Monday, December 12, 2005

The ugly Australian

I am going to make this really short. Because I don't trust myself to write something even reasonably moderate. Except to report that:

Up to 5000 Australians gathered at a southern Sydney beach yesterday. Hundreds of them formed a mob which attacked a range of people on the basis of their "middle eastern appearance". Police trying to protect the victims were pelted with bottles. An ambulance helping the injured had its windows smashed.

The crowed sang "Waltzing Matilda" and "Advance Australia Fair" (our national anthem). If you hadn't known any better you might have thought it was Australia Day. Video footage today shows hundreds of Australians, full of beer and venom, draped in flags, wearing racist slogans on their shirts and bare backs, punching the air and chanting "Lebs Out" or "F--- Off Lebs".

Meaning people of Lebanese extraction. Which on this day included two schoolgirls who were born in Jannali, which makes Cronulla their beach too.

For the first time in my living memory of public spectacles, girls participated actively, assaulting other young women to the delighted, encouraging, demented chants of "Cat fight, cat fight...", as well as being victims of the random brutality.
About 7.30pm a young man of Lebanese appearance, arms held out imploringly, sprinted south on a footpath towards the protective shield of the police stationed at Cronulla Beach, hotly pursued by a drunken mob numbering hundreds. He outran the mob and was saved by police, who placed him in the back of a police van, which was then surrounded by the mob.

As the van drove away, one young Caucasian girl laughed and said to a male companion: "That was sick. I've never seen a dumb Leb run so fast. How good was that?"
Somewhat mysteriously, our Prime Minister refuses to call the violence "racist". Which implies that he will not be taking advantage of the new sedition laws which he forced into place a week ago for precisely this purpose. So one starts to wonder when and why they're to be used.
Mr Howard also dismissed any suggestion his government's warnings about home-grown terrorists had fuelled the rampage.

``It is impossible to know how individuals react but everything this government's said about home-grown terrorism has been totally justified,'' Mr Howard said.
``Put simply, most Australians want a nation where, irrespective of their background and always respecting the right of people to maintain affection for their own culture, ... we should encourage to the maximum extent possible everybody to become part of the integrated Australian community.

``Any emergence of so-called ethnic gangs is a manifestation of tribalism and something ... we should try to discourage.
Unless it's "us" that's the tribe, of course.
Asked whether yesterday's violence was an example of tribalism, Mr Howard said: ``No''.
I can only wonder what our indigenous Australians are making of it all. Especially with Botany Bay just up the road.

Later in the evening news reports were being phoned in from the suburbs of Maroubra and Brighton Le Sands, telling of large mobs of people "of middle eastern appearance" smashing car windows randomly, throwing Molotov cocktails and wreaking revenge.

More disgusting acts. More vandalism. More violence.

I don't support either "side" in this urban war. But I do think that the young people who are caught up in it are the canaries in the coalmine, spouting the poison that's seeping into all of us, playing out what we collectively have accumulated in our hearts anyway through the recent years of manipulation, lies, fear mongering and global violence on all sides.

Unfortunately the only thing apart from violence that all the people in these stories share is the Australian accent. When I was listening to various individuals defending their positions on radio today I really couldn't tell which group was which.

Aussie, Aussie, Aussie!

Oi, Oi, Oi!

Nice photo, travisnicholson

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