Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Blind spots

What's missing from this picture?

Glenn Reynolds posts the following:
MORE SYDNEY BEACH RIOTS: It's like Paris Down Under.

Hint: The same thing was notably missing at Hugh Hewitt, who headlined his link to the coverage of the suburban riots thus:
Will the French Riots Move to Australia?

Well, just in case these fellows, or their readers, need a clue, here's what's missing from their picture of the situation in Australia:

See, at first glance, Reynolds' post seems not to make any sense: How could the white riots that broke out Sunday in Sydney somehow resemble the riots in France, which involved young men of Middle Eastern descent who have not been allowed to assimilate into French society? Surely Reynolds doesn't think that angry white Aussie skinheads are analogous to angry French Muslims?

Or is he suggesting, like Lucianne Goldberg (via Atrios) that this is nothing but a "WASP riot" -- and thereby, somehow, not merely justifiable, but lauadble, something long overdue?

Ah, but he's not, you see: The link in Reynolds' post takes you to a Pajamas Media report regarding the reactive riots targeting whites in Muslim neighborhoods.

In fact, it's clear that those are the only riots that are of interest to both Reynolds and Hewitt. Nowhere on their sites is there any mention whatsoever of the large-scale white race riots that began Sunday and are now spreading elsewhere in Australia. You know, the riots that are directly the cause of the suburban riots they're all worked up about.

Their positions seem to be like Michelle Malkin's: If whites riot against Middle Easterners, and some Middle Eastern neighborhood respond violently, then the fault obviously lies with the Middle Easterners. All the racial friction, it's clear, is a product of those evil Muslims.

At least, that seems to be what they're saying, but it's hard to say for sure, because they're all incredibly incoherent.

Now, before anyone gets their shorts in a bunch, let's be clear: I'm not suggesting that any of these fine right-wing hacks are racists. As I explained at length the last time out, I reserve the term "racist" (or accusations of a similar nature) for people or organizations who actively engage in the denigration of people of other races, and who specifically trade in hateful talk and discriminatory actions toward them.

The issue here is something I talk about a lot at this blog: The big blind spots so many Americans -- particularly right-wing Americans -- have when it comes to the wellsprings of violence in the world: They are almost congenitally incapable of seeing right-wing violence when it rises up and slaps them on the forehead.

Instead, they wind up trying to avoid the subject by logical convolutions that produce utter incoherence of this kind. (That was, after all, the very point I was making when Reynolds last decided I was accusing him of racism.)

So, just in case there's any question: there are no doubt all kinds of racial tensions in Australia these days, but the mass violence that has broken out in recent days is being fueled by right-wing whites, many of them being led by neo-Nazis and other white supremacists.

After all, it was the right-wing Australia First party that was handing out booze and anti-immigrant propaganda at the beach to help fuel the riots. And it was a right-wing radio talk-show host who was helping foment the riots over the public airwaves, rather like what we saw in Rwanda:
The riot was still three days away and Sydney's highest-rating breakfast radio host had a heap of anonymous emails to whip his 2GB listeners along. "Alan, it's not just a few Middle Eastern bastards at the weekend, it's thousands. Cronulla is a very long beach and it's been taken over by this scum. It's not a few causing trouble. It's all of them."

Sunday's trouble did not come out of the blue. It was brewing all week on talkback radio — particularly on 2GB.

Radio doesn't get much grimmer than Alan Jones' efforts in the days before the Cronulla riot. He was dead keen for a demo at the beach — "a rally, a street march, call it what you will. A community show of force."

He assured his huge audience he "understood" why that famous text message went out and he read it right through again on air. "Come to Cronulla this weekend to take revenge. This Sunday every Aussie in the Shire get down to North Cronulla to support the Leb and wog bashing day ..."

Daily he cautioned his listeners not to take the law into their own hands, but he warmed to listeners who had exactly that on their minds.

Last Thursday Charlie rang to suggest all junior footballers in the Shire gather on the beach to support the lifesavers. "Good stuff, good stuff," said Jones.

"I tell you who we want to encourage, Charlie, all the Pacific Island people because, you want to know something, they don't take any nonsense. They are proud to be here — all those Samoans and Fijians. They love being here. And they say, 'Uh huh, uh huh. You step out of line, look out.' And, of course, cowards always run, don't they?"

When John called on Tuesday to bluntly recommend vigilante action — "If the police can't do the job, the next tier is us" — Jones did not dissent. "Yeh. Good on you, John." And when he then offered a maxim his father had picked up during the war — "Shoot one, the rest will run" — the broadcaster roared with laughter. "No, you don't play Queensberry's rules. Good on you, John."

Unsurprisingly, with text messages and e-mails stirring the pot, the violence continues to escalate, with more whites attacking more Middle Easterners elsewhere:
Elsewhere, Australian Broadcasting Corp. radio reported Tuesday that a family of Middle Eastern origin was attacked in the western city of Perth by a group of 11 white men, who threw eggs, shouted abuse and kicked their garage door.

The 42-year-old father, who did not want to be identified, said his family was badly shaken by Monday night's incident.

"I don't know if we were mistakenly identified," he said. "What I definitely know is it was something linked to the escalation in New South Wales."

In Adelaide, a taxi driver of Lebanese origin, Hossein Kazemi, was injured when he was punched by a passenger during an incident Tuesday.

"There was some sort of discrepancy and argument over the fare," a South Australian police spokesman said on customary condition of anonymity. "Apparently during the assault, the victim, because he was of Lebanese origin, was taunted about the stuff in Sydney and Cronulla beach."

More violence seemed likely. New text messages circulated Monday, one of which called for more fighting next weekend: "We'll show them! It's on again Sunday."

Another message warned of possible retaliation from Middle Eastern groups.

"The Aussies will feel the full force of the Arabs as one -- 'brothers in arms' unite now," the message said.

Somehow, I get the feeling that our friends on the right will find a way to blame the immigrants for the problems. Because that's what blind spots do to you.

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