Nov 9, 2017

Would Sam Dastyari have been justified punching the racists who abused him?

A question that returns to us with dispiriting regularity flared up again over night, with Sam Dastyari's run-in with the far right -- when, if ever, is it OK to punch a Nazi?

Charlie Lewis — Journalist

Charlie Lewis


Screen capture from the Patriot Blue facebook page

The shaking mobile phone footage, posted to the Patriot Blue Facebook page, is shot by someone who clearly towers over their subject. Waiting at a bar in Melbourne, Senator Sam Dastyari is laughingly and pointedly asked by a group of men about his religious beliefs and the halal certification of the drinks he is ordering. He is called a terrorist and a monkey, told to return to Iran. The silence of the bar staff and most of Dastyari's companions, as well as the angle of the footage, speaks to a lingering, unstated threat. 

Free Trial

You've hit members-only content.

Sign up for a FREE 21-day trial to keep reading and get the best of Crikey straight to your inbox

By starting a free trial, you agree to accept Crikey’s terms and conditions


Leave a comment

22 thoughts on “Would Sam Dastyari have been justified punching the racists who abused him?

  1. Bethany Challen

    Aren’t you as bad as Nazis if you punch Nazis? Yes! If we wish to have an enlightened, engaged, sophisticated society then going round punching people, even obvious dickheads and worse, isn’t going to achieve anything positive. Has “civilisation” learnt nothing??

    1. Christine Kuhl

      I agree Bethany. Also, verbal violence should never be dismissed as insignificant. Violent or aggressive words have the potential to hurt just as much, sometimes even more, than physical violence.

    2. lykurgus

      I actually saw that argument being made at the Daily Sturmer… an odd coincidence*

      *(but then so is the fact that I just used 14 words)

  2. Itsarort

    These guys pick their targets. On Wednesday night (Uni night), it is not uncommon to see 30 somethings prowling around in groups, bullying young blokes in their late teens, regardless of race. Do you think for a second they’d challenge a group of Lebanese fellas their same age, having a drink in a bar, who looked like having punch-up in a pub was part of the usual week night’s entertainment?
    However, a very good friend of mine, caucasian male aged 32, was recently abused by a group of random blokes of middle eastern descent when leaving a nightclub in Sydney. They were making abusive comments, claiming his mother was a whore etc. He walked across the road and “sorted” it with the main protagonist. It cuts both ways.

  3. brian crooks

    none of those rednecks have any ticker, just whack the biggest and the rest run with their tails between their legs, huge mouths, tiny hearts even smaller brains, probably the love children of pauline and david oldfield, there`s a match made in heaven, if they were sheep straight to the meat works with them, no breeding potential there.

    1. James Richards

      I’m with you Brian. Enlightened attitudes and debating skills counted for nought in the years leading up to WWII.

  4. John Newton

    Violence gets violence. Sam went up in my estimation remaining cool and courageous in the face of ugly and stupid racism. He did a halal of a job.

    1. Aethelstan

      You are right on the money, John … violence just leads to revenge and further violence … it is never justified in a civilised society …

  5. David Heslin

    *Sigh* How tiresome. Provocation hasn’t been a legal justification for violence for donkey’s years. The only acceptable form of violence is self-defence, and if you can’t tell the difference between the two you aren’t thinking hard enough. Not only would it have been wrong for Dastyari to commit a physical assault here, it would have greatly increased the risk of him being injured himself. Let’s do more to legislate (and enforce laws) against hate speech and protect those who are subjected to such disgusting verbal attacks, but can we stop buying into macho, infantile fantasies about the glory of punching for a good cause?

  6. Robert Beverley

    The only justification for violence is self-defense proportional to the threat.

    Non-violent resistance to the threat of violence is in my view the more admirable and courageous path.

    Arguably also more effective activism in the long run.

  7. zut alors

    Violence is debate in its most base form &, no, it’s not warranted when rebuking aggressive fools. Dastyari showed extraordinary self-control in that situation – no doubt the accused ‘dickheads’ were hoping he’d crack & lash out. That would’ve been pure nectar for their shoddy little video.

    Hopefully there will be backlash from their employer whose name was emblazoned on the bright uniforms. Even should their boss be of like mind he/she would surely realise it reflects very badly on the company brand & deserves consequences for the perpetrators.

    1. leon knight

      In the event that that serially offending Neanderthal nitwit Eriksan does score a dismissal from Toll for his trouble, let’s hope he does not have access to an assault rifle and buckets of ammunition.

  8. Graeski

    I haven’t seen the video but from what’s been described, the Nazis have pretty much punched themselves in the face. Sam Dastyari’s civilised, courageous response only made the punch harder.

    Patriot Blue comes across as being made up of cowardly bullies who are stupid as well. To the best of my knowledge, there is nothing in Islam that excludes followers who are blond-haired and blue-eyed.

  9. PeteH

    Violence is never the answer, but contacting Toll Holdings and letting them know that a Nazi wearing their uniform was caught on camera abusing an Australian Senator is quite satisfactory.

  10. mikeb

    Punch a Nazi? Sure….if you think you can get away with it.

Share this article with a friend

Just fill out the fields below and we'll send your friend a link to this article along with a message from you.

Your details

Your friend's details