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race terror Arrow vol 5 no 1 contents
About borderlands volume 5 number 1, 2006

 


Race Terror, Sydney, December 2005


Suvendrini Perera
Curtin University of Technology

 


1. During my childhood there were periods when, for weeks on end, my family slept with a suitcase packed with essentials, ready to run through the side door at the first sign of a "race riot." I can recall the sensation of our fleeing one night when I was about three years old, one of my brothers carrying me in his arms, along a railway line. Violent attacks against Tamils were a regular feature of life in what is now Sri Lanka from the late 1950s until the 1980s. These were not spontaneous "riots," as they came to be misleadingly described, but organised campaigns of intimidation, coordinated with the introduction of new discriminatory language and citizenship laws.

2. On another night, with mobs surrounding our house (I was a couple of years older now), Ellen Atapattu, my ayah, a Sinhala woman, saved us. She shamed the rampaging men outside, reminding them how many of their families had been attended to by the same Tamil doctor whose house they were now attacking because he refused to tarbrush the Tamil lettering from the sign outside his surgery. And one of my most enduring recollections, repeatedly narrativised in our family stories, is of yet a third night when, as the mob approaches, my defiant sister says, "Why should we make it easy for them?" She insists on hiding the money my father earned that day in the surgery between the pages of my mother's nineteenth-century novels, where the thugs would never think of looking.

3. I return to these scenes again and again because they hold for me the variegated threads—of empire, class and gender, of colonial language and educational practice, of economies of space, distribution and lack—from which the fabric of ethnicity was woven in post-independence Sri Lanka. These family stories also reveal the multiple ways of our enfolding into a composite ethnoracial order, as pre-existing formulations of difference were transformed, transcoded and transfixed through the terms of colonial raciologies on the one hand and the demands of colonial (and later nationalist) ethnoracial rule on the other.

4. The ethnically divided postcolony of Sri Lanka is the product of the interlocking of two broad systems of differentiation, indigenous and colonial. In the period leading up to independence, long established but fluctuating local distinctions (language, religion, caste, region) became inextricably entangled with and were folded into the grand categories of colonial racial classification (Perera 1999). Twentieth-century European history provides one kind of evidence for the destructive coalescing of two different orders of racial signification in the term "Aryan," a relation figured most visibly in the adoption of the Hindu symbol of the swastika by the Nazis. The story of Sri Lanka offers a less familiar instance of that vicious entanglement. In a key essay Kumari Jayawardene tracks the way in which classifications based on the construct of an "Indo-Aryan" group of languages by William Jones and other orientalists were in Sri Lanka disastrously transposed into an ethnoracial register. From the late nineteenth-century onwards the loose identifications Sinhala and Tamil were reordered and revalued to correspond with the loaded racialised categories of Aryan and Dravidian, setting in train a long, painful history of ethnoracial consolidation, essentialisation and opposition.

5. These divides were in turn cemented into the workings of colonial forms of ethnic/racial accounting and biopolitics. "Enumerated communities" (Appadurai 1993) were brought into being in those colonised societies where race/ethnicity became the chosen principle of governance by colonial bureaucracies. Arjun Appadurai details the historical processes that produced enumerated communities through technologies associated with the colonial census, conjoining "the utilitarian needs of fiscal militarism in the world system, the classificatory logics of orientalist ethnography, the shadow presence of western democratic ideas of numerical representation, and the general shift from a classificatory to a numerical bio-politics" (Appadurai 1993, 333). The colonial census and its apparatus of calculation, aggregation and categorisation contributed to the making of "self consciously enumerated communities" that in turn were "embedded in ... wider official discourses of space, time, resources, and relations" (Appadurai 1993, 333). Emerging from this, Appadurai suggests, was a "specifically colonial political arithmetic, in which essentializing and enumerating human communities became not only concurrent activities but unimaginable without one another" (Appadurai 1993, 333).

6. Multiple differences of language, class, religion and region solidified into racial and ethnic attributes through this essentialising calculus that produced "the common sense of them and us" (Amin 2000, 75) in a communally or ethnoracially ordered society. Enumeration and numerical representation, invariably linked to essentialised constructions of separate "communal," "racial" or "ethnic" groups (all three terms have been operative in Sri Lanka over the decades) also became the chosen technologies through which decolonising states sought to redress colonial injustices and fashion the new nation (Krishna 2000). In response, essentialised ethnic and religious identities and symbols (Aryan/Sinhala/lions, Dravidian/Tamil/tigers) increasingly became the animating force for oppositional movements, to a great extent drowning out the address of counternarratives of internationalism, anticommunalism and coexistence (Perera 1999). Ethnic arithmetic not only pervaded the language of politics but also supplied the grammar and vocabulary in which identities were—and are—primarily conceptualised, interpreted and experienced.

7. This is the story of Sri Lanka's long descent into civil war during the 1980s and 1990s, a war whose worst effects I have escaped—at the cost of enrolling in another war and playing my part in a different arena of colonisation (Perera 2005a)—in my life in Australia. Yet the sensations and terrors of those youthful years are not behind me. In 2001, in an essay prompted by the turning away of the Tampa refugees, I discussed the frightening, unsettling experience of recognizing in Prime Minister Howard's speech about the firebombing of a mosque in Brisbane cadences redolent of Colombo in the 1980s. Reflecting on this unhomely and untimely moment of return I wrote:

Of course Chippendale, where I write this today, is not Colombo (although in the week of September 11, I was racially abused on Broadway as I was on Colombo's streets almost twenty years ago). Australia is not Sri Lanka. But it is as well to remember that multiethnic, multiracial societies are not geared towards unavoidable conflict. For that to happen active choices must be made; one set of options adopted over another; certain things said or not said; positions actively staked out; exclusions and inclusions clearly demarcated. As the recent work of Henry Reynolds shows, alongside the stream of racism, exclusion and violence there also always exists the possibility of dissent and opposition; of critiquing the racial claims and myths of our society; of challenging the stereotypes that would exclude certain groups from full citizenship in the public sphere. (Perera 2002, 19, original emphasis).

8. In January 2006, Australia is still not Sri Lanka. Cronulla Beach in December 2005 was not Colombo in July 1983. But to confront the scenes of racial terror enacted on the beach we need to understand more closely the forms of racial classification, enumeration and essentialisation at work on that day, as well the broader ensemble of technologies, ideologies and iconographies that constitute regimes of race in contemporary Australia. In this essay I attempt a preliminary analysis of certain racist discourses and their proxies in the years and months immediately leading up to and following the Cronulla Beach "race riot" of December 2005. My focus is on the ways in which processes of enumeration and essentialisation interact with the categories of biological racism, discourses of white supremacy and histories and iconographies of exclusion to produce specific effects of racial violence and racial terror directed at differentially positioned ethnic groups in the city.

Three Texts of Terror

9. Enumeration, essentialisation and racialisation are central not only to contemporary ethnonationalisms in postcolonies like Sri Lanka or, in a different register, Rwanda. They also contribute to systems of racial differentiation in colonising metropoles and their contemporary offshoots (Goldberg 2004). Taxonomies and classifications deriving from European raciologies of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries are reworked and redeployed when globalising forces of colonisation and its aftermath, of migration and diaspora, bring peoples together in new combinations. In Australia, a state premised on the erasure of Aboriginal prior ownership, on privileged white citizenship (Lake 2005b) and the repression of racial heterogeneities within the nation at its foundation (Reynolds 2000), the entry of nonwhite migrants and refugees sets in motion a continual recomputing of prevailing racial arrangements, and new calibrations of internal hierarchies where existing classifications of racial difference are redeployed.

