“Victory in Cronulla”
Jan 2, 2006 | Nadav Shlezinger
What the neo-Nazis are saying
By Nadav Shlezinger
“For the first time since 1966 when the White Australia Policy was abandoned and betrayed, there was a mass Australian people’s protest against the multiculti order. It was heartening and a sign of things to come. The events today in Cronulla were remarkable proof of the existence of a grassroots Australian nationalism.”
The above paragraph, which appeared on the neo-Nazi website “Stormfront”, was apparently written by infamous white supremacist Jim Saleam. While most Australians rightly expressed their revulsion at the December 11 riots that took place in Cronulla and spread to neighbouring Sydney suburbs, many on the far-right see the events as a golden opportunity to achieve their objectives.
According to a report in The Australian, three far-right organisations were noticeable among the crowd of 5,000 who caused the ruckus in Cronulla. Racist pamphlets were distributed by Saleam’s organisation ‘Australia First’, and by the ‘Patriotic Youth League’ and ‘Blood and Honour.’ But while the majority of the mob were apparently Cronulla residents, the far-right elements, unsurprisingly, had come from further afield to inflame tensions. Matt Henderson-Hau, a Sydney resident who runs anti-fascist website Fightdemback.org, said he had information that the overwhelming majority of skinheads at the rally “came from the Central Coast, Newcastle and other parts of Sydney”.
A video was posted on “Stormfront” just hours after the drama. Presented by “White Nationalist TV”, and dubbed with music declaring repeatedly “All Hail, Victory!”, the camera followed the marching mass as they chanted “Aussie Aussie Aussie oi oi oi”, followed by the more disturbing “F**k off Lebs”. The majority of the people in the video were clearly ‘surfies’ engaging in probably the first and last racially-motivated rally of their lives. Yet the neo-Nazi presence was clearly evident too, and the majority of the crowd was either unwittingly being used as extras in the film or just chose to ignore it. One skinhead who appeared on the footage had a black shirt with a three-pronged Swastika on the front and “Blood for Blood” written on the back. After the camera followed him, and a couple of other people who could also have passed for white supremacists, the film ended with a written message, “Not white, not welcome in Cronulla”.
Members of the “Stormfront” internet forum were in a celebratory mood in the days following the fracas. Summing up the feelings of many of his fellow “white nationalists”, one member remarked, “it was not an ugly mob… they were beautiful White Australians…I hope that this is the start of citizens abandoning ‘democracy’ and taking more responsibility for community policing.”
Others demonstrated an appalling lack of understanding of Australian history by invoking the good name of the ANZACs to justify their divisive and racist views. In a chilling call to arms, one person wrote “You are the sons of Anzacs…Our great grandfathers did the job in 1915, our grandfathers did the job in 1939, now in 2005 its OUR TURN…CRUSH LEBBO SKULLS UNDER YOUR FEET”. Another even went so far as to claim that John Simpson Kirkpatrick, of Simpson and his donkey fame, “would of (sic) supported these people who are standing up for the true Australia.”
There remains a realistic possibility of copycat performances. Perth has been a consistent target of white supremacists over the years, and it seems that some of them are now walking taller after the events in Sydney. One discussion on Stormfront centred on an SMS calling for people to head to Perth’s Scarborough and Mullaloo Beaches on the following weekend. One person revealed that recruitment remains a priority, saying “Theres [sic] a good chance that those ‘drunken louts’ could someday become a white nationalist. May as well organise something while everyone is fired up.” The far-right alert has also been raised across the Tasman, with reports that Wellington group “White Crusaders of the Racial Holy War” had raised its public profile in the wake of Cronulla.
Like minded extremists further afield have also drawn inspiration. On “Stormfront”, dozens of skinheads from around the globe rushed to congratulate “White Australia”. A commentator listing his location as Texas said, “I proud [sic] of you aussies down there. Give those pieces of **** hell.” In poor English, a Russian gushed “We all with hope and look admiration at Your country. Australia will be White!” An Australian responded: “I’ve been watching your Nationalist marches in recent times in awe. It’s great that we now have something to show.”
Many of those who were present in Cronulla will later be ashamed that they allowed their grievances to be hijacked by these extremists. Some have already come to that realisation. In a written statement, Cronulla surfer and self-labelled senior member of the community Brad Whitaker said, “The day began as a show of solidarity against behaviour of ethnic gangs that have been harassing the public on our beaches over a period of seven years. It escalated out of control under the influence of right-wing racists from outside this community…”
The violence perpetrated by the mob in Cronulla on December 11 shocked most Australians, as did the violence committed that same week by Lebanese Muslim youths. The ill-feeling created will doubtless take much time to subside, but the fact that white supremacists now feel emboldened is also a problem that must be tackled. Australia’s small number of professional racist thugs believe they have had a success and will be looking to repeat it when and wherever they sense an opportunity. It may take time for the violence to completely subside, but when order is finally restored to Australia’s largest city, it must also be a legal and political priority to ensure that the neo-Nazis are put firmly back in their box.