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Racist dog whistling

Written By: - Date published: 9:24 am, January 14th, 2018 - 64 comments
Categories: Africa, australian politics, Donald Trump, International, us politics - Tags: ,

We may think that we now live in more enlightened times where the scourge of racism is finally being dealt to and racist behaviour by politicians is no longer considered acceptable.

But recent events suggest to me that racist memes are still being used by the calculating to stir up political support from the bewildered.

Admittedly it is not as bad as previous embodiments of racist activity. People are not regularly being killed or their houses or churches burned, at least by the politicians saying these things.  But there are an awful lot of people out there that seem to get fired up by this sort of stimulation …

A classic example of race baiting has occurred recently in Australia.  Victoria, which currently has a State Labor government, has an election later on in the year.  Clearly the Liberals would love to win back power.  So the Turnbull Government has made a big thing about gangs of young Africans causing problems in Melbourne and how Melbournians are afraid to go out at night.  Peter Dutton, whose level of odiousness almost matches that of Trump, has front footed the attack.  And things have been egged on by Rupert Murdoch owned papers.

Dutton chose to use the right wing playbook.  He attacked the Andrews Government for appointing “weak” judges and suggested that the non existing law and order problem was all because of liberals (small l).

As an example a couple of days ago he said this:

There is a problem with some of the judges and magistrates [Premier] Daniel Andrews has appointed and some of the bail decisions that have been made, been criticised even by Daniel Andrews’ own ministers,” Mr Dutton told Adelaide radio yesterday.

“It is not a problem in Adelaide, not in Brisbane, not in Sydney. It’s a problem concentrated in Victoria.”

The Guardian has provided this background:

Victoria is having a debate about gangs. Specifically, it is debating whether it is appropriate to call groups of young people who are predominantly from African backgrounds a “gang” and, so named, what should be done about it.

It’s also having a debate about race, which is being waged in the comment sections of front-page articles on gang violence, and on social media, where comments like “stop immigration until this mess is sorted” populate Victoria police’s official Facebook page.

Both debates are linked to a perceived increase in large-scale violent offences committed by young people of African appearance, most of whom have been linked to Melbourne’s Sudanese migrant community.

Media coverage of the issue, led by the News Corp tabloid the Herald Sun, has dubbed Victoria “a state of fear” and reported that it could undermine the incumbent Labor government’s chances in the November state election.

On Monday the prime minister weighed in, saying at a press conference in Sydney that “growing gang violence and lawlessness in Victoria” was “a failure of the Andrews government”.

However, police say that crime from African “street gangs” is an ongoing, not growing, problem, and also that calling these groups “gangs” might be overstating the issue.

The Murdoch media have been complicit in what has happened and embarrassingly for them were caught out trying to create an incident involving Sudanese youth so they could report it.  From the Guardian:

A scuffle described by the media last week as “the latest gang flare-up” involving African teenagers was in fact entirely provoked by the journalists who reported it, according to Victoria police.

The article, published by the Daily Mail on 3 January, was billed as an exclusive and headlined “Police SPAT ON and abused as officers arrest African teenagers outside a shopping centre in Melbourne’s west in broad daylight – in latest gang flare up”.

According to Victoria police, there was no “gang” involved and no “flare-up” until the aggressive behaviour of the Daily Mail photographer provoked a group of teenagers who were innocently socialising at the shopping centre.

Two days after the article was published, the Victoria police executive director of media and corporate communications, Merita Tabain, wrote a confidential email to the editors of Melbourne’s main media outlets expressing concern that aggressive behaviour by journalists might “exacerbate the current tensions”. She gave the incident at the Tarneit Central shopping centre as an example.

Tabain wrote that the incident had been provoked by the photographer’s decision to “move in to take closeup photos of a group of African teenagers socialising”.

Is there an actual problem?  Sudanese offending is believed to comprise 1.5% of total offending.  Although this is bigger than the actual proportion of the Sudanese community of the total population the overall amount is small.

Is there evidence of a recent spike of offending?

The Guardian article mentions three incidents, a brawl at the St Kilda McDonald’s on 13 December; the trashing of an Airbnb property after a wild party in Werribee on 18 December; and the assault of a police officer who was kicked and surrounded by a group of young people when questioning a suspected shoplifter.  In a big city, Melbourne has over 4.5 million people, these sorts of incidents are hardly unheard of especially parties where property is trashed.

