08 January 2010
Hate Crime in Australia...
The murder of a 21-year-old Indian student, Nitin Garg, in a West Footscray park is a tragedy. The young man studying in Australia was on his way to work at a local Hungry Jacks when he was stabbed and killed. However, the murder is certainly testing the bilateral relationship between Australia and India, particularly so with the publication of the above cartoon.
The cartoon, published in Delhi's Mail Today, depicts an Australian police office in Ku Klux Klan garb. The suggestion being that Australian police are racist and not doing enough to solve the murder of Garg. The further suggestion is that Australia is a overtly racist country that is not only unwelcoming of foreigners but a country with a long history of racism towards the indigenous population (Australian Aborigines).
It is not like Australia is the only country in the world that has issues to deal with on the racism front or the treatment of its indigenous population. It is not all that difficult to find Australians who acknowledge as much. However, the majority of Australians are good people, welcoming, caring, understanding, and humble. There are those, though, that exhibit none of these redeeming features. The reality though is that this is true of all countries. India, for example, is not a place that is free from the scourge of racism or violence. The simple truth being that people who live in glass houses should not throw stones.
The murder of any person I find abhorrent. And, it is no different in this case.
However, to state that the murder of this young man was racially motivated is premature to say the least. It is premature because at this point in time there is not a suspect, at least not that is being publicly discussed. This murder may be a case of being in the wrong place at the wrong time. Yet, let the police do their job, and if it turns out that the crime is racially motivated, then that is something we as a community must address and deal with no matter what colour, religion, gender, or political persuasion we might have and irrespective of whether we be citizens, residents, tourists, or international students.
The cartoon is offensive. However, I personally do not feel that it goes beyond the line in the sand with respect to what constitutes free speech. The cartoonist is entitled to his opinion, which he has seemingly expressed through this cartoon. Nevertheless, offensive or not, the cold hard reality is that police still have a job to do, and that is everything that they can to find the young man's killer(s).
Perhaps rather than cartoons designed to inflame the situation further we should come together as a community and seek ways to address the concerns of racism and violence in our communities in constructive ways that will see us all creating a better community for our children and our children's children.