a statement indicating the opposite would have been an improvement? Public statements by leaders of nations are typically not a good place for introspection.

The statement "I do not believe Australians are racist" can be construed as a refusal to acknowledge that any Australians are racist, but I think that's a hell of a stretch, one that would only be undertaken by someone who has already decided to put the worst possible spin on anything coming from Howard's direction. Better to say that this kind of statement is a challenge, an expression of faith, a thing to be lived up to. (Easy for me to say, of course, as I'm not an Australian.)