And socio economic reasons may be the cause for any spike in offending.  A disproportionate number of Sudanese youth are unemployed, the Sudanese community has a much younger average age, are generally poorer and suffer from an enhanced lack of engagement in work and school.  These factors may explain the enhanced level of Sudanese involvement in reported crime.  But the claim of out of control Sudanese youth gangs is, in the words of Victoria Chief of Police Graeme Ashton complete and utter garbage.

So the overwhelming effect I get from the allegations is “Meh”.  But this has not stopped the idiots from sparking up.


Can I recommend that you go to the #AfricanGangs hashtag on twitter. The tweets are almost overwhelmingly a celebration of Africans living in Australia who are achieving great things, just like the early settlers of other cultures moving to a foreign nation.

And I can’t help but wonder if the activity is timed to coincide with the first anniversary of the Bourke Street incident where six people were killed after Dimitrious Gargasoulas allegedly intentionally drove into them. Gargasoulas was Australian born of Greek Tongan descent who had been granted bail a few days earlier after an allegation of speeding and failing to stop. From the Wikipedia description he was clearly unwell. But mix in race and a cry for law and order and a claim that the judiciary are soft and time it so it will be topical just before the anniversary of a really sad event. Does Peter Dutton have no depth that he will sink to?

But just when you thought that no politician could sink lower than Dutton Donald Trump describes most of the developing countries as Shithole.  Put aside his misogynist views, his lack of understanding, his overt belligerence, his anti environmental crusade, his attack on the poor and support for the rich and the threat he poses to world peace these comments should result in his removal from office.  In a properly functioning democracy …

But this is a weakness of the democratic system.  Pedalling lies and threatening racial tolerance for political gain should result in automatic failure, every time.  That it does not, and that it is seen to be a legitimate political tool by the right means that we have a problem.

64 comments on “Racist dog whistling”

  1. Anne 1

    These contemptible human beings (they are not worthy of being called people) are being emboldened all around the world by this “shithole”, Donald Trump.

    Decades ago my late Dad used to say… when America starts to go downhill, they’ll take the rest of us down with them. And that is exactly what is happening.

  2. Shona 2

    My daughter had a knife held to her throat and was threatened with death while a Sudanese 16 year old youth groped her in Central Melbourne during daylight work hours, while she was carrying our her job. i have NO SYMPATHY for these assholes. The aggression against the Sudanese is because of their fucked up religious views of women amongst other things. An no those views are not to be tolerated in a modern society.They do not give a rats arse about western values. And no Australia and NZ do not need these fucking people . Now out will come all the dearly deluded members of NZ’s oh so tolerant left telling me what a racist I am. I am an atheist and an old fashioned working class feminist . Fuck these people we don’t need em!

    • BM 2.1

      Well said Shona.

    • Carolyn_Nth 2.2

      That sounds like an awful experience for your daughter.

      I know other women have experienced such behaviour by men from other ethnic groups, including pakeha/white/European men, etc.

      The stats reported in the post do indicate that a very small percentage of overall offending is carried out by Sudanese young people in Melbourne.

      • mpledger 2.2.1

        The Sudenese in Australia are generally young, sometimes with parents but very few grandparents. It’s not surprising that their crime rate is high because the young are more likely to be in trouble with the law. On top of that, many are refugees that have had horrific experiences in country to country war and in civil war that has left them troubled.

        FWIW I thought this show was pretty enlightening plus it has Melanie Lynskey in it.

    • mickysavage 2.3

      Accepting what you say at face value do you accept Shona there are assholes in all cultures and to concentrate on the ethnic background of an attacker distorts the picture? After all Australians are the largest group of people involve in Australian crime followed by kiwis …

      • Sanctuary 2.3.1

        The problem is one of what your expectations of migrants are once they arrive.

        Until the 1970s migrants mostly arrived by ship and had little to no expectation of return to or regular contact with their native countries and cultures. Since the advent of cheap passengers flights and the internet, immigrants can form self-imposed ghettos of permanent first-generation migrants, Somali or Sudanese or whatever who never integrate and indeed, are told by white-guilt liberals they have every right to continue living just like they did in their shithole wasteland Sudan in nice, verdant Sandringham, or whatever.

