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Australia Day [Jan. 25th, 2010|11:56 pm]
[Tags|, ]
[mood |irritatedsimmering]

Tomorrow there will be a lot of young, drunken, yob idiots walking around, using Australia day as an excuse to abuse, verbally or physically, people with cultural backgrounds different than their own.

It sickens me. To me these 'patriots' are the unAustralian ones. They are thugs looking for an excuse to belt someone, and Australia Day is a handy excuse because it's so very easy - pick on the people who don't look like you.

When I was droving I worked and lived amongst yobs and bogans and thieves and murderers, and most of them, while still maintaining aspects of the low level racist attitude they were brought up with, actually got along well with 'new-Australians.'

They'd invite them out for a beer, or around for a barbecue, they'd talk to them and hang with them, and hang shit on them to a degree that was more or less equal to the amount they hung on each other. They dished it out, and took it in return. So the Maoris told the white guys they had small dicks, the white guys commented that the pelting block looked a bit dark and needed some lights on, etc. Oh you still got the cultural grouping to some degree - the Greeks would hang together a bit more, as would the Maoris, Aboriginals, etc. But for the most part they mixed and were friends.

Oh, don't get me wrong, there were full-on racists, most of them white, but in that environment, they were hugely out-numbered. And in most cases they didn't go to things that were open invites, because they knew some of the 'others' would be there. So you went to a barbie knowing that most of that particular brand of idiot wouldn't be there. Didn't save you from the other brands of idiot, but at least the aboriginal, greek, maori, and other guys you liked were likely to rock up.

I'm not pretending it was perfect. There were still people who came out with terribly racist remarks even as they drunkenly attempted to understand some subtle cultural nuance. And in many cases they so desperately wanted to understand, because this was their mate, so they should know this stuff. They were always so earnest about it. You'd watch the person from the other background trying to get them to let it go simply because they knew educating them about this topic was at best left for a time when they could stand without swaying, and at worst a lost cause without first educating them on five hundred plus years of history.

And even forgetting the inherent racism, there was the varying levels of sexism, homophobia, and so on to deal with. So, pretty far from perfect.

But you know what? Those people never made me feel ashamed for my country. I might have felt bad for someone they were talking to, or for them showing their ignorance, but they never made me feel ashamed to be born here.

Whereas the arseholes who'll be out and about tomorrow, picking on people they perceive as different, do just that. They make me ashamed. Their blind hatred, pack mentality, and sheer willing ignorance make me sick to my stomach.

There's not a huge point to the post, beyond that. I think if someone decides they want to come and live here, that makes them Australian enough for me. And I'm far happier to share my country with them, than I could ever be to share it with the sorts of people who will be targeting them tomorrow.

I'll finish on a moment from my abattoir days that has always stayed with me.

I still remember the day a couple of young blokes were going off, within earshot of the folks in question, about how we shouldn't have Vietnamese working there. It was the usual bullshit about stealing jobs, not belonging here, yada yada...

Then Cowboy stood up. He was an old yob, a big guy, and even in the hottest weather always wore long pants. He walked over to them and pulled up his pants legs. He had puckered holes in the skin of both his legs you could put your fingers into, and told the blokes that he got them from a Vietnamese landmine when he was in 'Nam.

You could see the moment as, grinning, these young blokes waited for Cowboy to hold forth on why the Vietnamese were bad people. Their smiles became almost awestruck.

And that's the moment when Cowboy grabbed each of the guys by the shoulder and pushed them back against the wall, hard. And what he said, to the best of my memory, was, "An' if I say they have every right to live and work in this fuckin' country, so you can just shut the fuck up. And you know what, it's cunts like you that cause wars in the first place. So shut your fuckin' mouths before I shut them for ya."

The confusion on their faces was beautiful. They didn't even try to answer back, which was probably the most intelligent thing they ever did.

Then Cowboy walked over and apologised to the Vietnamese for them having to listen to such rubbish.

From: gutter_monkey
2010-01-25 01:52 pm (UTC)
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[User Picture]From: rewnad
2010-01-25 03:26 pm (UTC)
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[User Picture]From: ariaflame
2010-01-25 04:02 pm (UTC)
Oh well said!
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[User Picture]From: arcadiagt5
2010-01-25 09:17 pm (UTC)
To quote rdmasters: amen.
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[User Picture]From: drew_bowie
2010-01-26 01:16 am (UTC)
I spent time in the army with guys much like you described from droving.

They were the biggest collection of redneck homophobic white trash bigots ever. But if there was someone of an ethnic or Aboriginal background in the unit, they were just like anyone else.

Which is not to say they didn't get shit hung on them, or they gave back as good as they got, or I didn't think their attitudes were good at all. But I know none of those guys would be getting around today in yobbo fashion.
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[User Picture]From: dalekboy
2010-01-26 02:38 am (UTC)
It's one of the annoying things, for me personally, the assumption that all yobs feel the same way. "Well, this bunch of yobs bashed up someone, so they'd all predisposed to it."

No, they aren't.

My dad was what I think of as a low level racist. He was amazed, amused, and confused by different cultures, and when he was pissed off with someone of another nationality, the racism would come out in the insults.

It would also come out in the normal teasing that he did with all his mates. That was the nature of his interaction - if he knew you, you were ripe for teasing. And the focus would be whatever he could grab, your height, your hair, the way you spoke, your nationality, etc. And he fully expected you to do the same to him.

Amongst his good friends, people he saw pretty much weekly, were Aboriginals, Hungarians, Maoris, Greeks, Italians, Chinese, etc. They'd come over and sit with him in his shed, chatting and drinking, for hours.

And on more than one occasion while out and about, he literally came to blows with people who insulted or attacked those friends. He was a man with a violent temper who drank too much, and more than once he went down fighting for one of his mates.

But I never once saw or heard of him wanting to hit someone just for being from another country or racial background.
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[User Picture]From: kattilz
2010-01-26 02:12 am (UTC)
Well said Danny, hope you, Sharon & Lex have an awesome Australia Day.
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[User Picture]From: stephen_dedman
2010-01-26 04:24 am (UTC)
Brilliantly said. Thank you.
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[User Picture]From: purrdence
2010-01-26 05:11 pm (UTC)
Well said.
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[User Picture]From: tikiwanderer
2010-01-26 09:34 pm (UTC)
That story is one of the most awesome things I've read.
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[User Picture]From: dalekboy
2010-01-27 04:28 am (UTC)
It's one of those little events I always remember.

Cowboy was a lovely big quiet guy, deeply tanned face and arms, long white hair and van Dyke beard, didn't say much, but you always noticed him. Rough as guts, but always worth listening to.

And that was the only time I ever recall seeing him angry.
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