So it turns out plenty of us are Dumb, Drunk and Racist

It is hard to believe, but a little TV show with the subtle and unassuming title Dumb, Drunk and Racist has upset a lot of people. This is even more remarkable given that it hasn’t actually gone to air yet.

Wonder what made people think we were racist? Picture: Craig Greenhill

The show was intended to pick up on a news article from last year that revealed Indian call centre workers were trained to believe Australians were “dumb, drunk and racist” – a stereotype reinforced by many in the media there.

Our original intent was to go to India, pick up four locals and bring them back to Australia to show them we weren’t so bad after all. Unfortunately we were proven wrong.

Already conspiracy theorists are claiming that we planned it that way – the ABC being a known perpetrator of sensationalism and set-ups. In fact the opposite is true. Indeed much of it we didn’t even catch on tape – although even what we did was more than confronting enough.

The truth is virtually every confrontation, every bit of violence or abuse, was caused by people we just happened to accidentally stumble across – or rather who just came across us.

It seemed that just walking around with a group of Indians, be it on city streets or country paths, was considered by some people to be an open invitation to hurl abuse – and in one case hurl rocks.

I didn’t believe this when I set off on that journey and I would not have believed it had I not seen it with my own two eyes.

What I’d expected were people who might have issues with various races or cultures but were worried about saying so – the old “I’m not racist but…” line. Then we’d have an interesting little ABC-style chat about what’s racist and what’s not and everyone would be home in time for tea.

What we found instead were a number of people who, far from being worried about being stigmatised as racist, were proud to be so.

We had one man turn to the Indians and scream: “White pride motherf***ers!” Another saved his breath and threw a Hitler salute. And before you write off either as a rogue redneck, this didn’t happen in your stereotypical rural backwater: It happened in inner city Melbourne.

Nor were some country folk any more charming. At a B&S ball, that great celebration of bogan boozing that should make every red-blooded Australian proud, our hosts welcomed the Indians with the traditional greeting of tearing off their shirts and pouring beer on their heads – so far so good. However even this good natured revelry didn’t stop the drunken cries in the distance of “Go back to where you came from!”

About this time the same conspiracy theorists will write this off as another “white-bashing” exercise. Again, nothing could be further from the truth.

In fact the most violent encounter was when the crew was approached and attacked by two Aboriginal women on the streets of Alice Springs, who started hurling rocks at the Indians and crew and ended up smashing the hotel we were staying in.

Another incident occurred when a Muslim man happened to be passing by our interview with a Newtown artist who’d made his name by painting a mural urging people to “say no to the burqa”. Things quickly turned aggressive and while I won’t give away how it ended I will say I have never heard so many swear words in a single sentence – which for a journo is saying something.

So if we were trying just to put poor old whitey in the frame then we’ve done a pretty lousy job. They were, however, all Australian.

But still many people have taken great offence that anyone could dare suggest Australians are racist – or, if so, that there is anything wrong with that.

Here’s one message privately sent to me on Facebook which, apart from censoring the F-bomb, I’ve copied verbatim below:

"Who the f*** do you think you are saying things to put down australians. Its left wing people like you that are causing so much trouble, its people like you that want open borders so people from other countrys can come australian and take our jobs. Maybee Australians are racist because they dont want people coming into our country for that reasion why should my taxes be used for refugees when it should be spen on oour own people. Personally I hate f***ing pakis and indians they come here do the easy jobs and leave the hard work for us australians you tv show is bias, it should not be put on tv it is un australian but i suppose the Abc is full of left wing wankers who want to save the world and let our country get used up. I hope pay for you tv show you are a un australian wanker why dont you piss off to india but why would you its a over populated shit hole. Most real australians i know dont want all these indians ad pakis in our country Pakis arnt on our side in the war on terror look at the life that have been lost for freedom that could have been prevented if a scum race where honest. Its people like you which which are sympathisers times are hard we should be protecting our own not others. PRIC"

And here’s another posted on a column I wrote about the show:

"Funny, I never see black panthers, Le Graza, or any Jewish or Muslim extremists in any of these acts. I’ts always okay to poke fun and humiliation at “big bad whitey” though. The stupid sheep that play into this crap are the real ignorant ones. Why don’t we take a quick look into the Jewish Torah and then we will see who the racist is. Seeing as how all of this is directed at whites, I’d say that’s pretty damn racist in itself. I’m getting tired of these “white people are dumb” or “white people just don’t get it” media stunts that plague the world. This is the kind of shit that makes me wan’t to be racist, stop down grading my f***ing people, you slimy Jew f***. There is your racism. No go cry about the Holocaust."

While the authors appear to struggle with basic English, it is fair to say that there is a touch of the R-word about these little missives.

In days gone by I would have written these off as the mad rantings of a small group of illiterate white supremacists, who appear to be among my most loyal readership.

But there are plenty more where that came from. And besides, how did they know to find me in Queensland or Coburg or all over the country?

So when people ask me, as they have hundreds of times on TV, radio, in print and online: “Are we really dumb, drunk and racist?” What am I supposed to say?

The truth is that people like this – who claim to be proud Australians – are destroying this country’s reputation. Hell, they’re destroying this country.

It’s because of them that genuine debates on issues such as cultural and ideological differences, immigration, indigenous affairs and religion are hijacked and reasonable people with reasonable concerns are either drowned out, frightened off or manipulated to look like racists themselves.

And who are these people poisoning any race-based debate? Usually they prefer anonymity but at least we know what they are.

To draw your primary sense of self worth from the country you were born in or your racial background is, by definition, the height of idiocy. Think about it: It is the one single element over which you had absolutely no say. It is the one thing that you played absolutely no role in achieving. To be more proud of that than anything else is, frankly, rather pathetic.

And as you’ve seen above, and can see in countless other comments online and on the show, people like this will often try to disguise or deflect their sense of white supremacy by claiming some kind of victim status or saying other cultures and countries are even worse.

But I don’t live in another country. I live in this one, and so do the vast majority of Australians who find such views nauseating and weak. Meanwhile these extremists appear to be arguing we should measure ourselves against the ugliest practices of overseas nations.

Well I don’t think so. I say we’re Australia. I say we’re better than that.

Dumb, Drunk and Racist airs tonight 9.30 on ABC2.