10. Since the last decades of the twentieth century the maintenance, reproduction and extension of the inequities and asymmetries that sustain the Australian polity have been mystified to some extent by the rhetoric of a brave new multicultural nation. Racial referencing is often veiled or coded in ways that allow explicit appeals to racial hierarchies to be disavowed or relegated to the "extreme" or "lunatic fringe" of public life. But these explicitly racist appeals have not disappeared. They inform and shape public discussions in both overt and unacknowledged ways, by allying themselves with more acceptable discourses, such as the quasi-social scientific discourse of enumeration. Here numerical representation acts as a surrogate for explicit racial referencing and classification. One mode in which this proxy discourse of enumeration, in tandem with its invisible twin, essentialisation, operates is the demographic (as in a series of publications produced throughout the 1990s by the Centre for Population Research at Monash University). The three texts I examine in this section exemplify the modalities of exchange between overt and coded regimes of race in Australia as they circulated and colluded in the period leading up to the Cronulla pogrom.

11. Sometime in 2003 residents began to notice a sequence of racist posters and slogans appearing on walls and public structures in streets around the inner Sydney suburbs of Glebe, Chippendale, Redfern and Newtown. The image in this flyer, posted on a wall in a street running off the major thoroughfare of Broadway in Chippendale, draws on the iconographies of scientific racism—specifically, the classification of peoples into separate and unequal biological species, leading from beastly and ape-like colonised populations to the full humanity of the white Caucasian/European. In Australia these theories of biological difference and inferiority were pursued with the utmost ferocity in relation to Indigenous peoples. Aboriginal bodies became the objects of a series of violent and intrusive investigations (measuring, quantifying, calibrating, dissecting) in the attempt to extrapolate moral and intellectual qualities from physiological features. In the first decades of colonisation a bloody scramble took place to obtain body parts (by plundering, hacking, mutilating, pickling) to support or disprove sundry scientific hypotheses of polygenesis and evolution.

12. Beyond this, for most of the twentieth century belief in a system of racial categorisation provided the intellectual rationale for the practices of genetic engineering and biological assimilation, with several generations subjected to classification based on degrees of "Aboriginal blood" and to genocidal experiments designed to progressively "breed out the colour" in the name of racial "elevation" and "uplift" (see for example, Reynolds 2005). The terror of this process is lucidly unfolded in Kim Scott's searing novel Benang , an account of the drive to produce the "first white man born" in the history of one Noongar family. As Scott powerfully demonstrated in his Centenary of Federation lecture in 2001, the structures that enabled assimilationist thinking have not passed, nor are they marginal in contemporary Australia (Scott 2001). On the contrary, they continue to play a central role in directing legal judgements, social policy and political options and have crucial, everyday consequences in the lives of Indigenous peoples who are both subjected to and subjectified by them.

13. The appearance of the "race-mixing" posters around Chippendale/Redfern references this history and was clearly designed to terrorise the long-standing and highly visible Aboriginal community in the area, as well as targeting other racial minorities and people of colour in the vicinity—notably, international students at the nearby universities and English language colleges. The originating point for the poster was the website of the White Pride Coalition, from where it could be downloaded, along with a variety of other racist literature, images and regalia. The availability of these materials on the website allows their owners to disclaim responsibility for their dissemination and public display on the street.[1] It also enables individuals or small cells of people to act alone and in anonymity while drawing on the resources of a global white racist cyberculture (Back 2002).

14. The White Pride Coalition is one of a number of neo-nazi and white supremacist organisations operative in Australia. These groups were reenergised in the late 1990s both by local factors, such as the rise of Hansonism immediately following the election of the Howard government, as well as by the spread of global whiteness through the internet. According to Les Back, this racist cyberculture is "fostering a transnational notion of whiteness that unites old world nationalisms (i.e., in Europe and Scandinavia) with the white diasporas of the New World (i.e., the United States, Canada, South Africa, Australia, New Zealand and parts of South America" (Back, 2002, 373). This "transnational" and "translocal" white racist discourse, Back argues, provides "a key context in which the theoretical and political tensions between the ethnocentric and the Eurocentric elements of contemporary racism can be worked through" (2002, 373). Strategies of "substitution and commensurability" (Back 2002, 373) enable new migrant groups to be variously inserted into existing taxonomies, identified with racialised characteristics—degeneration, criminality, hypersexuality—or subjected to symbolic blackening. Strategies for targeting and terrorising selected groups are also easily transmitted via white racist websites across national borders, where they can be adapted to local circumstances.

15. In contrast to the surreptitious and anonymous distribution of the "Race Mixing" posters in the inner city and the "molecular and micropolitical" level at which white racist cyberculture trends to operate (Back 2002, 366), in mid-2005 the racist agenda of the White Pride Coalition and its allies achieved a new level of public exposure in Sydney and across Australia. Andrew Fraser, an associate of the white racist Youth Pride League and a senior academic at Macquarie University, capitalised on his professional status to attack selected migrant groups and claim for his racist views the authority of scientific verification and scholarly research.[2] Fraser's project can be located within both "old" and "new" racisms (Sharp 2005), or in Back's terms, "Eurocentric and ethnocentric" ones (Back 2002, 373). That is, it encompasses both a biological racism claiming to be based on scientific evidence and a form of cultural essentialism ostensibly supported by demographics, statistical claims and other forms of ethnic arithmetic.

16. In the first instance Fraser's targets are what he describes as groups at the lowest level of society, sub-Saharan refugees in Sydney's western suburbs. He characterises in particular Sudanese-Australians as morally and intellectually inferior, possessing a low IQ and prone to criminal behaviour, predicting that " an expanding black population is a sure-fire recipe for increases in crime, violence and a wide range of other social problems" (Fraser, 2005a). Fraser's use of the term black, although directed towards migrants from sub-Saharan Africa is also broad enough to encompass other groups by implication. In the context of Western Sydney, it can be seen as expandable to Aboriginal and Islander communities and others, including Lebanese-Australians, subjected to "blackening" by strategies of substitution, projection and commensurability.[3] In her research in the US context Aihwa Ong analyses the ways in which selected ethnic groups are subjected to processes of "implicit racial and cultural ranking" along a "white-black" continuum, where some migrants are "blackened" by being linked to crime, unemployment and welfare dependency whereas others may be "whitened" by being associated with aspirational characteristics of self-development and hard work (Ong 1999, 267). In Australia blackening is a strategy that serves to locate migrant communities in terms of their proximity to Indigenous peoples in a hierarchy of race, with Anglo-Australians placed at the greatest distance away, at the apex. Inbreeding, racial degeneracy and criminality, the classic tropes of scientific racism deployed against Indigenous people, continue to be brought into play against more recent target groups, as in the comments by Brian Wiltshire on Radio 2GB following the Cronulla Beach events.

Comments about Lebanese Australians on
Sydney Radio 2GB by announcer Brian Wilshire


Brian Wilshire: We Australians do not have to apologise for anything. My anger is reserved for the politicians and bureaucrats who conspired to bring in people who were guaranteed to be incompatible and have demonstrated that in every country into which they have moved.

Francis: Absolutely. Look, I couldn't agree with you more.

BW: Many of them have parents who were first cousins, whose parents were first cousins, because of the culture—it's not a religious thing, it doesn't say this in the Koran—but it's a cultural thing for some part of the world to have parents who are very closely related. The result of this is inbreeding, the result of which is uneducationable people, and very low IQ.

