The Victorian state government (and Maribyrnong city council) is eager to promote Footscray as ‘an artsy, edgy, affordable, regional and multicultural centre’: ‘vibrant’, ‘ethnically diverse’, ‘cosmopolitan’.
Much of this image is likely to be based on the suburb’s demographic profile, its East-meets-West Tet festival, the Little Saigon marketplace and other assorted African, South Asian and South-East Asian retail stores.
The ‘edgy’ part, I suppose, might derive from the local Croatian House (Hrvatski Dom), where you can sit down for a nice meal of pork and mashed potatoes, surrounded by Ustaša paraphenalia.
In the foyer, you can pay due homage or cheerily pose next to a bust of the great fascist Poglavnik, Ante Pavelić, leader of one of history’s most terrifyingly murderous governments.
The Ustaše were perhaps more bloodthirsty than the Nazis. Certainly the Wehrmacht, along with the Italian fascist officer corps, expressed unease at their sadistic ‘excesses’.
At extermination camps like Jasenovac, hundreds of thousands of people were murdered, not merely by cremation and gassing, but also by hand: pulverized with hammers, slashed open with knives, hacked apart with saws.
In the Wannsee Protocol, Nazi officials remarked that implementing the Final Solution in Croatia would be ‘no longer so difficult, since the most substantial problems in this respect have already been brought near a solution.’ Even Joseph Goebbels recoiled at the barbarity of the Ustaše, gasping in his diaries at a ‘regime of terror which defies description.’
It’s located only a few hundred metres from Maribyrnong City Council, which speaks elsewhere, in a promotional booklet, of trying to ‘raise community awareness of the impact of racial discrimination’; in its Indigenous Action Plan, it speaks piously of the need to promote ‘respect’, ‘reconciliation’ and an ‘inclusive community’.
In yet another dreary lecture, the council explains that:
People who are considered ‘other’ or ‘different’ can feel invisible, disenfranchised, silenced and stigmatised.
The council resolves to address ‘stigma through education strategies and in social marketing campaigns.’
Perhaps it might first look under its own fucking nose.