Hot racial temperature on Oz's beaches
Militant Moderate looks at the causes of the recent riots down under and comes to the conclusion that it is a by-product of a government being elected which makes immigration a political issue of significance. At the same time he draws clever links between Howard's campaign in Australia and Howard's campaign at the last election; namely Lynton Crosby.
Not wanting to reopen old discussions about the Tories' misguided election campaign (my views were set out ad nauseam here and here), my own view is slightly more nuanced. I understand the logic of MM's views. I can't help but see telling comparisons with other more recent race riots though. In France, members of one perceived ethnic group suffered injury and this lead to outrage amongst other members of that group which spilled over into violence, albeit to differing degrees.
Ken concludes from his analysis that "whatever the cause, I think it shows the danger of pandering towards prejudice - whether overtly or slyly. Giving the impression that racism, or xenophobia, is acceptable in some way shape or form leads to this sort of behaviour. Demonising people makes you think the unacceptable is acceptable, as long as it's you doing the damage."
I would completely concur with this. It leads me to want a more wholesome and honest debate on integration and race, however, rather than to ignore the issue. The message I take from both experiences is that the solution is not simple - both railing against immigration and pretending it raises no real or at least valid problems and tensions is to ignore the complexities of the beast at one's peril. What is needed is renewed commitment to a serious debate about integration which is not debased by throwing around insults, which is not masked and distorted by tags designed simply to frame and shut out real discussion but one in which we accept the reality of immigration and talk about how we can create a society respectful of not only what Britain is today, and the ethnic backgrounds which make it up, but also of the history from which it and many of its inhabitants derive their sense of identity. Unless we have a core shared set of ideals relating to how Britons interact and lead their lives, it may not be long before Aussies and Frenchies are sneering at our societal failure be that caused by paranoid rejection of immigration, or blind rejection of the way pressures are exerted on each other by alien cultures .
UPDATE: Pub Philosopher identifies one manifestation of our inability to confront such tensions whilst allowing a monster to grow.