Monday, December 12, 2005

A cause for national shame

Even though it pains me to pull out one of those ubiquitous 'A Current Affair' - style cliches, I can't think of a better way to describe the events on Sunday in Cronulla. I am not so concerned about the event itself (for those who are unaware, there were ugly scenes which have been described as 'race riots' over the weekend. Whether this is sensationalist journalism or not, the targets of the anger were certainly of Middle Eastern descent), but greater concern hangs over the underlying community feelings behind the mob violence. Like you tell any woman at the pub, for every guy who has the guts to speak to you, there's five who want to, but haven't for whatever reason. The same rationale applies here. The real worry are those who sit in their armchairs at home and watch the news with a sense of quiet satisfaction. The door that was opened by Pauline Hanson in 1996, and kicked off its hinges by Howard in 2001 is now the venue for a gradual outpouring of xenophobic sentiment.
It's the little things - i.e. 'Bloody Asian drivers' or Wog this or Lebbo that. Innocuous as it may seem, it's growing up in a culture that on the surface, tolerates bigotry, that can lead to the grander and more frightening racism we saw yesterday. That is, blaming an entire ethnicity for the actions of a few. Racial stereotyping is nothing new, but the new climate of 'home-grown terrorists' and 'Islamist terrorists' and 'Islamic fundamentalists' boils a complex issue down to racial lines...the very thing that results in unmitigated hatred being unleashed on the innocent.
Something must be done to institue radical social and cultural change at the grass roots level. And it is up to political and cultural leaders to set a better example than obligatory statements of 'disgust' and 'condemnation' that spew forth from PM's and oppostition leaders alike in times like these.
Moves must be made to eradicate the idea that Australians of one colour are any different from Australians of any other colour.
I live in hope that one day, kids will grow up unaware of the original nationality or ethnicity of their next door neighbour.


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