Sunday, November 16, 2008

COMMENT: Thomas Keneally on prejudice ...

Award-winning Australian author Thomas Keneally knows plenty about prejudice. He was born in 1935 of Irish Catholic stock and grew up in the NSW coastal town of Kempsey. He experienced sectarian prejudice and saw racial prejudice against local indigenous peoples. He also wrote the Booker prize-winning Schindler's Ark, the story of a German businessman who saved a few hundred Jews from Hitler's death camps. The book was made into the famous Steven Spielberg movie Schindler's List.

Keneally is now writing a book about Oskar Schindler. He was recently profiled by The Guardian newspaper on Saturday 15 November 2008. Here's part of what Keneally said on how prejudice, like history, can repeat itself:

The town where I grew up had two Aboriginal settlements. Questions of the balance between races and, when two races don't get on particularly well, how they behave towards each other were everywhere. This was wartime, and the notion that Catholics couldn't be trusted if it came to the crunch, because they would side with the Pope not the Queen, was very strong. It is essentially the same rhetoric that is currently used against Muslims, and even at the time that fascinated me as much as it scared and affronted me. This stuff has always been my bag. It's what I'm interested in.

(Thanks to BC)

Words © 2008 Irfan Yusuf

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