“Not racist, but…”

An interesting little factoid from the Sun-Herald‘s new “Loaded Dog” feature, which this week tackles the eternal and eternally vexed subject of racism:

By international standards among major immigrant-receiving nations, Australians are pretty tolerant. About one in eight is avowedly racist. This compares with one in three in western Europe and one in five in the US.

Factoid courtesy Jim Forrest, associate professor of human geography, Macquarie University, so I presume he knows what he’s talking about. Now there’s no doubt Australia still has troubles in this regard (as the recent high-profile bashings of Indian students in Melbourne and Chinese in Sydney have demonstrated). But it also puts into perspective the whole “Australians should stop being so redneck and instead be more sophisticated, like the Europeans” canard so beloved of certain commentators. Heaven help us if we are ever as sophisticated as some in Western Europe.

I’d also be curious to see Prof. Forrest’s research broken down by state. Years ago I was driving around Auckland with a business associate, and a woman called into the talkback radio the car was tuned to. She proceeded to detail her plans to move from New Zealand to Queensland, “where I’d feel more comfortable, because it’s more racist like me.” Predictable hilarity ensued.

Full report of Mother’s Day lunch at Omeros on the Beach tomorrow. As Pepys used to say, and so to bed.
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