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Men behaving badly.

The week's news at a glance.

Australian riots

There’s more than enough blame to go around, said Tony Parkinson in the Melbourne Age. The race riots that rocked Sydney this week weren’t the fault of the whites only, or the Lebanese only: The police, the media, the government, just about all of us are involved somehow. The ostensible cause was the mugging of two white lifeguards by a Lebanese gang, “seeking to rule by fear the streets of their adopted home.” Talk radio shows hammered away at the crime, whipping Sydneysiders into a frenzy of anger. A few days later, a “baying pack of drunken boofheads, susceptible to the worst excesses of phony patriotism,” descended on the beach and beat up any “Leb” they could find. Lebanese gangs then ratcheted up the violence by trashing suburban neighborhoods. Such bigotry—on both sides—is “un-Australian.”

Arrest them all, said the national newspaper The Australian in an editorial. The whites who claimed to be defending Australia need to be taught what this country really stands for. “It is not the Australian way to fight police for control of the streets. It is not the Australian way to hunt for victims.” Similarly, the Middle Eastern “thugs” who regularly threaten women on the beach must learn that their “violence and misogyny have no place in Australia.”

This problem goes deeper than race, said Bronwyn Winter in the Sydney Morning Herald. It goes to the very heart of Australian culture. We saw similar gang warfare in the 1960s, only it was white-on-white. Back then the gangs were the “rockers” versus the “surfies.” The surfies are still with us, but the rockers have now been replaced by “Lebs.” This gang mentality is merely “the extreme edge” of the “macho culture” that permeates Australia. “It is a culture where acting out violence is a rite of passage—it is how boys become men and individuals join the group.” Bullying others, especially women, is encouraged. It’ll take far more than a cultural outreach program to end this cycle.

Melbourne Herald Sun

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