  2GB, Brian Wilshire, 15th December 2005 (emphasis added)

From ABC Media Watch website http://www.abc.net.au/mediawatch/transcripts/s1574242.htm. Accessed 20/2/2006

17. Although community groups, anti-racist activists, students and academics from within Fraser's own institution responded vigorously to his comments about low IQ crime- and violence-prone "blacks," discussion was soon deflected into a debate over Fraser's right to free speech. While the defence of the right to free speech or support for a "public debate on immigration" provided an alibi for many who were reluctant to confront the wider implications of Fraser's remarks, Steve Sharp, writing in the online magazine New Matilda, questions whether the intervention by Fraser isn't more in the nature of a "baiting" than the initiation of a genuine "debate." Sharp cautions, " Any open debate needs to be tempered with a critical look at who is running with these ideas and who is paying the price for others' intellectual liberties" (Sharp 2005).[4] Fraser's inflammatory and race-baiting comments indeed provoked a series of attacks on Sudanese-Australians and provided a congenial environment for other racist slurs to emerge. In Toowoomba a family was driven out of town by repeated assaults from a neo-Nazi gang. The gang warned that it would now intensify its race-hate campaign citing both economic and sexual competition with the Sudanese-Australians.[5]

18. Sharp recognizes that Fraser's views not only rearticulate the orthodoxies of biological racism, but also rework and extend them:

Descriptions of Arabs' sensual habits in imperial times closely match Fraser's portrayal of Africans in 2005. His bogeymen too are expandable according to prevailing policies, moods and anxieties. So don't be surprised to hear some obscure research applied to a new threat or subset of an existing one: Arabs, Pakistani/Brazilians, Pacific Islanders. Who's next? (Sharp 2005).

19. Fraser's comments draw from a protean and expandable stock of racist features (a term that accommodates the ways in which physiological and phenotypical characteristics are simultaneously inscribed as moral and intellectual). This racist archive is a veritable identikit that can encompass Arab, African and black and Indigenous as needed. I use the term identikit in anything but an abstract or hypothetical sense. Sharp's allusion to "Pakistani-Brazilians" is a reminder of the cold-blooded police killing of Jean Charles de Menezes following the 7/7 London underground bombings. As the elaborate campaign of cover-up that followed the murder began to unravel, the focus shifted from de Menezes' innocence to the imperative for racial profiling to continue so as to protect "innocent victims" such as those who died in the London bombings (Pugliese 2005b). By this logic, which Joseph Pugliese identifies as the logic of "precomprehension" or the "quasi prior" (Pugliese 2005a, 16), de Menezes could not be counted among the innocent victims: his appearance rendered him already suspect, guilty by association, a potential terrorist until rendered harmless—that is, dead. Sharp's comment calls attention to the collusions between racial classification, policing and security and the multiple political uses served by the infinitely expandable and interchangeable figure of the racial bogeyman.

20. Fraser's writings thus are located on a continuum that encompasses both the unconcealed biological racism of the White Pride Coalition and the muffled contemporary racism of modes of profiling that claim to be race-blind, objective and scientifically/statistically based. Sharp's location of Fraser's comments in the context of de Menezes' killing clarifies the stakes. It brings into the frame what has mostly remained unspoken in the controversy over Fraser: the consequences of racial profiling for those who might fit somewhere within the configuration "black-Arab-Pakistani-Brazilian," the spectrum deceptively simplified in our daily lives in the lethal formula "of Middle Eastern appearance." Understood as a form of racial profiling that swivels backwards and forwards between Indigenous, Arab, African and black in contemporary Australia Fraser's comments cannot be simply be dispatched to the loony end of a democratic public sphere or indulgently trivialised as "indiscretions" from some Olympian point outside the fray (eg. Jakubowicz 2005). They need to be understood rather as operating in a volatile force field of war, terror and an unremitting "regime of hypersurveillance" where the "homeland" is as much rallying cry against the stranger within the gates—on our streets, at a train station or on the beach—as the enemy outside (Pugliese 2005a, 16-22).

21. If the incredible expandable racial bogeyman is that dark figure who threatens innocent white lives through crime, licentiousness and/or terrorism, a different kind of terror is embodied in the second migrant/ethnoracial group singled out for attention by Fraser. Lisa MacDonald quotes an email message from Fraser that reads:

In my law school classes, Anglo-Australian men in particular, have been reduced to a small and steadily shrinking minority... Already the legal order is radically skewed against the interests of white men; that tendency will grow more pronounced as the managerial-professional elite becomes more heavily Asian. (quoted in MacDonald 2005).

22. Anglo-Australian men as an endangered species in the law are only a part of Fraser's apocalyptic vision of the future. In an article, "Rethinking the White Australia Policy" (a review of Keith Windschuttle's book, The White Australia Policy), Fraser asserts:

Within two or three decades, it is not unreasonable to expect that Australia will have a heavily Asian managerial-professional, ruling class that will not hesitate to promote the interests of co-ethnics at the expense of white Australians. (Fraser 2005b).

23. Fraser supports this statement with the fantastic notion, as recapped by Windschuttle, that "Europeans ... evolved in a cold climate to support non-kinship forms of reciprocity and thus to welcome strangers," while "Chinese and Japanese businessmen operate within mafia-like, extended family clans that are bound by shared genes to support one another" (Windschuttle 2005).

24. Fraser's warnings about a threatening "Asian managerial-professional elite" advancing over the horizon are fleshed out in greater detail in the third text I want to discuss, an article by Michael Duffy, published on the Op Ed page of the Sydney Morning Herald in November 2005 . Although Duffy makes no reference to Fraser (despite having interviewed him on his radio program in August) the connections between the two articles are unmistakable. Duffy begins:

The big change that no one talks about is the growing success of people from Asian backgrounds in the professions. If present rates continue, they could form a majority of Australian professionals within a generation or two. Such an outcome would be ... perhaps the first time in history a nation's elite has invited another group to come in and replace it (Duffy 2005).

25. Where the biological racism of Fraser's campaign against black Australians was supported by an appeal to the authority of racial "science" (see Norton 2005), the attack on Asian-Australians relies on a form of cultural essentialism and pop psychobiology buttressed by a questionable use of ethnic arithmetic in the form of immigration and education statistics. Duffy, writing for a mainstream broadsheet newspaper, is careful to avoid reproducing Fraser's wilder claims about hospitality genes (except subliminally through words like "invite"—thus also leading the reader to contemplate the distinction between Australia's current racial elite and the presumably more selfish group it replaced, not by "invitation" but by violence). Instead Duffy presents a tissue of questionable statistics, insinuations and self-described "anecdotal evidence" stratifying the Australian population into enumerated and essentialised communities—for example by picking out "Asian surnames" from a list of HSC results as proof of superior intelligence. The article is held together by conditional assertions, assumptions and weasel words that provide the impression of putting forward a reasonable and modest case. But beneath this modest exterior, at the very heart of Duffy's article, is an appeal to deeply embedded, specifically Anglo-Australian fears of the "yellow peril" and of being "swamped by Asians," fears that are secretly nourished by Fraser's pseudo-scholarly speculations about the philoxenic, trusting and generous cold-weather genes of Anglo-Australians. Both articles are concocted from the archive of Australian anti-Asianism (D'Cruz and Steele 2003), overlaid with fragments from more recent transnational debates about "Asian overachievers," "market-dominant minorities" (eg. Chua 2003) and the ethnic arithmetic of what Duffy refers to as "demographic reconstruction" (Duffy 2005).

