AUSTRALIA is such a culturally diverse country, and has been for several generations now.
This is 2012 – not the 1950s. We live in an age when people of all races, ages, sexual orientation and religious beliefs shouldn’t think twice about being tolerant towards each other. We live in a society which has opened its arms to people from all over the world, not matter their colour or beliefs.
So a letter sent to Ballarat Aboriginal elder Ted Lovett last week, which mocked indigenous beliefs and criticised his push for racial equality, is a sad indication that there remains people in the community who still have underlying racial feelings towards others.
The timing of the letter – during National Reconciliation Week – has made the situation seem more sinister.
The news of this racial hate letter was not only astounding for this day and age, but very disturbing.
What made it even worse, the author of this letter was too gutless to put his or her name to it ... it was anonymous.
Mr Lovett, who has long been an advocate for indigenous rights, has never hidden behind anonymity to get his points of view across.
The letter, which referred to recent newspaper articles about Mr Lovett being at the centre of a racial abuse incident at a football match, has shocked the respected Aboriginal elder. Mr Lovett said the letter showed racism was still very much alive in Ballarat. But he stressed only a minority of people held such racist beliefs.
“It’s the gutless people, they are the ones that make the hurt with these sort of things,” Mr Lovett said.
“It’s tragic the mentality these people have. Racism hasn’t gone away, you’ve still got it there on the fringes. It just rolls on and on.”
Mr Lovett said while it was not uncommon to be on the receiving end of such abuse, he had no intention of investigating the latest poison pen letter to come across his desk. This magnanimous gesture from Mr Lovett should be an indication that he is willing to forgive, but it would be understandable if it took him a long time to forget.
This anonymous author is getting off lightly. Others in community may believe that he or she should be named and shamed for distributing such vile and disrespectful correspondence in a time when age-old racism should be dead and buried ... long forgotten and never to return. But that’s a idealistic dream that one can only hope will become a reality some day.