Monday, December 12, 2005

Keep it simple (and send us to hell)

Yesterday's trouble in Cronulla and other suburbs of Sydney is being portrayed as a "race riot", but was it? I've read the articles in the Sydney Morning Herald (and so far that's all I know about it) and there were references to many other factors, I think the most important of which is the ongoing antagonism between and towards gangs in Sydney. According to Paul Sheehan:
... what started the Cronulla tensions was yet another provocation by the aggressive, repugnant Lebanese gangsta culture - itself an alien subculture within the Lebanese community - which has given Sydney dozens of shootings and murders, a spate of gang rapes, hundreds of sexual assaults, and thousands of deliberate racist provocations at Darling Harbour, the eastern and southern beaches and some of the big clubs in western Sydney, along with Canterbury Bulldogs rugby league matches.
But the point isn't that these hoodlums are "Lebanese" - the point is that they're stupid brainless thugs. And the same could be said of the organisers or instigators of the violence yesterday: the point isn't that they're white Australians, the point is they were attacking innocent people in the street (including police and ambulance officers). In other words, they're stupid brainless thugs too. As Stepan Kerkyasharian (chairman of the Community Relations Commission and the president of the Anti-Discrimination Board of NSW) said:
What happened in Cronulla was an attempt at organised and premeditated mob violence. There's no other way to describe it.
The Australian way of life they claim to uphold includes the tradition of civil obedience and support for the lawful institutions of this land. Thugs terrorising beachgoers are not the product of multiculturalism, just as vigilantes are not the product of Australian heritage.
Never mind that other factors like alcohol, mob hysteria, unspecified anger looking for a focus, and media attention might have had some guilt in yesterday's proceedings. No, "race" is more obvious. It's easier to understand. It's not complex, it's simple: it's us versus them.

And thanks to the way this story is being handled (Shock! Horror! The Race Issue!) every racist crackpot across the country finally has what their shivering hearts always wanted: those hopeless fuckwits arrested for the violence on Sunday will become martyrs to their cause. Members of neo-Nazi and white supremacist groups were there in the crowd at Cronulla, and as we saw years ago with the Pauline Hanson phenomenon, racist fear and hatred lies lurking amongst us, just waiting for the least excuse to jump up and make trouble. Sunday's riot was more than "the least excuse". The fight probably hasn't even started yet.