Showing posts with label racism. Show all posts
Showing posts with label racism. Show all posts

Tuesday, 30 June 2020

"An infamous federal government bureaucrat at the centre of one of the biggest scandals in the ABC’s history – a fraudulent story which sparked the multi-billion dollar Northern Territory intervention – has been promoted to serve as Australia’s High Commissioner to Ghana."


New Matilda, 28 June 2020:

An infamous federal government bureaucrat at the centre of one of the biggest scandals in the ABC’s history – a fraudulent story which sparked the multi-billion dollar Northern Territory intervention – has been promoted to serve as Australia’s High Commissioner to Ghana.

Gregory Andrews was working as a senior adviser to Indigenous affairs minister Mal Brough in 2006 when he appeared as the star witness in an ABC Lateline story which falsely described him as an ‘anonymous youth worker’.
Andrews – whose face was filmed in shadow and his voice digitized to hide his identity – wept openly on camera as he described how, in the mid-2000s, he reported incidents of sexual violence against women and children in Mutitjulu to police, but withdrew his statements after being threatened by powerful men in the community.
It subsequently emerged the entire story was a fiction – Andrews had never made a single report of violence against women or children to police.
Andrews was also forced to apologise to the Federal Senate for providing misleading testimony, and later became the first public servant in history to avoid appearing before a Senate Inquiry on the grounds of stress.
The day after the ABC story was broadcast, the Northern Territory government announced a high-level inquiry into the claims. Almost a year later, the resulting reporting – Little Children Are Sacred – was used by the Howard Government as the basis for launching the Northern Territory intervention.

Infamous Canberra bureaucrat, Gregory Andrews, pictured in 2017.

Reporting by Fairfax revealed that shortly before Prime Minister John Howard announced the NT intervention, it received a report from Liberal Party polling firm Crosby Textor advising it that its best chance of winning the 2007 election was to intervene in the affairs of the state and territory governments, to try and make them look incompetent (all state and territory governments at the time were controlled by Labor).
The strategy failed – the Howard government lost the election, with former Foreign Affairs minister Alexander Downer lamenting afterwards that despite the loss, the policy proved popular with Australian voters.
Andrews worked in the community of Mutitjulu for a short period in 2005 as a project manager for the Northern Territory government. He subsequently joined the Department of Families and Community Services, Housing and Indigenous Affairs, and was providing advice directly to Minister Brough when the ABC falsely described him as an ‘anonymous youth worker’.
Talking points which had been prepared by Andrews for the minister prior to his appearance on Lateline were subsequently leaked – they revealed that once Andrews was provided anonymity by Lateline, he grossly embellished his story.
Andrews claimed children were being traded between Aboriginal communities in Central Australia as “sex slaves”. A lengthy investigation by Northern Territory police found “no evidence whatsoever” to support the claims. An Australian Crime Commission investigation also found the allegations to be false.....
Read the full article here.

Wednesday, 3 June 2020

For years Facebook Inc. has known that its algorithms encourage and amplify antisocial behaviour like hate speech and extreme political bias


It seems that Facebook Inc. executives shut down efforts to make the site less divisive - because social and political division was increasing company profits by keeping certain categories of users engaged.

One has to wonder to what degree the company's decades of fostering poisonous online comment has contributed to the chaos that is American society in 2020.

Business Insider, 29 May 2020:
  • For years, Facebook has known that its algorithms encourage and amplify antisocial behaviour like hate speech and extreme political bias to keep users engaged, according to company documents reported in The Wall Street Journal.
  • When given proposals to make the platform better, executives often balked. They didn’t want to offend bad actors, and they didn’t want to release their hold on people’s attention. At Facebook attention equals money. 
  • So Facebook’s algorithms have been allowed to continue being sociopaths – pushing divisive content and exploiting people’s visceral reactions without a thought for the consequences or any remorse for their actions. 
  • Meanwhile, by letting bad actors on the platform do their thing, Facebook is feeding an inherent political bias into the algorithms themselves, and the company at large.
Facebook has always claimed that its mission is to bring people together, but a new report from The Wall Street Journal laid bare what many have suspected for some time: Its algorithms encourage and amplify harmful, antisocial behaviour for money. 

