Monday, July 23, 2012

Tainted

Dumb Drunk and Racist showed scenes from the Cronulla riots. 

I've known about the riots for a long time, but I think this may have been the first time I saw video of it.

It was really awful.  I was a bit shook up about the whole thing.

In those scenes of the program, and maybe other scenes, we see people waving the Aussie flag as a symbol of hostile racism.  

By doing this, they make the Aussie flag look a little less beautiful to me.

When I see people wearing or holding the flag, it makes me wonder. Are they racist?  Are they part of that particular crowd?

I start to stereotype, and I hate that. I want to love the Aussie flag.   

It's the same with the American flag.

On Dumb, Drunk, and Racist they show a map with countries labeled by their different stereotypes.   America has the label: God and Guns. That perfectly describes the negative view I have of America...when I have a negative view. 

And when I see someone with an American flag t-shirt, I get the idea that they're religious zealots and that their biggest fear is losing their gun rights. 

I hate when beautiful things become ugly, because I associate them with people who do ugly things.

I don't think I'll ever be able to see anything related to Batman again without thinking of absolute horror.  

I have some good views of Germany, but whenever I see anything about that country I think of Nazis and the Holocaust.  I can't get rid of that association. 

I now associate Tallygarunga with one role-player who was mean to me.  Just like I associate water chestnuts with vomiting.
 
Oh...and one time I got nauseated at a museum cafeteria.   Since then I get slightly nauseated when thinking of eating at any museum cafeteria.   

Maybe that's where racism begins in the first place.

Sometimes it's about following the crowd and just plain stupid ignorance.

Other times it's about negative experiences and negative associations.

So I can have sympathy and understanding for prejudice feelings.  I have some myself.  I try to fight against it, but it remains in my heart.  

In my opinion, prejudice and stereotypes aren't necessarily evil. They're just sad. It becomes evil only when we act upon it.  

I'm not hurting anyone if I feel nervous when a Middle Eastern-appearing person is on my airplane.

I AM hurting someone if I say something mean to the person.

I am hurting someone if I start a riot.   

I am hurting someone if I push for legislation to disallow Middle Eastern people on airplanes. 

I am hurting someone if I go out and bomb a Mosque.  

I think with most things like that....if we don't let our feelings turn into action, then it's not a huge problem.  

4 comments:

Kate Sparkles said...

The Cronulla riots have always seemed just bizarre to me. I like to think they received so much attention because they are so rare but it's not the case. A lot of Australian's are racist.
When I was a child I was a little bit too, because I didn't know any better and because it was kind of the norm at my home, which makes me sad and very ashamed.

Then I grew up and assumed everyone else had too. Until I moved to the country. I cannot believe the way people here talk about anyone from another country. I see co-workers freak out if they have to serve someone with darker skin. Yesterday I had to walk away from two girls complaining about 'the freaking terrorist' they'd just served. When I explained the man was Indian, not a Muslim they said 'Oh so he wont bomb us?' and I was appalled. It really upsets me. These girls are in their 20's, at university. They shouldn't be so ignorant.

It's funny that you saw the Aussie flag as beautiful, when I see it as a symbol of so-called 'Bogan Pride' and yet I love the US flag, and have one of those t-shirts but never associated it with the 'God & Guns' stereotype.

I guess there is good and bad in both our homelands, lets hope the good wins out in the end.

Andrew said...

I have come to dislike our flag. It has evolved to represent something about Australia that I don't want it to. Kate's comment is interesting. I don't think she is wrong, but there is not such a strong divide among many people between city and country now. Many have lived in both worlds and I'd like to think city people who have a lot more contact with those born elsewhere are more sensitive about racial matters. But as Kate said, it can be very bad in the country at times.

FruitCake said...

Maybe I was a young naive idealist hippie, or maybe it was the interminable bloody drilling by nuns about what a 'godless' country russia is [was], but I think it was when I heard this song I first decided flags and nationalism are empty and stupid.
http://www.bobdylan.com/us/songs/god-our-side

Why should I put people first just because they are Australian/ Biddelonian or whatever? I would prefer green people who are nice to Australians who are a'holes any day. Nationalism makes no sense. If e.g. I was a participant in WWII then I would like to think I would have been fighting for a principle [e.g. against genocide] rather than for a flag. My country right or wrong? No, could not sleep at night.

The Cronulla riots were a blot on our name, not because some individuals fear what they don't understand but because it was mob violence which I thought was in the past, like early massacres of Indigenous Australians, or Chinese during the gold rush.

But is it really that different from the mob mentality in King Street after dark? We might think it's racially motivated [and maybe in cronulla it was] but often the name calling etc is just a resort to a name as an achille's heel, by people who are essentially just bullies who would pick a fight in an empty house.

One thing we should remember about Cronulla is that the size of the mob does not necessarily prove anything about the proportion of cronullites [sounds neanderthal] who are racist - these were idiots who came from all directions in response to text messages, like a phone tree of like minded people [well, I'm not sure I would give them credit for having half a mind].

People in country towns are sometimes more tolerant of difference than city people, and vice versa. And people in some country towns are indiscriminately rude to everybody - especially shops and cafes.

Finally, I hear you saying, the end of this epistle: I was living in a small country town on 911. It was a great source of astonishment to me just what an enormous impact it had on teenagers here and how vulnerable they suddenly felt. Some of them were traumatised beyond belief. If they are still frightened of terrorists or don't know what a terrorist is I'm not surprised. The only context 911 was given by our 'leaders' was a fridge magnet. Go Howard.

Dina said...

Kate Sparkles: It sounds like your coworkers are ignorant, and also like being dramatic. At least that's the image I'm getting.

It's funny how we see our own flags.

I stereotype people when I see them wearing the American flag. But then after I bought Aussie flag stuff, I started thinking the people wearing these American flags might very well be foreign tourists.

Andrew: I think it's sad and unfair that we see our flags in that way.

I'm trying to see the American flag in a better light.

It's not easy.

I still think of guns and god people. But I try to remember it's also the flag for people like me.

And the Australia flag also represents also people like you.

It shouldn't belong to racists and/or people who are overly patriotic.

Fruitcake: I think stereotyping Cronulla people as racist and violent is pretty much equal to them stereotyping all Lebanese people.

It's not easy to avoid all these feelings though.

And yeah. The first thing I think of Cronulla when I see the name is riots.

It's hard not to have that association.

I think there's good patriotism and bad patriotism.

Or maybe just decent patriotism.

I think it's okay to love your country and wave a flag. Maybe it's the same as people who spend a lot of time on genealogy. They have a love for certain people because they share an ancestral line. You can have a love for a country simply because you were born there rather than somewhere else.

I think it's nasty only when someone has the delusion that their country is the best in the world. And when nationalism takes on a zealous state. That's unattractive too. It's especially bad if racism and xenophobia is included.

I like what you say about World War II. It should be about values and ideals; not about protecting a flag.