26. Taken together the efforts of Fraser and Duffy are calculated to present an Anglo-Australian community under threat from two directions: from a criminal, violent and sexually voracious underclass below and from the relentless advance of an ambitious and selfish elite of overachievers above. Self-defence and explosions of retaliatory violence, especially against the seemingly more vulnerable of the two target groups, becomes a predictable response to this perception of being squeezed at both ends. Equally predictably, Anglo dominance must be seen to be reasserted in this climate of perceived attack as it is called to out itself from the undeclared status of ex-nomination (Gabriel 1998, 13) it normatively inhabits. Racial pride, racial bravado and racial aggression all form part of this spectrum of overt self-assertion and white empowerment.

Love your Race. Be positive about your Culture and History. Do not be a hater like the supporters of Internationalism and Multi-Culturalism.

They are bitter and resentful of our mighty achievements and are out to punish us for perceived past wrongdoings. This is the ultimate example of the 'tall poppy syndrome'. The whole scam of Multi-Culturalism is conceived and orchestrated by Zionist Jews to dilute and destroy the culture, and therefore the power of White Western Man.

They have to do this because they know we are the only Race on Earth capable of challenging and defeating their plan for Global domination...They are using the lesser Races as a chisel to break the links of our cultural chain. Our connection with our Past and our Future!

From "Tactical Advice for the Young White Racist," White Pride Coalition of Australia Website, archived by National Library of Australia.
http://pandora.nla.gov.au/pan/30161/20041016/www.whiteprideco.com/wpcaarticles.htm. Accessed 21/2/2006

Race Pride, Race Victimhood and White Empowerment

27. In an essay written soon after the election of the Howard government in Australia in 1996 Joseph Pugliese and I described how theories of "racial suicide," articulated at particular moments of resurgent racism in the U.K and South Africa, were surfacing in Australia in the figure of Pauline Hanson. Hanson, like Enoch Powell in the U.K and Roy Wilenski in South Africa, cast "whites as historic victims on the point of ... being sold down the river by their own government" (Schwarz 1997, 77) as well as by the forces of "political correctness" and "multiculturalism." The three racist texts (by the White Pride Coalition, Fraser and Duffy) above all articulate related fears of racial suicide—through race mixing, degeneration, swamping and invasion, respectively. Balanced against this threat of racial dissolution, however, is a vigorous sense of racial assertion by Fraser and Duffy that undercuts the declarations of victimhood indulged in by all three.

28. This sense of racial empowerment and energy marks an important distinction between the Hansonism of the late 1990s and the present. Unlike Hanson, who also predicted that by the middle of the 21 st century Australia would be ruled by an Asian (specifically, a Sino-Indian lesbian named Poona Le Hung), Duffy and Fraser's words are authorised by the sober weight of the powerful institutions they represent. Hanson crafted herself as a humble fish and chip shop owner, was often ridiculed for her ignorance and famously had trouble understanding the word "xenophobia." Duffy and Fraser, on the other hand, command access to the most powerful of educational and cultural sites -- Fraser as a senior academic in law and Duffy as a publisher, ABC broadcaster (the "right-wing Phillip Adams") and columnist for the prestigious Sydney Morning Herald .

29. The conditions that underpin this shift in status and access to crucial knowledge-producing institutions are the increasing successes of right-wing intellectuals in the "culture wars" and "history wars." This success is manifested in the consolidation of an influential network that includes think tanks (the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, the Centre for Independent Studies, the Bennelong Foundation), publishing houses (Duffy and Snellgrove, Macleay Press), broadsheet media (in particular The Australian and its related publications), current and former government advisors and a closely connected circle of public commentators and academics. As mentioned above, Duffy's program Counterpoint provided a forum for Fraser to state his case against Macquarie University (none of those opposing Fraser's views had similar access to the public broadcaster) and Fraser's remarks on the coming Asian take-over occur in a review of Keith Windschuttle's book, The White Australia Policy. Admittedly there are disagreements between the two: Windschuttle (2005) argues that the White Australia policy was determined by "loyalty to Australia's democratic institutions" rather than by race loyalty—a circular and tautological argument since these institutions themselves were racially defined and delimited—while Fraser sees the policy as an act of necessary racial self-preservation. Despite their internal differences, however, Windschuttle, Fraser and Duffy represent an institutionalised and politically powerful configuration of contemporary Australian nationalism that exists on a continuum with assertions of race pride that are usually disowned as extremist. The extract from the White Pride Coalition's "Tactical Advice for the Young White Racist," for example identifies a cluster of issues—population and demographics, cultural and racial pride, 'family values' and denigrations of multiculturalism—that are also strongly present in the rhetoric of these and other public figures, from academics to politicians.

30. The most distinctive feature of the formation represented by Duffy and Windschuttle is its foregrounding of Anglo-Australian achievement and white racial pride. Its platform is premised on a whitewashing (Manne 2003) of Australian history, especially of the violence directed towards Indigenous people and their ongoing resistances. Elsewhere I map the interconnections between the racial assertiveness of the whitewashing school in the culture and history wars and a cluster of other issues- current directions in policymaking on Indigenous affairs, aggressive enactments of Australian sovereignty against asylum seekers and other "illegals" at our borders and an expansionist agenda in the Pacific, supported by a sense of neo-imperial racial mission that closely mirrors developments in the Unites States (Perera 2005). In the following section I want to bring these connections home, to a location/locution that is comparatively recent in usage, yet that seeks to call forth a wellspring of deep emotions, fantasies and phobias: the culturally redolent and politically charged space of the homeland.

The Homeland and the Claim to Native-ised Essence

31. In an article written for the Boston Globe in the days after the violence on Cronulla Beach Yvonne Abraham recounts her childhood years in Sydney in these words:

Back then, when we went to the beach it was always to Coogee, a few miles north of Cronulla. The Lebanese kept to the north side of Coogee beach, gathering on a grassy embankment we dubbed "Kibbe Hill" ... After some years, we ventured south onto the sand, but the Lebanese I knew steered clear of Cronulla, jewel of the Sutherland Shire, the whitest part of Sydney. We knew our place. (Abraham 2005).

32. In these paragraphs Abraham maps a microtopography of Southern Sydney's racialised shoreline and Lebanese-Australian families' slow advance over the years from the grassed area of "Kibbe Hill" all the way down to the off-white sands of Coogee Beach. The sparkling waters of Cronulla, however, remain off-bounds to these nonwhite bodies well disciplined to know their places. The place the family occupied in the racial hierarchy of the city could not have been more precisely delineated for Abraham:

Growing up in working-class Sydney in the '70s, being Lebanese was the second-worst thing imaginable. Only Aborigines ranked lower. "Wogs," the Anglos called us, and often "dirty wogs." We heard it everywhere: shouted from passing cars, on the playground, at shopping malls.

They could spot us a mile away. (Abraham 2005) .

33. The sense of exclusion ("They could spot us a mile away") the family experiences in other public spaces—shopping malls, children's playgrounds, the street—crystallises in their banning from the beach, a ban all the more powerful because also internalised.

