While it may be easy for a white Australian to reduce the Cronulla riots to an isolated set of circumstances relating to ‘beach turf’, which precipitated into a couple of outbursts (Malcolm Knox, ‘Cronulla Five Years On’, December 2010–January 2011) – the experience of those from migrant communities paints a different story.
Simply because racism in Australia doesn’t always manifest as a riot, doesn’t mean it doesn’t pervade our society and take shape and form elsewhere, as it has done for decades – before and after the Cronulla riots. It is that same underlying current of white nationalism seen at Cronulla that produces hysteria about asylum seekers, growing Islamophobia and bashings of Indians.
One cannot divorce the racism seen at Cronulla from the violent racism seen elsewhere across the country. The attitudes and ideas of the aggressors are identical. Until we begin to address this culture of white nationalism, racist attitudes in this country will only harden. Cultural problems don’t go away when we dismiss them as exceptional.
Treasurer, Islamic Council of Victoria