        When you have a self-imposed ghetto full of people whose antediluvian religious views (and I don’t give a shit if they are ultra-orthodox Jews who won’t pay tax or slut-shaming Amish who beat their children or misogynistic Muslims from Sudan) are in direct conflict with the values and social mores of their host society you are going to get serious problems. Nation states are historically meant to be heavily racially homogeneous groups with a shared culture and even a cursory glance at history shows what a terrible job they do at being multi-racial and multi-cultural (Just ask an Austro-Hungarian, or a Yugoslav, or a Transylvanian or a Czech or a Hutu…).

        We spend a large amount of time condemning colonialism for creating unstable African nations containing religious and ethnic groups who hate each other, yet somehow we think it is bad to say to migrants from countries with polar opposite cultural and social views they must conform to and assimilate our values or be deported/barred from ever coming here. It is an exercise in liberal schizophrenia that is tearing societies apart, not making new migrants welcome.

        • One Anonymous Bloke

          I expect them to behave like human beings. After all, that’s what the racists are doing.

    • Anne 2.4

      Shona, that was a shocking thing to happen to your daughter. You have a right to be angry and bitter. In your shoes, I would want them cut up into bits and fed to the pigs. But I don’t think mickysavage was referring to such human animals. His concern – and mine – is related to institutionalised racism for political gain as practiced by Donald Trump… and being copied elsewhere in the world.The last time that happened in the 1930s and 1940s millions lost their loves.

      • greywarshark 2.4.1

        If the post is about the overall behaviour of certain people, one or a few anecdotes indicate that they have some people in their group who will commit good, or bad things, violence, fraud etc. But the individual anecdote has a place at the side of the main analysis, not taken as a central point, otherwise there is no overview and no tentative judgment can be made.

    • Gristle 2.5

      A cousin of mine was raped at knife point in the South of USA by a couple of whites.

      Am I now meant to think that all white Americans are like that due to their race, nationality, religion? I mean look at the fundamentalist, racist, sexists, class hating people in the USA. (And that includes so many in power.)

      “Fuck these people we don’t need them(?)”

    • fender 2.6

      And my son was stabbed fourteen times by a NZ born white crohn’s disease sufferer who was unemployed and is now in jail. I’m unaware of any religious or misogynist views held by this asshole but obviously he’s from a group that is also not needed in this country (using your logic).

    • RC 2.7

      Agreed it is why i don’t consider myself part of the modern left anymore and if the standard are going to start bleating on like the rest then i will cut them out of my news cycle.

      • One Anonymous Bloke 2.7.1

        Will you be ok, snowflake?

      • mickysavage 2.7.2

        Why do you say that RC?

        The post acknowledges offending but opposes the racist dog whistle being used by the right because it is not backed up by reality.

        • RC

          Because as always diversity hits the working class the hardest and its not just the “white” working class complaining. Local aborigines say the Sudanese young are behaving like ingrates turning their community into the same kind of place they fled from yet no one seems to even care what they have to say.

    • OncewasTim 2.8

      My daughter is regularly harassed, and even ‘touched up’ whilst heading home to her apartment off Cuba St. Usually by bar patrons-supposedly drinking in a sophisticated kind of way….’cos ya know-they really can handle their piss.
      They’re predominantly white males-and usually fugly specimens at that.
      Just as well that because of surf lifesaving and rowing, she is capable of totally flooring most of them.

      • One Anonymous Bloke 2.8.1

        “Flooring people” is harder than it sounds, and without training she might break her hand.

        Far better to develop some innate abilities through practice and diligence, like any other sport. There are great Wing Chun and Taijiquan teachers in Wellington. Not some “self-defense” class, either: seek out a master.

  3. Ad 3

    On the one hand we have Bill writing “You cowed?” decrying the unwillingness of citizens to protect each other.

    On the other hand we have Mickey saying that we should worry more about the media framing and the reactions when violence goes down on the street.

    May not be huge but it’s a dangerous gang that needs eradicating:


    I have no time for Peter Dutton and his ilk, but New Zealand citizens put in the same situation should support their own communities and support the Police. There’s a few towns in New Zealand that for example are dominated by crime and it’s really hard to organize against them. That would be whether they were immigrants or not.

