Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Australia's 'Racial' Riots

One of the weirder aspects of the coverage of the riots in Australia, where youths have clashed with people of Meditteranean and Middle Eastern descent, is how the media have characterized the latter as "nonwhite."

For example, the Boston Globe today talked about "racial unrest in Sydney's beachside suburbs" in which "people of Middle Eastern descent were allegedly assaulted by whites in two other cities." The AP, in this report picked up by the New York Times, used similar terminology.
The Australian media seems to be most anxious to press this "racial" point, even when criticizing the rioters.

In a piece entitled, "White Australia Rules," The Age blithely perpetuated this odd racial terminology. In the context of discussing this "racial" issue, the piece notes an "increase in immigration from Mediterranean countries brought much larger numbers of immigrants from Greece and Italy, Malta, Yugoslavia and Lebanon to augment the unskilled workforce." So apparently anyone not from northern Europe is "nonwhite" in this view.

The BBC was not much better in its website, noting that "thousands of young white men attacked people of Arabic and Mediterranean background on Cronulla Beach."

It's important to keep this ridiculously polarized racial terminology in mind when examining Australian coverage of the Middle East.

As Honestreporting observed recently, reporting in the Australian media on the Middle East is systematically biased in favor of the Palestinians. As in the European media, there is a kind of post-colonial guilt syndrome at work here, in which complex conflicts are reduced to "white" and "nonwhite" -- with one being the villain and the other the enemy, depending upon whether you are a hooligan or a left-wing editor.

Branding all Arabs as "nonwhite" and all Israelis as "white" (notwithstanding the fact that at least half the population is Middle Eastern) is yet another reason why Australian and European journos skew their coverage of the conflict.
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