Three soldiers in a ten-year war die by gunfire and it is like a ‘physical blow’ to a nation. Forty children hoping to join that nation die by drowning and there is no sorrow spoken by its Prime Minister, Julia Gillard. Just as there was no sorrow spoken by her after the drownings off Christmas Island, no names of the dead, no apology, no prayer for the bereaved.
Is the Prime Minister a racist? Well, she looks like one. She sounds like one. If a hundred brown-skinned corpses wrench no word of kindness from her and five white-skinned casualties of long stupid war she greets like an unbelievable calamity, these numbers, these numbers alone, suggest she looks like one, and sounds like one; looks, indeed, like that worst kind of racist, an unconscious one, the kind that thinks she is just being scientific, and ‘these people’ should go back to the village where their uncle was beheaded and seek work there and not risk big seas on their way to a civilised life in Melbourne or Sydney. Her phrase ‘a better sort of migrant’ (meaning me, JG, not Roquia Bakhtiyari) speaks volumes, as does her lack of an African or Aboriginal close friend in Melbourne or Adelaide, towns teeming with them, in forty-five years of making friends in Australia.
Is Julia Gillard a racist? She looks like one. Now it is clear her persistence with the Intervention lost Labor the Indigenous vote last Saturday, she looks like one. She looks like the female hotelier in The Sapphires disgusted by black girls who sing in competition with white girls, and says, ‘go back to the humpy.’
She may be otherwise, but she looks like one.