All that is needed for evil to triumph . . .

[Note : with grateful acknowledgment to Mr Edmund Burke ]

THE NICE thing about keeping a blog is that it also serves as a sort-of diary, about your rants and raves, thoughtful and thoughtless musings.  You may or  may not be politically correct, socially conscious or morally upright at all times, and at the time you put pen to electronic paper, it’s not a deliberate thing, trying to be PC, a bleeding heart or a beacon in the moral wilderness, but things tend to be said, and remembered.

Like I said, I’ve always been more or less yacky chirpy and flighty, sometimes all of the above at the same time, and the end result is a blog posted, but I used to do it on our high school batch Yahoo!group page, and unfortunately my high school batchmates were unwilling sounding boards of whatever wacky thought-processes happened to clutter my neural paths and brain-cell boulevards.

But on one of those Yahoogroup blogs, I did note down that I was running around the block near Meadowbank, Auckland three years ago when a car sped past and the driver threw a tape cartridge at me, not intending to injure but certainly wanting to catch my Asian attention.  I picked up said tape cartridge, and it was an album of an unknown Taiwanese band.  Certainly no relevance to me, but the message was clear.  A little spittle of disrespect was hurled my way, no skin off my back, but quite unsettling, and almost surely from someone who didn’t like Asians in the neighborhood.  It didn’t matter that I wasn’t Taiwanese (although ethnically Taiwanese and Chinese are the same, and I’m part-Chinese), it was like a megaphone shouted in my face : just so you haven’t been made aware, you’re the visiting minority here, and don’t you forget it for one single minute.

Multiply the viciousness of that incident around a hundredfold, and you get an idea of what happened in Sydney Australia yesterday, and while it may be race-specific, the act I mean, it bodes forbidding consequences for all Asians and migrants like you and me.

I hope you either read the newsclip or viewed the YouTube clip above, or even better did both, but even if you didn’t, I can tell you that whether or not the alleged criminal youths originally intended it, the act degenerated into a hate crime, against Asians and more specifically Chinese as a group.

Equally if not more alarming were the “environmental” facts around the incident, of the Chinese being assaulted and robbed.  One of the youths remarked that the group should focus their criminal acts on the Chinese because “they (usually) have money,” and that no one came to help the Chinese man defend himself.

It’s very unfortunate, but the acts of a very few people in civil society, when it is directed against a specific racial / demographic group, tend to incite fear, defensiveness and retaliation as well as other emotional responses in the group of the member attacked, and the group of the instigators.  Ironically, both groups end up getting defensive.

First of all, it creates the general feeling that there is a concerted feeling of ill will against a specific race or racial group.  Whether or not this is true, the fact is those youths believed that certain groups of people, particularly the Chinese, are better targets for criminal activity, not the least because they (allegedly) tend to have more money on their persons.

Second, the unfortunate consequence of the Chinese man receiving no aid from anyone else on the train creates the spontaneous (on my part) impression that (1) the bystanders were too afraid for their own safety to intervene, (2) they didn’t care enough to help their co-passenger, or (3) they didn’t think the Chinese man, maybe because of his Chineseness, deserved any help.

If guesses (1) and (2) were true, the Sydney commuting public and Australians in general have a lot to think about.  If guess (3) turns out to be true, then all migrants in Australia, and maybe New Zealand, and come to think of it, the rest of the world, have a whole lot more to think about.

***               ***          ***

It’s become a jaded observation in one PC-uptight country that a child-rapist murderer might get early parole if he plays his cards right, but not someone who makes the mistake of hurling racist epithets in public and has the misfortune of having his racist deeds magnified in media.  In short, crimes against race sensitivity have become so odious that they have acquired a stigma above all other crimes, sometimes at the expense of commonsense, like the Zimmerman-Trayvon Martin case capturing national attention beyond imagination.

But there is a reason for this, because racial sensitivity and understanding underpins the relationships of whole communities in societies and in fact between societies and civilizations themselves.  Being a member of good standing in the community of nations requires a basic understanding and acceptance that all races and cultures need to live and co-exist alongside each other.

If something like this can happen in First World, cosmopolitan Sydney Australia, a bulwark of the multi-racial 21st century global village, it could happen anywhere.

And that, my friend, is not good for you and me.

Thanks for reading!

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