Isolated and angry?

“Isolated and angry” an apt descriptor of Far South Sydney’s 1insular white trash? Err, no it actually refers to residents of geographical middle Sydney.

Of course, The Australian‘s headline is meant to refer to cultural, rather than geographical isolation. But other than in respect of skin colour, how different are the residents of the two Federal electorates of Cook (which takes in Cronulla) and Watson (which takes in Lakemba)?

Academic James Jupp seems to think that they are strongly differentiated by levels of education, and therefore employment and income:

“The Lebanese have been left behind compared with other groups such as the Chinese, Vietnamese, Greeks and Jews,” says James Jupp, director of the Centre for Immigration & Multicultural Studies at the Australian National University. “Their level of education and therefore their level of employment and employability are lower than average … they are still in the classical ghetto situation. So there is a lot of resentment there: they haven’t done terribly well and they feel that they are not being treated like Australians and that they are being picked on.” (same URL)

What made Cronulla different was that those taking part were much better off, better educated and from more respectable homes than the miners who enforced White Australia more than a century ago.

To me, the 5000 or so white pride rioters on Sunday didn’t look like they had too many, if any, university degrees between them. And sure enough, the respective proportions of adults with post-secondary education aren’t strongly differentiated (the figure for Watson is 36%, which is about the national average, while Cook’s figure of 45% is left in the dust by the electorates of Melbourne (51% – but with a higher unemployment rate than that of Watson, BTW) and Sydney (60%).

So the residents of Cronulla are slightly more educated than those of Lakemba. What Jupp fails to account for is where this extra education was hiding on Sunday. Also missing from Jupp’s analysis is that the economic success of the “Chinese, Vietnamese, Greeks and Jews” compared to the Lebanese must logically also be observed in respect of Sydney’s Anglo-Celts (to use home ownership and tertiary education rates as two concrete measures here).

  1. pen[]
This entry was posted in Politics - national. Bookmark the permalink.
Notify of

Newest Most Voted
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments
2024 years ago

The important line in Academic James Jupp’s piece is
“It will not work unless public and private funds support ongoing research into real-life situations on the ground in areas of actual or potential conflict.”

The solution, obviously, is more money for his “Centre for Immigration and Multicultural Studies at the Australian National University”

2024 years ago

A problem with this sort of analysis is that at this stage we have no way of knowing how many of the 5 000 who descended on Cronulla on Sunday were actually locals. They could have come from anywhere in Sydney or even further afield.
I hope there is a full blown enquiry eg Royal Commission to explore how this riot came about, who instigated it and who was involved.

2024 years ago

Careful trawling through many blogs of people who were there, and talking to people from Cronulla, it appears that by the afternoon there were quite a few in that 5000 who had come from the far west and southwest of Sydney, from all over in fact.

The whole thing has interested me as I spent my first twenty-six years and more in Sutherland Shire, and taught at Cronulla High. I have relatives there still; one cousin married a Lebanese Muslim girl, and the families not only survived but learned much from each other.

There is a lot on my own blog about the recent events. I like James Jupp’s work, and am myself committed to pluralism and inclusiveness. I work now in an inner city school, but drawing on a much wider area, which is 84% language background other than English and have had many an interesting conversation with our Islamic Students’ Society members. It is true though that we have few (perhaps 20-30 out of 1,100) Middle Eastern students comparatively. On the other hand, one in three is of Chinese background. Most of the Muslim students are from India, Pakistan or Bangladesh, but we have had some notable students from Iraqi, Iranian, Egyptian and Turkish backgrounds.

I also have a school-related site:

James Farrell
James Farrell
2024 years ago

If education is an important factor in the riots, it’s good to have some data like this. But I don’t think Jupp is really arguing that the riot can be explained by the difference in education between the two groups of rioters. His argument is that the anglo brawlers feel under siege. If this is true, I’ll wager that the intensity of this anxiety is inversely proportional to years of schooling. And I suspect Jupp would agree. The Lebanese rioters may be resentful about their low educational achievements relative to the average, but no-one would seriously suggest that their rage was inspired by a sense of educational inferiority to their drunken surfie antagonists in particular. Indeed they probably recognise them as moral and intellectual equals.

The sentence that you quoted (about the Cronulla rioters being more educated than the miners etc.) doesn’t seem to have much relevance to Jupp’s argument as a whole. In fact it’s just confusing, and a good sub-editor would have suggested he drop it.

Andrew Leigh
2024 years ago


Andrew Leigh
2024 years ago

Whoops, I forgot you don’t allow HTML comments.


2024 years ago

“To me, the 5000 or so white pride rioters on Sunday”

Rob Corr once rightly pointed out that the occasional violence during peace protest did not represent the group as a hole.

Paul Watson
2024 years ago

James Farrell,

I agree that Jupp’s comparison of the Cronulla rioters to 19th C miners was a non-sequitur. I juxtaposed it against his thoughts on Lebanese-Australian demographics more to suggest his cultural blindness when it comes to negatively pigeon-holing his own White-Australian ethnic background.

I repeat that Lakemba is demographically middle-Australia. Also, in indirect rebuttal of Jupp’s views is this piece on, inter alia, the upward mobility of the poorest Lebanese-Australians:,5744,17594286%255E601,00.html

In contrast, the demographics of Cronulla’s White youth seem to be just assumed to be middle-Australia, or above, but I think that there has to be much more going on here.


I’m sure that not all the white pride rioters condoned everything that happened. But I’m yet to hear or see that a single one of any such moderates in the pack intervened against the hard-core. When only property is at stake, at worst (as at a typical “peace”/student rally), I don’t think that it is a legal and/or moral duty of the sober-minded co-participant to intervene against the hard-core, at possible personal risk to themselves. But when lives are on the line, to not intervene is to condone the murderous thugs.

2024 years ago

So you have proof all 5000 were white pride members and part of the riots then Paul.


[…] We’ve had a boomer bashing baby boomers. We have had a Generation X-er bashing boomers. And now we have Generation Y getting in on the act, with 25 year old former NUS activist Ryan Heath publishing his tastefully-titled tome, Please Just F* Off: It’s Our Turn Now. All those f* this, f* that student protest chants clearly stuck in his mind. […]