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"...public opinion deserves to be respected as well as despised" G.W.F. Hegel, 'Philosophy of Right'

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December 14, 2005

Another way of looking at the Cronulla race riots--- an interpretation from the perspective of the Pacific Rim and the 10-nation ASEAN meeting.


The irony is that John Howard was never a fan of multiculturalism. He is a one nation conservative who is also an economic liberal, who practices dog whistle politics. Cronulla is blowback.So the conservatives have a problem. They have to retain the one nation bit but they need to condemn the Romper Stomper racism on their own side of politics to retain credibility. How to do this beyond the usual cry for tough law and order (zero tolerance) to deal with Lebanese Australian violence ?

Janet Albrechtson makes an attempt that is more sophticated than the emotional tabloid rants of a Piers Ackerman or Andrew Bolt going on yet again about the Left's culture of contempt. Albrechtson says:

Suggesting that the nation is swamped by racists, that ordinary Australians need some fine moral instruction from the likes of '[Senator Bob Brown], is just the latest adaptation of the David Williamson school of thought that treats ordinary Australians with disdain. It's a form of elitist self-loathing that gets us nowhere in explaining why thousands of people descended on to the streets of Cronulla in apparent retaliation against the attack on two surf lifesavers by men of Middle Eastern descent.

Swamped? Who's making that claim? We are talking about specific events at Cronulla not Australia. A straw dog has been erected to argue against the Left. Albrechtson does acknowledge the reality of racism at Cronulla.

She says:

Racism was on the streets last weekend. No doubt about it. White supremacists alleged to have links to neo-Nazis admitted they brought in more than 100 people to join the rampage at Cronulla. Young men used their bodies as billboards to read: "We grew here, you flew here". This is racist and it's wrong. Vigilantes bashing young men and women is criminal.

Rightly so. Does that not point to the dark side of One Nation conservatism? Albrechtson makes her move at this point. She says:
But grabbing hold of Hansonism every time racism rears its ugly head and tarring the whole crowd with the same racist brush gets us nowhere. There is so much more to this than racism. And we're fooling ourselves if we pretend otherwise.

True, racism is not the full story by any means. So what is missing? Nationality says Albrechtson. Most of us prefer our own kind. It's human nature (ie., in the genes) and throwing people of different cultures together can cause friction. Not because of any latent racism she adds. She then quotes from David Goodhart's "Discomfort of strangers" to argue that this cultural friction arises because "we feel more comfortable with, and are readier to share with and sacrifice for, those with whom we have shared histories and similar values." Then we have the move against multiculturalism based on the biology:
Recognising human nature means that multiculturalism, though a fine sentiment, can only work if we unite behind a core set of values. Unfortunately though, that policy has become a licence for rampant cultural relativism. We are loath to criticise any aspects of cultures (except our own) for fear of sounding terribly judgmental and unfashionably un-multicultural.

Not at all. The behavior of the Lebanese Australian gangs has been widely condemned as wrong. Who is too fearful to say that? Another straw dog has been introduced.

| Posted by Gary Sauer-Thompson at 10:55 AM | | Comments (4)


This was rather surprising see (to say the least).

I think there are quite a few Australians who view minorities the same way they view rabbits. Hopefully they won't try to come up with any "Control Measures" for that.

tis a great image that you have about Cronulla on your very visual weblog. It captures the reclaim the beach nicely.

This sort of crap gets right up my nose.

Of course we all suffer racist thoughts from time to time. It is innately human (even innately animal) to have some level of distrust of those that differ from our percieved norm.

This isn't the question, the question is how do we deal with these reptilian brain reponses.

If we can lift ourselves up by the bootstraps and look for how alike we are before we start magnifying the differences between us, we go a long way towards reaching some form of peace between us all.

To excuse the rioter's of anything less than hate crime is monstrous.

Unfortunately, the anti-political correctness movement holds the keys to power, so we get drivel from Albrechtson et al.

Sad days to be an Australian.

as you are well aware Integration and cohesion are the conservative memes--- though they have yet to link citizenship and multiculturalism within a cohesion agenda.

Goddard's liberal essay discussing reservations about immigration was first published in the Prospect magazine during February 2004. The essay approaches the cohesion/diversity tension as a problem for liberal porgressives:

You can have a Swedish welfare state provided that you are a homogeneous society with intensely shared values. In the United States you have a very diverse, individualistic society where people feel fewer obligations to fellow citizens. Progressives want diversity, but they thereby undermine part of the moral consensus on which a large welfare state rests.

Goddart does place his finger on a problem: a central dilemma of political life in developed societies is that sharing and solidarity conflict with diversity. The more diverse a liberal society is, the more difficult it is to have social cohesion. As Australia becomes more diverse so the common culture is being eroded.

The problem with Australian conservatives is that they code the common culture (of the nation) as Britishiness or Anglo-Australian, rather than liberal--rule of law, individual rights, separation of church and state, constitutionalism, federalism.

To give her credit Albrechtson ends her op.ed by saying that:

Multiculturalism has been synonymous with a rights agenda - addressing minority grievances - rather than a framework for talking about responsibilities. The violence that has been brewing in Cronulla, culminating in the disgraceful rampages in recent days, is a pointer that if we're serious about social cohesion, it's time we all demonstrated social responsibility.

What has been left out is diversity. There's the conservative strategy out in the open.

Yes to social cohesion no to diversity.