Is Australia a racist country? Do the Cronulla riots expose cracks within the Australian community? Is multiculturalism working? Does it work at all? Why did the young people cause such a furore in Cronulla? Were these the sentiments of all Australians? Jonar Nader speaks with Walkley-Award winning journalist Ghassan Nakhoul about the Australian Government’s response to the crisis. This broadcast is spoken in Arabic.
Below is an English transcript of the Arabic interview.
Radio Program ‘The Youth & The Future’ 21 December 2005
An interview with Jonar Nader about the Cronulla Race Riots
‘Was the Australian Government’s response appropriate?’
We have spoken to him many times about matters taking place in our Australian arena, for he is keeping up closely on these matters, especially through his lectures that address all areas; starting from business, to intelligence, management, terrorism, consumer affairs and youth matters.
He is the author ‘Jonar Nader’ that have provided young people with workshops about the art of leadership. What does ‘Jonar Nader’ say about the latest events of racial violence?
Jonar Nader: I don’t know what is new in these events? Why are people surprised? Don’t you think that such events take place every day? Especially at schools and among younger people!
So if you had a fight with 1 person, it is called an argument, but if 50 people had a fight with one person, it is called a feud, and if 1000 people had a fight with one person, it is a war, but if that person was hurt, it would not matter to him what it is called. But if you ask me why this did happen? It is like you are telling me you do not know that this is happening every day. Meaning you do not know that crime, bullying, misunderstanding, racism, stupidity or politics are happening every day. And if you wanted to confuse the subject by asking why it does happen on a high level? That means you don’t know it is happening on a smaller level.
We are not seeing a new thing in essence, but we are seeing a new thing in the reaction. And while I see the public happy with the reaction, I am not. Because the public thinks it is like a person with authority has stopped a fight, when you did not actually clean the subject.
And after all that has happened, the government comes and makes a statement that it is going to dedicate a 400, 000 dollars for an education program for the Arab Youth –as if they were all stupid- to educate them about the ‘Life on the beach’. It is as if a fight took place in a restaurant, you go and you dedicate an educational program to teach people the etiquette!
This kind of act shows the kind of mentality that depends upon force, because if you place a lot of police members in what is called a ‘Brut Force’. And then you spend money on that, I think it is a stupid and a manual solving of the problem.
Host: Yes, but the presence of police prevented new events; they have arrested some people, and stopped vehicles. Although this might have negatively affected business in that area, but in return they have controlled the situation.
Jonar Nader: True, but unfortunately this was a political move, if the police was a back bone for the government to solve problems, and I don’t mean the commissioner or the police management by what I am saying, because they are only executing orders. But if the government had a view of how to solve the problem they should have announced it, and they should have said they are going to place 5000 police members, and if then say that if you dare to show up we will beat you all, instead of saying we are having a beach lock down.
Host: And that is what they have done actually!
Jonar Nader: If for example, there was a fight between a brother and a sister, and the father asked them each go to his or her room, then what did he solve? And it is like the doctor that would give a patient a pill to stop the headache, when actually he did not stop the reason of the headache, but only temporary stopped the pain.
Host: You have written a letter to the officials about what has happened, what did you say in it?
Jonar Nader: First, I told them about my desire to assist them, because they may not have the time to understand the situation, and I have told them that the officials who are making decisions may not have complete awareness of the matter, or that they may not know the story well, and that I want to help them. However, I did not make a complaint, because I don’t see any benefit of telling them something like this person is right or wrong? I have requested that we sit and talk about the matter to reach a way to make the officials more aware of the situation so they can make better decisions. And I have also told them that I didn’t hear any proper statement from anyone at any side so far, meaning that there is wrong information, ignorance and racism.
You know, I think if someone had the time to bring together 50 media professionals, to monitor the media and the statements that were said or written, we will be able to make a book of one line, called ‘Stupid Statements’. That is why I think we should lock down radio stations if we are talking about a ‘Beach lock down’ And I think we should have a law not to allow anyone to talk or make statements unless they know what they are talking about. So, people who are talking on radio stations saying ‘This is an inbred culture’ and that ‘they have law IQ’ or to say that Lebanese like to fight because this is their culture, or they don’t have respect for women. Who is saying such things? This kind of talk must be stopped, just like I would be stopped if I went to the radio station and said that a certain person did so and so, in that case the matter will be referred to the legal department in the radio station to decide whether to broadcast or not.
So, when talking about a certain person, it is unacceptable, and must be referred to the legal consultation, but to talk about entire culture using wrong information, it is ok and is broadcasted everyday! So, why isn’t that considered a legal risk? I think I am going to try to do something from the legal side, because this matter requires some smart legal action, and the thing I am going to try the most is to work on the removal of the term ‘Middle Eastern Appearance’
Host: Exactly, because what is a “Middle Eastern Appearance”, it is a very broad description.
