4.4 Racism: Our Number One Problem

Let's make it quite clear at the outset: none of us is free of racist prejudice. We all have our petty hates and we hate some nationals more than others, be they Arabs, Greeks, Japanese or Australians. We all suffer to a greater or lesser extent from ideas of persecution or desire for revenge. These tendencies in small degrees are so common as to form part of our (albeit abnormal) existence.

What is abnormal is the rise in public demonstration of hate and vendetta culminating in open murder on the steps of Flinders Street Station (Melbourne). Why has it reached this level, this extent? Such insensate acts can easily be dismissed as the work of a small group of hooligans spoiling for a fight. But is this demonstration of violence an isolated incident? I think not.

The evidence we have from police files indicate that the rate of crime in general has risen tenfold over the last few years. All sorts of crimes of violence are increasing. It seems that the cauldron is boiling and the lid has blown off. More specifically, violence against minority groups, particularly the new comers from Asia seems to be increasing disproportionately. In NSW a new bill relating to racial vilification is being introduced to amend the Anti-Discrimination Act of 1970 and give legal muscle to attempts to bring the problem under control. The Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission has initiated a national inquiry into racist violence.

It is up to us to make our minds what sort of Australia we want to live in. We have to play our part in reducing racial tensions where they exist.

How can we help?

As the roots of violence begin in the home, or rather in the absence of a good home, we should try to educate our children in the best possible way we can. We must remember that unemployment in the young is often the result of lack of adequate training and education and this can often lead to estrangement from society and eventually to criminal activity.

We should also clear our own minds about our attitudes to other racial groups. How tolerant are we to Indonesians, Arabs, Japanese, etc? Is our attitude one of "I'm all right Jack and I don't give a hoot about anybody else? I am amazed at times at statements relating to the rights of these newcomers by Maltese who have had exactly the same sort of comments thrown at them when they first came to this country 30 or 40 years ago. We seem to be doing to others what others did to us then!

We should also participate actively in any attempt by the authorities to stamp out racism. Evidence of such activity should be reported so that action can be taken. It is not beyond the ability of the human race to live harmoniously together and not destroy each other like a bunch of rabid dingoes.

[From: Il-Maltija, March 1989]

Source: Maurice N.Cauchi - The Maltese Migrant Experience, Malta 1999

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