Saturday, 1 September 2012

1 one 5 Far Northerners are bigots?

The Cairns Post headline read:
National poll reveals few in Far North consider themselves racist
Isn't that nice. The story begins:
PEOPLE in the Far North are less likely to consider themselves racist compared with the rest of the country, according to research presented at an international racism conference in Cairns this week.

A national poll of 12,500 people conducted by the Challenging Racism Project found 8 per cent of people in the Far North identified as a racist, compared with the national average of 12.3 per cent and the state average of 10.3 per cent.
And continues:
Prof Hurriyet Babacan, conference co-convener and director of The Cairns Institute at James Cook University, was one of the chief investigators who worked on the report.
She said it was likely that fewer people in the Far North believed they were racist because our region had a high rate of ethnic diversity.

“The Far North is very multicultural, we have high levels of tourism which brings global people here, we have a strong indigenous presence,” she said. 
Awww... Isn't that warm and cuddly. But you have surely noticed that so far the subject is how people see themselves, not a description of their views of others or of their behaviour. If you read far enough into the article, however, you find:
But the report found a much higher rate of people who had negative attitudes towards other cultures.

About 33 per cent of Far Northern respondents were anti-Muslim, 20 percent were anti-Semetic, 18.7 per cent were anti-Asian and 18.7 per cent were anti-indigenous.

The contradictions indicate many people likely did not understand what it meant to be racist, Prof Babacan said.

“People dismiss it and many people do not see themselves as racist,” she said.
I do have a minor quibble with the fact Islam is a religion, not a race, but the figure of almost 1 in 5 Far Northern respondents being bigots is a bit disturbing. I wonder why the Cairns Post didn't headline that.

I don't know what definitions or measures the authors of the paper used, and the figures may or not be inflated, but isn't the suggestion that Far Northerners seem to have significantly under-reported their bigotry the bigger part of the story?

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