In other words, Facebook’s algorithms are by nature sociopaths. And company executives have been OK with that for some time. 

Here’s what we learned from Jeff Horowitz and Deepa Seetharaman at The Journal
  • A 2016 internal Facebook report showed “64% of all extremist group joins are due to our recommendation tools.” 
  • A 2018 internal report found that Facebook’s “algorithms exploit the human brain’s attraction to divisiveness” and warned that if left unchecked they would simply get nastier and nastier to attract more attention. 
  • An internal review also found that algorithms were amplifying users that spent 20 hours on the platform and posted the most inflammatory content (users that may not be people at all, but rather Russian bots, for example). 
  • Facebook executives, especially Mark Zuckerberg, time and time again ignored or watered down recommendations to fix these problems. Executives were afraid of looking biased against Republicans – who, according to internal reports, were posting the highest volume of antisocial content. 
  • And of course executives had to protect the company’s moneymaking, attention-seeking, antisocial algorithms – regardless of the damage they may be doing in society as a whole. Politics played into that as well. 
People who suffer from antisocial personality disorder – known in popular culture as “sociopaths” – engage in harmful, deceptive behaviour without regard for social norms. Sometimes this is done with superficial charm; other times this is done with violence and intimidation. These people never feel remorse for their behaviour, nor do they consider its long-term consequences. 

This is how Facebook’s algorithms behave. It’s how they hold on to users’ attention and how, ultimately, the company makes money. 

This runs contrary to what the company has been telling us about itself. After the bad rap it developed in the wake of the 2016 election, executives and the company’s marketing machine were telling us that Facebook was both financially and culturally committed to encouraging pro-social behaviour on the platform by doing things like removing violence and hate speech, making sure conspiracy theories and lies didn’t go viral, and cracking down on opioid sales. 

Now we know that that commitment was limited. Facebook would not kill the algorithms that laid the golden eggs despite their bias against these goals, or even clip their wings for that matter.....

Read the full article here.

Tuesday, 10 December 2019

Flashing hate symbols is not OK


Anti-Defamation League, media release, 26 September 2019:

The “OK” hand symbol – Begun as a hoax by members of the website 4chan, the OK symbol became a popular trolling tactic. By 2019, the symbol was being used in some circles as a sincere expression of white supremacy. Australian white supremacist Brenton Tarrant flashed the symbol during his March 2019 courtroom appearance soon after his arrest for allegedly murdering 50 people in mosques in Christchurch.

It's not just white terrorists or your garden variety right-wing racists who are flashing this hate sign - it looks suspiciously like public figures are also deciding it is fun to flash.

Here are two images and one video. A group photo which includes the Australian Prime Minister's wife on the far right (from a Liberal Party of Australia tweet), another of a Sky News broadcaster live on-air and, video of segment of Sky News program.
Twitter image

Snapshot taken from Twitter image
Image on Twitter 3 December 2019


Sunday, 3 November 2019

Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison brings shame on all of us who arrived in the country from 1778 onwards


And Jenna Price* expresses that shame for us all......

The Canberra Times, 25 October 2019:

It's the only night legendary Australian band the Go-Betweens are playing in Sydney and the audience is keyed up. A woman gives a very moving Acknowledgment of Country - you know, the ones which are more than just the nod to elders past, present and emerging. The ones which talk about rivers and sky, kin and skin. It's Wiradjuri woman Yvonne Weldon, chair of the Metropolitan Local Aboriginal Land Council, whose ability to hold an audience is epic.


Midway, a bloke in the audience starts heckling. Get a move on, he says, and worse.

