Perera suggests that the killings raise questions about the extent to which white supremacist attitudes and views exist in Australia.
Perera is right to point out that the asylum seeker debate provides clear evidence that extreme zenophobia and incitement to violence against various racial groups, such as asylum seekers, lies just beneath the surface of Australian society. And she is also correct to point out that there is an unwillingness by the media and the wider society to serious analyse or debate the prescence of white supremacist attitides and views in Australian society.
The Australian media’s interest in the Colorado cinema massacre involved a degree of cultural distancing — only in the USA! — but the killing of the Wisconsin Sikhs requires more than complacency or sensationalism. Beyond asking the question could it happen here? it requires us to consider the extent to which hate networks, often as part of a transnational white supremacist movement, have gained ground in Australian public life during the last decade. What are the consequences and implications of their increased presence?
In Australia, the asylum seeker debate is the clearest instance of the prevalence of extreme xenophobic abuse and incitements to violence against those assumed to be migrants or refugees. A cursory trawl through any opinion website reveals how commonplace such sentiments are, but I have yet to see a serious analysis in the mainstream media of how transnational white supremacism registers in Australian life.
Is the challenge of understanding the increased prevalence of racist hatred in Australia part of the explanation for our reluctance to attend to the story of the Wisconsin Sikh massacre?
Or I am being too harsh in suggesting that the Sikh Temple massacre raises questions that are just too difficult and disturbing for Australian media to address?