Wednesday 23 July 2008

Blacks better than whites, according to ABC

I was listening to ABC Radio National yesterday afternoon (a thing I rarely do - I only flick over to AM when I am sick of the rubbish being broadcast on FM) and there was a music program about the Aboriginal mission at New Norcia, near Northam in WA. The place is renowned these days for the excellent bakery.

I missed the first part of the program, but the bit that I listened to had a single theme - that Aboriginals were more musically talented than whites. Various passages were read out about amazing feats being performed by Aboriginal bands with gum leaves, 10 year old kids with flutes and so on, and all promoted the idea that Aboriginals were innately gifted with better aural skills than whites. That was because they needed better aural skills to survive in the bush etc etc.

Now apart from being innately racist to a horrendous degree, I think the whole idea is bollocks. Plus it smacks of eugenics. But think for a minute if the presenter had said that Aboriginals were innately less talented at certain things, like tool making, and then imagine what would happen to them. I reckon they'd currently be sleeping with the fishes. It's fine to say that blacks are superior to whites, but woe betide anyone who dares to challenge that statement, or reverse it.

I think the idea is bollocks because anyone that spends time in the bush finds that their senses quickly become more attuned to an un-urban environment. After a week or so, you start to see and hear and smell things that a casual visitor from an urban environment would miss. Funnily enough, the same thing happens when you leave the bush and return to the city. The body tunes itself to its environment. The same thing happens when you go to sea on a sailing ship - after a while, you hear every creak of the rigging, and can differentiate the creaking of this bit of rigging from that bit of rigging. It has nothing to do with "innate genetic ability".

When I was rowing, I made a pretty descent stroke because for some bizarre reason, I was able to tell the difference between rowing at 32 strokes per minute vs 34 strokes per minute without reference to any external aid, like a stroke watch. I don't have rhythym - can't dance for love or money - but I seem to have a metronome in my head when it comes to beats or strokes per minute. No one else in our entire rowing squad of 40 or more blokes could do that. Does that one example make whites better rowers than blacks? I don't think so.

It's also hilarious, given the absolutely horrendous rates of ear infections in Aboriginal kids - brought about by poor hygiene. Lots of them are doing attrociously at school because they can't hear a bloody thing, which leads to all sorts of poor life choices.

Innately better my arse.

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