Television still shows a public stoush on Studio 10 over racism in Australia between media personalities Kerri-Anne Kennerley and Yumi Stynes on Monday 28 January 2019. Picture: Studio 10
Television still shows a public stoush on Studio 10 over racism in Australia between media personalities Kerri-Anne Kennerley and Yumi Stynes on Monday 28 January 2019. Picture: Studio 10

Of course what Kerri-Anne said was racist

I'LL tell you what Kerri-Anne Kennerley is guilty of - apart from racism - conflating two completely separate issues, so the focus on one is then deflected to another.

In this instance, one of the two issues is the debate over whether it is appropriate that our "national" day remain on the date the First Fleet arrived and white settlers put the seal on the British claim of sovereignty based on the lie of terra nullius, thus simultaneously dispossessing and disenfranchising Australia's First Nation peoples.

The other issue isn't a debate so much as a seemingly intractable situation. This is the deprived state of some remote indigenous communities where, not surprisingly, the socio-economic indices may show higher than mainstream rates of not just child abuse and domestic violence, but also substance abuse, infant mortality, unemployment, incarceration and reduced life expectancy and education attainment and so on - which, by the way, are the hallmarks of entrenched poverty and underprivilege. (Hmmmm, wonder how that happened?)

 

Kerri-Anne Kennerley conflated two issues to deflect from one of them. Picture: Studio 10
Kerri-Anne Kennerley conflated two issues to deflect from one of them. Picture: Studio 10

Of course, First Nation peoples are subjected to this sort of clumsy conflation and deflection just about every time something - anything - to do with indigenous affairs crops up.

So, as occurred on Studio 10, there could be no debate that remained focused on the merits or otherwise of changing the day on which Australia Day is celebrated, perhaps on the basis that most fair minded non-indigenous people might understand many First Nations peoples may struggle to embrace January 26.

No, Kennerley, who, from on the buckboard of the no-debate-no-date-change bandwagon, criticised date change supporters while invoking remote indigenous community child abuse and domestic violence rates.

Yumi Stynes was right to challenge Kerri-Anne’s views where many presenters would have sat back and said nothing. Picture: Studio 10
Yumi Stynes was right to challenge Kerri-Anne’s views where many presenters would have sat back and said nothing. Picture: Studio 10


Job done. The focus is deflected and we're all suddenly back on the more comfortable footing of viewing all indigenous people as potential child abusers, as well as being, if you look at the comments posted on the online stories, loafers, layabouts, welfare soaks etc etc.

Yumi Stynes, who has no doubt sat through hours of white, reactionary co-panellists engaging in this conflate-and-deflect game every time something to with indigenous affairs makes these sort of programs' largely vacuous agendas, might have stifled a sigh and let Kennerley's comments through to the keeper.

Except that Kennerley monstrously over egged the deflection, evoking images of indigenous Sodoms and Gomorrahs where the streets are littered with baby rape victims left to die in the dust and every indigenous man is a child rapist and domestic violence perpetrator.

"Has any single one of those people (at the Invasion Day rallies) been out to the Outback, where children, babies, five-year-olds are being raped? Their mothers are being raped, their sisters are being raped," she said.

Well that's about as racist as it gets. I reckon the cap fits, Kerri-Anne, so wear it.

And bring on the date change!

Margaret Wenham is a Courier-Mail columnist.



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