Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Racism?

Yes, I guess I've been avoiding a very large elephant in the blog room - the riots that have happened/are happening here in Sydney. Well, not so much Sydney as the Shoire, which in my offensively elitest way I don't really count as Sydney.

That's my ignorance shining through, though. I've been to Cronulla beach, I think, three times in my life. Seems OK but really not my scene. Bondi isn't either. Personally, I don't think you can go past Bronte for Sydney's best beach, followed by Coogee.

Anyway, I really don't know much about Sutherland/Cronulla other than what ex or current residents have told me and general stereotypical representations, so I don't want to claim to be an expert on the area or provide solutions for what is obviously a very involved situation with a long history.

But I do have a few thoughts:

1/ Calling the events of the weekend "race riots" and pinning it all on "racism" is, with respect, a little simplistic. As I've suggested on Gay Erasmus' site, this seems to me to be not so much racism as tribalism along racial/ethnic lines. That might sound a little pedantic but it strikes me that Shire residents are and always have been very parochial about "their" area and unwelcoming towards not just the "Lebs" but any other non-Anglo race that might dare cross the Captain Cook Bridge.

2/ Racists clearly exist on both sides of the fence here. Yes, the Anglo riot initiators of this weekend are a bunch of racist yobbo bogans, but so too, to my mind, are the Lebanese Muslims (I make the distinction unlike many other people who don't seem able to recognise that a lot of Lebanese migrants to Australia were/are actually Christian) who beat up an Anglo life saver or who jeer at white woman along Cronulla beach for being "immodest".

And sorry, but I don't buy the "years of built-up racism/racist policies/racist government alienating and disenfranchising Muslim people who take out their frustrations violently" argument. The country has certainly become more racist under John Howard's reign, particularly when he was silently agreeing with Pauline Hanson by not unqualifiedly and comprehensively rejecting her racist bullshit, but adults still have free will and a choice, which is why the bulk of Muslims or Lebanese people or Lebanese Mulsims will be as outraged and appalled as the rest of the population by the actions of an aggressive minority of its men.

Any man or woman of whatever racial, ethnic, religious or socio-economic persuasion who initiated violence this weekend should be punished equally for putting lives at risk of innocent bystanders and residents and damage to property.

3/ The whole point of multiculturalism is reciprocity. Anglos have no right to make non-Anglos feel unwelcome to swim at any beach, just as non-Anglos have no right to try and impose their dogma upon people, especially women.

4/ Alan Jones deserves to go to prison. If this is not incitement to commit violence, I'm at a loss as to what is.

There are quite a few bloggers who've done some intelligent, sensible analysis of the situation, without resorting to standard Right maxims of "multiculturalism has failed, Islamists won't assimilate" etc or Left maxims of "we're a bunch of racist rednecks, it's all the skips' fault" etc. Darp, GE and - somehow - Tim Blair are all worth a read on the subject.

5 Comments:

At 14/12/05 8:42 am, Anonymous stephen said...

One of the points that interested me is "the language of validation". Marr notes how Allan Jones and other dickheads subtly and not so subtly do this. One commentator reflected on the sentiment of Shire residents...."We will decide who comes here".
Now I wonder what literary source criticism will say about where that sentiment may have originated from, and surely it gets its validation from the mouth of the evil dwarf who purports to be our PM. Who accepts no responsibility for anything nasty what so ever. A political genius, (perhaps too strong a word)... good at his job.... of being a politician but a total dick in reality!!

If I can test your hospitality by including a long quote I found last week from Jean Vanier, a saint of a man, who gave his life to living with profoundly disabled people hew writes:never confronted before, that there were immense forces of darkness and hatred within my own heart. At particular moments of fatigue or stress, I saw forces of hate rising up inside me, and the capacity to hurt someone who was weak and was provoking me! ............Elitism is the sickness of us all. We all want to be on the winning team. That is the heart of apartheid and every form of racism. The important thing is to become conscious of those forces in us and to work at being liberated from them and to discover that the worst enemy is inside our own hearts not outside!

 
At 14/12/05 9:28 am, Anonymous Jason said...

There are 2 sides to every story. I heard (and I cannot vouch for the authenticity) that the young lifesavers were harassing some ethnic lads - who then (rightly or wrongly) retaliated. This then gets whipped up into a frenzy of "our poor aussie lifesavers getting beaten up on our aussie beach by non-aussie people". Perhaps we're all not as innocent as we pretend to be just by the colour of our skin.

 
At 14/12/05 10:20 am, Blogger Sam said...

I've heard that too Jason and it wouldn't surprise me if it were true. That's my point though - there's shit-stirrers on both sides and in my mind neither is to blame any more or less than the other.

I certainly see enough racism on Oxford Street from my pasty-white brethren towards Asian gay men to know we're far from innocent.

 
At 14/12/05 3:51 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Online opinion has a piece on this issue. Disturbing thing is that one of the posters said. they got an email stating all hell will break loose this weekend.
check it out mates

 
At 15/12/05 8:56 am, Anonymous weezil said...

Sam, I'm an ex-Shoire resident. The vast majority of the morons running amok, without the assistance of Alan Jones, would be cracking another stubby, pulling yet more cones and watching the cricket at 4am.

One primary tenet of broadcasting in the western world is that radio spectrum is necessarily limited; you can only have so many transmitters in a particular band. Since the earliest days of radio, the airwaves have been deemed to be the domain of the people and thus must be used primarily for the public good.

I can see absolutely no reason why 2GB should have a valid broadcasting licence at this moment. You can't call any of Jonesy's encitements to riot as good public service.

2GB and Jones are lining their pockets with the destruction. They caused this- and should pay for it. Anyone with a vandalised car or smashed shop window should be billing 2GB and Jones.

The failure of ACA or DPP to act against 2GB and Jones is politically motivated- Howard's refusal to use the "R" word is plain proof. Don't forget that Little Johnny is a lawyer. If Howard did characterise the riots as racist, there would be direct legal cause to charge and shut down 2GB and Jones under racial vilification laws.

If there are no active complaints against 2GB/Jones filed with ACA, the Press Council or DPP, I may effin well have to write some.

 

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