Last night my heart went out to some young adult males. How could it not, for I have a son the same age. As they approached the cab at Chatswood station, I thought, ‘trouble’. It looked as though the Punchbowl habibs were across town for a bit of Friday night fun.
As usual, the alpha male jumped in the front and proceeded to dominate the cab. He was, ‘a bloody Aussie mate !’, with a Palestinian/Lebanon heritage. A bulked up passionate bloke with crew-cut and beard stubble made for a formidable sight. Yet he and his mates were lovely young men, facing life and its challenges with equanimity and pride.
Their immediate dilemma was how to gain entry to the Metropole Hotel in Cremorne. Or the 'Metro-hole' as it's locally known. Da boys were North Shore locals who knew all the pubs and bars. Their problem was the bouncers at the front door, amped up hulks paid to apply 'extreme prejudice' to potential troublemakers. They are also paid as defacto style-police, making value judgements as to whether your dress and demeanor complemented the wasted clientele inside.
In the boys case, they were regularly told, point-blank by the door, ‘No Arabs or Coconuts’, at the Metropole Hotel, Greenwood Tavern and Metrop North Sydney. Outraged, I suggested they get some witnesses and sue the bastards to the back teeth. The big guy conceded it was discriminatory, and shrugged his shoulders, ‘ I offer to step around the back for a chat but they’re gutless’. They lamented the fact active racism was a part of their social life, a given, without dwelling on it. It just is.
Something about his dejected resignation, made me doubt he was truly a fighter though. Indeed I wanted to put my arm around his shoulder and tell him he was a good man. What I saw was a young fella, maybe 20 years old, who had spent some effort on his attire, as had his mates. They were clean, sober and respectful. No yelling, challenging me, high-school stuff.
All were keen to meet some nice girls, like young blokes are. Is the girl of their dreams at the next bar, party, bus stop ? But da boys were habibs, fretting like apartheid blacks on how to gain entry to a white mans bar.
Yes, it’s sad negative perceptions of young Middle Eastern males is so widespread. All because certain assholes are deemed to represent the lot. Like the rest of the community the habibs are sick of the stigmatisation. This is echoed in their oft voiced, plaintive cry, ‘We’re bloody Aussies mate !’.
Like most everyone else, the majority of habibs are 'doin’ the right thing and havin’ a go'. In Australia that’s all you gotta do for acceptance.