Occidentalism
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The riots in Cronulla

December 13th, 2005 . by Matt

I am intending to write a post about the riots in Cronulla, which is about an hour or so from where I live. Bear with me, because I am trying to get past the incredible media bias of the Australian news media (Korean media pales in comparison) in an attempt to get a coherent understanding of the situation. I may actually go to Cronulla on the 18th.


27 Responses to “The riots in Cronulla”

  1. comment number 1 by: nig

    How would you describe the “bias” of the Australia media?

    Too left-leaning perchance?

  2. comment number 2 by: Matt

    Too left-leaning perchance?

    Depends on what you call left leaning. Leftist economics for example, is not an issue for the media. Actually, I find labels like that limiting and unhelpful, which is why I am researching the issue. I will try to write it without using labels, and instead will describe the situation using other, more accurate expressions.

  3. comment number 3 by: nig

    I agree. It is a bit of an oversimplification. I was just wondering what angle you were coming from.

  4. comment number 4 by: nulji

    one must wonder how matt will justify his people’s violent racism.

    one nation, anyone?

  5. comment number 5 by: takeshima

    Noodlji, when you say “his people” do you mean the arab-aussi that attacked the lifeguard? or the guys who attacked arab looking austrailians. Both are austrailian and ‘his poeople’ and both seem to be in the wrong. You see, australia has many races unlike your fatherland that has, 48 million drones. And in multicultural societies, there can be situations like this.
    .

  6. comment number 6 by: BananaBoi

    one must wonder how matt will justify his people’s violent racism.

    Nulji, do you live in Sydney? Have you got any idea what’s it like to be robbed, bashed, stabbed and raped by arabs simply because you’re white?

  7. comment number 7 by: Malaclypse

    I’m looking forward to your report, Matt.

    Would you really say that Korean news bias “pales in comparison” to Australian news bias? How would you fit American news in that spectrum? (mass media, e.g. CNN, Fox News, New York Times)

  8. comment number 8 by: Matt

    Would you really say that Korean news bias “pales in comparison” to Australian news bias? How would you fit American news in that spectrum? (mass media, e.g. CNN, Fox News, New York Times)

    Sure, it does pale in comparison! The Korean news media is predictable, like a broken record really. As long as you know which issues they are unrealiable on. The Australian media is objectively worse than the US media simply because it is much smaller. In the US, I notice a lot more variety of opinion than you get in Australia. In Australia there seems to be a media party line that almost everyone follows. America also has the first admendment, which is freedom of speech. Freedom of speech is NOT something that exists in Australia, no matter what people tell you. Here, the kind of speech that is protected in America can get you arrested, and put in prison.

    So small media minus freedom of speech means that you have huge media bias here. ‘Trial by media’ is something that is extremely common here as well.

  9. comment number 9 by: Malaclypse

    Yikes!

    We have trial by media here too, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that’s how the case will be decided. It just means that, if the jury decides differently from how the “trial by media” goes, everyone gets all uppity and whines about it a lot.

    In the US, there is some speech that is not protected, but the line between what is protected and what is not is pretty well defined (well, relatively speaking anyway) Is there a very clear line of what you can and can’t say in Australia?

  10. comment number 10 by: Matt

    Is there a very clear line of what you can and can’t say in Australia?

    Yes. Any words that can cause the public to look down or offends members of an identifiable group (religious or ethinic or sexual), true or not, can lead to arrest. Simply citing statistics can lead to arrest, if it causes people to look down or give offense.

    In a practical sense, this means that it is impossible to analyse the actual causes of this riot, because the result of the analysis would be illegal (BTW, the Australian government no longer publishes crime statistics by race or religion because the statistics would enrage the public).

  11. comment number 11 by: jaganath69

    Matt,

    Religious vilification laws do not exist under NSW legislation.

    The difficulty is that in NSW only racial vilification is a crime, not religious vilification, and even racial vilification has not been prosecuted since it was introduced in 1989.

