Beach Riots Inevitable Product of the Politics of Division - ERC condemns violence on our beaches

The Director of the Edmund Rice Centre today condemned the violence on southern Sydney beaches describing it as “years of policy neglect in the area of community relations coming home to roost”. 

The Centre's Director Phil Glendenning said, “Racism does not grow wild in a field, it is tended in a window box. It is cultivated. It is cultivated through bad policy and years of dog whistle politics at the federal level which has sought to divide Australians into groups of `us' and `them'.

“This process has even been formalized to the point where we have one department to cover immigration, multiculturalism and indigenous affairs - that is, one department to cover any Australian who is non-white, non- Anglo-Celt”.

“We have two classes of Australians, as the recent Vivian Solon, Cornelia Rau and Robert Jovicic cases indicate”, Mr Glendenning added.

“These things, like Cronulla, do not happen by accident”.

“Through Hansonism, the Tampa incident, children overboard, weapons of mass destruction and the unfair targeting of people of Islamic background over issues like terrorism and Iraq, Australia's young people are growing up in a culture of fear of the other”, Mr Glendenning said.

“These cultivated divisions might lead to the strengthening of one political position through wedge politics. It may even be seen by pundits as `clever politics'. However it marks a low point in the humanity of this nation, and where it has been brought to under this Federal Government and the silence of the Opposition”, Mr Glendenning said.

“We have now reached a point where one group of young Australians of Middle Eastern and Aboriginal background have had to be protected by police from flag-waving, Waltzing Matilda singing, other young Australians. All for a day at the beach,” Mr Glendenning said.

The unrest of yesterday is the inevitable product of the politics of division. “It's been a costly day at the beach for all of us”, Mr Glendenning concluded. 

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