i’m sorry to interrupt…

…the whirlwind of poetry joy, but i just had to crosspost this item.

in the murder capital of australia, it’s still safe to be a racist:

NATIONAL, September 10, 2009: An Alice Springs resident has responded to the alleged bashing death of an Aboriginal man by five young white men by selling “Alice Springs White Power” t-shirts and caps from his car.

And it’s all happening outside the Alice Springs Town Council offices, with local police and council officials refusing at least two requests by local residents to shut the man down.

The t-shirts and caps were yesterday on display in the passenger side window of a 4WD ute parked directly across the road from the council chambers. The number plates on the vehicle read ‘GANGSTA’, and a hand-written sign was taped to the back passenger window advertising the shirts and caps.

The sign included pricing – $25 for a shirt, $25 for a cap or to [sic] for $35. The shirt includes a Nazi swastika symbol, and the sign includes a mobile number, 0410 366 701.

writes Chris Graham in the NIT.

i would like to say that the majority of people in this town are not racist. but i’m afraid this is the extremist end of a sliding scale of opinions in a town where everyday racism is pretty banal. i have written elsewhere about the way the intervention has affected race relations here. more directly, the suspension of the racial discrimination act in the NT may have legalised this kind of vilification.

Jennifer Mills

Jennifer Mills was Overland fiction editor between 2012 and 2018. Her latest novel, The Airways, is out through Picador.

More by Jennifer Mills ›

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  1. Why were people busy taking photographs of the car, rather than torching it? Seriously: the tyres are not slashed, the window glass is not cracked, and this reporting means the guy now has more free pubicity. Even I am using my precious time commenting! For heaven sakes, someone just track him down and lynch the *&$! so we can all go back to the poetry.

  2. The subject of this article was and is a source of great pain to Overload festival guest, Indigenous poet Ali Cobby Eckermann. Ali spoke bravely and forthrightly about the murder reffered to in the article during a panel discussion at the City Library yesterday. The subject of the discussion was ‘Stolen Voices’, looking at the ‘Stolen Generation’, institutionalised racism, motherhood and possible ways forward. Ali was joined in the discussion by Indigenous academic/poet Tony Birch and African-American poet Lewis Scott and it was moderated by Kevin Brophy.

    It was emotional folks; raw, emotional, lyrical; Ali spoke of the massacres; that everywhere she goes there is a massacre story. The bashing in Alice Springs, she said, is a continuation of a history of the massacres. It is with us now; it is not in the past, it is alive in the present, unaccounted for, un-atoned.

    And yet this violence is not isolated to indigenous communities. Attacks against Indian students are a case in point. Racism seems to flare where-ever we go, where-ever we are. An intolerance of the ‘other’ seems to be a disease embedded in our collective psyche.

    Voices like Eckermann’s are vital for us to truly listen to and engage with. She shows us not only indigenous pain but the pain rife in our corrupted society as a whole.

  3. Slightly OT but Jennifer’s suggestion of a connection between the Intervention and these manifestations of White Power racism comes to mind when reading about the situation in Britain.
    Specifically, http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2009/sep/11/english-defence-league-chaotic-alliance

    You have a whole string of respectable ‘intellectuals’ (Christopher Caldwell, Melanie Phillips, Mark Steyn, Hitchens, etc) calling for an end to the Islamisation of Europe. Lo and behold, suddenly there are gangs of boot boys marching for the same cause.
    Oh, and the fascist BNP got more than a million votes in Britain in the most recent EU election.

  4. Paper tears at the fold but there’s no separation from one image or another. The divisive forces between races aren’t created by differences in skin colour or faith but by tears through the social fabric caused by Capitalism itself. The fundamentalist credo of Competition will only breed an every-man-for-himself, dog-eat-dog society. Fascism is a pathetic fear response, looking for control in destabilised times — a puerile daydream that things were better before races got mixed. If there were only white protestants in England, or here, there’d be other folds for these schisms to split along. We continue to socially evolve through education, social responsibility and energetic participation. Fascist barbarians, ‘intellectual’ or otherwise, will always be part of the picture. We continue to move towards an image that does not fold or tear because the future is not made of money. We’ll find a new currency of cooperation. Until then we will trade in ideas like human decency and cultural respect.

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