ANOTHER bashing of an Indian student, another angry demonstration by fed-up Indian residents, another brick in the wall of the misconception that Indians in this country have become the frequent victims of violent white racism.
This misconception has hardened into belief in India, where widespread media coverage of the attacks has played on old sensitivities about the treatment of Indians by whites and white Australia.
The perception is wrong. Indian students are being attacked in Australia, with at least 100 incidents in Melbourne and Sydney during the past year. The violence is undeniable, the targeting of Indians is undeniable, and the problem is unacceptable and embarrassing.
But the distorted story of white racism has been helped along by the prevailing sensibilities of reporting of crime in Australia, with skittishness about detailing the gritty reality that most violent street crime in Sydney and Melbourne is not committed by whites. The prison populations confirm this.
The attacks on Indians have followed this pattern, with the crimes committed by a polyglot mix reflecting the streets - white, Asian, Middle Eastern, Aboriginal, Pacific Islander.
The most recent attacks, in Harris Park this week, allegedly involved assailants of the proverbial "Middle Eastern appearance". The assault on Monday night was followed by a retaliatory attack by a big group of Indians. Police said three men "of Middle Eastern appearance" were set upon in Harris Park after about 200 Indian men converged on the street after hearing of the latest attack. In Melbourne, an assault on an Indian student on a train was recorded on video and footage depicting the attack was posted on YouTube. The video shows a swarm of young men robbing and repeatedly attacking the student. Most of them do not appear to be white.
A recent assault on an Indian student in Glebe was committed by a young offender described as Aboriginal. Sydney University is bounded on the east and west by Glebe and Redfern and both have crime hot spots involving Aboriginal communities.
Another recent assault on an Indian student, by a knife-wielding assailant in Port Melbourne, involved three attackers identified as Caucasian.
The ethnicity of the attackers thus varies from crime to crime. The police are telling the truth when they describe the attacks as largely motivated by opportunism, because Indian students work late at night, live in lower-cost neighbourhoods, and are regarded as soft targets.
It is also true that Indians have been targeted, hence the demonstration by about 1000 Indian students in Melbourne 10 days ago, and this week's eruption by hundreds of Indian men in Harris Park, which has Sydney's largest concentration of Indian residents. The suburb has experienced a spate of attacks on Indians in recent months.
First published in The Sydney Morning Herald