Jonar Nader: And not only this description, because you either have a multicultural society or you don’t. And I have told you in the past that I do not agree on the term ‘Multicultural Society’ if the result is for one culture to try to change the other. I think everyone is welcomed, and are free to do whatever they want as long as they do it without affecting others. So, if you want to wear red pants for example, do it, but do not tell me that I will be punished if I did not wear red pants. So do what you want to do, but do not try to change others and do not try to force others to do what you want to do. And here is the problem with multicultural. I would like to say that there are many cultures which act in that way, where you can see the father or the mother forcing their children to live in the same way and style that they lived in, which means that this kind of culture is within this family. However, the issue here is not what you do or what your religion is, because if you are going to start categorizing people based on their ethnic roots, or ask people things like ‘where did you come from?’ or make a statement on the radio station that a person from ‘Asian roots’ for example stolen a bank, then you do not have a multicultural society.
However, I would like to ask from a technical and not a racial prospective, why do they use terms such as ‘Asian roots’ or ‘Middle Eastern Appearance’?
Host: I remember that someone once asked a police official about the reason behind using such terms, and he said that the reason is for people to be able to help if they saw someone with these descriptions. But, when they say ‘Middle Eastern’ I don’t know how anyone can help!
Jonar Nader: So if I described someone as ‘Asian’ or as ‘Middle Eastern’ then I would help in any way? If for example you saw a car that is made of gold and jewelries, and someone came to you and said that a car made of gold and jewelries was involved in a bank robbery, in this case, you can help identifying the car. But if they told you a red car was involved in a bank robbery, you will not be able to help at all, and it is all just useless talk. Just like in the weather forecast when they say ‘the wind is going to be north to north east’, what would I benefit from this information? Isn’t it enough for me to know that it is coming from the east? Do I need to know that it is coming from the north east? Or when they say that the ‘Parametric Pressure is 12/24 and raising’. If people would really pay attention to the way the weather forecast is being said, and if we will benefit from such information or not, aside from whether it is going to rain or not! So, who is going to be able to help the police when they say there is someone with a ‘Middle Eastern Appearance’ or ‘Asian Appearance’? This is just useless talk, just like when they tell you the time every 5 minutes on the radio station! Maybe this was useful in the past, when there use to be only one clock in the city square, and people where dazzled about it, but now there is a clock on almost everything, the pen, the microwave, the fridge, the mobile phone and many other things, but they still till you the time every 5 minutes. So why is this useless kind of talk? However, I am still wondering about the technical reason behind using a descriptive term of that kind, because I am not convinced that the reason is to help the police, because how can I help when you tell me something like ‘Middle Eastern Appearance’? Am I going to sit down and wait for someone with a Middle Eastern appearance?! I think what they mean by this is that there is segregation in this country. And then some important media man comes and says ‘Yes, in certain cases we have to specify that this is a Lebanese gang’. But who is that lawyer that would approve on such statement, the lawyer should understand the concept of innocence before we say ‘Guilty’
You have asked me of what I am doing with the leaders, first I would like to try making a legal case to remove the term ‘Middle Eastern Appearance’ from the media and police reports. Until now any of us can talk for ages about what has happened without any benefit, because the constructive thing is to have the support of the law. The second thing we have to do is changing the law about alcohol consumption in public areas. If we have found out, and after many years, and many lost souls, that one should not drink and drive, and then came up with the 0.5 alcohol law? So why can’t we have a limit also for people walking in public areas? Because when you tell me that thousands of people came to the beach and got involved in a fight when the fact is only 4 or 5 started the fight, meaning that the entire problem started with minority, and all wars and problems in the world starts with minority, and all corporate corruption start with a minority of people. We have spoken about how only 6 people brought ‘Enron’ down, and how only 8 people brought ‘WorldCom’ down, which means that you only need a small minority to start all that. And there are many people annoyed by drunken people walking in the streets, so why there isn’t a law that would specify the allowed percentage of alcohol in the blood of the people walking in the streets? Why should the society have to deal with any drunken person walking? If you were living in the jungle, and there was a drunken man walking, he would walk around, talk to a kangaroo, and then fall down and sleep under a tree, but in the city, this affects many people. And that is why I think we should have such a law to prevent drunken people from harassing people in the streets. If you want to get drunk, then do it in your home, and do not bother others, and you can see how many young people harass others in the streets, and you cannot expect people to call the police every time they were harassed.
Host: The Author ‘Jonar Nader’, and with this we end ‘From people’s cases’