Why do Australians really dislike Aborigines?

My fellow nationals, let us not hide behind our finger. (I think that’s a Greek expression.) Yes, I’m sure none of us here are racist. But racism against Aboriginal Australians is there, and visitors to Australia regularly manage to chronicle it. (It’s the one dark aspect of Bill Bryson’s otherwise panegyrical Down Under/In A Sunburned Country.) Wishing them all dead is something some Australians say, and it’s a rather more extreme attitude than you’ll hear elsewhere in the New World—even the US, which historically excluded Native Americans from their Manifest Destiny.

Yes, Australians are not as circumspect about how they talk in general, and that means that there’s a lot of talk that can come across as racist, but is often just undeferential or radically egalitarian. But that’s not what we’re talking about here.

There are a couple of issues people might point to, but I don’t think they’re the explanation.

  • Guilt? No, guilt doesn’t explain contempt.
  • Embarrassment? Yes, situations in outback Australia are often third-world. I still don’t think that’s cause though; it’s effect. Though not knowing what to do about Aboriginal disadvantage is a challenge that other Australians, with their notions of egalitarianism and a fair go, don’t welcome. After all, Aboriginal Australians were not originally meant to be part of the Aussie fair go.
  • Land claims? No, that’s just an inconvenience to miners and pastoralists, and after the initial shock of the Mabo judgement, it has settled down into a regimen of arbitration. The initial panic that Aboriginal Australians would be claiming swaths of suburbia and kicking white householders out proved to be fantasy.
  • Not wanting to be lectured at by left-wing defenders of virtue? There’s some of that ressentiment, and you can see it in the libertarian cause célèbres, such as the racial defamation suits against Andrew Bolt or the threats of same against Bill Leak. But though Bolt and Leak are reactionary and reactive, sneering at “light-skinned” Aboriginal activists or deriding the lack of strong family cohesion in Aboriginal communities doesn’t quite rise to the level of the fantasy genocide OP describes (and I’m pretty sure has not made up).

I think the underlying issue, beyond all the current controversies and cluelessness, was the narrative that got entrenched in the 19th century. That narrative was that Australian Aborigines were the most primitive people on earth, and that they deserved to die out by Darwinian imperative. For decades, the government’s paternalism towards Aborigines was akin to palliative care.

The notion of Aboriginal Australians living a traditional lifestyle was that they were museum pieces and savage; remember, they did not get the vote until 1966, and until then they were wards of the State. The notion of Aboriginal Australians living a Western lifestyle was that they needed to be whitewashed and assimilated, and severed from their savage antecedents; hence the Stolen Generations.

Most people consciously realise that those attitudes are wrong; but the subterranean discomfort is still there. This was all ostensibly ancient history by the time of my childhood, but I have recognised in myself a sense of discomfort around Aboriginal Australians. These archetypes die hard, and they only die in sunlight.

Who is your biggest fan on Quora?

You know, all my fans are cool, but I want to single out the ones who don’t comment much if at all, and that I therefore don’t interact with, but that keep upvoting me time and again. I’m going to single out two who’ve been quite consistent recently:

Guys! Say hello! And let me know what you’d like to see more of!

What English words of Greek origin don’t sound like they come from Greek?

  • Glamour, as a Scots mutation of Grammar, from the same Education = Witchcraft equation that gave us Grimoire.
  • Diocese. I had no idea until a month ago that this is just dioikēsis “administration”.
  • For more palatalisation catching me unawares: cemetery from koimētērion.
  • Dram, and for that matter Dirham, as derivatives of drachma.

On Quora, why did I get two moderation emails about collapsing the same answer, one that includes an appeals link and one that doesn’t?

This is of course speculation, because noone outside knows how moderation works, and noone inside is talking.

But we can be reasonably confident that not all moderation is undertaken by humans, and that not all human moderation is undertaken by highly paid staff of Quora: not a little work must be outsourced.

So it is possible that, in the workflows around answers, moderation got its wires crossed, with two separate people (or one person and a robot) both collapsing your answer. They may have done it for different reasons, or for the same reason. One may have left out the appeal link intentionally because of the heinousness of your offence, or they may have somehow left it out accidentally. (Though bad workflow engineering if they did!)

I don’t know about whether some answer collapses are appealable and others are not, I’m afraid; Quora appears to have changed its mind over the years: Why can’t we upvote or appeal collapsed answers now in Quora? Why are downvoted answers treated similarly to answers that violated Quora policy?

In the globalized digital world, how meaningful is the criteria of geographic proximity to define a sprachbund?

… A very good question, Clarissa!

On the one hand, not much, because English is in every household, though the telly and the interwebs. Now, where to find evidence for this?

Journalistic Greek is awash with ill-fitting calques from English, and syntactic loans and semantic field readjustments too, because the journalists spend their time reading (and paraphrasing) what they read in English.

… Except, 150 years ago, they were doing exactly the same with French. So Journalistic Greek is not more globalised now than any elite European lect was a century ago.

There’s a lot more evidence of this on the street. Calques like “give you a call”, say. Effortless codeswitching, even if it is heavily accented. This stuff is definitely going on now, and it didn’t even need to wait for the internet; the globalised mass media was enough, and that’s been in place for 50 years.

But still, that’s comparable to the French superstrate on Russian, or any number of other superstrates. A sprachbund, I think, needs more: it needs daily bilingualism in everyday life and the hearth. It needs people actively speaking English alongside Greek at the shops and at home, not just passively consuming it: that makes it much easier for the linguistic structures to commingle and be remoulded, outside of the occasional calque, and for the commingling to reach into morphology and in-depth syntax.

I don’t think we’re there yet. I think it’s not that far off though.

I didn’t understand the last scene of Whiplash. What does the ending mean? Why does Andrew continue to play after the end signal from Fletcher?

I had a slightly different take on the final scene, and I’m a little surprised that nobody else had the same take. Must be just me then.

Yes, Andrew starts playing out of spite, because he’ll show Fletcher what he’s made of, and he’s happy to disrupt Fletcher’s show while doing it. But as Andrew goes No More Mr Nice Guy, and he starts yelling obscenities and crashing the cymbal in Fletcher’s face, a change really does come over him. And the looks they exchange in the final cut are looks of mutual recognition.

Sure, it’s recognition that Andrew is now as much a musician as a Fletcher is. But it’s more than that.

It’s recognition that Andrew is now as much a monster as Fletcher is.

How are Greek Australians perceived in Australia?

I should know the answer to this, being one of them. But it’s actually reasonably hard to introspect this, especially as the novelty of Greek Australians has long since worn off.

I’m going to offer some stereotypes, but as I often do with this kind of question, I’m hoping for someone to step in with a better thought out answer.

  • 1st generation. Factory fodder and fast food vendors. Insular, hard working, devious, loud, volatile. Bottom of the totem pole at the time.
  • 2nd Generation. Surprisingly insular compared to other ethnicities: still speaking Greek (sometimes), still intermarrying. Arrogant disco bunnies. High achievers, although not everyone noticed at the time. Still loud and volatile compared to Anglo-Australians, almost certainly not compared to Greeks in Greece.
  • 3rd generation. Assimilated. Held up as model minority. (The 60s are easily forgotten.) Now at last turning up in areas where high achievers didn’t need to: they are civil servants and musicians, not just lawyers and doctors. Don’t actually stand out that much anymore.