December 17, 2005 | Ronda Jambe

A Summer of Apartheid and Sedition

As with large software projects, the only way to test Howard’s new laws is to run them in real time.
If I went about threatening men of other cultural backgrounds because I took offense at their dress, manners, or choice of facial hair and headress, I would expect (even before the new laws were passed) to be arrested for racial/ethnic/religious/whatever intolerance and general lack of civility. Yet I desist.
The terms intolerance and lack of civility are the keys here, the rest is blather. I don’t care if it is lack of education, testosterone fuelled identification with black US gangsta rap, or psychopathic jihad – in the 21st century our only hope is civility, tolerance and non-violence. (If I imagine a bumper sticker saying ‘death to non-pacifists’, does that make me seditious or just a clown? My self-image is at stake.)
Even after more than 30 years, I remember my embarassment and anger when harassed as a young woman in the US, France, Italy, Lebanon and (yes) Australia. Sometimes it was laughable, as when the fellow who’d followed me into my apartment in Beirut, (where my husband was cooking dinner) told me weeks later on the street ‘You are not so beautiful.’ Harassment and unwelcome approaches to young women may be accepted in some parts of the world, but knowing it was a ‘cultural norm’ did not make it any more pleasant to have your crotch grabbed while trying to enjoy the Mediterranean. Australians are not immune from bad behaviour, stalking, etc. But we expect the law to support the victim and punish the perp. Religion is, or should be, a side issue.
My niece in Cronulla says name calling (‘Aussie slut’ isn’t very imaginative)on the beach has been common for many years. Shouldn’t these people have been arrested? A police officer on the radio said they have been told to hold back – is this political correctness gone beserk?
Another relative from ‘the Shire’ says that Aussies are harassed when they go to areas where Muslims are using the beach. They do not want anyone near their women and they chase them away with insults and threats. If this is true, it is surely grounds for arresting them.
And which group was convicted of racially inspired rape?
Now certain ‘community leaders’ are advocating separate areas on the beach. This is just apartheid.
If we hold any values in common at all, surely it is the right to be left alone and have one’s culture respected. Aussie chicks wear bikinis and flaunt their bodies at the first sign of Spring. This is as it should be, for us.
Yet it has also been reported on the radio that at least one Muslim Immam has actively encouraged their young men to harass non-Muslim women. If this is correct, the Imman should be in prison. It is illegal, and was already illegal before the passing of the new laws.
Likewise, of course, anyone found making molotov cocktails for ‘protection’, which has led to the arrest of some Cronulla men. A good spell in jail might improve their manners.
I would not expect to successfully lobby the Saudi government for the right to wear short sleeved shirts or drive in that kingdom. Such female behaviour is not right – for them. I choose to stay away.
Apartheid, de facto or otherwise, can only feed the current problems, never solve them. We have already failed in upholding our legal rights by turning a blind eye to the harassment that preceeded recent events. They should have been nipped in the bud – keep your mouth shut! is a simple injunction.
Hoons of all kinds need to be forcibly cooled down – and our free-wheeling, flesh-loving and above all tolerant and civilised society should be affirmed. Is that not what we understand by the rule of law? And is that not OUR Australian culture?
Piers Akerman, in the Sunday Telegraph, offers a complementary view. Why should mainstream Aussie society show tolerance and support for behaviour that is itself aimed at promoting intolerance? Give me a break. No, better yet, protect me. That’s what the police are there for.

Posted by Ronda Jambe at 12:08 pm | Comments Off on A Summer of Apartheid and Sedition |
Filed under: Australian Politics

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