Flat White

The Age of sectarian bigotry

22 September 2018

2:51 PM

22 September 2018

2:51 PM

When that Serena Williams cartoon appeared, The Age was deeply offended. One of its ragtag crew of perpetually po-faced columnists, Duncan Fine, opined:

Mark Knight from the Herald Sun has caused an international storm with his depiction of Serena Williams, one of the greatest tennis players of all time, throwing a tantrum during the final of the US Open last weekend.

That in itself is not the problem. The trouble is that Knight has gone out of his way to depict her not as a champion athlete but as wild and barbaric; full-lipped, ugly and ape-like… ignoring the long history of negative and dehumanising pictures of African Americans which is built upon not just the Jim Crow segregation laws across America but also on 300 years of slavery before that.

When it comes to smearing Catholics, however, The Age is all for it. It gives sectarian bigotry pride of place and highlights it with an illustration, as on today’s letters pages:

Kicking with the same foot“, along with talk of “left-footers“, is a term of sectarian abuse against Catholics as old as the alleged racism Fine claimed to deplore, yet The Age is happy to give it a run.

Sectarianism has thankfully been dead in this country for the best part of half a century.

It was also half a century ago that Gough Whitlam ended the state-aid debate when, in his 1968 campaign platform, he declared Labor supported Commonwealth funding for non-government schools.

The Age, which has spent much of this year bashing the anti-Catholic drum — apparently even sparking a series of break-ins into churches — with a series of lurid, misinformed, bigoted and deliberately misleading articles, likes to style itself as oh-so-progressive.

On this issue, however, it’s 50 years behind the time, in an ugly old Australia it would claim to eschew.

A Press Council complaint about its bigotry, anyone?

Illustration: Wikimedia Commons. 

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