Monday, February 1, 2010

Excusing Violence

A few weeks ago, I blogged about Indian students in Melbourne, Australia being the targeted victims of hate crimes. Not surprisingly at the time, Melbourne police were denying that racism was a contributing factor to the attacks, instead blaming the victims who were essentially at fault for their own victimization because they were said to walk alone at night with pricey computer equipment.

Listen in on the following YouTube video. Pay particular attention to the Melbourne police commissioner who begins speaking at 1:10. Note how he dismisses the Indian students' violent victimization by saying they are safer in Australia than India.

This tactic of pointing out that violence is more severe in a different context is commonly used among those who excuse and/or justify varying forms of violence. By using this tactic, the police commissioner indirectly suggests that Indian students should be thankful to be in Melbourne despite being violent crime victims. Moreover, he deflects attention away from the possibility of violent racism existing among the majority Melbourne population.

Thankfully a a little over a week later, a former Australian defense chief, Peter Cosgrove, stated the obvious:

"If you didn't suspect a racial strand you'd be mad .... Attacks recently by groups of people on individuals looks like a profiling approach to people from the sub-continent. Rather than say 'nothing to worry about', I'd rather look more closely."

More from the Al Jazeera piece:

Cosgrove, who was voted Australian of the year in 2001, said hidden racism should not be allowed to fester or lead to a reduction in immigration, expected to boost Australia's population from 21 million to around 36 million by 2050.

Hmmm, xenophobia among the majority Australian population? In the mean time, let's hope Melbourne police are investigating these horrific crimes, inspecting all possible angles, not just those that follow the safe public relations line.

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