Cronulla Riot: Unions must mobilise against racism and fascism

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Out of the sewer. Long time Nazi fanatic, James Saleam, founder of the thankfully defunct National Action, has rallied a small group of thugs, ultranationalists and racists into an outfit called the Patriotic Youth League, which orchestrated the Cronulla riot. Drunken racist goons, who wanted to defend “their” beaches and “their” women attacked anybody who looked like a “Lebo Muslim.”  The Lebanese community already had been smeared by former NSW Premier Bob Carr after several high profile sexual assault cases. It was therefore easy for Saleam to whip up fear after a couple of sexist jerks — who happened to be Lebanese —made life unpleasant for some Anglo beachgoers. Really, he was only picking up where “Aussie Bob” left off.

Dog whistle politics is a term used first to describe the tactics of British Prime Minister, Tony Blair. It refers to the way in which Blair managed to appeal to rednecks in Britain while using ostensibly inclusive language. The phrase “the Muslim community is not responsible for terrorism” is a signal, too, for those who want to hear that Muslims are in the firing line, and it’s OK to hate them.

Unions must intervene. Howard knows all about the dog whistle. His 1996 election slogan was “for all of us,” a phrase clearly intended to whip up bigotry — “us” versus “them.” Then came the “war on terror.” Who benefits? The big end of town and the fascists. Now that Howard has clearly decided to govern for his corporate masters only, the union movement needs to mobilise, and not only in the interests of its millions of members. Next time some would-be führer sends out the call for a racist rally, there must be a large union contingent mobilised to shut it down and run the Nazis out of town. Racism is a union issue!

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