Australia loses its shit
From the Australian Democrats on December 12th:
Australian Democrats Multicultural Affairs spokesperson, Senator Andrew Bartlett today condemned the weekend violence in Cronulla as mindless racism cloaked as a distorted form of nationalism and called on the Government to do more to promote multiculturalism as a way to end such violence.
“Now more than ever we need to highlight the principles of multiculturalism. Respect for each other and a solid understanding and acceptance of our differences are essential to ensure that we don’t let mindless thuggery win in this current climate,” Senator Bartlett said.
“We are hearing reports of white-supremacists being involved in the fracas, the fear of an attack on ‘our’ way of life and the fear of a non-white Australia as motivators in the violence but it was no more than mindless hatred and fear that fuelled this incident,” Senator Bartlett said…
I agree with Bartlett’s rejection of the attacks here but I don’t understand why he minimises the sociological component. Why is it “no more than mindless hatred and fear?” And why is it “mindless?” Judging from the footage I saw on the BBC there was certainly hatred, probably underpinned by various kinds of fears, but some of the expressions of xenophobia picked up by the news cameras were anything but mindless—in fact one participant stated quite lucidly, to anyone who cared to listen, his message of exclusion. He did not provide a justification, but he was not incomprehensible either.
If we are going to dignify the attempts to condemn racist representations, and especially coordinated violence, then we need to come up with something better than the old “mindless” excuse. When public figures employ the language of “mindlessness” they are often invoking a class distinction. This is an analytically weak response to an organised public demonstration. The terrible order underlying the weekend’s violence is where the problem truly lies.