34. This banning of bodies racialised as nonwhite from the quintessentially Australian space of the beach must be contextualised against official representations of everyday life in the period—for example advertisements and cinematic promotions designed to attract "new Australians," primarily from the U.K, in the 1950s and 1960s. In these self-representations of the nation (as in present-day day tourist advertisements) the beach is presented as the locus of the everyday pleasures constitutive of Australian life, of what it means to be Australian. Here the beach is written as the national body in miniature, mapping a perfect correspondence between the territorialised body of the beach as the figure of the nation and the imagined collectivity of the white bodies sunbathing on its sands and swimming in its waters. Abraham's experience reveals the conditions that underwrite this definitive image—that is, that everyday Australianness and its (racialised) pleasures are constituted precisely by the exclusion of those bodies that are not seen in these promotional pictures.

                Max Dupain, Form at Bondi (1939), Art Gallery of New South Wales.
                Reproduced with permission.

 

35. Indeed, these photographs are the site of historical struggles of representation and access that amplify and situate Abraham's memory of exclusion from the beach. In Max Dupain's famous 1939 photograph Form at Bondi two giant figures, magnified by the low camera angle and bathed in reflected light, appear as mythic, superhuman racial guardians of the beach outlined against the ocean horizon. The stance of the male figure in particular—widespread legs firmly planted on the earth, hands on hips—conveys a masculinist proprietorship over territory, supported by the nervous defensiveness of his female companion. Isobel Crombie has recently mapped the key elements of Dupain's beach photographs within a cluster of concerns shaped by German theories of "eugenics, racial nationalism and vitalism" that underpinned Australian "body culture" of the 1930s (Crombie 2004, 9).

36. Crombie contextualises this body culture against the attempt to identify a distinctive Australian racial type through technologies ranging from anthropometry to teleology. Body culture celebrated the racial triumph of a "new 'indigenous' Australian ... considered a distinctive product of the unique conditions of this country with the genetic inheritance of Anglo-Celtic forbears" (Crombie 2004, 61). As a breed representative of an Antipodean whiteness, this new racial type was explicitly contrasted with the degenerate, inbred and diseased bodies of its others within the nation, and especially with the bodies of Indigenous Australians, imagined as part of a declining or dying race. Naked, bronzed and symmetrical white bodies with a military cast to their robust good health, such as the bodies of sunbathers, surfers and especially life savers, "the soldiers of the sea" (Crombie 2004, 85-87), were idealised as the champions of the new racial typology.

37. Crombie's meticulous historicizing of Dupain's photographs serves to locate Form at Bondi within iconographies of Aryanism and white supremacy, a context that is often elided in purely formalist readings of his work. In the title of Form at Bondi, "form" alludes to a regime of visuality that celebrates the form of the white Caucasian body as the perfection of human symmetry. In this regime of visuality nonwhite bodies register as aesthetically—and consequently morally and intellectually—falling short of the ideal because of their deviation from the white standard and their identification with beastly and monstrous bodies (Pugliese 2004). In this sense, the iconographies of Dupain's photographs have their logical extension in the posters of the White Pride Coalition contrasting the ideal Aryanised body with the animalised body of the nonwhite.

38. Crombie's discussion of yet another influential Dupain photograph further "serves to illustrate how his creative concerns were informed by knowledge of body culture and racial issues" (Crombie, 2004, 166). The photograph, titled On the Beach was taken on the marked site of Cronulla Beach in 1938:

The year was a time of peak interest in national fitness and On the Beach shows a white Australian family on sand dunes at Cronulla Beach. The man, woman and child are a racial archetype representing the ideal embodiment of the Australian nuclear unit. They are all in ruddy good health, displaying supreme confidence in their own naked bodies and harmony with their environment. The image also carries the reassuring promise that the qualities of fitness so evident in the man and woman have been passed to the child, thus ensuring the continuity of this race of godlike beings...The undulating smooth lines of the sand dunes follow the curves of the human forms and imply an elemental link between the body and the landscape. (Crombie 2004, 167).

39. Here the very contours of the beachscape become imbued with and merged into the racially specific lineaments of ideal Anglo-Australian bodies. On this beach at Cronulla, appropriated as its native-ised and naturalised homeland by Dupain's archetypal white Australian (heterosexual and nuclear) holy family, Abraham's Lebanese-Australian family half a century later finds no place. The beach remains the rallying ground of Anglo-Australia, the preserve of decent, wholesome white bodies, policed in a variety of ways against any contaminating whiff of "dirty wog"—and, by implication, even dirtier black—bodies.

40. These definitive Dupain photographs that enact and enforce the everyday racial exclusions from the beach are confronted in the work of artists such as Anne Zahalka, whose subjects depart from the formal/racial norms of beach photography. Zahalka challenges the Aryanised racial aesthetic of Dupain by photographing migrant families and working class bodies against a painted backdrop of Bondi. Against the formal symmetries of Dupain's or Charles Meere's Anglo bodies, Zahalka's "The Bathers" represents the disorderly exuberance of large non-Anglo family groups on the beach. More recently, Diane Jones inserts her Aboriginal body into Dupain's photographs or waves at the viewer from a crowd of sunbathers in Beach Scene 2003 (Mcfarlane 2004) . Both Zahalka and Jones put in to the picture the bodies expelled from the beach by artists like Dupain and Meere. And, as their work suggests, the fight to maintain the racial exclusivity of the beach, at the level of representation and at the level of access, is ongoing, even as it is sometimes likely to cloak itself in recent years in more acceptable discourses of nativist environmentalism, as in the Bondi anti-train movement (Farrelly 2006) or "locals' rights."

   Anne Zahalka "The Migrant women" from Bondi, Playground of the Pacific
  
(1989). Reproduced with the permission of the artist.

41. Since 2001, the Australian beach and shoreline have been refigured as the frontline against the incursion of a new threat in the form of refugees and asylum seekers. When these refugee bodies are conflated with terrorists, as in the statements of government ministers in 2001, the ocean and the beach are reinscribed as the frontline of national defence in the protection of Australia's borders. Reimagined as "the homeland" in the context of the war on terror the already racially contested white site of the Australian beach produces compounding effects of exclusionary violence and xenophobia.

42. Reflecting on the recent emergence of the term "homeland" in the U.S, Amy Kaplan suggests that it accompanies a more fixed and grounded sense of territoriality than previous constructions of the United States as a land of endless mobility and ever-advancing frontiers. While stipulating that the discourse of mobility enacts its own racial erasures and exclusions, I want to pursue Kaplan's idea that the recent adoption of "homeland" in nationalist and national security discourse solicits sentiments of ersatz rootedness and national essence by evoking "a sense of native origins, of birthplace and birthright" (Kaplan 2003, 86). In this territorialised homeland with its appeal to a singular history and undivided allegiance (Kaplan cites President Bush's ultimatum, you are either with us or with the terrorists ) there is little room for migrants who may look to more than one land as home or shuttle between different lands and homes (Kaplan 2003, 86-7); neither does it allow for Indigenous peoples' different understandings of land and home.

43. The appeal to the homeland as the territorial birthright and native-ised essence of one people suffuses Fraser's writings. Fraser mobilises the energies of the war on terror when he refers to white Australians as being engaged in " a life-or-death struggle to preserve their homeland" against "blacks" and "Asians" (Fraser in Rood 2005). In "Rethinking the White Australia Policy" he alludes nostalgically to "a folk memory [that] still survives of a time when Australia was the homeland of a particular people of British stock with their own particular way of life" (Fraser 2005b). Fraser's writings can be located within a wider formation described by Aileen Moreton-Robinson that "reiterates the relationship between Britishness and national identity through a discourse of loss and recuperation" (Moreton-Robinson 2005, 21). As Moreton-Robinson demonstrates, these assertions of Australia's connections to a racialised British identity seek to "recentre the nation as a white possession" by reenacting denials of Indigenous sovereignty (2005, 21).

