LEGEND: Lance Franklin is one of the best indigenous athletes in the country. Anthony Mundine's campaign to get Aussie grand final players to boycott the national anthem was not thought through.
LEGEND: Lance Franklin is one of the best indigenous athletes in the country. Anthony Mundine's campaign to get Aussie grand final players to boycott the national anthem was not thought through. TRACEY NEARMY

Mundine is wrong for all the wrong reasons

SHORT PASS: For winter sports fans, October always brings with it a certain sadness.

The warming of the weather and the lengthening of the days means that footy is not on the telly much any more.

Now that the hype surrounding the AFL and NRL grand finals is over, there was one story that threatened to overshadow the whole show, and the instigator was, of course, Anthony Mundine.

If you are not familiar with his latest controversy, the boxer and former rugby league star called on indigenous players who were playing in both grand finals to boycott the national anthem.

His comments were met with the general hysteria normally associated with "The Man”, with a number of players openly disagreeing with him.

I am not going to pretend for one second that I can relate to what Mundine is saying, nor am I an expert in the issues he is trying to raise awareness of.

However, what I have taken exception to is the way he has articulated his argument and the lack of originality behind the boycott.

Mundine has tried (and failed) to replicate actions of San Francisco 49er's quarterback Colin Kaepernick, an African American who famously "took a knee” during the singing of the American national anthem recently to protest a number of police shootings on African Americans.

Kaepernick's logic is aligned with the Black Lives Matter movement which fights for the rights of African American citizens and calls for better police procedures in relation to use of force.

His protest is based on a set of issues entirely unique to America, and actually when you examine it closely, have very little to do with race but rather institutionalised racism present in the American justice system.

You can not expect Australian athletes to protest in the same way.

Mundine has not thought this one through which is evidenced by his lack of support.

Personally, I have no issue with people boycotting the national anthem if that is the way they want to protest an issue.

It is the benefit of living in a first world country that people can exercise freedom of speech.

However, to boycott our national anthem would be to copy Kaepernick's lead and by virtue of this it actually takes away the potency of any racial issues we have in Australia.

Why? Because the person who is behind the movement, in this case Anthony Mundine, has not thought for himself, he is relying on the lead of somebody, somewhere else, protesting a completely different set of racial issues to think for him and he is trying to place Australia inside an American framework.

Of course the racial issues Mundine is trying to raise awareness for are valid, relevant and contemporaneous, but if he is adamant that he is going to be the voice of these issues, he needs to change his tact.

If we are adamant that a more obvious awareness campaign is needed, let it be done by an original thinker who is not in it for personal glory.

Gympie Times


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