Writing in today’s Age, Elizabeth Lopez has a rather insightful piece about the double standards of Australian media and politicians. Drawing a parallel between the much-villified Sheikh Taj al-Din al-Hilali (above left) and the vaunted Alan Jones (found by the country’s communications regulator to have incited racial violence re the Cronulla Riots), she uses the sacking of US ‘nappy ho slur’ broadcaster Don Imus to show how light Jones has gotten off. As Elizabeth cleverly says; “If it’s good enough for a hate-mongering sheikh to be issued vague threats about his future in this country by Australia’s entire political establishment, what does this say about the relative silence with which the media authority’s findings on Jones have been greeted. Few, if any calls for Jones to quit, re-examine his behaviour, or even take a breather. No rap over the knuckles.”
As a Sots Aussie, my view is that just under the surface, Australia is a little bit racist. At least as much as the Scots, Brits and any other ethnic tribe are.
Personally, I think the sheikh ‘s media naievity is a liability to the image of muslims in Australia. I also think the media loves his unguarded pronouncements as they make for great headline material. And, of course, the pollies won’t decry AJ because of his opinionated voter influence.
Somewhere in between, I read Elizabeth’s piece as an articulate voice of reason amidst media management that’s more about circulation sales, fearmongering, xenophobia and political manipulation of public opinion than it is about balanced reporting.
Meanwhile, over in Blighty Tony Blair is blaming a spate of fatal street stabbings on black cultural attitudes; gasolene canister on those flames anyone? (Free sub to Guardian online).