April 22, 2004


Via Tim Dunlop, meet the remarkable Michael Darragh:

If racism was an Olympic event, we'd win it hands down! We are so good at racism we have even turned racist slang into common vernacular. We can feel confident in calling our neighbours 'wogs' (Western Oriental Gentleman or people with a mediterranean ethnicity) and 'refos' (short for Refugees) without guilt or retaliation from anyone within earshot — wogs and refos included.

So if these terms are used without meaning to cause offence, and no offence is taken, that must mean they’re only ... harmless, affectionate nouns. I’ll defer to the Wogblogger for further examination of this issue, if she can be bothered to get off her lazy refo arse and post something.

Posted by Tim Blair at April 22, 2004 02:00 AM

I thought the wogs began at Calais?

Posted by: mojo at April 22, 2004 at 02:32 AM

yeah, the Holden Calais...

Posted by: mizzBloo at April 22, 2004 at 02:57 AM

'get off her lazy refo arse and post something'.

In Australia, that's flirting...

Posted by: jafa at April 22, 2004 at 03:04 AM

Ignorant sod. Evidently never been to another country and paid any attention at all.

Posted by: JorgXMcKie at April 22, 2004 at 03:54 AM

The only thing more grating than someone taking massive offense over something minor and essentially harmless is someone doing so on behalf of something else.

Posted by: LabRat at April 22, 2004 at 04:05 AM


The only thing worse than noticing an obvious typo after you've posted is noticing right after you hit the post button but before it posts. ;P

Posted by: LabRat at April 22, 2004 at 04:06 AM

tim, you could also do some research here, a site that frankly gives me the willies but has some interesting backround info.

Posted by: Mr. Bingley at April 22, 2004 at 04:10 AM

I realize that I, as an ignorant American, may not fully understand all the permutations of ethnic slurs throughout the world, but I always understood "wog" as an acronym for "Worthy Oriental Gentleman", not "Western Oriental Gentleman."

Moreover,on its face, "Western Oriental Gentleman" seems to not make sense. Since Oriental means Eastern, a wog is then a "Western Eastern Gentleman" -- what the hell!?!

Posted by: Chip Halstead at April 22, 2004 at 05:00 AM

It is, in fact, "Western Occidental Gentleman", not "Western Oriental Gentleman", which nobody should feel confident about calling anyone, as it doesn't make any sense at all.

Posted by: Jack at April 22, 2004 at 05:30 AM

well, jack, it sort of makes sense if you remember we live on a globe...

of course, 'western occidental' is rather repititiously redundant..

Posted by: Mr. Bingley at April 22, 2004 at 05:33 AM

WOG = Western Oriented Gentleman. From my History teacher who came from a WOG-ish area and had consorted with them when a youth.


Posted by: J.M. Heinrichs at April 22, 2004 at 05:42 AM

why is "wog" racist if it means Western Oriented *Gentleman*? why is "refo" racist? Are all Aussie refugees non-white?

Posted by: Helen at April 22, 2004 at 05:48 AM

Jeez, now I'm really confused. Was hoping to find out what "wog" means, but no two commenters seem to agree on the definition.

Posted by: Harry at April 22, 2004 at 06:18 AM

Wogs are also small insects or midges, maggots (an angling term, at least in WA) or an illness (He's got the tummy wog!). So many layers of meaning all wrapped up into one little word!

For a more complete list of racist terms, check out Niall Cook!

Posted by: Yobbo at April 22, 2004 at 06:36 AM

You know, I probably should have looked at the link helpfully provided by Mr. Bingley in the seventh post.

Apparently, my definition ("Worthy Oriental Gentleman") is one (but only one) correct derivation of the term "wog."

There are several others, including

(a) "Western(ised) Oriental Gentleman," which matches Mr Heinrichs', and his former teacher's, understanding; and

(b) someone of Greek extraction working on Australian government projects post-World War II, which comes pretty close to Mr Darragh's "people with a mediterranean [sic] ethnicity."

Let's all claim etymological correctness and move on!

Posted by: Chip Halstead at April 22, 2004 at 08:18 AM

Well you can see how people would get that impression, when some of our lefties like Nial spew out racist crap just because of a car scratch.
Wouldn't you be thinking to yourself "if their lefties are like that, what are the rest of them going to be like?"

Posted by: JB at April 22, 2004 at 09:15 AM

I am not a refo.

I am a wog, thankyou very much, you skippy bus' kangaroo, tch, tch, tch...

Posted by: Wog at April 22, 2004 at 09:29 AM

IT was Wily Oriental Gentlemen 40 years ago in the schoolyard of Port Lincoln Primary.

Posted by: walter plinge at April 22, 2004 at 09:52 AM

Everyone outside the monoculture in Australia knows full well that Australia is a racist backwater. Those who call themselves real "Australians", and who claim everyone else just can't take a joke, are white anglos.

Posted by: Miranda Divide at April 22, 2004 at 10:15 AM

I am gratified to see Miranda Divide "knows blah blah blah". This is typical fact free "we all know now" crap that constantly spews from the mouths of the ignorant.

