Address racism

Four attacks on Indians in Australia over the past month is reason for concern not only for Indian migrants living there but also, for all Australians. Racism, which Australians believed had been consigned to history, remains very much alive. It has been manifesting itself violently in recent months with Indians and other Asian migrants being the target of attack. Earlier this week, four Indian students were beaten up. One of the victims is critically injured. On Thursday an Indian student was stabbed. This was followed by a petrol bomb being hurled on the home of an Indian, leaving him battling 30 per cent burns. Earlier this month, a 28-year-old Indian was beaten up and robbed. Australia Day celebrations in a town in New South Wales this year descended into racially motivated brawls, with gangs of white youth roaming the streets attacking non-white people – mainly Asians. In 2005, a series of racially motivated confrontations rocked Cronulla, a beachfront suburb of Sydney.

Australian authorities often dismiss these attacks as drunken brawls or “opportunistic crimes.” They have said that victims were attacked because they were at the wrong place at the wrong time. These justifications do not explain for instance why Indians account for 30 per cent of robbery victims in Melbourne’s western suburbs. Alcohol and the lure of economic gain might play a role in fuelling the behaviour of the assailants but it is racism that triggered the attacks. Racism is a clear and present danger and Australian authorities need to admit this truth and act on it. Simply denying the problem will not make it go away.

Australians like to believe that with Prime Minister Kevin Rudd apologising to indigenous Australians for injustices of the past, their society has shed the problem of racism. But Rudd’s apology was only the beginning of the process of righting wrongs. Much remains to be done to dismantle feelings of racist superiority among white Australians. Some whites believe that Australia is ‘theirs’ and that Asian immigrants are ‘outsiders’ who must adopt Australian ways or leave the country. They would do well to remember that their forefathers were ‘outsiders’ who occupied land that belonged to the indigenous population. Australia has gained much from its immigrant population economically and culturally. It is a pity that a section of its population is blind to this. Racial prejudice and supremacist views have no place in modern society. Australia must pull itself out of its backwardness.

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