I attended a large anti-racism rally today in Sydney. It was an opportunity for people of various ethnic backgrounds, gender, sexual orientation, Jewish, white, black, Asian, Middle Eastern, indigenous and convict stock to stand proudly together and call for calm, understanding, tolerance and belief in multiculturalism.
For a news report, see here. For more photos, see here and here.
Around 3000 people gathered in Sydney's centre to hear various speakers - young and old, students and activists, white and dark - articulate how the recent mob violence in Sydney does not represent more than a small minority of Australians. We then wandered down to Belmore Park for a more relaxed gathering.
The state and federal government were blamed for stirring up racial divisions and the media was accused of benefiting from the fall-out. 2GB radio was particularly targeted and the baiting of presenter Alan Jones.
But racial tensions cannot be solely blamed on governments or the media. This is a much more complex issue and requires greater understanding between Australia's ethnic groups. The stereotyping must stop. And so must the calls to end multiculturalism, usually based on little more than preserving an antiquated and utopian view of Australian identity. All groups - including Lebanese youth and Howard's suburban "battlers" - need to realise that Australia's past is nothing to which we want to return.
Today was a celebration and a wake-up call. I was proud to be Australian.