"I paused. And then I said, 'This is exactly for you, we are the oldest living cultures of the world'," Weldon remembers.

There was a moment of silence before people started telling him to shush - but in stronger language. Weldon continued. Her aim, she says, was to address a big-mouthed, small-minded person.

Now the Prime Minister is doing his own interrupting, colonising these acknowledgments with his own version. Last Saturday, at a Liberal function at Parliament House, he acknowledged the Ngunnawal people. And then he said: "Can I also acknowledge, as is my habit, anyone who is serving in our defence forces and certainly those who are veterans, and simply say on behalf of a very grateful nation, thank you for your service."

It's his own thing. Six words about the traditional owners and entire sentences about everyone else. He didn't just do it at the Liberal Council. He also did it at the Migration and Settlement Awards and at the Prime Minister's Literary Awards. Morrison has decided to add non-Indigenous people to the acknowledgments without reflecting on what that means and how it diminishes Aboriginal people.
Wurundjeri elder Aunty Joy Murphy-Wandin performs a Welcome to Country and Acknowledgment of Country before a State of Origin game in Melbourne. Picture: Getty Images
Wurundjeri elder Aunty Joy Murphy-Wandin performs
a Welcome to Country and Acknowledgment of Country
beforea State of Origin game in Melbourne. Picture:
Getty Images

Why does this matter? We know we are on Aboriginal land. We know Australia wasn't blank earth when colonised 200 years ago. Since the arrival of Cook and company, Aboriginal people have been raped and murdered, stolen from their families, had their cultural practices and beliefs erased. They earn less, learn less, die early. There is a lot we can do to redress that, but the very least we could do is to acknowledge that we are on Aboriginal land. It's a couple of minutes out of our respective days and might even encourage a tiny bit of reflection on the part of those of us who are listening. It's not a big ask to be part of a ceremony that has its traditions going back thousands of years (yes, yes, they didn't have exactly this before white people arrived, but Aboriginal people had their own ways of welcoming to country). 

In the aeons before, the Welcome to Country was a sign of peace. And it's this which irks D'harawal scholar Gawaian Bodkin-Andrews, a professor at the University of Technology Sydney (I work there too), the most. Bodkin-Andrews, who has researched Welcome to Country controversies, says the Prime Minister has appropriated an act of peace and embedded war. 
Bodkin-Andrews reminds us that Welcome to Countries (delivered by traditional custodians) are about Aboriginal people sharing their histories and their connections to Country. Acknowledgments (given by Aboriginal people who are not custodians of the land or by non-Aboriginal people) should respect this. 

"It's asking for understanding and demonstrating that our arms are open to you. Military personnel can be agents of war and Morrison's comments are warmongering in a symbol of peace. That is ultimately disrespectful." 

It's also puzzling. Why acknowledge that particular category of Australian?

"It's reflective of his mentality and the party he stands for."

NOTES

* Jenna Price, BA (Communications) (NSWIT), MA (UTS), PhD (Sydney), Senior Lecturer, Journalism Program, University of Technology Sydney.


Monday, 17 June 2019

Australian mainstream media learns another lesson as to why racism is bad policy



BuzzFeed News, 13 June 2019:

Channel Seven has failed in its bid to strike out a lawsuit brought by a group of Aboriginal people who say they were defamed during a now infamous panel discussion on breakfast TV show Sunrise about adopting Indigenous children.
Yolngu woman Kathy Mununggurr and 14 others from the remote community of Yirrkala, including adults and children, are suing the TV network after they were depicted in blurred overlay footage that played during the segment in March 2018.

In the discussion, hosted by Samantha Armytage, commentator Prue Macsween said of the Stolen Generations that “we need to do it again, perhaps”, and then-radio host Ben Davis said Aboriginal kids are getting “abused” and “damaged”.

The comments made by the all-white panel provoked protests outside the Sunrise studio in Sydney's CBD.

