Looking back at 2017 — 2

Been distracted! The first in this series was before Christmas!

So this is what I was up to today…

To Sydney for  lunch with M in Chinatown. We just went to a food court where M ate Korean while I had barbecued duck and barbecued pork. Cheap and good.

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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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Addenda to previous post: Deng Thiak Adut and more

Thought of January 2016, given recent African youth crime stories: How inspiring! Deng Thiak Adut’s Australia Day address. See also in October 2017 Deng Thiak Adut: ‘Refugees are not here to do miracles’.

Despite his achievements, Deng warns against expecting all refugees who arrive in Australia to become overnight success stories.

“Refugees are not here to do miracles,” he says. “They are here to be assisted. They suffer from long-term trauma…You can’t expect them to get out there and succeed. They need help. They need personal contact. They need psychological assistance, they need counselling. They need support in terms of jobs.”…

“There is a problem in this country,” he says, calling attention to the many forms of discrimination – based on race, religion, sexuality, ability – found in the community. “Those who are on the fringe, they are people who look like me. We sit at the same table. I have to protect them. I have to voice their concerns. I will listen to them.”
Deng’s brother John was also a university graduate, with a double degree in anthropology and international development. He was “discriminated against”, says Deng, and unable to find work in his field in Australia. He returned to South Sudan where he was tragically killed in 2014.

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For context: see an oral history project recording the migration journeys and settlement experiences of southern Sudanese refugees now living in Blacktown, Western Sydney. See also Who are Australia’s South Sudanese? and South Sudanese honored Philip Ruddock in NSW during the refugee’s week.

Philip Ruddock was a Minister of Immigration when he travelled to Kakuma more than a decade ago. His mission led to the mass migration of the South Sudanese refugees who were stationed in Kakuma refugee camp. During the 2015 refugee day, South Sudanese and other marginalised areas Community Association in NSW honoured Philip for his care.

NOTE: My point in these two posts has been that whatever the undoubted bad that those young thugs have been doing — and may all the relevant authorities and leaders work on that! — I am sick of the panic being whipped up for naked political purposes, such as the next Victorian election. So I praise and agree with ‘Too much panic, not enough perspective’ and totally deplore this phenomenonon: Victoria’s African community ‘stereotyped, victimised’ for the sins of young kids.

Here we go, here we go, here we go — again!

First, I recall Cronulla 05, which as a former Shire boy I reblogged, the result being here. From which, though 12 years on links may well not work:

Mind you, there have been earlier, and worse, incidents, such as this one reported in NSW Hansard in February 2001.

[Cronulla] is an outpost, an area where the population increases dramatically during the summer. As my correspondent has said, there is gang activity. On Thursday 15 February the Commissioner of Police was interviewed on radio by John Stanley. The transcript of that interview reads, in part:

John Stanley: And your problem is, if you sent more police to Cabramatta, they would be taken from areas like Cronulla, where we had all those calls last week about that gang problem, that I think you are aware of. These people are coming in from other parts of Sydney, into Cronulla and are causing big problems there.

Commissioner Ryan: They are causing huge problems there.

One of those huge problems occurred two days after Christmas. Following a dispute at a Sutherland nightclub, a gang of 30 Lebanese Australian males arrived at Cronulla railway station with baseball bats, iron bars, knives and guns. They open fired on a rival gang, spraying more than 20 bullets over a 50-metre area. Such behaviour and activity are totally foreign. The Premier would be aware of the writings of a former New York senator, Patrick Daniel Moynihan. Back in the 1960s he wrote an essay entitled “Defining Deviancy Down”. That summarises these appalling standards of behaviour. Previously, this incident would have made headlines all over Sydney…

Mr George: Throughout New South Wales.

Mr KERR: Indeed, throughout New South Wales, but it did not because it is so commonplace. The mayor of Sutherland shire wants surveillance cameras, and there is no reason why the council cannot put surveillance cameras in the places sought by the mayor, although the problem exists throughout the Sutherland shire. The Carr Government has failed in its basic responsibility to maintain an orderly society and should therefore make a financial contribution towards the cost of the cameras. On behalf of the people of the Sutherland shire I ask the mayor to indicate when those cameras will be installed in Cronulla.

While I freely admit that troubling, troubled, and trouble-making (and usually virulently homophobic) groups of “middle eastern appearance” are an unlovely feature of Sydney life, it is very important to keep a sense of proportion on this: see Tunnel Vision: The Politicising Of Ethnic Crime by Paola Totaro (2003) for such a perspective. For much more detailed argument, see (PDF file) Scott Poynting Living with Racism: The experience and reporting by Arab and Muslim Australians of discrimination, abuse and violence since 11 September 2001 (2004).

