December 12, 2005

When Mob Violence May Actually Be a Good Thing

Hatched by Dafydd

Violent attacks -- reprisals, now -- back and forth between the Arab-Moslem population of Cronulla, Australia (a southern suburb of Sydney) and the white Australian population are both disturbing and interesting. The Sydney Morning Herald reports:

Mobs of men have damaged a number of vehicles in an outbreak of fresh violence in the southern Sydney suburb of Cronulla tonight.

A reporter from radio station 2GB said "chaos" had broken out in the beach shopping centre with vehicles damaged and police making arrests as mobs of men roam the streets.

They're disturbing in that both the Arab-Australians/Arab immigrants and the white Australians are increasingly using race as a proxy for deciding whether a person is good or bad. Racism is the ugliest and lowest form of tribalism, in my opinion; and it's depressing to see it bubble forth whenever danger threatens. (It happens here too, when concerns about illegal immigration cross the line into generic immigrant bashing.)

But there is also an element of hope here... because mobs of patriots standing up to Moslem rioters is precisely the element that was missing from the recent riots in France, where nobody, it appeared, was willing to stand up for his country and culture.

After Australians were legally disarmed by repressive anti-gun legislation in 1996, following a highly publicized mass gun murder, violent crime in Australia increased markedly: from 1995 to 2001, assaults rose by 39% per 100,000, rape by 19%, and robbery by 70%... while all three categories of crime decreased during the same period in the United States, as many more states made it easier for civilians to get concealed-carry permits. The murder rate in Australia did decrease, but only by 11%; it plummeted 32%, three times as much, in the U.S. (Australian numbers from "the Australian Bureau of Statistics, as compiled and reported by the Australian Institute of Criminology (AIC)," then posted by the website linked above; American stats can be obtained online from the Bureau of Justice Statistics, a division of the Department of Justice).

But even so, and even in despite of the racially tinged nature of the Australian mobs, there is still a refreshing brashness to the Aussies who will not "respond" to Moslem violence by sitting quietly in the dark and waiting for instructions from the hapless government. Of course, the Australian government is not "hapless," as the Chirac government in France was: it took Paris more than a ten days before they decided to "crack down;" and even then, the riots only receded when the rioters got tired and bored. The violence in France eventually ebbed down to the normal rate -- of 900 cars torched every night.

I trust John Howard a lot more than Jacques Chirac, or even Nicolas Sarkozy, French minister of the Interior (that is, the top cop in France -- and probably the next president). After the Sydney police warned about rampaging racism -- they seemed to apply the term only to the white rioters, not the Arab rioters -- Howard responded in a measured way, noting the danger of both racism and also hysterical charges of mass racism; the Sydney Morning Herald quotes the prime minister:

"Mob violence is always sickening,'' Mr Howard told reporters.

"Attacking people on the basis of their race, their appearance, their ethnicity, is totally unacceptable and should be repudiated by all Australians irrespective of their own background and their politics,'' he said.

"I believe yesterday's behaviour was completely unacceptable but I'm not going to put a general tag [of] racism on the Australian community.

"I think it's a term that is flung around sometimes carelessly and I'm simply not going to do so.''

Howard continued by warning that the police were not going to stand idle while lives were threatened and property damaged:

Mr Howard said he fully supported the actions of police at Cronulla and said that anybody who broke the law yesterday or on the previous weekend, when two lifesavers and a camera crew were assaulted, should be apprehended and prosecuted.

Mr Howard warned anyone considering further violent behaviour they would face the full force of the law.

Yet it remains to be seen whether he means it (and has the political power to carry through), or whether this is just tough talk. The French government talked very tough throughout the riots while doing virtually nothing for days. In the meanwhile, both sides have now tasted the wrong end of violence, and each knows that it can be burned as well. I expect this in itself will dampen enthusiasm for the fight.

Mob violence is always ugly, but we should think a second time before opining that it is always wrong; the Birmingham bombing was an act of mob violence -- but so was the Boston Tea Party. Like nearly everything else in life, nuance is important: the former was a horrific act of terrorism intended to frighten blacks into accepting American apartheid, while the latter was a legitimate act of protest against unrepresentative government.

In the Australian case, the mob might cut either way; but I have faith that the innate decency of Australian culture will steer sentiment towards defending Australian and Western values and away from the knuckle-dragging racial hatred we've seen in, e.g., Zimbabwe.

Of all the countries in the Commonwealth of Nations, I've always thought of Oz as the closest to America in spirit, even as it's the farthest in geographical distance.

Hatched by Dafydd on this day, December 12, 2005, at the time of 5:59 PM

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The following hissed in response by: stackja1945

The Melbourne Cup the horse race that stops a nation. This makes Australia racist?
My late father Australian born in poverty of Irish parents. He was discriminated against but kept quiet and got on with his life. He was a good father and gave his family a good life and a good home. Too much silly talk today about so called poor people. They should just get on with their lives and stop complaining.

The above hissed in response by: stackja1945 [TypeKey Profile Page] at December 12, 2005 7:00 PM

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