Mununggurr and the adults suing argue they were identifiable in the footage and that by playing it during the discussion Sunrise had suggested they abused, assaulted or neglected children, were incapable of protecting their children, and were members of a dysfunctional community.

The children suing say the program defamed them by suggesting they had been raped and assaulted, and were so vulnerable to danger that they should be removed from their families.

The group is also suing for breach of confidence and breach of privacy, as well as misleading and deceptive conduct and unconscionable conduct under the Australian Consumer Law.

The TV network tried to strike out all aspects of the lawsuit in a Federal Court hearing on Wednesday afternoon, but was slapped down by Justice Steven Rares, who said all the issues could and should be argued at trial…..

"This is about an Aboriginal community. They’re all very close. The neighbours know each other, they all know each other," the judge said.

"You’ve got a whole community up there, most of whom will be able to recognise each other, obviously some of whom who watch Sunrise, or whatever the show is called."…...

Rares accepted there was an argument that Davis and the radio station 4BC were being promoted during the segment, but was less convinced when it came to Macsween.

“To me she’s a nobody. I’ve never heard of her and I’ve got no idea what contribution she possibly could have made to the program,” he said.

Nonetheless Rares sided with Catanzariti and declined to strike out the claim.
Seven's attempts to strike out the remaining claims of breach of confidence, breach of privacy and unconscionable conduct were similarly rejected.

Seven was ordered to pay the costs of the hearing.

Tuesday, 9 April 2019

Speaking truth about “the rightness of whiteness”


The Guardian, 3 April 2019:


The Labor senator and Yawuru man Pat Dodson spoke about the links between Australia’s massacre history and the terrorist attacks in Christchurch, while addressing the censure motion against Fraser Anning in the Senate.

The motion condemned Anning for his “inflammatory and divisive comments seeking to attribute blame to victims of a horrific crime and to vilify people on the basis of religion, which do not reflect the opinions of the Australian Senate or the Australian people.”

Dodson said Indigenous people carry the consequence of murderous prejudice “throughout our entwined history”.

 “First Nations’ peoples … know the impacts of murder wilfully carried out and morally justified by hatred of minorities, misplaced power and bullying superiority,” Dodson said.

“In Gurindji country, they talk of the Killing Times.

“Mounted Constable Willshire was stationed at Victoria River Downs in the 1890s. He was a mass murderer in uniform, who took it upon himself to protect the interests of cattlemen by dispersing the traditional owners of the lands at gunpoint.

“He took to print, justifying his actions with boastful pride and emboldened by the rightness of whiteness and condemned the First Nations’ people to death.
“Willshire wrote about the killing on Wave Hill: ‘It’s no use mincing matters. The Martini-Henry carbines at the critical moment were talking English in the silent majesty of these eternal rocks.’”

Dodson said he has walked through some of the sites of mass murder in Australia with descendants of the victims and “sometimes too with the descendants of murderers.”

“In South Australia I visited a monument erected by both sides in the small community of Elliston to commemorate the mass murder of men, women and children pushed over the steep sea cliffs by charging horsemen and barking dogs.
“I have visited the sites of massacres, of mass murders in Balgo, in Forrest River, and at Coniston. Those mass murders took place in living memory.

“I have sat down with old Warlpiri men and women who luckily survived those murderous attacks as young babies, hidden from the attacks.

“1928 was not that long ago. My mother was just seven years old.

“But we are in 2019 now and a mass murderer, rejecting the richness of difference, driven by religious hatred and xenophobia, empowered by military-style weapons, has waged his atrocity in Christchurch,” Dodson said.

“The murder of 50 innocent people does not just happen. It arises from the feeding of hate, irresponsible language and the demonising of people of colour, and difference.
“We know, and senator Anning knows, the real cause of the bloodshed in Christchurch. The real cause was prejudice, hate, and a passion for violent action, aided and abetted by the availability of military-style weapons.

