Way back when I was a student semi-activist and used to care about stuff, I spent one Saturday afternoon going to a very interesting protest rally.
The story was, a small group of skinheads had organised a little march to promote hatred, racism, bad haircuts, leather appreciation and whatever else it was they stood for. Having got wind of this, a vast coalition of lefties, Trots, hippies, socialists, ferals and a couple of left-wing Zionist (it’s not a contradiction in terms) youth groups decided they’d show up in bigger numbers, thus demonstrating this sort of thing – having a non-left-wing opinion, freedom of speech, etc. – just wasn’t on.
I found it odd, as a representative of my campus Jew crew, to be on the same side of an issue as our local international socialists group, which was certainly a rare occurrence. At this protest, the infamous chief trot was conspicuously swinging about a hefty piece of two by four, just in case things got heavy. (I suspect he was rather hoping they would. A quick Google reveals he has since swapped carpentry for publishing and blogging.)
Things started out fairly innocuously. The 20-or-so skinheads stood there looking surly and waving their swastikas around while a thousand-odd mixed Marxists sang amusing songs and chants across the street. Then the mood got darker, the eggs started flying – from left to right, as it were – and the skinheads, with the help of the police, scarpered in an undignified fashion. A victory for the good people of Melbourne, huzzah!
‘What is the relevance of all this?’ you may be asking yourself.
Truth is, I thought of it last weekend after I met a 30-ish Jewish woman, a friend of a friend. We were having a riotous old time when, apropos of nothing I could work out, she started musing why it is Lebanese people in Australia are all poor, uneducated and violent. And when I objected to the racist stereotype, citing several examples from my own experience, she shot back “What are you, some kind of lefty or something?”
You will accuse me of hasty generalisation, of course, and of employing my own racist stereotype about Jews. But in my experience, which is considerable, views like this are not atypical of my brethren (and sorority). Which sadly leads me to wonder if I will ever make my parents happy given I am, quite obviously, some kind of lefty whose views put me at odds with the majority of my community. Maybe that Loewenstein bloke is on to something after all.