I must speak in defence of Dawn Fraser. She has come under fire for using the following language when discussing Nick Kyrgios’ apparent tanking of certain points in his fourth round loss at Wimbledon:
“They should be setting a better example for the younger generation of this great country of ours,” she said.
“If they don’t like it, go back to where their parents came from. We don’t need them here in this country to act like that.”
The phrase “go back to where you came from” has become synonymous with racism, (although when used “ironically” it appears to have taken on a similar double-standard-status as “the N-word”….) But to anyone not socially conditioned to react to this phrase with the reflexive cry of “racist,” the context of Fraser’s words are obvious.
Australia provides immense support to all who live here, regardless of race and regardless of whether they were born here or are immigrants. We also have well-funded sporting bodies that provide high levels of support for our athletes, much better than most other places in the world. Shortly prior to Kyrgios’ loss and Fraser’s comments, Bernard Tomic, another bratty tennis player with immigrant parents, who has nevertheless received tremendous support from Tennis Australia, cried victim and linked himself to Kyrgios.
So, Fraser was not telling them to “go back where they came from.” She was pointing out that the level of support they receive in Australia is out of all proportion to what they would have received if they were in the countries their parents had come from, and to stop acting like spoiled brats.
Finally it is in this context that Fraser’s “apology,” can be properly understood:
“I want to unreservedly apologise for any comments that I made this morning which may have caused [offence] to my fellow Australians including Nick and his family,”
Kyrgios’ family are correct when they say that her apology doesn’t mean much, but probably not in the way they think. The cost would be too great, personally and professionally, for Fraser not to say it. We should view her apology in the same context we used to view confessions of inmates of the Soviet Union.