“We call out those who exploit fear and ignorance for political gain: who mock the traditional dress of women of another culture; who seek donations from the manufacturers of weapons of war to override our own laws; who argue that it is “alright to be white”.

“Their values would plunge our country back into the Killing Times.

“We should instead turn our face to the light of a new future, a peaceful, non-violent, tolerant country of hope, respect and unity.

“A country where no innocent man, women or child is ever again the victim of mass murder.”

Saturday, 30 March 2019

Quote of the Week



“People generally conform to the mores of their society, and if they believe racism to be acceptable they are more likely to behave in a racist way. Racist concepts are kept alive through communication of racist viewpoints and social mediation and the use of racist scapegoating as acceptable aspects of political debate. Where there is ‘social permission’ to be racist, racism is a permissible way of releasing frustrations and aggression. Conversely, discouraging racist attitudes and behaviour is likely to cause racism to decrease.”  [Tamsan Clarke, February 2005, RACISM, PLURALISM AND DEMOCRACY IN AUSTRALIA: Re-conceptualising racial vilificationlegislation]

Wednesday, 27 March 2019

Taking the xenophobic temperature of the NSW Northern Rivers region


These quotes below give an indication of what Pauline Hanson's One Nation political party (PHON) believes and acts upon.

Given the chance, Pauline Hanson's One Nation will initiate a referendum to amend this race based section of the Constitution. …We must rid ourselves of Native Title and just as laws are made by and for the people so can they be amended…. Under One Nation policy the issue of Aboriginality would no longer exist as benefits by virtue of race would no longer exist. [Pauline Hanson, Longreach Speech, 11 September 1988]

I and most Australians want our immigration policy radically reviewed and that of multiculturalism abolished. I believe we are in danger of being swamped by Asians. [Pauline Hanson, First Speech in Australian Parliament, excerpt, 1996]

The indigenous population is experiencing boom growth in Australia. One only has to be recognised as an Aboriginal community to be accepted as an Aboriginal. Identifying as an Aboriginal has definite financial advantages, as Aboriginality allows them to claim a share of the booty of the native title scam as well as various other publicly funded perks not available to other Australians. [Pauline Hanson, Hansard, 2 June 1998]

Pauline Hanson has compared Islam to a disease Australians need to vaccinate themselves against….. "Let me put it in this analogy - we have a disease, we vaccinate ourselves against it," she said on Friday. [The Sydney Morning Herald, 24 March 2017]

The number of Muslims in Australia doubled in the decade from 2006 to 2016 through immigration and the high numbers of children born to Muslim families. If we do not draw a line in the sand against immigration from Islamic countries, the influence of Muslims in this country will continue to grow and Australia will continue down the path of Islamisation. [Pauline Hanson, Hansard, 17 August 2017]

Mark Latham could be forced to pay out more than $100,000 in legal costs and damages after agreeing to settle defamation proceedings brought against him by the ABC journalist Osman Faruqi. Faruqi, a former politics editor of pop culture site Junkee and a former Greens candidate, launched his libel action last year after the former leader of the Labor party accused him of “aiding and abetting Islamic terrorism” and fostering “anti-white racism in Australia”. The comments were made across Latham’s Outsiders webpage, YouTube, the Rebel Media webpage and a post on Facebook. [The Guardian, 26 November 2018]

One Nation NSW would force DNA tests on every person claiming Aboriginal heritage to qualify for government assistance. NSW One Nation Legislative Council candidate Mark Latham said the policy would weed out "the blond-haired, blue-eyed Aboriginal". [Mark Latham, 9 News, 12 March 2019]

Outlaw the new Left-wing discrimination against men, boys, Christians and white people… [Pauline Hanson’s One Nation, 10 Point Plan, March 2019]

We’re not even allowed to own guns in Australia for the self-protection of women….It’s insane. We’ve been importing all these Muslims into Australia….Some really dangerous people. They are just breaking into people's homes with baseball bats and killing people. Basically, stealing everything they own. Gangs. Our county's going into chaos. [Pauline Hanson’s One Nation Qld party official Steve Dickson, YouTube, 26 March 2019]

According to Prof.Kevin M. Dunn (UWS); Between 1996 and 1998, the Federal Government commissioned an inquiry into racism in Australia (see DIMA, 1998:1). The results of that inquiry are not publicly available, and purposefully so. I presume that the research found racism to widespread, and that it also found there to be geography to it.

