Saturday, December 17, 2005

surf 'n' turf

Well, it is a sad day when our State Premier has to warn families to stay away from their local beaches lest they ‘interfere with a police operation’. Crikey. All because of a couple of hundred thugs.
Is it a sign of underlying racism and failure of multiculturalism? Probably not; as others have noted, every country has racists; we do too. They're hardly a representative group.
Is it related to John Howard's policies? Possibly. Howard’s position on race-related issues is discussed in the correspondence to the Brett essay that I talked about below. One correspondent, David Corlett, was writing before the South Sydney riots but his words make sense in their context. They also articulate my vague suspicions that the Howard years have created a climate where people are more righteously territorial and more suspicious of Others. And so the extreme element of that is expressed by ignorant yobbos of all colors. Corlett wrote,

“The Howard Government legitimised, at the centre of political power in this country, a sort of racism that is not based on biology but on culture.”

Judith Brett does not agree that racism has ‘entered the heart of the state’, but rather that Australians are particularly concerned with territory; with policing their fences, with turf, with borders, with being a castle with a moat. In a reply, Don Aitken writes that ‘Our politicians, from both sides, cater to [the] large group [mainstream voters who chiefly care about family and security] by lowering the bar, reducing appeals to idealism and reaassuring, placating, and soothing…” To which I’d add, the Liberals have become adept at instilling fear and paranoia in citizens. When people point out we are more likely to be killed by a bee than a terrorist, they are shouted down as unpatriotic.
All the drama and controversy of the new terror laws--a controversy that was surely designed to take the heat off IR debate--helps to nurture fears of the Enemy Within, the Other In Our Midst, now On Our Beaches, and soon, probably, Under Our Beds...