New racism and fear: the Cronulla riots and racial violence in Australia

Babacan, Alperhan, and Babacan, Hurriyet (2007) New racism and fear: the Cronulla riots and racial violence in Australia. Uluslararasi Hukuk ve Politika, 3 (10). pp. 147-152.

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Abstract

On 11th December, 2005, a violent mob of about five thousand young 'white' Australians gathered on the beach at Cronulla, New South Wales. Waving Australian flags, singing Waltzing Matilda and Australia's national anthem and chanting anti Muslim/immigration slogans, the mob verbally abused and physically assaulted anyone of 'Midle Eastern appearance'. Some days later, revenge followed: cars full of 'Middle Eastern appearing' men and youth sought revenge by smashing cars and shopfronts in Cronulla and by beating local residents (see: Ingliss: 2006, Abraham: 2005). In an attempt to prevent further violence and an escalation of the events, an exceptionally large number of police were deployed on the beach in the months ahead.

The incidents at Cronulla and the violence which followed it sharply focused national and international attention on identity and race issues in Australia. As evidenced from international reporting of the incidents (See for example Greenless, D, Abraham Y), the world was left asking whether Australia, known as an international global model for accommodating ethnic diversity promoted under the policy of multiculturalism had resorted to its former racist policies. The Australian Prime Minister and the NSW Premier argued that race and racism were not the underlying causes of the incidents (Barclay and West: 2006).

We argue that the events in Cronulla were no coincidence. A root cause of the Cronulla riots lies in the revival of 'new racisms' which is being increasingly facilitated through the adoption of the politics of fear (namely through law and order and security politics). This article provides a broad overview of the factors that led to the replacement of 'old racism' in Australia with multiculturalism. Te 'new racism' is then discussed and its link to the politics of fear which has been increasingly facilitated by the Commonwealth and NSW governments is explained as a critical backdrop to the events at Cronulla. Finally, by providing some examples, we will briefly elaborate on how the politics of fear has been a significant contributing factor to the events at Cronulla. It is concluded that the continued promotion of laws and order as evidenced by the NSW government's response to the events in Cronulla and the denial of racism as an important contributing factor will do to prevent another Cronulla.

Item ID: 17894
Item Type: Article (Refereed Research - C1)
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ISSN: 1305-5208
Date Deposited: 02 Nov 2011 05:56
FoR Codes: 16 STUDIES IN HUMAN SOCIETY > 1608 Sociology > 160803 Race and Ethnic Relations @ 100%
SEO Codes: 95 CULTURAL UNDERSTANDING > 9599 Other Cultural Understanding > 959999 Cultural Understanding not elsewhere classified @ 100%
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