Offence and the guilt game

This article is based on a talk given by Anthony at LibertyFest Brisbane Conference 2018.

Let me state up front what this presentation is about: trying to make others feel guilty so as to silence them because we don’t like what they are saying comes a dear cost! In recent times attempts have been made to make the public (largely the white public) feel guilty because our national anthem is supposedly racist and that a caricature of a Black American tennis legend is allegedly racist. And at the time of writing this article, Australia Day is only a few short months away so we can expect more attempts to make (white) Australians feel guilty. Humans have been trying to make other humans feel guilty since the dawn of time with claims like “I’m offended,” “How could you?” and of course the classic: “That’s racist!” And here I am going to discuss guilt as the silencing technique in the context of racism.

So what is this dear cost of trying to make others feel guilty? Well with regard to Aboriginal people I think it is best summed up by Canadian journalist John Robson:

Most Canadians are heartbroken at the difficulties that afflict so many aboriginals today and bitterly regret the history that brought this misery. But most of us had nothing to do with it…Canadians feel for aboriginals, but our patience for too many insults has limits.

He was of course was talking about the Canadian Aboriginal people, but what he says is just as applicable here in Australia.

There are limits to the goodwill of Australians when they repeatedly hear: “Australia is a racist country.” Before continuing, perhaps I should explain why it is a problematic claim. The claim is not only false, but it is dangerous too. Now normally when I suggest that Australia is not a racist country, the snowflakes, whinja ninjas, and victim brigade respond with “Dillon says there’s no racism in Australia.” No I never said that at all. I am suggesting that just because there is racism in Australia, that does not necessarily make Australia a racist country. To claim that Australia is racist because of the presence of some racism, would be like saying that Aboriginal people are a rich people simply because there are some rich Aboriginal people. That is clearly nonsense because we know that far more Aboriginal people live in poverty. And while there are racists in Australia, I believe the majority of Australians are not racist.

So what are the implications of those limits Robson mentioned earlier? Australians are generally generous people always willing to lend a helping hand. But imagine that a member of a group that Australia is accused of being racist against is in hospital requiring medical attention. Suppose that the nurse on duty has already been spat on that week and told several times that he is “white c****” by members of that group. The nurse may have also been told that he is living on ‘stolen land’ and reminded that he should feel guilty because of his ‘white privilege.’ While this nurse might usually provide excellent patient care, at the end of a long day, he compromises the care given to this patient, even though this patient himself has not made any of the pathetic racism claims. Many patients do well even when the care provided is compromised. Of course we will never hear about those times, but on those infrequent occasions where the comprised treatment results in a fatality, we are sure to hear accusations of racism. This unfortunate outcome is then used as ‘proof’ that Australia is racist and the cycle continues.

So in conclusion, we should avoid using guilt as a means to silencing people or trying to get our own way. If someone has done something wrong, by all means point it out, but without the emotional strings of “I’m offended” which also carries the underlying message of “I’m feeling upset, you’re responsible, and until you stop doing what you’re doing or believing what you believe, I will continue to be upset.” Further, we should also avoid rewarding those people who want to play the guilt game, because behaviour rewarded is behaviour reinforced. When confronted with the professional victims, just simply say “I respect your right to make yourself as upset as you like and to believe that I am wrong for doing what I’m doing, but I will continue to do what I believe is the right thing to do.”

Remember the young boy who wore black face paint because he wanted to look like his favourite footballer? Of course the offenderati were out in full force. One Aboriginal rapper expressed his disappointment. In response, I wrote my own rap tune, and you the lucky reader get to read it:

When whitey puts on a black face it should be flattery

But too many SJWs compare it to assault and battery

It’s not mockery, only imitation

But you see racism, and that’s your limitation

While race relations are well on the way to being mended

All you turkeys can do is see who can be most offended

Too many of our sisters being hurt, and too many families living in the dirt

We should be worried about suicides and the too many brothers in incarceration

But again, all you turkeys want, is more of your mental masturbation

When the white man applies black paint to his white face

Can’t you see he’s only sayin’ “I like your race”?

Come on people, get a grip, it’s only black paint

Stop seeing racism everywhere and where it aint

Blackface is simply black face, and if we continue to lie, then we all gonna die!

Anthony Dillon

Anthony Dillon, originally from Brisbane resides in Sydney where he works as a researcher at Australian Catholic University and is a noted commentator on Aboriginal affairs with contributions in The Australian and Quadrant Magazine.  More of his writings can be found atwww.anthonydillon.com.au 
Anthony Dillon

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1 Comment on "Offence and the guilt game"

  1. Irene Franklin | 31/10/2018 at 7:27 am |

    Anthony,well said.
    Your next career, in retirement, might be pointing out society’s stupidity via rap verse,

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