44. Fraser's elegiac invocation of "a time when Australia was the homeland of a particular people of British stock" erases from the land its first peoples, "the particular peoples ... with their own particular way of life" who were supplanted by those "of British stock" (Fraser 2005b). At the same time, the sentimental appeal to the "folk memory" of a time when Australia "was the homeland of people of British stock" evokes an image of a vanishing race (as if the vast majority of the current Australian population were not "of British stock") and ignores the extent to which political, legal, cultural, military and economic power are unshakably vested in this "particular people" of "British stock." Fraser's fantasy of people of British stock as a kind of dying race threatened by invading aliens, Moreton-Robinson further pointed out in a reading of this essay, operates as both a displacement and a projection of Anglo-Australian fears that recent migrants will mete out to them the same treatment they themselves inflicted on Indigenous peoples.

45. In distinction to the native-ised sense of birthright inscribed in the term homeland for some, as citizenship and belonging are increasingly racially configured as a matter of national protection thorough "homeland security" (by measures such as the 2001 Border Protection Act and 2005 Anti-Terrorism laws) the homeland becomes a site where some migrants and refugees more than others cannot by definition be at home, are anything but safe and secure in the homeland. In Kaplan's words, in the aftermath of the Patriot Acts in the U.S:

the notion of the homeland itself contributes to making the life of immigrants terribly insecure. It plays a role in policing and shoring up the boundaries between the domestic and the foreign. Yet it does this not simply by stopping foreigners at the borders, but by continually redrawing those boundaries everywhere throughout the nation, between Americans who can somehow claim the United States as their native land, their birthright, and immigrants and those who look to homelands elsewhere, who can be rendered inexorably foreign. (Kaplan 2003, 87).

46. As homeland security dictates the continual redrawing of boundaries within the body of the nation it also explodes that self-same sense of a territorially based and securely bounded, whole, deep-rooted and thickly interconnected nation founded on "birthright" that the term homeland is meant to invoke. The very notion of homeland security, then, serves to produce its opposite among those who lay claim to the homeland as their exclusive native-ised territory. To speak of the homeland in effect is to generate what Didier Bigo in another context describes as "insecuritisation" (Bigo forthcoming) for that segment of the population that understands itself as most entitled to be at home in the homeland. The very urgency of securing the homeland throws the sense of being at home, of possessing a "birthright," of entitlement—another troublesome term that carries within itself the reminder of other titles, other natives —into crisis by revealing the deep fissures that constitute the homeland: the homeland as such is a construct that generates racial terror.

47. Recruited into the Australian "culture wars" by Fraser homeland becomes the ground where multiple forms of racial terror meet, reinforce and refract one another. Particular nonwhite bodies are figured not only as threatening white Australian identity and interests by their presence in the homeland but also as threatening the nation. White Australian interest is reinforced as the national interest even as the native-ised claims of homeland as a secure and settled space of home are once again threateningly put in to question by the hypervisibility of those other bodies uncovered by the very practices of racial surveillance intended to ensure the security of the homeland. On this ground of the homeland culture war becomes race war becomes war on terror.

The Beach, December 11, 2005

48. On the beach, the threads of racial terror, of the sexual predator, the already suspect Muslim/oriental terrorist, the invader of the homeland, the criminal and the racial other, begin to come together in the figure of an overdetermined bogeyman.

      Photo by Dean Sewell, reproduced with permission.

49. The beach, this beach, mythologised as the sacred ground of white bodies in the photographs of Dupain, painfully enforced in everyday understanding as "the whitest part of Sydney," a warning that keeps people who know what's good for them in their places, on the other side of the divide, today is actually looking like a border. It is patrolled by police on foot, police with dogs, police in boats, police on horseback. Inscribed across a bare, bronzed, back the ultimate claim to native-ised essence: We grew here, you flew here. The Australian flag, with its affirmation of enduring racial kinship with "British stock," is inscribed on bodies in multiple forms: blazoned on bikinis and backpacks, tattooed on to arms and torsos, painted on faces like war paint, wrapped around shoulders like a trophy: a performance of native-ised territoriality that echoes other enactments of territorial ownership: We decide who comes on to this beach and the manner in which they come.

 Photograph by Warren Hudson. Posted as a public photo
 http://www.flickr.com/photos/warrenhudson/72304412/

On the sands of the beach terra and terror meet in territory, "a place from which people are frightened off" (Bhabha 1994, 99-100). In the course of the day the submerged meanings of the beach as a site where everyday (white) Australianness is staged as both celebration and warning will be exposed. In the minds of those already assembling here, summoned by radio and text messaging to a "community day of leb and wog bashing" (Marr 2005), rallied by the White Pride Coalition, Youth Pride League, Australia First and other supremacist groups, this beach is a beachhead. A participant likens the day's events to facing the Japanese invasion in World War 2. For others it stands for ANZAC day, for a beer-soaked memorial picnic at Gallipoli, for the turning away of the Tampa, for the streets of Iraq. It is the homeland.

      Photo by Dean Sewell, reproduced with permission.

50. In Marilyn Lake's reading, the interaction of raced and gendered bodies in this site recalls another space where multiple terrors meet and where racial terror is enacted:

Indeed in the masculine melee last Sunday in Sydney, mateship provided vital reinforcement of white solidarity, in that traditional Australian way. But now the battleground is that iconic national site, the surf beach. Placed in a nationalist frame, the politics of race became the politics of possession: proprietorial "Aussies" determined to reclaim their territory and "protect their women", the same alibi invoked by lynch mobs in the American South. (Lake 2005c).

51. Lake's words reminds me of my response to the first images I saw of Cronulla Beach on December 11, photographs viewed furtively on a crowded plane flying in to Sydney next day, suddenly aware of my own heightened visibility, of being looked at looking at these pictures, a foreign body in this enclosed space.

52. The atmosphere of the family picnic in the photographs, the proud display of racial and nationalist emblems and regalia, the parade of Klan-style hoods and cloaks, and above all the faces clenched in orgasmic frenzy, remind me of James Baldwin's famous short story, "Going to Meet the Man," the story of a Sunday lynching.

Then the crowd rushed forward tearing at the body with their hands, with knives, with rocks, with stones, howling and cursing... Someone stepped forward and drenched the body with kerosene. Where the man had been, a great sheet of flame appeared. Jesse's father lowered him to the ground.

'Well, I told you,' said his father, 'you wasn't never going to forget this picnic.' His father's face was full of sweat, his eyes were very peaceful. At that moment Jesse loved his father more than he had ever loved him. He felt that his father had carried him through a mighty test, had revealed to him a great secret which would be the key of his life forever.

'I reckon,' he said. ' I reckon.' (Baldwin, Going to Meet the Man 1991, 251).

 © Andrew Meares / Fairfaxphotos. Reprinted with permission.

53. (Enclosed in the capsule of the plane, the space of shuttling between times and places: the infinite interval before the tightened fist crashes into a cowering skull, the endless pause between a hand pouring kerosene and the great leap of the flames. These are spaces packed with voices and echoes, cries of warning, of half-heard pleas and screamed injunctions. Out of this nameless space, this screaming silence, this terror: the imperative for this writing.)

© Andrew Meares / Fairfaxphotos. Reprinted with permission.