It should be noted that, in the ideology of racism, categorical confusions between ‘race’ (eg ‘Middle Eastern Appearance’), ethnicity (eg Arab), nationality of origin or background (eg Lebanese), and religion (eg Muslim) are common, and distinction in practice between racism directed on ‘racial’, ethnic, or national grounds is not always possible or valid. This is all the more problematic currently, for over about the last decade, especially since panics from 1998 over ‘ethnic gangs’, over ‘race rapes’ in Sydney in 2000-2001, and asylum seekers and then the terror attacks from 2001, we have seen the emergence of we might call ‘the Arab Other’ as the pre-eminent folk devil in contemporary Australia (Poynting, Noble, Tabar and Collins, 2004). The links that are made between these events, the ‘perpetrators’ involved and their perceived communities, depend on the racist imagining of a supposedly homogenous category which includes those of Arab or Middle Eastern or Muslim background. This is not a singular category, of course — it includes people from diverse ancestries and with very distinct histories — but it is seen to be a singular category. A common factor is found through blaming whole communities for criminal acts, but also in labelling as ‘deviant’ certain actions — such as seeking asylum — and a range of other practices whose key feature is their visible and threatening difference — such as building a prayer centre (Dunn, 2001).

The extent to which the categories of race, ethnicity (culture) and religion are conflated in the ‘common sense’ of racism* is an aspect which needs to be studied, especially in as much as it determines the scope of legislation and the targeting of anti-racist initiatives and resources…

Poynting’s long article has much to commend it, including some disturbing personal stories.

And one you may not have thought of before: On welfare issues with Korean-Australian students

Nothing of what I have written, I hasten to add, is in any way meant to stigmatise Koreans or Korean culture, a point I made at the end yesterday with reference to Port Arthur. On the other hand I have seen up close less horrendous examples of the bicultural alienation some Korean-Australian students feel. Some years ago we were all shocked when one of our former students, a Korean-Australian, was murdered. We did much soul-searching then about what may have been involved. One of the more alienated Korean-Australian contemporaries of that boy opened up to me about a whole lot of things, and thanked me for some of the things I had been saying or writing on the cultural issues involved.

About that time too after a Year 12 Farewell ceremony I was, much to my surprise, on the receiving end of a big hug from one of those Korean students I had been working with for the previous six years… 🙂

Additional note

A feature of the more alienated Korean students in my experience from the mid 90s through to 2005 — and I stress of some, though quite a few — was their fandom of the US star Tupac Shakur and of “Thug Life”.

The concept of “Thug Life” was viewed by Shakur as a philosophy for life. Shakur developed the word into an acronym standing for “The Hate U Gave Little Infants F**ks Everybody”. He declared that the dictionary definition of a “thug” as being a rogue or criminal was not how he used the term, but rather he meant someone who came from oppressive or squalid background and little opportunity but still made a life for themselves and were proud.

Also in that post:

Korean Student Forum 8 September 2004 at Sydney Institute of TAFE….

In the “behaviour” workshop one of the police officers said something that adds perspective. He said that if we see a group of young people kicking a soccer ball around a park we feel positive about it, but if you take away the soccer ball and have the same group a bit later at night, or at a mall, people start saying “It’s a gang.” There’s something in that.

 

And now we have the admittedly disturbing incidents in Melbourne in recent times. I commend warmly Is Melbourne in the grip of African crime gangs? The facts behind the lurid headlines.

Victoria is having a debate about gangs. Specifically, it is debating whether it is appropriate to call groups of young people who are predominantly from African backgrounds a “gang” and, so named, what should be done about it.

It’s also having a debate about race, which is being waged in the comment sections of front-page articles on gang violence, and on social media, where comments like “stop immigration until this mess is sorted” populate Victoria police’s official Facebook page.

Both debates are linked to a perceived increase in large-scale violent offences committed by young people of African appearance, most of whom have been linked to Melbourne’s Sudanese migrant community.

Media coverage of the issue, led by the News Corp tabloid the Herald Sun, has dubbed Victoria “a state of fear” and reported that it could undermine the incumbent Labor government’s chances in the November state election.

On Monday the prime minister weighed in, saying at a press conference in Sydney that “growing gang violence and lawlessness in Victoria” was “a failure of the Andrews government”….

So here we go, here we go, here we go… again! Moral panic time!

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Source: Other Sociologist blog

See also African migrants face unfair stigma as Melbourne gang stoush escalates.

And see also from me in 2010: Africa in South Sydney. Do watch the video there!

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2018! Can you believe it?

They have just released the 1994-5 Cabinet Documents. Now you can tell you are old when they sound like news from about ten minutes ago!

Just ten years ago seems more like seconds back. Fortunately I have my blog as a substitute for memory! I had completely forgotten this:

When you’re over 60 and, well, you know, this makes a change…

23 Jan 2008

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… women throwing themselves at you, I mean. Take Ekaterina for example:

Hello Dear!

How are you? I hope that all good for you and you will read my letter with a interest. Ok. I got your e-mail through internet dating agency. I gave my letter to agency and they have told that my letter will be send to man in Australia!!!! I want to arrive to Australia and I have good chance for this. I need only man who can meet me in Australia and probably we can to develop our relations. Ok. My name is Ekaterina. I’m from Yoshkar-Ola, Russia.