Posted by: Greg at April 22, 2004 at 10:58 AM

You betcha.

The biggest fattest racists in the whole wide world are the Gweilos, Farangs, Gaijins, Kaffirs, Rednecks and White Trash. Not only are they imperialist scum but they have big noses and dress funny.

I say charge them all double.

Posted by: Random Asian at April 22, 2004 at 11:53 AM

Miranda Devide has obviously not spent much time outside the 'Anglo monoculture' she derides. Maybe she should step into the real world and take a look.

Then she would know that Asians, especially Chinese and Japanese are among the most racist people in the world ("Everyone" knows, that, surely)---

And perhaps she should listen to the Nazi-style racism coming out of the mouths of Muslim imans. And observe the race riots against Jews in Europe - carried out by Muslim immigrants.

And what did the vile Bali bomber say, Miranda? That 'all white people' are the enemy of good Muslims?

When was the last race riot in our 'racist backwater', Miranda? Where are all the oppressive laws keeping non-whites down, Miranda?

I can only assume you have never been outside Australia.

Posted by: dee at April 22, 2004 at 12:06 PM

As someone who has lived in Saudi Arabia and the southern States of America, and who is aware of the openly race-based policies of some Asian countries such as Malaysia and Japan, I can personally attest that Australia has a lot to learn about being racist.

It may well be that there is racism in Australia, but we are certainly not the most racist country in the world. And if it is here, compared to my parents generation, I think we are fast learning tolerance.

Posted by: Stan at April 22, 2004 at 12:16 PM

"Everyone outside the monoculture in Australia"

You go to get out more Miranda not all Australians are white like your work mates at KFC.

Posted by: Gary at April 22, 2004 at 01:46 PM

Random Asian, farang should be charged double because they're richer than the locals, even if the backpackers look poorer. All farang are rich, and many are very rich. Of course many Hong Kong Chinese and the Japanese are also rich, but they aren't farang, so aren't charged double.

It's quite logical really.

Posted by: freddyboy at April 22, 2004 at 04:35 PM

Also Miranda, if we are this little racist backwater - why is this such a popular place to visit? Why have successive waves of immigrants managed to settle here happily for generations? Australia has racists, undoubtably, but it is only a sense of self loathing that would make people think we are the worst in the world. Asia provides many good examples of openly racist countries, and in some places you can get a taste of racism, as well as discrimination based on religion *and* caste.
Racism is the belief that your race is superior to another. It is *not* the desire to mainly associate with people of the same race. That is human nature, not racism.

Posted by: attila at April 22, 2004 at 05:55 PM

I agree that in general, Australians are one of the least racist people I met. That is - it is rare to meet someone who genuinely believes that the race they belong is inherently superior to another. A more common feeling however, is a sense of cultural superiority. That is that the predominant anglo-saxon culture in English speaking countries is better than others.

Another cultural trait of Australians is the feeling of isolation from these 'like minded countries' which has been a feature of the white Australian ethos since the first fleet. This tends to encourage people to view different culture suspiciously. Howard played on this with the Tampa of course. However once it is seen that the migrants are no threat, and start adopting the customs and values of the mainstream the hostility decreases. View how Greeks and Italians had a hard time in the 50's and no one thinks twice about them now, and even Afghan refugees on TPVs are being accepted in countries towns like Young once it is seen that they are happy to work and live their lives. That is proof that 'racism' is very low in Australia - although there is a strong desire to assimilate migrants to the mainstream culture and subdue any cultural differences

Posted by: Guido at April 22, 2004 at 06:29 PM

Actually, Italy and the U.S. came to a secret agreement where the Italians would evacuate Italy so America could turn the peninsula into the world's largest national park.

Our next project is to turn Poland into a giant dude ranch.

Posted by: Alan Kellogg at April 22, 2004 at 07:00 PM

This really pisses me off! My family immigrated here in the 1950's. we are all of "Middle-Eastern appearance." If this is a racist country then surely I would know about it. My Father worked as a cane cutter in Northern Queensland because there weren't enough locals willing to do the work. The chattering classes would tell you that we were exploited. We dumb wogs saw it as an opportunity. We still do! It's amazing how many Anglos there are that tell people like us what a racist country Australia is. Most of them are on the ABC! Yes my name really is Brian...long story.

Posted by: Brian. at April 22, 2004 at 11:13 PM

guys, wog isnt an acronym, the acronym came after the word became popular to try and make the gutless freaks using it more comfortable with themselves.

the word was applied to dark skinned folks from the middle east, india and pakistan by the brits early 20th C and was simply a shortening of the word golliwog, the doll was also popular at the time and there is some physical resemblance.. yeah.. the acronyms were schoolyard concoctions to make it less likely to receive the strap for being racist,.. if there was any proof in the worker on government service type stories we would have the shirts for sale on ebay to prove it. we dunna

Posted by: also wog at April 22, 2004 at 11:31 PM