Editorial cartoon from Toronto’s Globe and Mail, 13 December

Race riots shook Sydney, Australia’s biggest city, with thousands of white youths rampaging through a well-known beach suburb, attacking people of Middle-Eastern background. They were egged on by white supremacists and neo-Nazis. Meanwhile, in the steamy tropical outpost of Darwin in the north, a burly Outback drifter was sentenced to life in prison for murdering the British backpacker Peter Falconio four years ago. Suddenly, Australia no longer seemed quite so lucky. Both stories offered violence, desperation and a chilling glimpse into the darker corners of Australian society. – Nick Squires, Daily Telegraph (UK)

Even if the police manage to lock Cronulla down, the new Anzacs will regroup in the time that it takes to send a text message, faster than the police can reorganise to intercept them, and Lebanese Muslim youths, inspired by rap, ablaze with bling, armed to the teeth in their customised cars, will race to meet them. Already “patriotic” troops are massing on the Gold Coast and in the suburbs of Perth. This looks like being a bloody summer in Australia. – Germaine Greer, The Guardian

The “lucky country’s” historic racism lingers on, like a sun cancer, just below the skin. Given the right circumstances all the advances of recent years – the abolition of the White Australia policy, the encouragement of a multicultural, multiracial society with emphasis on tolerance and harmony – can apparently vanish overnight… Those Australians who are proud of their multicultural, “fair go” society – and I believe that they are still a big majority – now need to recognise that a nasty side to their fellow citizens is still there and fight to preserve the new Australia they thought they had already built. – Philip Knightley, The Independent

It is admittedly difficult to picture Australia as an inherently racist country, especially after the generous response of many Australians to the tsunami victims…Nevertheless, it is hard to swallow attempts to deny the evidence of racial and cultural intolerance on display in the Sydney suburb of Cronulla and on the streets of Lakemba. Like it or not, all societies have racist elements. While millions of Australians are not racists, the thousands of hotheads with too many beers in their bellies in Cronulla represent the ugly fringes of Australian society. – Editorial, Malaysia’s New Straits Times