Culture

The Herald Sun Has Dismissed 4,000 Indigenous Rights Protesters As A “Selfish Rabble”

The internet has responded in A+ style.

Yesterday, an estimated 800 people in Sydney and 4,000 in Melbourne took to the CBD to protest the closure of remote Indigenous communities. Unlike the controversial Reclaim Australia protest which turned violent last weekend, the larger crowd was entirely peaceful and filled the traditional Wurundjeri land outside Flinders Street Station with signs, banners, speeches and a smoking ceremony.

Though you may have been a little shocked if you were catching the tram home yesterday, all this has been a long time coming. Late last year, the federal government announced it would be making funding cuts and handing off responsibility for Indigenous communities to the state government; this in turn threatened the existence of around 150 Aboriginal communities in Western Australia and led to Tony Abbott’s infamous “lifestyle choices” comment which was promptly added to the mounting proof that he’s less a real Prime Minister and more a rejected skit show character that accidentally wandered into Canberra at the wrong time.

Smaller protests have been taking place all over the country in recent months, largely led by groups like SOS Blak Australia and Warriors of the Aboriginal Resistance, but yesterday’s was the largest action to date. Because of this, there were major delays to public transport and both St Kilda Road and Flinders Street were closed for a number of hours.

These efforts gained coverage from nearly every national media outlet as well as The New Zealand Herald, but not everyone covered it in the same way. SBS were criticised on social media for reporting there were hundreds of protesters instead of thousands, and The Herald Sun did exactly what you might expect.

The full article (which you can read here) largely focusses on the “nightmare commute” the protest caused and includes a quote from Lord Mayor Robert Doyle labelling the event “self-indulgent”. Though it does state the protesters were “chanting about indigenous rights” the piece doesn’t acknowledge what they were actually protesting until the second last paragraph.

Many supporters of the protest have been quick to point out a few other problems too.

Others on Twitter have instead focussed specifically on the strangely poetic phrase “selfish rabble”.

Oddly enough, it’s one which has graced the pages of The Hun before. In 2011, when the Occupy movement was in full force, they published a piece by Robert Doyle entitled ‘Selfish Rabble Got What It Deserved’ in which he calls protesters “self-righteous, narcissistic, [and] self-indulgent”.

Sos Blak Australia were quick to jump on the phrase this morning and give it a little more appropriate context.

Then everyone else jumped in and truly outdid themselves.

Success! The words “selfish rabble” make even less sense than they did before.