54. In Baldwin's story the "great secret" of race is collectively renewed, reaffirmed and transmitted to a new generation in a ceremony/celebration that, as Lake comments, reenacts "the politics of possession" through terror. I gloss this scene with a later quotation from Baldwin, taken from an interview conducted with Frank Shatz, a Hungarian-American refugee. In the interview Shatz, a migrant and survivor of Nazi camps, struggles to comprehend the legacies of the abolitionist John Brown, a white man who, with a small group of multiethnic companions, took up arms against the slave-owning state at Harper's Ferry, Virginia. Talking to Shatz, a migrant hovering somewhere "in between" white and nonwhite identity in the US post-war racial order (Roediger 2005), Baldwin attempts—it is hard going—to teach this new American the answer to the "great secret" of race:

FS : But still, I would like to know, you know, because I am, you know the word, liberal. I have a conscience.
JB : I am not liberal.
FS : I have a conscience. Now, I would like to see changes, and I would like to help.
JB : Are you willing enough to pay for them?
FS : In what way? What is the price now?
JB : The price is a regular identity. (Baldwin and Shatz in Banks 2000, 264).

Aftermath

55. How quickly regular identities are (re)claimed, (re)assuaged and (re)assigned. How quickly white terror is rewritten as a story of white victimage, persecution and the object of elite conspiracies. How insidiously race terror is reproduced, appeased or denied.

56. In the wake of counter attacks on the nights of December 11 and 12, events on the beach become part of a symmetrical narrative of "Riot and Revenge" ("Four Corners," ABCTV 2006). As the "Riot and Revenge" script is institutionalised as "the definitive version" of events (in the words of ABC presenter Liz Jackson) race terror on the beach at Cronulla becomes explicable only retrospectively, in light of what followed it. Cronulla Beach comes to stand for a paired sequence of events, the riot and the revenge, in a fable of equivalence in which two misguided groups, mostly of young men, mirror each other's ignorance and prejudices, for example, by each claiming to protect their womenfolk.

57. David Burchell too finds reassurance in the fable of symmetrical hatreds:

It's true that the nasty opening round in the erupting tensions across the city had been an alcohol-fuelled local rally at Cronulla which had led to individuals of even vaguely Middle-Eastern appearance being harassed and assaulted across the city's south east, some having to be rescued and squirreled away in safe houses by police.

Yet, of course, this first round had been followed by a volley of equally violent and damaging revenge attacks over successive nights that also involved numerous assaults, hundreds of smashed car and shop windows, and at least four damaged churches or church halls.

And ethnic dislike (against "Aussies" and, by a strange extension, the flag) was just as obvious in these attacks as in their predecessors. (Burchell 2006).

58. Writing on in The Australian on January 27 (the holiday variously commemorated as Survival Day, Invasion Day and Australia Day), Burchell expresses puzzlement at the "strange extension" of "ethnic dislike" to the Australian flag. But at least equally puzzling is Burchell's apparent failure to see any connection between the attacks on "individuals of even vaguely Middle-Eastern appearance"—those same ones who had to be "squirreled away" by police (a cosy word for the scenes of violent tussle and hurled abuse recorded by the cameras)—and the "strange" display of "ethnic dislike" of the flag. How to convey to Burchell that the singling out for attack of "individuals of even vaguely Middle-Eastern appearance" by those "Aussies" sporting the flag as a sign of birthright and (ethnic) loyalty to British stock may have had something to do with the "strange" display of "ethnic dislike" that followed it? How to insert into the symmetrical narrative of riot and revenge the ways in which "individuals of even vaguely Middle-Eastern appearance" have been systematically excluded, at the multiple levels elaborated above, from the space of the "homeland" designated by this same flag?

 Azlan McLennan, Proudly UnAustralian BILLBOARD@TROCADERO. Reproduced
 with the permission of the artist.

 On Australia Day 2006 the Age newspaper reported that this artwork had been
 confiscated by police from outside the Trocadero Gallery in Footscray, Melbourne.

59. Ignoring these exclusions, the fable of equivalent "ethnic dislikes," positions the violence of Cronulla Beach as a set of paired aversions that cancel one another out. Burchell's essay takes the form of an extended rationale for staying away from an anti-racist demonstration to which he was invited, construing declarations of anti-racist solidarity as misguided, unnecessary and patronising within the framework of pared "ethnic dislikes": "it's hard to imagine a minority less in need of the maternal protection of the city's intellectuals than the ardent car-modders and gym fanatics of Auburn and Bankstown" (Burchell 2006).

60. Burchell's patronising characterisation of antiracist activism (trivialised as both "maternal" and "intellectual"), like his dismissive descriptions of the inhabitants of Auburn and Bankstown, are symptomatic of mainstream reaction to the events on Cronulla Beach.[6] In an explanatory framework premised on the actions of two sets of equally unattractive and ignorant extremists, racist violence can be ignored by reasonable and responsible "ordinary Australians" who place themselves above the fray. This response allows anti-racist protest to be dismissed as redundant, overwrought or misguided. It is a response that parallels the relegation of Fraser's racist comments to the realm of "indiscretions" cited earlier, positioning anti-racist protest as an equivalent lapse of judgment, or perhaps taste. These are responses premised on a denial of the structuring racisms of Australian society and of the matrix of white supremacy within which racial relations are enacted and reproduced.

61. The disavowal of racism in the events on Cronulla Beach can in turn be located within a wider denial of the continuing role of race in contemporary Australia. This insistence on a raceless or colour-blind society, however, needs to be understood as always operating hand-in-hand with, and promoting, measures of intensive surveillance, marking and identification of racial difference through pervasive forms of profiling, enumeration and classification. Such racial marking is exemplified in the comments made by both the Treasurer and the Prime Minister in the period immediately before and after December 11, pinpointing the irreconcilability of "Muslim values" with "Australian values." In such remarks race is both denied, as terms like "culture" and "values" act as its insidious surrogates, and (re)activated.

62. The disavowal of race and the morality tale of equivalence or "bad behaviour on both sides," the explanation served up by Burchell as by a number of public figures, pivots on a denial of the context of racial terror and racial triumphalism that I have tried to unfold in this essay. In their refusal to acknowledge the accretions of racist histories, discourses and iconographies and their everyday reproduction and refraction, these denials enact the vision of a whitewashed nation that excises the memory of historical violence and reduces the present to performances of "mutual obligation" on a level playing field. Studiously avoiding the manifestations of race in our daily lives, they insist that we "move on" from race to a raceless future. In that evacuated space where race is no longer admissible, old fashioned, out of date, transmogrified into bad behaviour, or else reduced to individual displays of reciprocal "ethnic dislike" that cancel each other out, racism at its most florid and phobic, in all its virulent potentiality, is free to flourish.

63. Fraser, Duffy and other spokespeople for white supremacy do their work on ground well prepared for them by official attacks on the idea of multiculturalism; by dog whistles of ethnic arithmetic and nativist environmentalism (witness MP Danna Vale's comments that Anglo-Australians are "aborting themselves out of existence" while Muslims continue to breed at exponential rates [(ABC 2005]); by public dismissals of minority rights as mere "political correctness"; and finally by a climate of renewed racial nationalism.

