This video of Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard being threatened last week by Aboriginal rights supporters is a case study in civilized behavior versus the mob. Appearing at a restaurant for an Australia Day event, Gillard and opposition leader Tony Abbott had to be evacuated by security and police. The reason? Apparently, the spark was a comment earlier in the day by Abbott that it was time for Canberra’s 40-year old “Tent Embassy” aboriginal encampment to move on, causing angry protesters to mass. That a mere off-the-cuff remark in an interview somehow justifies a threat to innocent life shows the hooliganism of the mob. In response, Prime Minister Gillard reflects the reaction of a civilized society: decency, awareness, and leadership.
If you watch the video above, at the 2:00 minute mark, as protesters bang on the windows of the restaurant and throw objects, Gillard is told by her security head that it is time to leave because of the threat of the mob. This is every politician’s nightmare, and fears for their safety would probably cause most to get out as fast as they can. Yet Gillard’s very first comment is “What about Mr. Abbott?” Clearly, the security detail has no plans for helping ensure his safety. Gillard immediately states that he should be taken care of, as well. She then talks to Abbott herself to let him know he’ll leave with her. Ultimately, the two are surrounded by a cordon of police and security, rushed through the mob, and bundled together into one car to escape. In the melee, Gillard loses a shoe, which the protesters later held up like a fetishistic sacrifice in front of the crowd.
What inspiring common sense and kindness by Gillard. How many leaders (let alone regular individuals) would have the calmness of mind in such an unexpected and frightening situation to think of someone vulnerable who would be the target of the mob outside? She could easily have simply followed her security detail without thinking of anyone else, but she instinctively chose not to do so. Now that’s a real example of civility. Cheers to Julia Gillard.