Because there is little hard information and, what exists is not readily available, it is notoriously difficult - if not impossible - to work out the number of people who hold xenophobic or racist world views in any given population.

However, the NSW Legislative Council election on 23 March 2019 does open a window on that part of the Northern Rivers population who are 18 years of age and older and registered to vote in state elections.

The window exists because although no candidate from the far right, nationalist, Pauline Hanson’s One Nation stood for election to the NSW Legislative Assembly (Lower House) in the four Northern Rivers state electorates, PHON had 17 candidates standing for election in the NSW Legislative Assembly (Upper House). 

State-wide PHON had received 220,847 votes or 5.93% of all 3.72 million Upper House ballots recorded as of 22:58 pm on 26 March 2019. [See: https://vtr.elections.nsw.gov.au/home]

So how did the Northern Rivers region fare in relation to the state percentage of voters who were willing to support xenophobic and racist ideology only eight days after an Australian was arrested for a murderous terrorist attack on worshippers in two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand?

In the Ballina electorate 1,713 voters cast their first preference for Pauline Hanson’s One Nation in the NSW Legislative Council – 3.66% of all Upper House ballots cast in that electorate.

While the Clarence electorate saw 3.441 voters cast their first preference for Pauline Hanson’s One Nation in the NSW Legislative Council – 8.94% of all Upper House ballots cast in that electorate. 

And in the Lismore electorate 2,556 voters cast their first preference for Pauline Hanson’s One Nation in the NSW Legislative Council – 5.69% of all Upper House ballots cast in that electorate.

At the same time in the Tweed electorate 1,933 voters cast their first preference for Pauline Hanson’s One Nation in the NSW Legislative Council – 6.76% of all Upper House ballots cast in that electorate.

These figures appear to support the contention that there is a sub-population in the Northern Rivers region which is markedly ethnocentric and willing to vote for an openly racist political party.

This willingness has helped to elect former federal MP Mark William Latham as One Nation's first member of the NSW Parliament. He sits for a maximum term of eight years in the Upper House which will provide him with the protection of parliamentary privilege for some if not all of his frequently divisive nationalistic ideological statements.

Given that in past years a number of academic papers discussing the geography of racism have identified "Northern" NSW, the "North Coast", "Mid-North Coast" and "Richmond-Tweed" as having a relatively high number of markers for ethnocentrism and/or racism, one has to wonder if this current support for an openly racist political party represents more than just the ongoing existence of xenophobia and racism in Northern Rivers communities - that perhaps it might represent a widening acceptance and further entrenchment of such attitudes across the valleys.

The Great Australian Ugliness: how supporters of conservative political parties act on polling day


Friday, 22 March 2019

"Please don’t run away from this so fast we fail to learn anything by it. Call out racism. Call out bigotry. Then call it out again, and again."


The Daily Examiner, 20 March 2019, p.28:

The Grafton community is in shock, left heartbroken after news that Friday’s terrorist attack in New Zealand was perpetrated by a man who grew up here.

So it’s understandable we want to try to distance ourselves from what is now one of the worst mass killings in modern history.

We feel for our city, we feel for the local family caught up in this, and we feel for the people of New Zealand.

What is apparent though is a lack of acknowledgement of the people who were specifically targeted in this murderous rampage. Muslims. People, including children as young as two, who were killed because of their faith and their race.

And don’t for one minute think it’s not about race, it’s a package deal for white supremacists, and the 28-year-old who grew up here is one of those.

