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The 2005 Cronulla Riots sparked much controversy throughout Australia regarding how the event reflected ideas deeply embedded within Australian society and culture. It can be said that Australia’s foundation arc is based upon increasingly simmering tension between white Australia and ‘others’ resulting in the ongoing release of hostility and crimes. This can be seen in politics and mainstream media shaping the dominant national identity and creating oppressed countercultures. The existence of this dual narrative, one fiercely protective of the national identity and the other seemingly opposed has directly and indirectly caused hostility that has led to racial and social crimes.
A political cartoon titled ‘Nice Day at the Neach’ was published in 2006, one year after the riots. It depicts a man lying on his beach towel wearing Australia flag shorts and a Santa Claus hat. Surrounding him are various weapons including an axe, pistol, sword, hand grenade and brass knuckles. While the cartoon is portrayed to specifically target the Cronulla riots there is an insinuation surrounding the cartoon. It can be said that it is representative of Australia’s hidden history and National Identity. The weapons being partly buried within the sand reflect that Australia’s past was once buried but is now being uncovered due to the Cronulla Riots.
The Cronulla Riots, as stated, do not exist in isolation. They reflect a long narrative but also speak to the deeply political climate of the time. The Liberal Howard Government had held office since 1996 until 2007. The term “Un-Australian” was used by Authoritative Prime Minister John Howard to remove accusations that his government bred divisiveness enmity throughout Australia. The Cronulla Riots have had long-lasting social impacts which are still felt today. When Attorney General Alfred Deakin wrote in 1901 that “aliens .. in our midst” must be deported he created a context for exclusion and a tension between those declared “aliens” and white Australia. Historian Keith Windschuttle reformed and reinforced the idea that it was the nations’ introduction of multiculturalist policies, moving away from the white Australia policy, that had “been an abject failure”.
In conclusion, The Cronulla riots were the result of simmering tensions towards a group of people. This was caused by politics and mainstream media shaping the dominant national identity and creating oppressed countercultures. The existence of this dual narrative, one fiercely protective of the national identity and the other seemingly opposed has directly and indirectly caused hostility that has led to racial and social crimes. An analysis of Australia’s history strongly reflects an underbelly of social unrest specifically resulting in racial crimes.
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