SBS: Is Australia Racist?

Just to remind you: here is a Friday market day in The Gong:

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And here is some of what I saw on SBS last night: I thought it was great!

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That last one:

A middle aged man has been secretly filmed as he abused a young Muslim woman in a niqab during SBS’s new show, Is Australia Racist.

“Where’s your f—ing face? What are you hiding from? F—ing Allah?” a white man in his 50s can be heard yelling at a woman whose garment only allows her eyes to be made visible to the public.

It is just one of many incidents of racism and bigotry highlighted during the hour-long documentary presented by Ray Martin.

The abuser in the above incident had no idea the veiled woman, Afghan refugee Rahila Haidary, was a volunteer for the SBS program.

The man approached Haidary in the street and almost immediately began to verbally attack her in full view of stunned onlookers.

“You’re in my face like that,” the man yells.

“You’re in our country because we helped save you from where you came from, from where you’ve been persecuted and you wear things like that.”

The woman responded by asking the man how she should dress. He retorted she should dress like other Australians.

Charming eh! See also SBS’s Is Australia Racist? exposes a shocking insight into everyday bigotryIs Australia Racist? SBS documentary makes for uncomfortable viewing and Is Australia Racist? Ray Martin thinks he has the answer, but you may not agree.

“I don’t think we’re racist,” says Ray Martin, who presents the one-hour documentary of that name that kicks off SBS’s Face Up to Racism week. “I think our attitudes are generally much better than they were. The discussion of racism, of anti-discrimination, of reconciliation and so on is far more widespread and stronger than it was when I was a kid.”…

This latest show combines the findings of an academic survey into attitudes about race and racism with some hidden camera stunts to illustrate those findings. So we see a black-skinned woman in African dress being harassed in public by two young white women. We see a woman in niqab (a veil covering the head and face, but not the eyes) confronted by an angry white man in a town square. We see how people respond to an African man who greets football fans outside the MCG with a placard reading “Stop Racism Now”….

All of which might lead to the conclusion that yes, Australia is indeed racist. But then you have the results of this survey of 6001 Australians, conducted by Professor Kevin Dunn at Western Sydney University, that point the other way. To some degree, at least.

It found that 80.4 per cent of respondents believe “it is a good thing for a society to be made up of different cultures”, 77 per cent believe “something should be done to minimise or fight racism in Australia”, and 76 per cent “would stand up for someone who was being discriminated against” on the basis of their culture, ethnicity or religion.

The hidden camera results suggest that yes, indeed, some people would stand up for someone being victimised because of their ethnicity. And for Philp, that was a positive. “It was good to know that people would stick up for me,” she says….

…there are fewer people who think they are prejudiced against other cultures (62.7 per cent) than there are thinking there is racism in Australia (79.3 per cent). It’s always someone else who is at fault, not me.

And that, says Martin, is where this show helps shine a light on the contradictions and the consequences around the question of our disputed racism.

“The value of doing a show like this is that it focuses on real people,” he says. “It focuses on the injustice of people saying these knee-jerk things without thinking about it – without realising how hurtful and dangerous it is.”

Some might be wondering how Muslims become part of the show’s brief; after all, Muslims are not a race, are they? The answer is that there is such a thing as cultural racism: see Muslims Aren’t A Race, So I Can’t Be Racist, Right? Wrong.

Need more proof that Islamophobia is a form of cultural racism? Consider the experience of Inderjit Singh Mukker. Mukker was assaulted in September 2015 for “looking Muslim”; he was dragged out of his car and beaten to a pulp by a man screaming “you’re a terrorist, bin Laden!” The twist here is that Mukker is not even Muslim; he is Sikh. The perpetrator of this crime looked at Mukker’s turban and thought “he’s a Muslim. He’s dangerous.” A cultural symbol, in this case, was used as a signifier to judge an entire group of people, however wrongly. Is this racism? Most definitely. Even Sikhs suffer from Islamophobia.

Ultimately, the issue here is “racism without race,” as sociologist Eduardo Bonilla-Silva calls it. The more we assume that race is limited to skin color, the less we understand about contemporary racism faced by Muslims at home and abroad. Now is the time to teach youth that racism is much more than the white-black dichotomy. Racism is changing in its form, but the beast is still very much alive and well.

And here and now in Oz we have rancid groups like the Q Society, and worse. For a thorough demolition of the Q Society and all its works see Inside the sick, sad world of the Q Society and the Australian Liberty Alliance, a must-read if ever there was.

So, again, why the concern from the Q Society and others on the political far right?

Josh Roose, the director of the Institute for Religion, Politics and Society at the Australian Catholic University, puts it down to “paranoia”. This paranoia has strange expressions.

In 2011, the Liberal member for Cowan, Western Australia, Luke Simpkins, presented a petition in federal parliament on behalf of constituents concerned that unlabelled halal food was so common in Australian supermarkets that “you cannot purchase the meat for your Aussie barbecue without the influence of this minority religion”.

He used the occasion to show off his knowledge of Islam, quoting Mohammed: “The nonbelievers will become Muslims when, amongst other things, they eat the meat that we have slaughtered.”

Simpkins emphasised the point. “This is one of the key aspects to converting nonbelievers to Islam,” he said. “By having Australians unwittingly eating halal food we are all one step down the path towards the conversion…”

That is plain bonkers. But then I may be a “victim”: see my post Munching halal and Japanese bikers again!

Update on Q Society and halal paranoia

See Q Society, Australian Liberty Alliance campaigner apologise to Halal director.

The anti-Islam Q Society and Australian Liberty Alliance campaigner Kirralie Smith have apologised to the director of a Halal certification company, settling defamation proceedings out of court.

Mohamed El-Mouelhy, Chairman of the Halal Certification Authority, claimed that a video now removed from YouTube implied that he was “part of a conspiracy to destroy Western civilisation from within” and “reasonably suspected of providing financial support to terrorist organisations”.

Those behind the video have apologised for the imputations.

“The Q Society, its board members and Kirralie Smith apologise to Mr El-Mouehly for the hurt caused to him as a result of the publications,” they said in a joint statement to the NSW Supreme Court.

“In light of the above apology Mr El-Mouehly withdraws the comments he made about the Q Society, its board members and Kinalie Smith.”

The apology comes after a two-year legal battle.

Inevitable outcome given the sheer idiocy of the premise of the action.

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