opinion

"Videos of 'racist rants' continue to surprise us. But they shouldn't."

Today, a video has emerged of a Melbourne woman racially abusing staff members at a Coles supermarket.

The footage taken at Woodgrove Shopping Centre in Melton, Victoria, depicts a woman yelling “you f****g go back to your own country you piece of f**ing s**t.”

Accompanied by a young child, she threatens to throw a Milo tin at a staff member, with “I’ll f****g throw it at you c**t”.

Eyewitnesses were horrified by the verbal assault, commenting on the Facebook video, “She just looks and acted like a complete nut job!” and, “The people she was yelling at were taken back (sic)…”

But let’s take a moment to consider the climate in which this video has emerged.

Today, Rowan Dean penned the ‘satirical’ “Guide to Aussie citizenship made easier“, offering a number of multiple choice questions. For example:

“When you first arrive at a large, busy, metropolitan railway station in an unfamiliar city, do you:

a) Wander around looking for the nearest meat pie shop to get some tucker coz you’re bloody starving

b) Wander around looking for the nearest dunny to have a slash in coz you’re bloody busting

c) Wander around on New Year’s Eve with a mob of about a thousand other men groping as many women as you can get your paws on coz they’re bloody well asking for it

When you’re forced to take your girlfriend clothes shopping, do you:

a) Smile patiently while she tries on the fiftieth friggin’ dress in Sportsgirl and asks you for the thousandth time if it makes her bum look big

b) Surreptitiously check out which dress is half price in the sale before telling her it makes her look just like a supermodel

c) Stone her to death if she dishonours you by exposing any flesh.”

This piece of content was published by one of Australia’s largest newspapers. In 2017.

I’m not sure what I’m more confronted by: how deeply problematic each of his racist assumptions are, or how excruciatingly unfunny it is.

There is absolutely no evidence that immigrants are more likely to commit sexual assault or murder their partners. None. In fact, the statistics are quite to the contrary.

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Rowan Dean. Image via ABC.

White men, who look just like Dean, are largely responsible for our national epidemic of domestic violence. Sexual assault and rape are perpetrated overwhelmingly by men known to the victim, inside their own home. Not by immigrants in public.

Ah, but of course he wrote it under the guise of 'satire'. He was only intending to poke fun.

But no matter how hard I look... it's just not funny.

It's not clever, it's not surprising (except in the extent of its cruelty), it's not challenging, and I cannot for the life of me work out where I'm meant to laugh. The part where he jokes about women being stoned to death? Or perhaps the jab he later makes at those inconvenient "boat people"?

And a racist rant surprises us? Image via ABC.
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He concludes, "Australian taxpayers have their own pensions slashed, supposedly because our government is so far in debt, yet that same government can still afford to hand over 40 million bucks a year to a mob for whom the concept of a 'pension' includes financially rewarding the families of murderers and child-killers."

Wait... what?

In Dean's entire article, there is not one reference to support his claims. But he finishes by imbuing one vivid image in the mind of his readers; 'murderers' and 'child-killers'.

And we wonder why a woman in Melton is hurling racist abuse at a passerby.

And we wonder why a woman in Melton is hurling racist abuse at a passerby. Image via Channel 9.
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The animosity directed at migrants is so bizarre I'd usually completely ignore an article like Dean's. I'd dismiss it as something not even worth engaging with. But this isn't an isolated incident. It's contributing to a discourse that has enormous social ramifications, like torrents of racial abuse, and even bigger political ramifications, like our current refugee policy.

Late last month, Andrew Bolt asked "Who let in the Sudanese?" in an opinion piece which refers to the "crime-plagued Sudanese" and the "hard-to-assimilate Lebanese Muslims" who both put "us in completely needless danger."

Perhaps Bolt might like to read Anna's account of watching soldiers in Sudan kill her husband, before murdering her six-year-old stepson. Moments later she was gang-raped, along with her daughter.

Video by Western Sydney University

Or perhaps he doesn't know about the 12,000 children soldiers forced into conflict.

Perhaps he would like to speak to a 14-year-old boy I met, who lived in Sudan in constant fear as soldiers would burst into their homes at any moment and open fire.

There is nothing "needless" about Australia's Sudanese refugee intake.

When we see someone like the Melton woman racially abuse staff in Coles, we are witnessing anti-refugee and anti-immigrant attitudes brought to their logical conclusion. There is nothing surprising about it.

So when we watch this enraged individual, we ought to remember the she is far from a "complete nut job". She is a product of the Australia in which she exists. We've worked hard to create her.

And she is far from a lone spectacle.