ADC continues the battle against on line hate

April 10, 2013 by Geoffrey Zygier
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The B’nai B’rith Anti-Defamation Commission has commented on fresh media allegations of growing racism in Australia.

Dvir Abramovich

Dvir Abramovich

Chairman Dr Dvir Abramovich said: “In recent weeks there have numerous media pronouncements about the prevalence of racism in Australian society. Prominent amongst these were articles by Fairfax columnists Waleed Aly and Tim Soutphommasane.”

While levels of racism, both actual and comparative, are debatable, it is clear that societies in flux such as Australia are vulnerable to the stress of change, a manifestation of which may be racism.

There have been a number of recent examples of racist assaults that have received wide publicity including hate-filled rants on public transport in Melbourne and Sydney. And while these were extremely distressing for the victims, what was perhaps even more so was the passivity of other passengers.

I recently have spoken out against the use of social media, Facebook in particular, to propagate hatred of those who are not like ‘us’. Pernicious though the use of media to defame may be, this pales in comparison to the face to face abuse of others. This invasion of one’s personal space by hateful invective is both very frightening and humiliating.

According to Tim Soutphommasane (Racism is like a cockroach of civilised society, The Age 8/4), racism’s real harm is that it allows people “to believe they are empowered to harass, belittle and intimidate others”. Mr Soutphommasane must have grown up in a very lucky country to hold this remarkably benign view of its effects.

Quite simply the truly evil effect of racism is that it allows and excuses the genocide of those who look or think differently to ‘us’. Hence I would differ with Mr Soutphommasane’s argument that it is not obligatory “to put ourselves in harm’s way in solidarity with a fellow citizen or person in need”. When the stakes are as high as saving human lives, there are no excuses to be a bystander.”

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