So why do Clarence Valley spokespeople gloss over such details like they are trivial facts in this horrendous story?

If a Middle Eastern gunman of Muslim faith walked into a Catholic church in Australia and open fired on white Christian families there would be no such leniencies extended to the perpetrator or his ilk in the conversations that follow.

But here we are in protection mode. This isn’t our Grafton. This isn’t our Australia. 

This isn’t us. Which is correct if we judge the perpetrator only on his actions on Friday.

But we have to come to terms with the fact these things don’t happen overnight. There is an innate beginning to a journey that takes you to a place where you are capable of planning an attack of this level of calculation and carnage, write an extensive manifesto to showcase the act, film it and broadcast it live, and, after being captured, smirk to the media as you face the first of the many legal consequences of your actions.

So if it’s not us, who is it? Pakistan, Finland, any other country? Is it the internet or social media? Computer games? Is it the moment he left Grafton? The moment he was ‘radicalised’?

Ultimate responsibility lies with our society and the attitudes we foster. The conversations we have and behaviours we encourage and allow.

Everything contributes to this. What we hear from governments, what we hear from the media, what we hear from our family and friends. What we are exposed to growing up, what we talk about when we are old, the messages we share in pubs and on social media.

So in the Clarence, our Muslim-free narrative is very telling. So, too, the idealistic version we create of ourselves.

Please stop telling me how wonderful this place is. I already know it is; as long as you look like me, you go OK.

But describing the Clarence Valley and Grafton as a diverse and multicultural region that prides itself on being inclusive, while it makes a great sound bite or quote in a news story there is plenty to fault in these broad overviews with little evidence to back them up.

About 80 per cent of Grafton is made up of white people and more than 70 per cent identify as Christian (national averages are 65 per cent and 52 per cent respectively). 

Our demographic is made up of Australians, English, Irish, Scottish and Germans predominantly. Our indigenous population falls under the Australian component and makes up 7.4per cent of that, representing the major group as far as our cultural diversity goes. It is more than double the state average at 2.9per cent. Our representation of other people of colour is negligible by comparison.*

So to call us a culturally diverse place is a stretch. Inclusiveness is easy when we all look the same and have the same beliefs.

Our indigenous locals may have a different take on what that looks like.

When it comes to sport and the arts, sure we champion inclusiveness with First Nations people, but when we are really tested, like we were with the Coutts Crossing name debate, we demonstrate a low tolerance. Same with national issues like changing the date of Australia Day.

When our Citizen of the Year expressed her support of that in her acceptance speech she received random boos from an audience that also included members of our indigenous community.

Every October when we are – to quote someone well known for her lack of regard for other races – “swamped with Asians”, our lack of tolerance for the influx of visitors eager to photograph our beautiful trees is demonstrated with the barrage of abuse they receive from passing motorists.

But it’s not about race, they’re just idiots standing in the way, right? Like the booing of Adam Goodes wasn’t because he was an Aborigine, he was just a bad sport.

What if the Muslim community came en masse to Grafton to mourn their slain? What if they came to a town where they don’t exist?

It’s impossible to have all those other conversations about our wonderful town without having this one.

As difficult as it is, not mentioning the war as we wait for things to blow over isn’t an option. It’s no longer Grafton’s story to tell, or its agenda to set. The city will forever wear a horrific international act of terrorism as part of its story and in its history books.

Interest will follow us for a long time as the world learns who the perpetrator was, what kind of place he grew up in and how he ended up committing an act of hatred so obscene it stopped the world.

Like all the official spokespeople out there, I too love the Clarence Valley, but I’m not blindsided by that affection so much I believe we are incapable of being a breeding ground for racism. We aren’t the only Australian town to have this potential, but we are the town caught up in this mess.

Please don’t run away from this so fast we fail to learn anything by it. Call out racism. Call out bigotry. Then call it out again, and again.

*2016 ABS Census

LESLEY APPS