Friday, December 16, 2005

Riots and Racism

I haven't said anything about this how disgusting episode yet - still kind of trying to process it I guess.

Having just finished reading Philip Roth's "The Plot against America", this whole hideous scenario takes on more weight.

The Plot is a speculative fiction novel set in the U.S between the late 30's and mid 40's and looks at what might have happened if fascism had taken root (or at least tried to). Charles Lindbergh (heroic pilot with some fairly anti-semitic views) wins the 1940 election for the presidency against Roosevelt on a campaign not to take America to war in Europe against the Nazis and step by step, little by little we see the emergence of an anti-Jew demonisation campaign.

Told from the point of view of a 10 year old boy in a Jewish family in New Jersey but taking the wider view when necessary, this book hit me hard. Very much about the whole notion of "evil flourishes when good people do nothing" and with far too many echoes in the Howard government's ongoing racist campaign first of Muslims as queue-jumpers and now as potential terrorists.

I accept that the Cronulla thing has been more than a one sided affair, with unacceptable behaviour all round, however the Anglo response of the weekend is by far the most disgusting, embarrassing and depressing behaviour I have seen in this country for longer than I can recall.

Walking down the street and coming across people from different communities, I've found myself feeling ashamed and wanting to try to explain that it's just a bunch of young, stupid, angry, scared drunk people who have been poked, prodded and generally mindfucked for the last 10 years and beyond by some horrendously evil neo-conservatives led by Howard (and his US Republican masters) and given voice to by nasty nasty greedy media including Alan Jones, the News Ltd stable of press (Is that the whole truth or is your News Limited) and some particularly hateful, slimy and opportunistic toads from the neo-Nazi movement.

But I can't, I'm still too embarrassed. I really felt it yesterday, wandering in to my favourite Turkish place in the city in Canberra - the Turkish Pide House. The place was really busy, which I thought was nice but just the fact that they felt they need to have an Australian flag draped prominently in the doorway really saddened me.

I've always liked the laidback quality of our patriotism in this country - noone has seemed to take things too seriously or needed to be too showy about things (outside of sport), unlike the always over the top American thing. The fact that few people know all of the national anthem has always seemed kind of healthy and very much in keeping with the casual humility of this place. The prevalence of the Australian flag in the images of Cronulla on the weekend had a really sinister undertone to it.

I was glad this morning to read that one of the surfers who was filmed geeing people up at the
Cronulla carry-on has issued a public apology for his behaviour (off his own bat as far as I can see).

Hopefully sense is returning.

I just pray it doesn't carry on.

I'd just like to apologise as an Australian to the world for what my countrymen have done. I'm really sorry.


Jimmy K. said...

Standing up for ones country is right not wrong.

Colin said...

I don't think that standing up for your country is wrong, (whatever that means anyway) but I do think that 5000 angry drunken young men chasing a young woman off a public beach is something different.

The country I stand up for is the second most multicultural country in the world, one where people judge people on what they do as individuals, not where they're from.

While I respect your right to your opinion, I don't think you're getting the full story on what's happening over here jimmy k.

(And for the record, 42% of Lebanese in Australia are Christians and only 34% identify as Muslims - and one of our most popular State Premiers is also of Lebanese background.)

Deanne said...

Hey Mate,

I didn't know Waltzing Matilda could sound so bloody awful.

You may have read this already but here's the url to an article from The Age that cheered me up and made me feel hopeful that this isn't how we all are, or how we'll be in the future.

All clear in Willy: 'We don't need dat shit here'

Peace and calm,


Colin said...

Heya Dee, thanks for that, sounds pretty encouraging to me.