Journalist Stan Grant has become a race warrior. Picture: John Feder
Journalist Stan Grant has become a race warrior. Picture: John Feder

Why Stan must stop playing the victim card

Stan Grant has sent me an invitation - you, too - to break his "chains", ease his "burden" and take a "dead weight" from his shoulders.

This invitation - issued on the ABC on Monday - surprised me.

I know Grant. In fact, I first interviewed him more than 25 years ago when he was the rising star, host of Channel 7's Real Life, for which viewers gave him a Logie.

I still recall the languid hand he offered in welcome from a makeup chair at his studio. Regal was his manner.

Who can blame him if he thought well of himself? This is a man, after all, who has had a career of which most journalists could only dream.

The fame! The influence! The money!

Sure, there was trouble in 2000. He left his wife, a reporter with the SBS indigenous unit, and moved in with sports reporter Tracey Holmes, which curiously had him forced out as host of Today Tonight.

But then came gigs as a foreign correspondent for CNN, host at Sky News, and host of shows on the ABC, before a stint with Al Jazeera.

A "broadcast legend", he was called this week by news.com.au.

And he was petted, too, by the establishment. Charles Sturt University made him one of its Vice-Chancellor's Chairs.

So as an individual, Stan Grant has been a great success.

 

No matter how successful Stan Grant the Individual, Stan Grant the Aborigine remains a victim.
No matter how successful Stan Grant the Individual, Stan Grant the Aborigine remains a victim.

But this is now the age of identity politics. We no longer judge people as individuals.

And identity politics says that Grant, seen as an Aborigine, is in fact a tremendous victim.

Being Aboriginal - through three of his four grandparents - he's a victim of racism. Torn by racism. Tormented by racism.

Grant agrees. You may think he is living the Australian Dream, but Grant now says "the Australian Dream is rooted in racism".

Yes, he's become a race warrior. He is now a "Wiradjuri man" who says he "succeeded in spite of the Australian Dream".

So no matter how successful Stan Grant the individual, Stan Grant the Aborigine remains a victim.

This victimhood has rewards. On Monday, the ABC gave Grant 45 minutes on Four Corners to tell us how racist we were - how awful to him and black people generally.

It ended with Grant in his most sombre voice issuing this invitation on behalf of "our people" (Aborigines) to "you" (white people, like his wife).

"There are people in my life whose lives are framed by the colour of their skin, for whom history is a dead weight.

"There is nothing I would want more than to be free of the chains of history. There is nothing I would want more than for my children to live in a world where they can be all that they want to be. But we're not there yet.

"But it is us, it is black people in America, it is black people in Australia who have walked the longest road and carried the greatest burden for all of you … And our people … ask all of you to walk the last part of that journey with us."

To that invitation, Stan, I say this.

I'm not walking anywhere with you. Certainly not down the dead-end alley of your race politics.

The best I can promise is to keep treating you - like everyone else - as an individual, regardless of colour or race.

And looking at you, Stan, I say this: you lucky, lucky, lucky man. Look at your life.

Look how tough it is for so many other Australians - white, black, Asian, African. People without money. People without jobs. People without status. People without health or family or comfort. Why should any of them cry for you?

If you do have trouble dealing with the "dead weight" and "chains" of history then that - respectfully - is your problem.

See, this "dead weight" has not held you down in any obvious way. I've taken nothing from you, and you certainly haven't "carried the greatest burden" for me.

I see no reason to help you over the millions of Australians who have far less than you.

Correction. Let me offer the help of good advice.

Stop playing the obsessive race politics that encourages you - of all people - to count your hurts and not your blessings.

Demand less and give more credit to the country that has helped you to live such a great life.

You're not a victim, Stan.

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Originally published as Why Stan must stop playing the victim card


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