    Taken from http://www.smh.com.au/news/opinion/its-essential-to-clean-up-this-mess/2005/12/13/1134236060746.html?page=2

  12. comment number 12 by: Matt

    jagnatha69, you are right. Victoria does have religious vilification though. Here is a famous case of it. In the case of NSW muslims, besides a handful of converts, muslim almost always means someone from a middle eastern (and perhaps Indonesian) background. This means that when talking about Lebanese muslims (as opposed to Lebanese christians), the Lebanese part of that will attract attention.

    Racial vilification laws have not been executed because people knew that they could be prosecuted for certain types of speech, especially controversial speech (which is the kind of speech that needs to be protected), and thus refrained from making the kinds of speech, true or not, that could get one into trouble. A high profile case of this chilling effect on free speech was an academic not having his work published in a university journal because the university was threatened with prosecution under the racial vilification act. So even though the laws are not causing people to be arrested, they are very much having an effect. That case was just three months ago, and there are surely many, many more examples that never make the media.

  13. comment number 13 by: nulji

    you indicate that the thread will be uncatogorized, but shouldn’t it be under ‘racist industrial complex’?

    where’s your rant about racism, btw?

  14. comment number 14 by: Matt

    you indicate that the thread will be uncatogorized, but shouldn’t it be under ‘racist industrial complex’?

    where’s your rant about racism, btw?

    This thread is a stop gap while I am writing my post. The issues are extremely complex, so I dont want to mess it up. This post will be deleted when I finally get the real one up, so I havent bothered assigning a category.

  15. comment number 15 by: dogbert

    There’s just no pleasing some people.

  16. comment number 16 by: Matt

    By the way, I probably wont be finished with the Cronulla post until after the 18th. On the 18th there is supposed to be another protest there, so I will take the risk and check it out.

  17. comment number 17 by: jaganath69

    Matt said…

    A high profile case of this chilling effect on free speech was an academic not having his work published in a university journal because the university was threatened with prosecution under the racial vilification act

    .

    Are you aware of what Fraser was saying? His basic premise was that Africans have lower IQs and higher rates of criminality because of their race. This is about as clear a case of vilification as I can imagine. Please tell me you aren’t holding this Nazi scumbag, who by the way is supported by two of the far-right organizations who formented trouble in Cronulla on sunday, as a martyr for free speech.

  18. comment number 18 by: Matt

    This is about as clear a case of vilification as I can imagine.

    Friend jagnath69, I side with Voltaire on this – ‘I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it‘. As for the ‘right wing organisations’ that supposedly attended, I dont believe it for a second. One of the ‘leaders’ that claimed to bring in to Cronulla 100 people is a notorious liar and it is shocking that the media took his claims at face value. Unless I can see some pictures of them there (and in the many, many I have seen have not been able to see any), I am not prepared to believe it.

    By the way, I have not read Frasers article, so I am not inclined to judge him.

  19. comment number 19 by: jaganath69

    Even if Saleam wasn’t there, representatives of both Australia First and the PYL (both Saleamist organizations) were there. Did you not see the picture of the young girl handing out the PYL flyer in the SMH? I’m quite liberal myself on the issue of hate speech and vilification (I don’t believe the case in Victoria was justifiable) but Frazer’s article served no other purpose than to cause hatred towards (mainly Sudanese) African immigrants and refugees. I am fully aware of the slippery slope down which such legislation leads, but I’m unconvinced that Frazer’s words serve any good purpose in Australian society. I’m wondering out aloud if libel laws would suffice in this instance. Anyhow, I’m interested to hear your takes on the riots, even if I don’t always agree with what you say.

    Cheers

    Aaron

  20. comment number 20 by: jaganath69

    PS, are you aware of the deliciously ironic fact that Saleam is widely touted as being of Lebanese heritage? You can check Fightdemback for more on that.

