Creepy board game is stark reminder of Australia's racist past


“Past”? Change “coloured men” to “coloured refugees” and it’s absolutely contemporary.


Subtle…but no more nauseating than some of the vile “culture” here in the US at the time. Would probably resonate at certain Tea Party gatherings today.

Where exactly were the “colored” people supposed to end up? The ocean?

1 Like

The worst part is that the “White Australia” policy lingered in various forms until the late 1970s—including the despicable practice of kidnapping Aboriginal children to raise them in white culture.

The country has come a long way considering how recently it had overtly racist laws on the books but there are still a lot of old-school bigots around. When I studied abroad there for a while in the late '90s Pauline Hanson was still a political force to be reckoned with. And of course the national complexion is still suspiciously caucasian considering that the country is practically part of Asia from a geographic standpoint.


Does the copyright cover the abstract solitaire version of the game?
One of the first Windows games I played on a Windows 3.0 was an abstract version where you simply had to move grey pegs left and black pegs right, following just the same rules --If I had known the racist past of that game I had never played it.

(And, on the serious part of this thread, the fact that the kid kidnapping practiced in the 70s felt upon the definition of genocide according to the 1948 convention against genocide. On the other hand, from the European point of view, Australia is not a part of Asia but from Oceania, along with the islands of the Pacific).

White supremacist 1914 board game is stark reminder of Australia’s racist past

That, or a draft version of current Asylum Seeker policy.


Oh Christ don’t remind me. Luckily we had Howard at the helm to neutralise the threat by co-opting it. It wasn’t exactly a long road for him.

John Howard’s eleven-year prime ministership may indicate his success and longevity asa conservative politician. The question of race was always problematic for JohnHoward’s vision of Australia. When in Opposition, he was silent on the question of apartheid in South Africa and in the late 1980s he was insistent that Chinese immigrationto Australia was unsettling and should be significantly reduced. His parliamentary recordindicates a continuous silence on the question of indigenous Australians. During hisperiod in office, the deployment of a manipulative political strategy on the question of race was discernible.

(In fairness, during his period in office the deployment of a manipulative political strategy on EVERYTHING was discernible).


Potential offensive answers to your question:

  1. Yes.
  2. You don’t have to go home, but you can’t stay here.
1 Like

At least Coburg is a very different suburb these days.
Coburg is one of the most multi-cultural suburbs of Melbourne. For decades it’s had a strong Greek and Italian presence but in recent years, people from Arabic backgrounds have also settled here, as have younger professionals with or without kids. Many like the place because of its cultural diversity, closeness to the city centre and period architecture. And the prison has closed down.”

I assumed most of those “colored” were aborigines, who would say, “we already are home; where are you from?”

1 Like

No. White Australia wasn’t, in itself, anti-Aboriginal (although obviously there were plenty of anti-Aboriginal policies, as noted above). White Australia was primarily about restricted immigration - northern Europeans yes, everyone else no. It was partly just rank racism, but also partly about protecting (mostly British) Australian workers from cheaper competition, in particular from Pacific Islanders (mostly in Queeensland) and Chinese (basically everywhere). The “Yellow Menace” was particularly feared. The thinking for the first 80-or-so years of European settlement here was that the Aborigines, having come in contact with a superior civilisation, would just die out, as so many others had done elsewhere, as if by divine intervention. It didn’t really require a policy as such (except in the case of ‘half-castes’, who would be trapped between the ‘dying races’ and the whites, hence the child removal policies which sought to ‘breed out the colour’).

1 Like

It just sort of adds to the offensive, doesn’t it?

1 Like

Let’s also remember that one of the ways the Australian Immigration Authorities, until 1958, could deny “non-white” immigrants was to administer the “Dictation Test”. The catch was the officer could choose any European language they wished, relevant or not.

Glad you didn’t then, because if you had done that, it would have been an inappropriate, reactionary, concern-troll sort of thing to do.

The peg-swap puzzle is in the same family as “Towers of Hanoi” or (board-based) Solitare. It is an innocuous game that has existed in many guises before and after this one incarnation. I’ve seen it presented as “frogs and toads”, “soldiers on a mountain pass” or in collections of early-era computer games - and even as a computer programming exercise.

The belief that because there exists in the world one disagreeable use of a concept makes that one concept polluted forever is “magical thinking” - the “law” of contagion.

I would go further, and say : Even if this was the origin of the puzzle (it’s not) the distasteful usage itself does not make it a bad puzzle. Any more than using the idea of a verse like “eeny meeny miny mo” makes all kids in a schoolyard automatically evil.

As to the artifact itself - it’s an interesting reminder of our shared human past. I often wonder what current habits or common-sense contemporary beliefs we hold now will seem laughable or even entirely offensive in a centuries time.

Can you believe they actually drove automobiles? The Savages!


I had a bit of cognitive dissonance reading “Get the coloured men out” that I couldn’t figure out the source of for a while. I finally realised that pretty much every piece of overtly racist literature I’ve ever seen has come from the United States, so ‘colored’. The British spelling looks weird in context of, you know, shitheadedness.

Which of course makes me think about how well we here in Canada have hidden our own racist history that I haven’t seen our own spelling of coloured in that context. That history exists of course, it just doesn’t get talked about nearly as much.

Looks like it’s a slightly different game anyway. In this version, the tokens can stack on top of each other.

Phew, we don’t have to throw away all our classic games!

1 Like

Yeah, Melbourne’s inner suburbs are like the Nordic countries or something next to the tiny-minded fuckwittery actively fostered amongst the talkbalk radio set in the outer suburbs and rural areas…

This topic was automatically closed after 5 days. New replies are no longer allowed.