[Marxism] ABC current affairs program on December's race riots in Sydney

Louise Walker louiserw2003 at yahoo.com.au
Mon Mar 13 04:49:28 MST 2006

Many outside Australia on this list followed the political events around the riots that
scape-goated people of middle eastern appearance and muslims in Sydney in December 2005. 

In a further investigation of the circumstances surrounding the, tonight the ABC's weekly current
affairs program '4 Corners' aired interviews with young people who cloaked themselves in the
Australian flag and participated in the initial riot. It also interviews a number of muslims and
middle eastern people, and how they responded in the immediate aftermath. A link to the program is


One thing that becomes abundantly clear is that the flag is a profoundly exclusionary political
symbol in Australia. There is no doubt that for those who went to the beach to 'bash Lebs', the
flag is 'theirs' and does not belong to people who aren't white. Attempts by one young non-white
guy to claim it left him beaten and bloodied. Without blinking, one young man explained that it
was important to have attacked Lebanese youths, to 'fight terrorism'. Another of the young men
interviewed on the show claimed that the atmosphere at the beach wasn't racist, it was fun, and
'just like Australia Day'. He was referring to that wonderful pastime of getting very drunk,
singing nationalist songs like 'Waltzing Matilda' and 'Advance Australia Fair', chanting 'Aussie,
Aussie, Aussie, oi, oi, oi' followed by yelling 'Fuck-off Lebs, we're gonna punch ya fucken heads
in!' He was referring to an atmosphere among those who later went on a spree of beating up those
few in the area who didn't have white skin.

This new White Australia movement now has deep roots among people in their late teens and
twenties, who almost universally wave the Australian flag in great numbers at sporting events, go
on nationalist pilgrimages abroad, and attend ANZAC Day parades in their tens and hundreds of
thousands. I recognise that there remains an alternative, progressive culture among young adults
in Australia, but I think it is very much a minority culture. In the political vaccuum that
emerged with the retreat of the Left, virtually the only ideology that has been available to this
generation of young adults is the world according to John Howard. At the end of the program youths
from both camps warn that, after Cronulla, racial violence between young white people on the one
hand and young middle-eastern people on the other is now with us for good. 

They might be wrong, and I hope they are. These are working class people after all, and one can
only hope that Howard's massive attacks on their rights in the workplace (the few they have left)
lead them to question their bigotry.


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