The global cancel culture pandemic rolls on and its spread is exponential. And sadly, the cancellation toll continues to rise as the wokeness virus takes hold.
This week, social justice warriors have claimed the metaphorical lives of Abraham Lincoln, probably the single greatest abolitionist in the history of the world; Mahatma Gandhi, probably the most iconic anti-colonialist in the history of the world; chess because – get this – the player with the white pieces always goes first; Uncle Ben’s rice, presumably because it features a man of colour on the packet; and Eskimo Pies, the dessert of choice for colonial overlords everywhere.
And of course, Nestle announced that it would rename its popular confectionary products Redskins and Chicos, in response to backlash from absolutely no one.
That’s right, the next time you’re putting out snacks for movie night, or stuffing lolly bags for your kid’s birthday party, you may be patriarchal oppressor perpetuating systemic racism against native Americans and Hispanics.
Redskins I can let go through to the keeper. Yes, the reference is clearly to the distinctive bright red colour of the lolly itself, and as far as I’m aware Australia doesn’t have much of a Native American population, let alone a history of injustice against them.
But still, I can accept that ‘redskin’ is a somewhat derogatory term and as the name for a confectionary product, it might be past its use-by date. And let’s face it, if Nestle decided to market a brand of liquorice, for example, under a name that included the N-word, there would be an understandable public backlash – and I certainly wouldn’t be rushing to buy it.
Chicos is a bit harder to understand. In fact, in writing this I had to do a bit of research to work out what it actually meant. Apparently a ‘chico’ is Spanish for ‘boy’, and is used mostly as a term of endearment, in the same way that ‘chicas’ is used to address women – the Spanish equivalent of ‘babe’ or ‘darling’. I even asked a South American friend what exactly it was about the term ‘chico’ that is offensive. Her response? “Gringos worry about this stuff too much”.
Yes, gringos do worry too much about this stuff. The thing about these debates is that the people yelling the loudest about the hidden racism behind absolutely everything seem to be of white, Anglo-Saxon ancestry themselves.
This kind of idiocy is almost always driven by people who have clearly never experienced any actual racism but are still quick to proclaim that it’s the single-greatest scourge facing Australia and the western world. In other words, they tend to be middle-class losers with nothing better to do but get offended on behalf of others.
But let’s say that in this instance, they’re right and I’m wrong – and we pull Redskins and Chicos off supermarket shelves. So what? What then?
Who, if anyone, does this kind of corporate posturing help? What does any of it achieve? If there is a problem with systemic racism in Australia, well, that’s a separate conversation – a conversation about a complex issue that will not be solved with a bit of feel-good corporate rebranding.
But let’s be honest, there isn’t a problem with widespread racism in this country, because the majority of Australians aren’t racist.
Studies galore have been conducted over the years on subjects like people’s attitudes towards other races and each and every time, Australia falls to the very bottom of the list when it comes to racist sentiment among the general population.
Yes, there are racist ratbags in this country. It is unacceptable and it should be called out. But to suggest that Australian society in the year 2020 is structurally, inherently and irredeemably racist is a dangerous fiction.
The reason we still hear about race in this country all the damn time is, basically, that we have too many arts graduates in this country and too many fake jobs.
Every year, we enrol thousands of our best and brightest minds in our universities, spend the next few years telling them how racist and terrible Australia is, then unleash them onto the job market, where they get snapped up by the marketing-corporate affairs industrial complex and put their training to work, stamping out racial injustice one ‘problematic’ brand name at a time.
The reason this kind of idiocy triggers such anger in the community isn’t because the chattering classes are saying that Redskins and Chicos are racist, but because they’re saying that every Australian consumer who enjoys them is a racist.
Enjoyed Gone with the Wind? You’re a racist. Have a chuckle at Chris Lilley’s comedy? You’re a racist. And if you’re a bit partial to the occasional Redskin, and you’re not outraged by the wrapper it comes in, well then you’re a racist too.
The truth is that the majority Australians don’t really care about race. Like every other country in the western world, people have moved on from the old ugly prejudices of the past. In this country, nobody really cares what you are, as long as you’re a good bloke (or sheila). But they do resent being repeatedly told that they are an unknowing bigot, especially over something as trivial and idiotic as a lolly wrapper.