    • red-blooded 3.1

      Ad, the story you linked to is for members only. What was it about?

      I do have a bit of a problem with your suggestion that people should involve themselves in direct action to support each other and the police. While in some circumstances this might be justified, the fact is that it’s easy to misjudge the dynamics of an event, especially if you only witness part of it or hear one side of it, and especially if the wider framing includes media demonising or dehumanising of one group of people while consistently portraying another group as victims. The people who assume that any group young people who are of African descent is a “gang”, for example, could easily intervene based on this assumption and actually be part of the problem. There’s a fine line between this kind of citizens’ direct action and vigilantism.

  4. Korero Pono 4

    “Pedalling lies and threatening racial tolerance for political gain should result in automatic failure, every time. That it does not, and that it is seen to be a legitimate political tool by the right means that we have a problem”

    This type of Intolerance extends beyond racism to target various groups (generally poor people) – and in my view is designed to create division within populations – because while we’re hating each other, the Trumps of the world and our political leaders get to do what they will and we all get to forget who is causing the problems and blame each other instead.

    Sadly in New Zealand “pedalling lies” is a tool that has been used by the right and left for decades – And actually I fail to see who the ‘left’ actually are these days, they’re much of a sameness and all implicated in promoting lies to justify and force harmful policy on disadvantaged groups – usually poor and brown people – maybe we overlook racism in our own backyard too?

  5. One Anonymous Bloke 5

    Australia has a problem. The same one New Zealand does: racists. We need to get into their homes and communities, identify the instigators, and get them out of Parliament.

    Start with anyone who bleats about political correctness. It’s simple code that means: “I am a racist.”

    • That sounds like you would use any lame excuse to label someone a racist.

      Intolerance of and attacks on people with different views to your own can be as dirty as any racist (who typically are intolerant and attack or ostracise people they don’t like).

      • One Anonymous Bloke 5.1.1

        It seems as though you would use any lame excuse.

        Stay away from negative people. They have a problem for every solution.

        Albert Einstein.

      • McFlock 5.1.2


        People’s views go to their character as human beings, and if contemptible justify contempt, and if Nazi then any “attack” is pre-emptive self defense.

        People’s ethnicity has nothing to do with their character. Did you not know that, Pete?

    • The Fairy Godmother 5.2

      I agree with you about pc. I interpret it as polite and considerate and on the odd occasion have asked people if they prefer to be rude.

      • JanM 5.2.1

        I so agree. I get very beady eyed about people who start bleating about society being ‘too pc’. They seem to me to have the pip because their favourite sexist/racist/etc meme which they have used to justify rotten behaviour has come under the spotlight and has been identified and described for what it is

        • Pete George

          To an extent but I think you’re over-generalising.

          Confronting sexist/racist/whateverist language is important, but there’s also a danger of oversanitising language, and shutting down reasonable discussion using -ists as justification.

          And there’s also a problem with being oversensitive to common and fairly harmless language as highlighted here: Hosking’s outburst deemed not offensive

          I think the BSA was right to dismiss the complaints for Hosking saying ‘for God’s sake’ (during an election debate), and for someone else saying ‘for Christ’s sake’.

        • North

          Beautifully said Fairy Godmother and JanM above !
          For a long time now I’ve thought that anti-PC is in reality the new PC……subscribed to by ignorant/lazy pricks as a distraction from their shame about their manifest inadequacies.

  6. greywarshark 6

    How could we think that racism was vanishing. We live in a culture of neo liberalism that has brought back classism, raised materialism above religion and consciousness of others worth, and the need to serve one another for their benefit, mutual benefit and the good of the whole community. It has wiped away equality-oriented policies and thoughts, replacing them with competitiveness. Push yourself, advocate for yourself and your superiority over all others. This link shows the epitome of the modern
    educated go-ahead person focussed on business advantage, they have no time for consideration of real life and racism and how others are being treated. (Everybusinessvideoever)

    You want to get more than you have? Get to and use other people around you or far; stand on their shoulders if need be. Don’t bother about gratitude or reciprocation for good acts.