64. The last is the outcome of a carefully crafted cultural campaign. As an example Lake points to the " militarisation of Australian historical memory" during the past decade, as "the Federal Government has invested millions of dollars in the project of shaping historical memory through the expansion of war memorials, the proliferation of plaques, annual pilgrimages to battlefields, the development of war-focused curriculum material for schools, massive subsidies for book and film production and, most importantly, the endless ritual of public commemoration" (Lake 2005a). Pride in achievements on foreign battlefields, Lake reminds, diverts attention from the Indigenous lives destroyed in domestic frontier wars. Similarly, pleasure at being recognised as actors on the global stage leaves little room for asking how imperial adventures from Gallipoli to Vietnam to the Persian Gulf set the trajectories of yesterday's diasporas and swell today's refugee boats. In this climate of fervent cultural chauvinism and unreflexive militarism the digger and his counterpart, the lifeguard, that "soldier of the sea," always racially marked figures, acquire a new charge as racial heroes.

65. Yet race pride and race pleasure are double-edged and volatile forces. Racial self-assertiveness quickly metastases into its mirror image: self-defensiveness, panic and aggression against lesser breeds. Racial threat and racial suicide are the other faces of racial pride. Perhaps the best explication of the relation between these faces of racism was performed by an anti racist collective at the rally held in Sydney on December 18 2005. Here the multiple functions of the flag, as hood, blindfold, weapon, threat and disguise were put on display. Through its staging of the ways in which the flag is mobilised as a racial and ethnonational emblem of

 Silent protest based on images by boat-people.org, anti-racism rally, Sydney,
 December 17, 2005.
Reprinted with permission.

exclusion, the performance powerfully elucidates the "strange" responses of opposition and "ethnic dislike" that the flag provokes. "Regular," that is, seemingly neutral and unmarked, identities such as "the ordinary Australian" and the "patriotic citizen" are called in question as the racial assumptions implicit in them are uncovered. It is only in such courageous expressions of dissent in a climate of racist resurgence that the face of white terror is—fleetingly but unforgettably—exposed.

Sydney-Fremantle
January 2006

Suvendrini Perera (Curtin University of Technology) is a board member of the Borderlands e-journal. She co-edited its inaugural issue "Borderphobias" and the issue "Cultural Ambivalence, Cultural Politics" (Vol. 3. No. 3). Her edited book Our Patch: Australian Sovereignty Post 2001 (Perth: API Network) will be published in December 2006.

Acknowledgments

I am grateful to Anne Zahalka, Azlan McLennan and Dean Sewell for generously granting permission to reproduce their work, to Tanja Dreher for bringing the image of the silent protest to my attention and to the anti-racist collective for permission to reproduce it. Special thanks to Anthony Burke, Vin D'Cruz, Tanja Dreher, Aileen Moreton-Robinson, Fiona Nicoll, Goldie Osuri, Jon Stratton, Antonio Traverso and, especially, Joseph Pugliese for their insights, support and encouragement during the writing of this paper.

Notes

[1] This information is based on a letter written by the White Pride Coalition to the Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission in 2003, in response to a Chippendale resident's complaint about the poster.

[2] In an interview with Michel Duffy Fraser specifically claims scholarly expertise in racial studies:

Michael Duffy: I understand the vice-chancellor has apologised to representatives of the Sudanese community for the fact that you signed the letter like that [including your academic title]. Are you saying that that was an accident?
Andrew Fraser: Partly an accident—but the fact is that because I'm an academic and teach and research in areas such as American constitutional history and Australian immigration law, I actually do know more about subjects like race, racial differences and racial conflict than the ordinary citizen.
Michael Duffy : Okay, so that's an important point—you're actually speaking within your area of expertise.
Andrew Fraser : Yes. (Fraser, 2005a).

[3] For example, a recent media release by the African Communities Council questioned the process by which an affiliate of the Hillsong church in Western Sydney received a million dollar-plus grant to "involve Sudanese residents in Blacktown, as well as indigenous youth in Riverstone ... to take responsibility for the maintenance and improvement of their streets, homes, parks ... with the hope of reducing vandalism." The media release pointed out there was no evidence of vandalism and no consultation with the communities in seeking the grant.

[ 4] Here Sharp's essay echoes the point made in a letter signed by over a hundred academics and scholars published in the Australian Higher Education Supplement on August 17, 2005. Joseph Pugliese and I co-wrote this letter which was disseminated for signature by academics from Macquarie University and other institutions.

[ 5 ] The Australian on 23 July 2005.

[6] I thank Fiona Nicoll for this point about the trivialisation of anti-racism. See Poynting 2006, for a further discussion of Burchell.

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Ong, A. (1999) "Cultural Citizenship as Subject Making: Immigrants Negotiate Racial and Cultural Boundaries in the United States" in R.D Torres, L.F. Miron and J.X Inda (eds) Race, Identity and Citizenship, Malden: Blackwell, pp. 262-293.

Osuri, G. (2005) "The Fraser Event: Or How to Consolidate Whiteness
in an Institutional Context," Paper presented at Whiteness and the Horizons of Race
Conference, University of Queensland, December.

Perera, S. (1999) "Unmaking the Present, Remaking Memory: Sri Lankan Stories and a Politics of Coexistence," Race & Class, 41. 1-2: 189-196.

________ (2002) "A Line in the Sea: Australia, Boat Stories and the Border," Cultural Studies Review 8. 1: 11-27.

________ (2005a) "Who will I become? The Multiple Formations of Australian Whiteness," Australian Critical Race and Whiteness Studies 1.1: 30-39.

________ (2006 forthcoming) "Our Patch: Domains of Whiteness and the Reworking of Australia's Horizons of Race in the War on Terror," in S.Perera (ed) Our Patch: Australian Sovereignty Post-2001 , Perth: API Network.

________ , and J. Pugliese (1997) "' Racial Suicide': The Relicensing of Racism in Australia," Race & Class 39. 2: 1-20.

Pugliese, J. (2004) "Demonstrable Evidence: A Genealogy of the Racial Iconography of Forensic Art and Illustration," Law and Critique 15: 286-320.

________ (2005a) "In Silico Race and the Heteronomy of Biometric Proxies: Biometrics in the Context of Civilian Life, Border Security and Counter-Terrorism Laws," Australian Feminist Law Journal 23: 1-33.

________ (2005b) "Words of Blood," Paper given at "Regimes of Terror" Colloquium, Macquarie University, December 13.

Poynting, S. (2006) "What Caused the Cronulla Riot?" Race & Class 48.1: 85-92.

Reynolds, H. (1998) This Whispering in our Hearts, St Leonards: Allen & Unwin.

________ (2003) North of Capricorn The Untold Story of Australia's North, Crows Nest: Allen & Unwin.

________ (2005) Nowhere People, Crows Nest: Allen & Unwin.

Roediger, D. (2005) Working Toward Whiteness, New York: Basic Books.

Rood, D. (2005) "Academic Attacks Race Article Ban", The Age September 21.

Schwarz, B. (1996) '"The only white man in there': The Re-racialisation of England, 1956-1968," Race and Class 38.1: 65-78.

Scott, K. (1999) Benang From the Heart, Fremantle: Fremantle Arts Centre Press.

________ (2001) "Australia's Continuing Neurosis: Identity, Race and History," in "A Scientific Perspective on Race" Forum, Albert Deakin Lectures, ABC Radio National, January 3. http://www.abc.net.au/rn/deakin/stories/s291485.htm.

Sharp, S. (2005). 'Racism-the New Black?' The New Matilda October 12. http://www.newmatilda.com/home/articledetail.asp?ArticleID=1014

Windschuttle, K. (2004) The White Australia Policy, Sydney: Macleay Press.

________ (2005) " Racist Essay is from the Left, not the Right", The Australian, September 29.


© borderlands ejournal 2006

 

 

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