Monday, February 16, 2004

My Two Cents (whether you want it or not)

I woke up this morning, and watched the news. I see riot police, Molotov cocktails, fire, broken glass, and all manner of things violent going on. Christ, I think. Where is that?

Sydney. Sydney. This scene is one we would sadly expect to see on the west bank or the Northern Ireland of a few years ago. Not in a Sydney suburb, however feral that suburb be.

Who are they kidding? This riot was not over the kid that died. It can't be, because the police had nothing to do with the death of the kid. I am not happy with the media coverage of this-- particuarly the repeated scenes of the mother breaking down, and then some small shot of the stoic police officer who has the burden of fronting the media. Even the coverage of the poor mother has been inconsistent: "He was a good kid, smiled a lot and was nice to his sisters." "He was my only son, my eldest son, not even 18." "They killed him, them officers, I know they did."

Yesterday he was an 'innocent' child, a kid out for a ride. No one knew quite what happened. The kid saw a cop car, and took off. The police, however much we would want to believe, are not in the practice of chasing after kids on bikes. Aboriginal or not (Kevin Rudd agrees).

Today we know he had an arrest warrant. Did this matter to anyone? I bet those 70+ drunk idiots never even knew the kid before yesterday, and suddenly, because he has dark skin, and police were with him, there's a friggin riot. They needed a cause, however weak, and this would do. "Let's trash the shit out of Redfern station," they cry, "and hurt some police because they're white!"

Over what? A current affairs program of some sort (can't remember which) tonight showed a teenage girl who claims that they're all just sick of everything, there's nothing for them to do anymore, people resort to violence because they're bored, and this riot was a reflection on that.

Excuse me, I may be uninformed here, but when did that ever become an excuse? Yes, the treatment of aborigines by the first white settlers was inhumane, but every single race out there has suffered some sort of hardship. Doesn't mean you can go on a fucking rampage.

Take a good look at this:

This riot has been given international attention. People see this, and they know it's happening in Australia. This is not a normal occurrence, but people don't know that. Just like they don't know that Tampa was not a normal occurrence. CNN ran a nice report on it, including some information about the refusal by our Prime Minister to apologise, and all the injustice that the aborigines apparently suffered, and included the following quotes to boot:

People should not kid themselves; this is Australia and last night's display of violence is an extreme example of the extent of the alienation felt by some Aboriginal kids," said Sen. Aden Ridgeway, the only Aborigine serving in federal Parliament.


Officials have promised to hold an inquiry into Sydney's riot. But don't expect a legacy of distrust to dissipate anytime soon.

New South Wales state opposition leader John Brogden -- a senior member of Howard's Liberal Party -- said the only way to clean up The Block was to knock it down.

"I'd bring the bulldozers in because I think allowing this to happen every couple of years, which is what's going to happen, will never fix the problem," he said.
Almost as famous as that Shane Stone quote, that last one will be.

Another international publication ran this:

One rioter, her face hidden by a mask, says there is a dangerous level of anger within the indigenous community. "If I have to lead my people and these kids toward death - to die for what they believe in - I will do it."
Are we to expect suicide bombings next?

Amazingly, aboriginal leaders have praised the actions of the drunk and stupid mob last night:

Redfern elder Lyle Munro told the crowd gathered at the scene of the riot they should be proud Redfern's young people had stood up to police.

"There's been a stand made in the 'fern once and for all," he said.

"The stand had to be taken and was taken by some really brave young black people that we are immensely proud of."

It is disgusting that these rioters have tried to get history on their side, when all they wanted was a cheap thrill. Let's not kid ourselves. This wasn't about T.J. It never was. What happened to T.J was an unfortunate accident. But thanks to the actions of the dumb mob, it's blown up into something huge, destructive, and damaging, and is portrayed to be about something that it's not. There was no good to come of it.

But, it seems, they can't wait to do it all over again.

EDIT: For the record, I don't think Todd McKenzie is racist. In fact, I completely agree with him.

EDIT 2:Alan Anderson has a thought or 5 on leadership, and Bernie Slatts offers a solution in the comments:

The best thing government could do is declare Redfern a no-go zone for government services. Let them have it as an independent nation. Residents can police it themselves, raise their own taxes, provide their own public transport. Migrants to Australia from Redfern would be welcome so long as they undertook to behave lawfully and care for their kids.

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