Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Mark Steyn on Australia

Mark Steyn on the media's fondness for finding that old chesnut of a root cause, 'white racism' behind the goings on down under.

There are no doubt "white racists" down under, but, as an explanation of what's going on, it's almost quaintly absurd. "People of Middle Eastern background" have prospered in Australia. The governor of New South Wales, Marie Bashir, is Lebanese, as is her husband, Sir Nicholas Shehadie, as is the premier of Victoria, Steve Bracks. Likewise, in my own state of New Hampshire, one of the least racially diverse jurisdictions in North America, the last Senate race was nevertheless fought between a Republican, John Sununu, and a Democrat, Jeanne Shaheen, both from Lebanese families.

All these successful politicians are of Lebanese Christian stock: that's to say, after a third of a century in their new countries, they weren't conversing with reporters in Arabic. It's not racial, it's cultural. And the cries of "Racist!" are intended to make any discussion of that cultural problem beyond the pale. In that sense, Sydney's beach riots are a logical sequel to what happened in France. From opposite ends of the planet, there are nevertheless many similarities: non-Muslim women are hectored and insulted in the streets of both Clichy-sous-Bois and Brighton-le-Sands. The only difference is that, in Oz, the "white youths" decided to have a go back.

These days, whenever something goofy turns up on the news, chances are it involves a fellow called Mohammed. A plane flies into the World Trade Centre? Mohammed Atta. A gunman shoots up the El Al counter at Los Angeles airport? Hesham Mohamed Hedayet. A sniper starts killing petrol station customers around Washington, DC? John Allen Muhammed. A guy fatally stabs a Dutch movie director? Mohammed Bouyeri. A terrorist slaughters dozens in Bali? Noordin Mohamed. A gang-rapist in Sydney? Mohammed Skaf.

Maybe all these Mohammeds are victims of Australian white racists and American white racists and Dutch white racists and Balinese white racists and Beslan schoolgirl white racists.

But the eagerness of the Aussie and British and Canadian and European media, week in, week out, to attribute each outbreak of an apparently universal phenomenon to strictly local factors is starting to look pathological. "Violence and racism are bad", but so is self-delusion.

© Copyright of Telegraph Group Limited 2005.


Italics Mine

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