Monday, December 12, 2005

Whiskey don't make liars...(racial violence in Sydney)

I never intended to bend the rules but

Whiskey don't make liars it just makes fools

so I didn't mean to say it

but I meant what I said

too long in the wasteland, too long in the wasteland

must of gone to my head - James McCurtry

I know I may not have a right to say what I think in this Australian drama, especially with so much going on back at home with the execution of Tookie, and the issues following hurricane Katrina, but as the big mouthed American I just can't help myself.

I was appalled at what happened, I was appalled at the response of the police, and I was appalled at the ridiculous comments of the Prime Minister John Howard. But I will stick to the latter here.

The ridiculous statements that this was not a racial thing, that Australia doesn't have racial problems, and that this was more about alcohol, than race infuriated me. Like the song above, I do not believe alcohol makes you lie, it just takes away your inhibitions. These drunk people acting like kkk members were not just acting drunk, they were acting racist. The drinking allowed them to act in a way that was contrary to their social training, but their sentiments were truly held. This was a racial thing, it must be treated as such. As an American I can say that where I grew up had its racial problems, but it wasn't as bad as other areas like the deep south. But I have experience much more racism here, than I did in Southern California. The number of times I have heard comments that made my toes curl is frightening. I have heard things I would only expect to hear from the reddest of red necks or the neo nazi skin heads back home with surprising regularity.

It is my opinion that the correct way to deal with this is not denial, but rather acceptance. Yes we have a racist past, yes we a legacy left to us from this, and the way forward is to reject this and grow together as a community. The government should acknowledge the problem as the first step towards dealing with the problem. I will admit that we in the US have a long way to go towards overcoming our past, and I would hope that I can with my Australian friends here say we have a long way to go to overcome the past here as well.

To be fair, I will also say that it would help if the attacked community would not only claim racism, (which is fair enough, thats what it was), but also address some of the issues that brought the racism out in the open, they might have a bit more luck dealing with the issues. When Jesse Jackson got up and chewed out the African American community for taking part in their problems, and exhorted them to live right, it went a long way in restoring some trust in the African American leadership. Finger pointing rarely gets us forward.

I sincerely hope this can serve as a wake up call, and a start towards a new better future. I also hope it doesn't descend into a more and more violent racial struggle. I pray for my new country, I pray for these darker skinned brothers of mine, I pray for the lighter skinned brothers of mine, I pray for myself. Let love win here, let hatred be defeated, let peace reign.

I am sure I offended some people here, feel free to let me have it.

the rev


Anonymous said...

As a (usually proud) Australian, I couldn't agree more strongly with your comments. For years now our government has attempted to solve the issue of racism by telling us that it doesn't exist in our community. And while it may be true that the rioters do not share the opinions of most Australians (which I still passionately believe) doesn't solve the problem.

Our government has been forced to dismiss these disgusting acts because a big part of the driving force behind these tensions have been promoted by prominent media supporters of our government, notably Alan Jones (Sydney Talkback Radio Presenter)

Rebecca said...

I think the majority of Australians are at least disturbed, if not outright appalled, by what has been happening in Sydney. But anyone who's suprised has had their head in the sand - this government has had a policy of divide and conquer and has thrived on the politics of division and fear ever since it stepped into office.

It strikes me when I read articles claiming that it couldn't happen here (in Melbourne), that people have really short memories...has everyone really forgotten about skinheads, the Mods and Sharpies so soon?

As for folk like Alan Jones (who, I note, is proudly claiming he started it all) - I can't help but remember that the match that lit Rwanda was the radio hosts...(I'm not comparing - just remembering!)