2 Aug. 2006

Racial Vilification

In Western Australia in 2005, they brought in a law against racial vilification. They did this in response to a spate of racist graffiti in Perth.

I'm fairly sympathetic to the idea that a law might be needed here. Racist graffiti is clearly worse than street art, which generally, probably shouldn't be illegal at all.

The first actual application of the new law is in fact however itself racist. Some black girls who allegedly verballed a white girl in Kalgoorlie in racist terms are being charged with it. I won't trivialise the incident itself, because it seems to have been a shockingly brutal assault, of a type which women I know in Sydney have also experienced at the hands and feet of teenage black girls. None of this changes the fact, however, that white people cannot in fact be vilified racially. You can try it, but it just doesn't work.

A case in point, on a Friday or Saturday night I was in the Glebe side of Parramatta road with a friend and this young Leb guy started heckling us from the passenger side of a car stopped in traffic, calling us 'Irish bastards', or 'cunts', or something along those lines. I take it that he was doing a delicious parody of the way in which he, an Australian, is always referred to as 'Lebanese', despite the fact that he is quite possibly from an Iraqi background anyway, etc. The thing is, that if he was trying to racially vilify us, it didn't work, in that calling us Irish will not make us as alienated as calling him a Leb would. I was just worried he wanted to fight us. And if he had done, it would have undoubtedly been partly as a result of a lifetime of racial vilification. I take the same view about Bilal Skaf, scumbag though he undoubtedly is.

The Kalgoorlie is a perfect example of the post-Apartheid mentality in Australia: from the oppression of blacks by treating them unequally, to the oppression via formal equality, by applying the same standards to people who've had everything stolen from them. The Australian right is oblivious to how farcical it is to steal everything someone has, so that you are rich, and then urge them to work to get back a fraction of what they once had. The incident is also highly indicative of a general oppression of black people, and the working class more generally, on the basis of the punishment of people's inability to particpate properly in the right linguistic games. John Howard can be as racist as he likes, as long as he doesn't call anyone a 'boong' or a 'chong'.