This month marked the first anniversary of last year’s racial riots in Cronulla. As New Zealand journalist Jehan Casinader writes from Sydney, tension has abated but the sentiment remains.
Convicted neo-Nazi criminal (and St.George fan) Ross ‘The Skull’ May knows two words of Arabic? Huh. This and other insights are contained in Casinader’s article ‘Cronulla cuts run deep a year on’ (The New Zealand Herald, December 25, 2006), which reports on the damp squib the first anniversary of the Cronulla riots (‘uprising’) — thankfully, not unexpectedly, but contrary to the desires of local racists — turned out to be. Speaking of racists, also starring in Casinader’s piece is Australia First Party leader (and another convicted neo-Nazi criminal) Dr. James Saleam (“hatchet job pamphlets on Henderson-Hau [see below] at the ready”!), local AFP candidate John Moffat, and various pseudonymous members of Don Black‘s white supremacist Internet forum Scumfront.
“Jim Saleam is deluded,” says Mat Henderson-Hau of anti-racism group Fight Dem Back. “He literally expected tens of thousands of people to be here today, and that by 8pm they would have overthrown the state government in Macquarie Street. They really expected a similar turnout to last year’s riots, and Jim was going to seize the megaphone and rile up the masses”…
Ah well, better luck next time Jim.
Curiously, Casinader argues that “It is clear that Australia First’s radical ideas have influenced media portrayal of an issue which is thought to be driven by a large, seething mass of disillusioned Australians”. A more accurate analysis may be found in the NSW police investigation into the events at Cronulla: in reality, it was media portrayals of the AFP’s ‘radical’, racist ideas that drove a large, seething mass of disillusioned (white) Australians to ‘riot’. A line of argument captured quite succinctly in the words of gay millionaire and corrupt, corporate propagandist Alan Jones: “I’m the person that’s led this charge”.
Talkback radio’s role in instigating the riots
Volume 4, Item 3 of the Hazzard report, entitled, “2GB Broadcast Synopsis: 4th December 2005 to 9th December 2005: Alan Jones, Ray Hadley, Jason Morrison,” devotes 108 pages to broadcasts from Sydney radio station 2GB in the lead up to the Cronulla riots. Whilst not “strictly verbatim”, it is a “verified and accurate” record.
On these radio programs, listeners call in, correspondents read out letters, and the hosts constantly volunteer their opinions and interpretations of events and issues.
Alan Jones is one of Australia’s most promoted personalities, and enjoys the closest of relationships with Prime Minister John HoWARd, as well as with the Labor government in NSW. He is a former speechwriter for the Liberal Party, and a recipient of the Order of Australia.
It is impossible to reproduce the volume of filth and backwardness spewed forth by these radio commentators and their talk show guests in the space available for this article. But to give a sense of the racialist climate they created at the time, it is crucial to revisit at least some of what they said.
Day after day, hysterical exchanges such as the following occurred on morning radio:
Caller: “What kind of grubs do we have here?”
(Alan) Jones: “What kind of grubs? This lot were Middle Eastern, we’re not allowed to say it, but I am saying it.”
The following “correspondence” was read on air by Jones:
* “Unfortunately this happens regularly at Cronulla—gangs of Lebanese youth just swarm over the beach, stealing from and assaulting beach goers; they pick on the youngest.”
* “Alan it’s not just a few Middle Eastern bastards at the weekend, it’s thousands. Cronulla is a very long beach and it’s been taken over by this scum; it’s not a few causing problems, it’s all of them.”
* “Police are too afraid to act … if we were allowed to act the way we want to, we could solve a lot of problems … these Middle Eastern people must be treated with a big stick—it’s the only thing they fear.”
Jones openly advocated and encouraged violent reprisals and vigilante behaviour against young men of Middle Eastern appearance.
For instance a caller, John, said: “These people, half of them may be home grown; they have infected minds; they don’t live the Australian way … if the police can’t do the job the next tier is to us.” Jones replied: “Yeah, good on ya, John.” When John said: “Shoot one, the rest will run … when you’re outnumbered 20 to 1 you don’t put your hand up and play by Queensbury rules,” Jones replied with laughter and added: “You don’t play by Queensbury rules; good on ya, John.”
Ray Hadley, another “shock-jock” on 2GB, unleashed equally disgusting comments, and also incited violence. Asked whether surf lifesavers should allow people of Middle Eastern appearance to drown when in distress in the water, Hadley commented: “That’s good because there is one less to bash them [the lifesavers]. I don’t care, I’m sick of it; I’m not in the mood today to pander to minorities.” He continued: “It’s about time we reclaimed our beaches.”
Hadley also commented:
* “At the moment we have a core of young people who will not accept; they are Australians, but won’t accept our way of life and we need to do something about it.”
* “We have been too easy … and we need to get tough.”
Jason Morrison, filling in for Hadley, endorsed an email from a listener who claimed: “We are experiencing circumstances that have caused leaders of other countries through history to declare war on people not assimilating in their country.”
These hosts endeavoured to create the impression of a city and a society under siege by dangerous, distinctly “un-Australian” and barely human elements who needed to be swiftly and violently crushed.
On one occasion, Jones wailed: “We’ve got the pack mentality, we’ve got the Lebanese gangs and the disrespect; you’ve got the mind numbing rap music. They’ve got the weapons and the knives, and like the US, the gangs are drawn along ethnic lines.”
He also said:
* “Here are people hunting with gangs, hunting with knives, randomly threatening people’s lives.”
* “This is suburban this stuff and these people only know one thing: they hate us and they’re going to take over.”
With one caller, Yvonne, Jones claimed: “There is a standard that has to apply and you don’t meet that standard you should be rounded up.” She replied: “And if we don’t have enough police, what’s wrong with getting the army in?… [G]ive these blokes a bit of rifle butt in the face and they’ll back off; they’re cowards.” Jones replied: “If it gets to that we might have to do that, do you follow what I am saying?”
Jones repeatedly read out an alleged text message sent out by local “youngsters” in the Cronulla area encouraging others to go to the beach on the following Sunday, “to support Leb and Wog bashing day”.
On another occasion, Jones called for, “A rally, a street march, call it what you will. A community show of force.”
It did not take long to prove that these considerable efforts were not in vain.
Referring directly to the role of the shock-jocks, the Hazzard report states, “comment made by the broader community relating to the incidents was at times racist, exaggerated, inaccurate and advocated vigilante behaviour.”
But in the aftermath of the riots—unprecedented in Australian history—no official investigation was launched into their causes. Media attention continued to focus exclusively on how many Middle Eastern youth had or had not been rounded up, and the need for a massive police presence throughout the summer on Sydney’s beaches.
The only explanation for [NSW Police Minister] Scully’s behaviour [ie, his bungled handling of the report in question] was that he, too, was trying to protect the culprits. Adam Walters drew the conclusion in an article on ninemsn.com.au that Scully’s actions were, indeed, aimed at suppressing the police report in order to protect Jones. Apparently, on September 19, when Hazzard initially briefed the police minister on the report, Scully questioned him as to whether the role of the media fell under its terms of reference.
According to Walters, Hazzard’s notes of the meeting reveal that the police minister’s only concerns “related to the criticism of Alan Jones and other influential media commentators”. It appears that the primary motivation of the state Labor government was to avoid, at all costs, a falling out with the highly influential Jones so close to the March 2007 state election…