Flat White

Can the ABC be accused of racism?

31 March 2022

12:00 PM

31 March 2022

12:00 PM

I think it’s a legitimate question. With monotonous regularity, we get fact-free, ideological rants masquerading as news on their various websites.

Typical articles include Culturally diverse women paid less, stuck in middle management longer and more likely to be harassed by Rhiana Whitson, or Why explaining racism to white Australians can be ‘exhausting’ by Mridula Amin or Chinese Australians still encounter racism and questions of loyalty from both countries by Danielle LiJason Fang and Michael Li.

The latest such piece, from Irwin Renaldi, is It’s Harmony Week, but let’s discuss what it is really about: racism.

Irwin helpfully explains that, ‘March 21 is known as Harmony Day in Australia, kicking off Harmony Week, where individuals are encouraged to share and celebrate their cultural identities. But the United Nations marks the day as The International Day for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination. On that day in 1960, police in South Africa opened fire on black protesters, killing 69 people and injuring hundreds.’

Irwin then rhetorically asks, ‘So why has the backdrop of the Sharpeville massacre been turned into a joyous and colourful week-long celebration promoting harmony in Australia?’ His answer is, ‘Because not everyone is comfortable talking about racism.’

Of course, this is not a discomfort that Irwin or indeed any of the crew at ABC News experiences. In fact, they love talking about racism as it is one of the greatest scourges of humanity in the world today and, if the ABC is to be believed, Australian whites are leaders in this dreadful practice.

I can understand the ABC wishing to remind us all about the Sharpeville Massacre in which 69 people were killed by police who were being attacked by 7,000 rioters. After all, this took place a mere 62 years ago.


However, the journos – who are so keen to remind us of this incident – might care to explain why they are not so interested in examining more recent atrocities in Africa in which many millions were killed.

For example, the ABC doesn’t see the need to remind us about the millions who died in the Biafra wars, which occurred at the same time as the Sharpeville massacre. Nor does it seem keen to remind us of the Rwandan war in which 800,000 Tutsi tribespeople were murdered by Hutu militias. The ABC journos aren’t all that concerned with the ongoing Somali civil war which has, in the past 13 years, led to hundreds of thousands of deaths. Perhaps the ABC might consider a special day to remember for instance the 587 innocent people killed when a suicide bomber detonated a truckload of explosives in Mogadishu on October 14, 2017?

Over the past 70 years, countless millions of people have been killed in ethnic and religious conflicts in Africa but, to the ABC, the Sharpeville Massacre is the most important atrocity because the police who were in charge on that day were white. It is therefore a much greater crime than those ‘minor’ incidents in Mogadishu, Rwanda, Nigeria etc. which had nothing to do with white authorities.

We see the same trend when considering people killed by police. In the USA last year, 139 black people were killed by police and every time another black person is killed, it’s headline news. But there seems to be little concern about the 234 white people killed by police in the same year in that trigger happy nation.

Australia, ever keen to follow the lead of the USA, shows a similar concern about the unequal treatment of black people in the justice system. The Aboriginal deaths in custody issue is routinely trotted out by the ABC as proof of endemic prejudice within our justice system. The truth is that the rate of deaths of Aboriginals in custody is about the same as that of the rest of the prison population. This is a fact that the ABC must be aware of but routinely ignores.

In last week’s Spectator there was a brilliant but unnerving article about the way that the Russian media are successfully presenting to the Russian people a completely false account of the carnage that Putin’s army has brought to Ukraine (Jade McGlynn What TV is telling Russians – and why they believe it). The routine distortions of the truth that frequently appear on the ABC are nowhere near as outrageous as the grotesque lies that are currently being fed to credulous Russians.

But the use of broadcast media to present an ideologically distorted version of the truth is not confined to totalitarian states such as Russia. We can see in the state-controlled media of Britain and Australia, a consistent pattern of presenting issues of race, migration, and crime among ethnic minorities in a way that completely distorts the truth and consistently ignores empirical evidence which doesn’t agree with their worldview.

The Russian media is completely controlled by Putin and dances to his tune while the ABC and BBC are no friends of the British and Australian conservative parties. But the process by which falsehoods are presented to a gullible audience is, in all three nations, essentially the same.

The ABC programs prone to distortion are The Drum and Q & A, which routinely overstep the mark.

If comparing the ABC to the Russian broadcast media seems unfair, then watch the edition of Q & A from series 12 episode 40 in which a quintet of Harridans led by Fran Kelly poured contempt upon the authorities in general but white men in particular. The response from more balanced branches of the media (including my piece in the Spectator, Q&A hits a new low) was immediate and did result in ABC management saying it would review the program to see if it met editorial standards. But while Fran Kelly was never let loose on Q & A again, over the past few years, there is really no evidence that most of the journalists have moderated their certainty that ‘old white men’ are the main source of Australia’s ills.

The online Oxford Languages group defines racism as ‘discrimination, or antagonism by an individual, community, or institution against a person or people on the basis of their membership of a particular racial or ethnic group, typically one that is a minority or marginalised’.

The institution is the ABC, and the particular ethnic group is ‘old white men’. Where does this leave the ABC on the question of racism?

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