The curiosity amongst influential components of the Labor Get together and its affiliated media in assessing this info in a sober vogue was restricted.
Questions in regards to the extent to which Croatian nationalist targets had been in battle with Australian regulation, what Croatians nationalists really wished and whether or not there was any distinctive ideological extremism that wanted to be addressed – and what, if something, could possibly be achieved – weren’t even requested.
Croatians appeared to characterize the Proper-wing extremists that the Labor get together believed existed and thus had been to be weaponized in opposition to the federal government.
Croatians went from an unassuming a part of the post-war migration wave to the item of political ire. Inside months the Labor Get together had turned the problem of Croatian nationalism in Australia into ethnic-based assaults and evidence-free rhetoric.
Whitlam’s statements had been a few of the most egregious, however his political allies, together with Jim Cairns, future deputy Prime Minister, had been simply as enthusiastic. No matter legit inquiries may have been made into the character of Croatian nationalism in Australia had been now sullied by political partisanship.
The ascendant Whitlam and his political allies pushed Croatian Australians ever farther from the Labor Get together and ever nearer to the Liberal/Nation Get together authorities, which instantly decried Whitlam’s characterisation. However Whitlam by no means demurred from this path and continued to rhetorically goal Croatians.
All through the late Sixties and Nineteen Seventies, the Australian Left continued its marketing campaign of characterising Croatians as Fascists and terrorists, which the Australian Proper doggedly disputed.
While Labor additionally accused different Japanese and Southern European migrant teams of being right-wing extremists, one thing that Whitlam would later apply additionally to Vietnamese migrants, the Croatians obtained the harshest assault.
At this time the problem of Croatian nationalism has pale from the Australian public creativeness. However even after the top of the Chilly Conflict and disintegration of Yugoslavia, the legacy of what occurred within the Sixties stays.
Lately, Australian journalists like Hamish McDonald and Gerard Henderson have highlighted that the politicisation of Croatians had actual results. Court docket circumstances involving allegations of Croatian terrorism, such because the trial of the “Croatian Six” [six men jailed in 1981 over an alleged conspiracy to bomb targets in Sydney] proceed to be scrutinised as miscarriages of justice.
What occurred to Australia Croatians beginning within the Sixties is a reminder of how harmful and damaging politicising ethnic identities will be.
It supplies a cautionary story for Australian, and certainly for all policymakers. Discrediting ethnic identities as a method to hurt political rivals has long-term political and human penalties. Crossing the road from legit inquiries into the actions of Croatian nationalists in Australia to publicly decrying the Croatian ethnic id itself as an illegitimate, inherently extremist, ethnic identification created ache that lasted for many years.
Alexander Lee is a PhD candidate on the Australian Nationwide College’s Nationwide Safety Faculty. Twitter: @alex10lee
The opinions expressed are these of the writer and don’t essentially mirror the views of BIRN.