AFL star Adam Goodes
AFL star Adam Goodes Photo from Facebook

OPINION: Only Adam Goodes can stop the great divide

EDDIE McGuire has forecast an impending riot over the Adam Goodes 'racism' row.

Sydney Swans fans are planning to sneak eggs into the next Swans game in which Goodesy is playing, to throw at booing members of the crowd.

McGuire said that will "spark a riot".

This has got way out of control and its past time to rein it in.

The one person who could quickly defuse the ticking time bomb is the man himself. To do so, Adam Goodes needs to rise above the fray and demonstrate he is as big a man as he is an athlete.

While a small part of this furore may be fuelled by racist elements, an honest appraisal of the timeline of escalating events will show that Adam Goodes is not simply 'the victim' but the perpetrator of hostilities, whether wittingly or not.

He may not have anticipated the consequences of his actions, but consequences there are.

Goodes now has to step up and admit that he has played a central role in inciting and provoking crowds.

Perhaps he feels he has the right or justification in doing so, but that's no excuse.

A lot of us feel like lashing out at those who we feel have wronged us, but often it's best to ignore. Water off a duck's back.

If this row is about racism, then why haven't the same howls been directed at other great part aboriginal athletes or sportspeople like Arthur Beetson, Evonne Goolagong-Cawley, Cathy Freeman, The Ella brothers, Jonathan Thurston, Wendell Sailor, Sam Thaiday, Laurie Daley, Jason Gillespie, Scott Prince, Gordon Tallis, Kurtley Beale, Lance Franklin? (I could go on and on).

The truth is that Goodesy's problems started when he singled out a young girl for calling him an 'ape' during an Indigenous rounds game two years ago. Goodes motioned for security, she was removed from her family and interrogated for the next hour or so.

It was traumatising for the girl, the real victim here, particularly in light of the fact that she later spoke to Goodes over the phone and wrote an apology explaining she did not realise the word was racist.

Last year Goodes was awarded Australian Of The Year for his contribution to sport and indigenous youth, including supporting Aboriginal kids in detention centres and promoting education and healthy lifestyles as co-founder of the Go Foundation.

A deserving recognition, but I couldn't help wondering whether lower profiled community heroes who work tirelessly day in, day out, would be even more worthy. They don't make the squeaky noises I suppose.

Goodes used the honour as a platform for 'racism'.

By doing so, he marked himself as a lightning rod for those who felt racism - a divisive term - should have nothing to do with an award and a day that should bring all Australians together, to unite us, as one.

Many fellow aborigines then felt justified to fan the term 'invasion day' in place of Australia Day. I actually thought most of Goodes speech was terrific, but infused with unnecessary division in parts.

That recurring division has to stop.

Next came the war dance aimed squarely at Carlton fans on May 29 this year. That had nothing to do with aboriginal culture, because it was inappropriate for the time and place. It was all about sticking it up the crowd. If Goodes were honest to himself he'd admit it.

Anyway you look at it, that conduct was aggressive, hostile, inflammatory and intended to incite a reaction.

Goodes succeeded. He got a reaction, being roundly booed whenever he gets near a football.

So now we're about to encounter eggings and riots..

Premiers and media commentators are only stoking the fire when they accuse angered fans as 'racists'.

That's an all too easy, lazy misrepresentation. Just insert an 'ism' or an 'ist' or a 'phobe' at the end of a word to try to shut down the debate.

The counter argument is the many hero aboriginals we cheer as greats. We love seeing the disadvantaged make good, as we've cheered Adam Goodes for the past 18 years - until recently.

Only one person can immediately diffuse the escalating anger.

Adam Goodes could start by showing us he is as big a man as he is a footy player and indigenous role model.

A quiet call to the 13 year old girl (now 15) by Goodes would be a great start, followed by a meeting and a public appearance, showing misunderstanding and forgiveness.

The girl has already apologised. Goodes may also feel a need to apologise for his actions in the interest of reconciliation. After all, isn't that what most aboriginals want?

By being proactive Goodes could show us all he is indeed the leader we all want him to be - not the aggressive warrior he appears to so many to be.

Humility and wisdom would restore his reputation in the eyes of many or most, and further elevate him as a true leader.

Adam Goodes has demonstrated extraordinary strength and skills in his long journey to the top of his sport, and community.

The next step is to heal the wounds largely opened by his actions.

I just wonder if he's up to it. I think he is.

Knowing the Australian character, I'm confident Goodes would then be cheered, not jeered, next time he steps on the footy field.

Over to you, Adam.

Paul Zanetti is an award-winning conservative cartoonist who contributes to Australian Regional Media publications.

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