    Neo lib teaches the simple psychology, as a tenet of its beliefs, that everyone does something to satisfy themselves, some innate urge. So no need to consider others, they are all following their own path in life. Concentrate on yourself, use your advantages, slide into line before others in the queue – say, hey look over there – and get in. Leave the others standing, if they have problems because of race, that gives you an advantage, seize it. /sarc

  7. Does Peter Dutton have no depth that he will sink to?

    Apparently not but we shouldn’t be surprised by the actions of this RWNJ. It’s pretty much their MO as we learned here from Dirty Politics.

    Pedalling lies and threatening racial tolerance for political gain should result in automatic failure, every time. That it does not, and that it is seen to be a legitimate political tool by the right means that we have a problem.

    It should do but our system has been designed from the top to protect those at the top.

    • eco maori 7.1

      +1000 Draco T Bastard the system have been designed by the top to protect the top and that has to change. I still say that the word race should be wiped from our minds books and Computers and we use culture instead to identify all the beautiful unique people on Papatuanukue. I readed work from good writers and the use culture instead of race its the Ass holes of the World that use race to divide US the 99% of the world so they can carry on ripping US off. Ka kite ano

  8. alwyn 8

    It’s pleasing that we don’t have any racist slurs flung around by our MPs.
    Imagine if we had someone like the bigot mentioned in this story, who claimed that housing in his country was being all bought up by Chinese who weren’t residents.
    His method of deciding they were Chinese was that the had “Chinese sounding names”.
    Lucky that none of our New Zealand MPs are like that isn’t it?

    • One Anonymous Bloke 8.1

      I doubt he’ll make party leader. Unlike Don Brash, John Banks, and
      John Key.

    • joe90 8.2

      Lockie ‘small hands’ Smith, Melissa ‘crims will drive Lee, Paul ‘you’re Indian’ Goldsmith……

    • That wasn’t racist in any way. Just the data available and data simply isn’t racist.

    • Stuart Munro 8.4

      Meh – both Australia and Canada have found significant impacts from Chinese buyers on their housing markets. We have increasing numbers of Chinese speaking real estate agents, and Chinese language real estate adverts. NZ real estate companies are now advertising in China, Taiwan, and Singapore. No controls on foreign buyers are in evidence.

      Given these indicators it would be frankly extraordinary if the NZ market were not feeling the impact of a rise in Chinese buying. But by all means repeat the Gnat attack meme – their sudden false concern about racism certainly trumps ordinary NZer’s legitimate expectations of housing availability.

  9. Ad 9

    I think I’m going to generate a post about why OECD-country conservative movements are crushing the left with immigration policies and immigration discourse, and what if anything the left can do about it. Just needs an NZ immigration policy announcement to hang it off.

    • OncewasTim 9.1

      I’m waiting for it Ad. Recall also my comment on the Jim Anderton post re MoBIE.
      I hope and pray for a better approach, and so far the signs are looking slightly better.

    • …and what if anything the left can do about it.

      That’ll be the tricky part, because the typical left-wing response to people unhappy about mass immigration from completely foreign cultures is “Your bigotry is unacceptable.” The accused bigots then vote for people not declaring them to be bigots. I’m detecting a Gordian knot here…

  10. eco maori 10

    So why aren’t there any good stats on whom was buying house in Auckland. Buying and selling houses in NZ is easy money. Iv seen a house brought and sold 3 times in 12 months with everyone getting a mark up. Why are there no stats on this subject well national was covering this up. It is not wise to let the foreigns buy up all OUR Assets. 15 years ago I read a article that pridicted New Zealand would become the Dairy farm of the world and The holiday home for the rich and famous .lf New Zealand became the holiday home for the rich and famous most of the people will be put on the bread line as everything will become to expensive for the 99% I say foreign should only be able to lease land. And can only buy land after being a resident for 10 years Ka kite ano

  11. Tanz 11

    Totally agree with Shona. New Zealand should be for New Zealanders, not refugees from the world’s many shithole dumps. National lost votes because of their daft mass immigration policy (including mine), and Labour and co will do so also, if they insist on importing masses from all and sundry. FFS, we have an almost country wide housing crisis, huge unemployment, groaning cities, crowded schools and resources, but we want to bring in more and more? National didn’t listen and Labour won’t ever. Tone deaf when it comes to what kiwis want. No Islam here, pulease. Multi cultural simply means loss of our way of life, and death by one thousand cuts. Our pollies are UN sellouts, both sides, including Winnie.

