Sydney beach towns are still fairly tense with SMS messages saturating the air with war cries. Yesterday 500 Muslims gathered around Lakemba mosque, fearing an attack on the religious centre. The mosque is also the cultural centre for Lebanese Muslims.
My Lebanese friend reminded me to inform readers that Lebanese Aussies are made up of Christians and Muslims, but I reckon in the current climate, that distinction won’t make any difference, when the white supremacist groups have opportunistically bought into the simmering grievances of locals who had outgrown their tolerance of Lebanese youth gangs. Ironically, the Governor of New South Wales, Professor Marie Bashir, is an Aussie of Lebanese ancestry.
The riots have been flamed faster in many ways by the modern electronic media – SMS and Internet we know of, then there have been the stark instantaneous TV pictures of disgraceful mob misconduct which undoubtedly provoke and incite some members of the audience, and the worst of all, some radio jocks with provocative talk shows. However there have been notable exceptions. John Laws is one of the exceptions.
John Laws is one of the top radio talk hosts, if not the top in Australia. Laws has been outstanding during the Pauline Hanson phenomenon when Asians were targeted. At the height of the irresponsible anti-Asian rabble rousing pronouncements, which led to an old Chinese man of 70 being bashed by two redneck wonders, young white hoodlums obviously encouraged by the anti-Asian talk, Laws stood up for the embattled Asians against the tide of some radio talk shows which pampered to bigoted views.
Yesterday morning he stood up against those Cronulla mob. He called out to those of them who draped the Aussie flag around their shoulders not to soak the sacred flag with the beer they were swilling about. He told those who used their grandfathers’ names as justification for their misconduct - “my grandfather fought against the Japanese to defend this land” - not to insult their ancestors’ deeds by bashing innocents including defenceless women. He challenged those who sang Australia’s unofficial anthem ‘Waltzing Matilda’ not to insult that great song when they were behaving in such a disgraceful thuggish manner.
Like John Laws there have been other heros as well. The police were magnificent as they rescued minorities under attack, often leading to themselves being attacked by the same mob. Then there were the ambulance officers who had beer bottles thrown at them as they attended to the injured and carted away the more seriously wounded.
Some (whites) civilians who bravely stood up against the mob were also attacked – one seized a megaphone to tell the mob that they were behaving in a racist manner. He had a beer bottle thrown into his face. A Lebanese youth who was attacked praised an Aussie bloke who shielded him against the mindless louts as they kicked and punched him.
I prefer to look at these shining examples as typical Aussies rather than those on both sides who had exhibited loutish misconduct.