Public First Program


Shane Elson


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April 2007 # 2

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Back to Editorials 2007

Jones, Race and Class Interests

In December 2005 a bunch of un-named and as yet unidentified people, orchestrated the closest thing we in Australia have come to in a full on race riot. The cowards that organised the riots in Cronulla had the full backing of our ruling classes. They found not only support but endorsement that we now find stretches all the way through the media to the top levels of government and Her Majesty’s Opposition. 

Last week Sydney radio personality, who could otherwise be called a “colourful Sydney identity”, Alan Jones and his station, 2GB, were found by the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) to have “encouraged violence or brutality” and “broadcast a program which was likely to vilify people of Lebanese background and people of Middle Eastern background” and that the program “was not presented reasonably and in good faith”. In other words, Alan Jones broke the law. 

You might recall a young bloke called David Hicks. He has not been found guilty by any authority, court or legal jurisdiction. In fact when he pleaded guilty it was on the basis that no evidence need be presented to demonstrate that he was, in fact, guilty of anything. In short, he said ‘I’m guilty of crimes I cannot tell you about and which will never be investigated. Therefore I am a bad person and should be locked up for a period of time’. 

Our politicians said that David was a bad man long before he did. In fact they said he was “one of the worst of the worst”. When they could not find any evidence to prove their claims, they wore him down to the point he felt his only way out was to agree to plead guilty and condemn himself. 

You might also recall a bloke called Sheikh Taj al-Din al-Hilali. Last year he referred to women, who like to show off their midriffs, as “meat” who might expose themselves to attack. He was condemned by our leaders who said he was an “embarrassment” and that he should “decide if he wants to be an Australian” or not. The Sheikh has been dealt with by his community but not before the rulers of the land tore him to shreds, many of whom, one would assume, had never actually listened to what he said. Nonetheless they said he should go. 

However, when it comes to one of their own, our rulers stick together like poo to a nappy. Our so called Prime Minister, John Howard, came out and defended his mate Alan by saying his mate was an “outstanding broadcaster” He went further and said that Alan Jones  was not “a person who encourages prejudice in the Australian community”. John Howard is one of the best ‘dog whistlers’ in Australian politics. Wanting to ensure he got top points for supporting his mate, Howard went even further. He said Jones was “a person who articulates what a lot of people think”. 

Showing more and more that he is nothing short of Howard ‘lite’, Kevin Rudd, the man who wants to ‘run’ Australia, said that as far as he was concerned, “there’s nothing I've read at this stage that would cause me not to go on [Alan Jones’ show]”. Rudd, leader of Her Majesty’s Opposition, sees nothing wrong with consorting with someone who has been found guilty of racial vilification and inciting violence and brutality. Ah, these ruling class ideologues stick together don’t they? 

For Jones it was case of just being misunderstood. He went on air the day after the ruling came down and declared that not only were the ABC biased (watch out for a budget cut in May) but that anyone who claimed he was guilty was biased as well. After all, he declared, “anyone who knows me knows I’ve never encouraged violence or brutality in anything” and that he “regularly … urged people to allow the law to take its course”. This is, of course after he called Lebanese “scum” and said it would be “worth the price of admission” to invite biker gangs down to Cronulla and watch them beat the Lebs up.  He also said “that the only language the Middle Eastern youth understand is a good hiding … these Middle Eastern people must be treated with a big stick”. 

What I found interesting was that Jones’ long time “rival” John Laws (and let’s not forget both these men are poured from the same mould) said that “It’s very easy to pander to prejudice. Many of the most dangerous people the world has ever known did that.” Perhaps what Laws reveals is something we can quite often forget. That is, the ruling class may see eye to eye on many things but for just as many things they will scrape, fight and kill if necessary, to get their own way. Laws’ comments remind us that the ruling class is riven by jealously, rivalry and spite. Jones hates Laws and Laws hates Jones but both of them are mouthpieces for the ruling class. While Howard is a populist (and Rudd’s form indicates he is too) Laws and Jones are more than willing to promote his policies as long as their side of the ruling class is being enriched. 

Perhaps the most interesting thing in all this is that no-one in the media – and I mean media workers here – has shown any sign of having a moral compass. No single journalist employed by any of the major networks, newspapers or radio stations, including the ABC, has written, said or shown any sign that they believe there are wrongs and rights in this matter. Rather, hiding behind the fallacy of “objectivism” they allow the rulers to get away with saying and doing whatever they like. This is not journalism it is, as David Barsamian wrote, being nothing more than “stenographers of the powerful.” 

Hicks was never found guilty because no evidence was ever or will ever, be presented. He had to fall on his sword. Sheikh Taj al-Din al-Hilali said a few things that were right off the scale of good taste and his community has dealt with him. Jones encourages violence and brutality while vilifying Lebanese and our leaders line up to kiss his arse. Something is wrong here folks. Very wrong. 

Waleed Ali wrote in The Age that Jones and Howard need people like Hicks and the Sheikh so that they can retain their crowns as cultural warriors. Jones says, he represents the people on “struggle street” yet he has never been there. Howard, who says he is the “battler’s friend”, has never had to endure the privations he now forces on others in response to the demands of his bosses in the high street. Laws was right, the most dangerous people in Australia are those who not only vent their prejudice but also control the repressive state apparatus. Jones, Howard and the mainstream media are all part of that apparatus. 

The sad thing in all this is that the current state of affairs has been allowed to sneak up on us. We have, like the frog in the water, allowed the temperature to be turned up and so we are now beginning to boil to death. To boil in a pot of racism, hate and vigilantism. 

George Orwell wrote in 1984, “Who controls the past controls the future. Who controls the present controls the past”. Our present may be what it is but our future will be decided on the basis of what we decide to do now. 

I predict that Jones will get nothing more than a slap on the wrist from ACMA. How we respond to the lack of will from the ruling class to throw Jones out will be the legacy we leave those who come after us. The question is, do we really want to control the present? Or are we happy to allow the current ruling class and our mainstream media, to continue to get away with what they currently do?

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