    • One Anonymous Bloke 11.1

      He aha te mea nui o te ao?

      Islam is an idea, which has been here for as long as Europeans have (if not before).

      The first Muslims in New Zealand were an Indian family who settled in Cashmere, Christchurch, in the 1850s


      You’re a bigot because you’re stupid and ignorant, but not all stupid ignorant people are bigots.

      PS: I don’t want your slavish vile child-abusing Christianity here.

    • Ed 11.2

      Who did you vote for?
      I was convinced from previous posts you were a strong Nat fan.

    • New Zealand should be for New Zealanders, not refugees from the world’s many shithole dumps.

      One could argue that a few hundred years ago it was, but that horse has long since bolted. Racists wouldn’t argue that, though, because racism.

    • McFlock 11.4

      Multi cultural simply means loss of our way of life, and death by one thousand cuts.

      [my italics]

      Idiot is incapable of complaining about multiculturalism in NZ without using East Asian cultural references.

      Looks a bit like iron.

    • mac1 11.5

      In the 1870s recent immigrants were criticised by those who been original European immigrants from the 1840s and 1850s now living in North Canterbury. They were described as ‘sweepings from the gutters of European cities.” My ancestor was one of these. He stood up in a public meeting in Loburn and defended these people saying he was one of them. He was chaired from the meeting.

      Documented history. I am so proud of this ancestor. A son of his was a champion dog-trialist, a grandson of his was a great wartime hero, another grandson a Shield winning Rugby coach, and so on, and so on. Descendants of one who had to borrow the money to emigrate away from the unemployment of 1860/70s rural England.

      As the Statue of Liberty says, “Your huddled masses, yearning to breathe free, The wretched refuse of your teeming shore, Send these, the homeless, tempest tost to me, I lift my lamp beside the golden door.”

      His descendants married into families of English, Irish, Scottish, Indian, Japanese, Maori descent. Canterbury always was a little mono-cultural…………

      Tanz, you were out-of-date and indeed plain wrong, even 150 years ago.

    • greywarshark 11.6

      NZ IS a shit-hol dump for many people and you Tanz with your skewed attitudes are an enabler of this. Anyone who is for the present economic practices at present in NZ, must take responsibility for helping bring this about. The fact that you and all the other RWs and fellow travellers of National won’t take responsibility is a sad observation that lefties must take on board.

      Labour must ameliorate the conditions but wouldn’t be able to change them greatly in three years. One of the things they need to do is to try and limit immigration of rich foreigners to this country by ensuring that money invested here has taxed profits, and that investments made here are not just on land and buildings to absentee landlords.

      Controlling immigration should also include NZ companies and the government not allowing the poor people from overseas shitholes to be fleeced by either their own people who have set up business in hypocritical, lying NZ presenting itself as a great and good country, but with a dark underbelly of sharp practices, or actually fleeced by NZ government and NZ business.

      If you could bring yourself to actually think around and behind the problems you see Tanz rather than take soapbox stands shouting out your pre-programmed messages it would be worth your time to write here and ours to read what you have to say.

  12. Puckish Rogue 12

    Racist is a term that should be considered carefully before being bandied about:


  13. Siobhan 13

    “People are not regularly being killed…”


    Given the Police are overseen by Politicians, then to my mind, people are being killed on a racist basis by their elected leaders.

    Meantime in NZ we know that Maori are more at risk of something going wrong in their treatment in hospital than non-Maori


    • Puckish Rogue 13.1


      But when it came to shooting the suspects, police officers were more likely to fire without having first been attacked if the suspects were white. Additionally, the study learned that black and white civilians in the shootings were equally likely to be carrying a weapon.

      And while zeroing in on the police department in Houston to get a more detailed picture, Mr. Fryer found that in situations of justifiable use of force, when, for instance, the officer is being attacked by the suspect, officers were 20% less likely to shoot at a black suspect. Accounting for other control factors in tense situations, Mr. Fryer saw similar results that there was either no difference between how blacks and whites were treated or that blacks were less likely to be shot.

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