Friday, December 16, 2005


The shire has always had positive connotations about it for all the ringers out there. But the shire took on a more sinister association last Sunday when it became the battleground of one of the biggest race riots in Australian history.

When I first heard about the Sutherland Shire, I thought back to the Shire referenced by Tolkien, a peaceful town that was under attack by certain bad elements of an ethnic minority. I thought nothing of it except that living in a place called the "something" shire was kind of rustic. Then Sunday happened.

The incident and the subsequent violence drew certain parallels in my mind to Tolkien's shire. How both places were insular and detached from the world around them. The resulting alienation subsequently developed into a form of racism that John "Muppet" Howard denies vehemently (all the while implementing racist governmental agendas) in his now famous statement "I refuse to believe that Australians are racist". Of course Australians are racist, Mr Howard. When you have pockets of people so alienated from the world that they believe that they are native Australians* (being white in a sunburned lands) in the face of all evidence, it cements the fantasy that the country, along with all its beaches, belongs to them. It's how nationalistic pride works, and with it, patriotism.

One wonders if the insular world of the Hobbits would have produced similar results. After all, we know that they eyed foreigners with distrust because of their insular nature. Insularity breeds said distrust and causes a certain us vs them mentality. And if you're an ethnic minority**, you start to resent being put in the "them" pile. Throw all that into a mix and you get Cronulla. The Shire no longer holds a positive connotation in my mind. Rustic? Yes. But it now seems to me that with that rustic-ness is a small mindedness that leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

*Irony came to a climax when the "true blue (read: White) Australians" beat up a man of Lebanese and Aboriginal descent.

**I was thinking that the ethnic minority (the Lebanese) could have taken the moral high ground in this situation and chosen not to retaliate, allowing more Australians to sympathise with their plight and thus garner support for their integration into society. The subsequent attacks on churches and "Aussies" does nothing but fuel the hatred. Sad really...


Blogger rook said...

you'd need a leader of Gandhi-esque charisma and moral fibre to actually have a non-violent reaction to such events. Ppl need to see something happening... even if that something just escalates the whole damn situation. Sad, but such is human nature.

Fri Dec 16, 12:33:00 pm 2005  

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