I wear some really strange shoes. I’m about as white, English speaking, blonde and blue-eyed as you can get, but I’m also a migrant to Australia.
It really was only hours after I got off the plane in Sydney in 1996 that I started to be fed crap about "wogs and abos" and yet strangely expected to commiserate with this racist tripe. It didn’t help much that one of my first addresses in Australia was in Sutherland Shire, an unusually insular and parochial part of the greater Sydney area, populated mostly by Anglo Aussies.
Last Sunday in Cronulla, the usually whispered undercurrent of racism went nuclear after a couple of surf lifesavers were bashed in the preceding week, reportedly by some young Lebanese-Australian men. The mainstream media and talkback radio were all but in bed with Australian neo-nazis in raising public ire about this attack. Most of the news items on last Friday and Saturday did not openly condemn the potential for violent reprisals from locals in the Shire. That’s as good as a green light to raise hell.
Not until the violence had spread to other popular Sydney beaches like Maroubra did the SMH and News Ltd papers start running items openly condemning the yobbos. Talkback radio absolutely failed the greater Australian community by fanning the flames of racial resentment. A female news presenter this morning on Channel 9 had the distinct lack of sense to suggest that the riots might "keep beaches safe."
While protection of our volunteer surf lifesavers should indeed be paramount, NSW Premier Morris Iemma did precisely the wrong thing by first suggesting that people attacking surf lifesavers should be sentenced to 25 years in prison, instead of shaming those who would mount vigilante reprisal attacks against anyone who looked vaguely middle-eastern. Well, Morrie got exactly what he bargained for– a less than tidy little race riot.
Advance fair Australia.
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