Monday, 31 August 2015

Bendigo Anti-Islam Anti-Mosque Rally - Saturday 29 August 2015 : Afterthoughts

The local fall-out following the extremists visit to #Bendigo on Saturday. Many of Bendigo's citizens need to consider...
Posted by Brigid O'Carroll Walsh on Sunday, 30 August 2015

Response to this post by Victoria Martin
Followed by Brigid's response to Victoria

    • Victoria Martin BBQ's are lovely..I am all for inclusive activities and diversity of tactics. But the lesson of history is very very clear.

      A BBQ will not stop fascism. The most effective tactic to undermine the rise of far right groups (and we are seeing this played
       out right now in Europe) is direct counter mobilization. That is having an effect in Germany..the UK, (check out what happened in Liverpool) Greece etc. 

      The BBQ should have been on a different date.Full support should have been given to the anti fascist protest. Or just stay home that day. But when full on fascists are marching in your streets to divide the response with something as ineffectual as a BBQ is tantamount to giving comfort & support to the enemy. Indeed it iis a proven strategy for dividing response and a known Labor technique for undermining the left.
      I think it is very disturbing when good people fail to learn the lessons of history ..and pay little or no attention to contemporary events that have a vital lesson to teach us about how to tackle the rise of the far right. 

      Even more disturbing when those actually fighting against these neo terrorists with effective and proven responses are characterised in a negative way for protesting as though the response to these hatriots is the same as the ideology and the acts of the hatriots themselves. 

      I challenge the BBQ crew to show me a single historical example of when a BBQ had a political effect..just one. I'm not saying never engage in such activities..but from a strategic perspective...they have pretty much zero impact. 

      I dont always like all the actions or chants that happen at a protest 

      But actual fascists brought hate to Bendigo. Direct confrontation with that might not be your preferred style of activism. But it is an insult to characterise the people who put their bodies on the street to respond to that hate as though they have done something wrong or inapropriate. 

      They havent. They defended freedom, justice, democracy equality, decency.
      The rest of had a .BBQ.
      Like · Reply · 3 · 3 hrs
      • Brigid O'Carroll Walsh

        The Social Alliance and their Red Flaggers did the anti-fascist bit. However, I was left to ask post the event what they had achieved. Police strategy won the day against both the United Patriots Front and the Socialist Alliance. As could be expected. The police are a professional well-trained paramilitary organisation. They managed their geography - the grid lay-out of Bendigo's streets - well. They kept both sides - who each had people prepared for violence - far apart. There is one thing that FILL THE SPACE WITH RESPECT: COMMUNITY BBQ BENDIGO has over the UPF and SA is that while there may have been local sympathisers with UPF and SA, the majority of their contingents went back to Melbourne at the end of the day. The Respect Community are locals. They were there at the weekend and will be today and... They are not going to give up. As well, these 'outsider' events reflect back to the people of Bendigo what can happen in their neighbourhood, how their own conversation has encouraged such groups. Over time, I believe the locals who preach respect will win the day. I believe their linkages are strong and growing within the community. I live in Ballarat. We had no difficulty here with the building of our mosque. Reclaim Australia came to Ballarat trying to stir trouble and they did not succeed. We have had an Interfaith Network operating for over a decade in Ballarat and it has forged some deep community llinkages - including with the small Islamic community here. Our City Council likewise has deep linkages and sponsors a huge diversity event every year where a whole street is closed off and given over to a carnival-like event. Reclaim Australia got press coverage on their visit to Ballarat. The Islamic Council issued their own press release as did Ballarat Interfaith Network. Each of these was published in the Ballarat Courier. We heard no more from Reclaim Australia. The mosque has been completed. Lots of people explored it before it was completely finished. It has been well-received. I think community friendships and linkages forged in the good times long before trouble rears its ugly head are the best insurance policy. This has turned out to be valuable in Ballarat and I believe that Bendigo can follow that path too. Ballarat has had some interfaith co-operation but until this controversy began it did not have a strong and specific interfaith organisation. It now does. I pray for its success in forming friendships and constructive linkages. The Interfaith Movement in Victoria is widespread and strong. We come together each November in Melbourne. Interfaith activities are not everyone's cup of tea - but the interfaith networks work closely with their local councils and communities and provide and perform valuable community service.

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