My measurements: 32B – 24 – 34, Height: 5 ‘ 2 “, Weight: 115 lbs
Hair: Fair-haired
Eyes: Black
Star Sign: Scorpion

I’m 27 years old. But very soon will be 28 years old. My birthday on October, 29, 1980. I am ready for creation family and want it very much. I cannot find the man in Russia for myself because it very hard in Russia. I want to create family and to live in your country because the government to care about people. I want to live and be sure in the future. In Russia it is not possible to live easy. I want to tell about myself a little. I live in city Yoshkar-Ola. My city is very beautiful. I work as the seller in shop home appliances. I’m cheerful woman who like to go for sports and do all what like are usual peoples.

My history: I’m with my girlfriend were going to go in your country as tourists for search of men for serious relations. But my girlfriend could not go with me. She had problems with your family. But very soon I will receive visa and I do not want to lose a chance to arrive in your country. I will receive visa in 7 days for your country. Now I waiting for reception of my visa.

It will be great if you can meet me and we can to have relations with you. I’m understand that it very strange, but probably it’s desteny for you and me. I understand that you will ask me ” Where did you get my e-mail? ” I’m right??? I got your e-mail through internet dating agency in my city. I gave them my letter and they told me that they will send my letter. And I will be very happy if YOU will answer to me. I will be very happy if you will write me and we will have our meeting very soon. And it is possible we a meeting in 7 days because I can arrive to you.

Please tell to me about yourself a little!
What is your full name?
Your age?
City?

I hope that you will answer to me back… If so I will send my photo to you. I will wait your answer so much… Write to me on e-mail…

I’m leaving the email out because this is between Ekaterina and myself, you know…

What do you mean she wrote to you too? You mean she could be a floozy, to use a very old and politically incorrect word? Never. She chose ME out of all the men in the world… Didn’t she?

I have to admit it all came as a surprise as the only things resembling an internet dating agency that I have ever joined are Facebook, gay.com (non-paying) and Kagoul, though my membership of the last has no doubt elapsed.

I note too that M was on his great South American tour in January 2008. (He heads for S-E Asia in a month’s time.)

M back from Antarctica

15 Jan 2008

He found it a very special place.

He returns to Australia at the end of this month.

Finally from 2008:

My archaeology

09 Jan 2008

That, rather than a clean-up, is what is happening. I have been here in Elizabeth Street Surry Hills since 1992, and I brought quite a bit of unsorted rubbish with me. Some items go back, well, to Noah almost.

  • My first inspection report from Cronulla High School.

Mr W is an enthusiastic and resourceful teacher who is establishing good relationships with his pupils at all levels of the school.

His lessons are thoroughly prepared and informed: he uses a wide range of material and shows enterprise in presenting this material to pupils who respond well.**

Following advice earlier this year he has improved his supervision of pupils’ work, increasing his effectiveness in teaching. The results achieved in recent examinations testify to his successful teaching: the results in Form V History and Third Level groups in English V are especially commendable.

It is recommended that Mr W’s efficiency be determined as meeting the requirements for the award of a Teacher’s Certificate.

— E. Guthrie (Inspector) July 28, 1966

I see I had Forms 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 English and Form 3 History  — That is Years 7-11 English and Year 9 History. No Year 12 as 1967 was the first Year 12 in NSW, and I took that (bottom) Year 11 class through. ** I am sure Eula Guthrie was not suggesting my lessons only worked with “pupils who respond well”! 😉

  • The famous card from the Class of 1986 at SBHS

“The Britannia Rules OK!”  “Best wishes for the future school — I hope you get as good a class as us! — Ben” “Oh for a draft of Vintage — Now you’ve got one! — Chris Jones” “Thanks for some of the funniest English periods we have ever had! — Sincerely, Martyn, Dean & Sam” “Thanks a lot for putting a bit of fun back into school. — Peter Schulze” “Dittoes — Geoff” “Don’t get pregnant!” “Somehow you even made Larkin seem exciting! Good luck for the future. — Craig” “I hope you die! Yours sincerely, Philip Larkin.” “Keep away from Colin the bartender (barmaid?) — Craig Bartlett” “Cribs Rule — The Phantom” “Good luck — Craig McLean (the quiet one)” “Like wow — wipeout. Danke Schon — Tim Knight”

… and a few others. For context, see here, here and here.

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SBHS Second VIII 1986 — one of the signatories is here, Dean (No 6 from the bow) and also nearer the bow someone Marcel knows…

In 2017 this blog had 14,617 visits, slightly down on last year. The top ten individual posts were:

Friday Australian poem: #NS6 – Mary Gilmore “Old Botany Bay” 275 views in 2017
My 1947: Shellharbour 185
Restoration Australia: Keera Vale 160
Taste of Xi’an Wollongong 146
Tom Thumb Lagoon 135
Tangible link to the convict ship “Isabella” and the immigrant ship “Thames” 122
Random Friday memory: 1 – John Mystery, my brother, Illawong 96
Body language, cross-cultural communication, Trump etc… 95
Nobel prize winner’s obituary triggers memories 85
What a treasury of family history! 79