Stepan Kerkyasharian, the chairman of the Community Relations Commission and the president of the Anti-Discrimination Board of NSW, has been understandably saddened by the race riots that has strickened parts of Sydney.
He bemoaned the loss of good inter-ethnic harmony that was most prominently exhibited during sporting events, like in the 2000 Olympics and the recent final qualifying round for the FIFA World Soccer Championship, where Aussies of all backgrounds marshalled around Socceroos, the Aussie team. He recalled scenes of young girls wearing the Islamic hijab proudly displaying the green and gold, the sporting colours of Australia.
He agreed with KTemoc that the bashing of two lifeguards at North Cronulla beach were the acts of thugs who just so happened to be Lebanese Aussies - they could well be anybody, but they were thugs - full stop. It's when the incident was derived down to the ethnicity of the perpetrators that prejudice emerged ominously.
He appreciated the fact that in Australia lifeguards are great symbols, in fact sacred icons of Australian devotion to their countrymen, and any bashing of them would be extremely provocative. KTemoc is not being disrespectful to any religion by equating the bashing of surf lifeguards in Australia to that of bashing a rabbi, mullah, monk, priest or a church minister. It’s totally disrespectful to an Aussie culture of civic consciousness and selfless devotion to the Australian community.
Various community's leaders joined Kerkyasharian in condemning the actions of those young thugs. But Kerkyasharian was saddened by some opportunistic people exploiting that incident as a racial act, in order to marshal prejudice and physical support to “reclaim territory”. The term “reclaiming territory” is nothing more than a bigoted instigation to kick the 'others' out of the "territory".
Kerkyasharian is right in lamenting the vigilante action by unstable youths who, influenced by agent provocateurs and alcohol, took the law into their own hands, and resorted to acts against law and order.
The electronic media has much to answer for the the collapse of societal order and respect for law. There were the radio jocks (with some exceptions – more of this in another posting), mobiles, SMS, emailing (like in Paris), instantaneous TV, all of which helped to whip up the wrong type of sentiments in dysfunctional youths.
Even the redneck brigade’s original battle call to “reclaim territory” was not surprisingly abandoned amidst alcoholic haze as those drunken louts resorted to violent actions not only against a targeted ethnic group but also against police and in a most un-Australian behaviour, ambulance attendants and drivers.
To complete the picture of a mindless and aimless mob, who was looking for violence as a means of fun, the beach scene was complete with barbeque stands serving out grilled saugages to them, all equipped with stubbies of beer.