A TWENTY-ONE-YEAR-OLD Indian student was stabbed to death in the Melbourne suburb of Footscray a few days back. He is just the latest statistic in a grim tale that has gone for the last 18 months or thereabouts, with one Indian victim after another being attacked.
The police in Melbourne still refuse to accept that there could be a racial angle to the string of attacks and are yet to catch anyone responsible. Australian politicians are keen to try and use spin to convince people that the senseless violence is due to anything but an underbelly of racism in Melbourne.
There are some plain truths which people just refuse to understand. More and more countries are becoming heterogenous in terms of populations; as more and more people join a population, it is obvious that everyone will not like everything which the others do. Hence, a sense of restraint develops, a sense of being willing to let the other do his thing, as long as he lets you do yours.
If it were not for this pattern of behaviour, there would be pitched battles on the streets of every major city every single day. We would all be out there fighting like dogs over scraps of meat.
Much as each of us claims to be his own man or woman, the things which we learn to abhor, the things which we come to acknowledge as being harmful to social cohesion are defined solely by our leaders, those in authority and those who can influence public policy – politicians, religious leaders, social leaders, academics, the media, police, the army and so on.
A simple example: two decades ago, it was dangerous for gays or lesbians to even hold hands in public. Gay-bashing was not frowned upon and homosexuals were treated as though they were social pariahs. That kind of sentiment has largely gone away – due to public utterances by those in authority and a constant driving home of the message that they should be accepted as people with an alternate lifestyle.
In the case of the violence against Indians, we need educated people to stand up and condemn the racism that is fuelling these incidents. Instead, the politicians and police are in denial. They just refuse to say it out loud. Nobody has been arrested for any incident. The police must be about the most incompetent in the world, considering that they always say they are investigating the hundreds of cases that have piled up over the last year and a half.
And the irony is that right here in Victoria we have a sterling example of how some plain speaking can quell racist rhetoric and drive it underground. In the late 1990s, a woman by the name of Pauline Hanson started spouting hateful racist drivel against Asians. Her ravings were not criticised by the Liberal prime minister of the time, John Winston Howard. Instead, he chose to treat her utterances as some kind of view held by a section of society.
The Victorian premier of the time, Jeff Kennett, a Liberal too, took the right stand. He condemned Hanson’s statements in no uncertain terms, calling her a danger to society and a loony case who needed to be driven underground. He said her attitudes had no place in a modern society like that in Victoria and that they would damage business and the economy.
At every opportunity, he spoke out and did not mince his words. In large part due to his efforts, Hanson disappeared from public life after a few years. He had the balls and the conviction to call it as he saw it and he was right.
If he was still in politics and leading the Liberals, I would even go so far as to vote for the party in the state elections which are to be held later this year. Labor, which is in power, is the party of spin and media management. The situation will get worse if they come back to power but one has to see what the Libs offer before deciding to back them.
Meanwhile, more Indians will continue to suffer in Melbourne.