Face of Hatred

Attention is at last being given to the ugly protesters who rally at One Nation launches.

Here is a transcript of a story on protesters at Dandenong by Miranda Devine from the Courier Mail on Saturday 12th July 1997:

It is no mistake that a copy of the Socialist Worker lay next to an unconscious 59-year-old man with blood trickling from his mouth after being beaten by protesters at an anti-Pauline Hanson rally this week.

Providence put it there for the world to see that the violent anarchy engulfing anti-Hanson rallies is not a spontaneous expression of anger from a disillusioned citizenry but a deliberate and well-organised campaign by people whose ultimate goal is to smash the capitalist system.

In Keith Warburton's case, they smashed (his) skull as he left Dandenong's One Nation meeting on Monday night.

He said he had gone to his first political meeting to see what Ipswich Independent MP Hanson was all about. As he was leaving, three men aged between 25 and 35 called him "racist" and "Nazi" and attacked him.

"I'm just an individual without political leanings," he said from Dandenong Hospital. "An attack like this is just not Australian, where we believe in freedom of speech."

Although police have yet to identify Warburton's assailants from photographs taken at the scene, it is clear they came from the ranks of 1500 anti-Hanson protesters who had whipped themselves into a fury and pelted those attending the One Nation meeting with eggs and bags of urine.

According to organisers of One Nation and the socialist youth organisation Resistance, three groups have been involved in stirring up strife at rallies. There is Resistance itself, which has about 600 members nationwide mostly on university campuses and is the youth arm of the Democratic Socialists or alternate web page. There is the small political party Militant, based in Melbourne. And there is the International Socialist Organisation, with about 300 members whose newspaper the Socialist Worker is handed out at anti-Hanson rallies and whose presses mass produce posters with slogans such as "Close down One Nation".

There are other groups too, such as Angry People, anarchists who love disruption. Umbrella group, Campaign Against Racism, was formed last year specifically to combat Hanson.

Ian Rintoul, spokesman for the International Socialist Organisation, says about 20% of the protesters at Dandenong on Monday or Canberra on Tuesday were members of organisations. The rest, he says, were people concerned about a rise in racism. "We don't condone individual vigilant acts against Hanson supporters," he says. "But we are for militant protests and mass action to close meetings down."

One Nation national director David Ettridge describes the bulk of the protesters as "rent-a-hooligans" who are bussed around to One Nation meetings. "There's no integrity to the protests. There's nothing accidental about it," he says. "They're trying to give the impression this is a spontaneous community reaction but they're just hoodlums looking for somewhere to be civilly disobedient. They blame successive governments from problems like youth unemployment and they've chosen to focus on us."

Peter Boyle, national spokesman for the Democratic Socialists, says there have been "differences of opinion" between anti-Hanson organisations over the escalation of violence.

"Our position is we're interested in peaceful protest. We're not interested in closing down the meetings, which is what others want. They're into revolution."

Among the protesters are peaceful people registering their disapproval of racism. But the images that endure of a man bleeding on the ground, of young faces contorted in ugly hate, screaming abuse and spitting at police.

It enhances Hanson's image as a besieged martyr fighting for free speech. After the violence at Dandenong, One Nation phones rang hot with new recruits, says Ettridge. Their message: "If that's what your opponents look like and behave like, we're on your side."

Other relevant links:

Labor's 5 Clicks to Anarchy - Left Link

Other extremist groups protesting but not identified in this report:

Debate between Militant and One Nation on Midday Show - 15th July
Green Left
New Labor Party (NLP)

See also:

The ALP thug files
Left Link and the Hawthorn protests - July 1998

Return to Pauline Hanson's One Nation launches