  21. comment number 21 by: Matt

    To my thinking, speech need not be evaluated based on its value to society or any other measure (measures which happen to be purely subjective anyway). First it is Fraser, then it is Occidentalism. One could make a perfectly valid argument that Occidentalism does not contribute to society, or good relations between nations, or whatever. Still, I believe my voice has a right to be heard, and that people that want to hear have a right to hear. Putting people in jail because of their opinions no matter how disagreeable is much worse than the original opinion expressed (if it was really, truly, objectionable in the first place – some people may go to jail because it was demanded by a voiciferous mob that wants to persecute detractors). Lets assume that Frasers article was race hate, and he got sent to prison, where he was raped by other prisoners on a daily basis (an unfortunate reality in the prison system). Would it really be worth it? To make another assumption, what if he turned out to be correct, and that our own prejudices of the era caused us to condemn him? Would that not mean that we are no better than Soviet Commisars throwing people in the gulags? This is the slippery slope, and the Victorian case is a perfect example of it.

    I think that there is a tendency for the in the media in the last couple of days to claim that the protest was ‘led’ by racial separatist types, but I think the overwhelming majority of people there were locals, not outside agitators. There were also non whites among the protesters (even among those making speeches and being cheered), which makes it pretty obvious those groups were not influential with the crowd.

    Saleam looks like he is of partial middle eastern heritage to me, judging purely on his phenotypical traits. I think I neglected to mention that one of the lies that Saleam told was that he was never in Nazi uniform, but as you can see from that link I provided, there he is in Nazi uniform.

  22. comment number 22 by: Gary

    As a person who has lived his whole life in Singapore, my comment would be that this issue does have strong racist overtones on both sides of the story.

    Local media in Singapore has spoken at length about the hooliganism of Caucasian Australians but also of the intimidation that was served them by individuals of Lebanese descent. Perhaps you could avail yourself of http://www.channelnewsasia.com to see how one particular Asian nation’s media is treating these events.

    Singapore too has rather comprehensive racism laws. Recently a few bloggers were jailed for “inciting hatred” on their blogs. However even in this Draconian city, these laws do not seem to be quite as comprehensive as Australia’s.

    You can for example make a factual statement such as “blue collar crime is disproportionately comitted by people from this particular ethnic group” and it would be fine so long as you can back it up with factual data.

    It seems ludricous that even this is stymied by Australia’s laws. In a way it seems as if it is an attempt to be willfully blind by refusing to collect statistical data just because it might offend someone. The truth often hurts, yes, however reality does not care what you believe. Nevertheless, Australia’s international image appears to have taken quite a beating and that is perhaps the greatest loss for the nation as a whole.

  23. comment number 23 by: Matt

    Gary, thanks for the international perspective.

  24. comment number 24 by: Gary

    Thought you might get some mileage from this report:
    http://www.channelnewsasia.com/stories/afp_asiapacific/view/183744/1/.html

  25. comment number 25 by: Pyotr

    Sure, it does pale in comparison! The Korean news media is predictable, like a broken record really. As long as you know which issues they are unrealiable on.

    So, you are saying that the Australian media “pales in comparison” because it is unpredictable? That you don’t always hear what you expect? Interesting…

    The Australian media is objectively worse than the US media simply because it is much smaller

    And I guess this means that the media of Sweden and the UK are also objectively worse than those in the US. Does this mean we should be praising the media of China? Interestinger…

  26. comment number 26 by: Matt

    So, you are saying that the Australian media “pales in comparison” because it is unpredictable? That you don’t always hear what you expect? Interesting…

    Actually, you do hear what you expect, but the Korean media is unreliable on the issues that I write about. In Australia certain issues suffer from a ‘media blackout’ – you can even talk about it.

    And I guess this means that the media of Sweden and the UK are also objectively worse than those in the US. Does this mean we should be praising the media of China? Interestinger…

    The media in China is controlled by the communist party, so in terms of media variety of opinion, China would be much more narrow than most western countries. The range of discussion in the US is much broader than in other western countries, thanks to their first amendment rights.

  27. comment number 27 by: Errol

    Occidentalism

    It’s back on Matt.

    Peacocks from both sides strutting their stuff at Cronulla

    Look at me, look at me? Or It’s noice, it’s different, it’s unusual?

    To Howard and his bunnies. Youse all going to look more stupid than usual if she wins.