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Monday, 15 December 2014

Australia’s bigot problem - The AIM Network

Australia’s bigot problem - The AIM Network

Australia’s bigot problem

My first thought on hearing the news of the hostage situation in
Sydney’s Martin Place this morning was ‘those poor, terrified people and
their anxious families. What a horrible thing to happen!’ and then
slightly irrationally (because fear can be irrational), I thought ‘and
just before Christmas too’ as if this made the horribleness of the
situation more horrible. The next thought I had was condolence to the
Islamic population of Sydney and Australia who will, no doubt, be
frightened by this situation not just because of the randomness of such
an event happening in our peaceful country, but because they know, like
they found out after September 11, that their communities will be
blamed, hated, abused, discriminated against and generally shunned by
large sections of the non-Islamic Australian community through no fault
of their own. Perhaps they’re not just scared. If I were them, I would
be furious.

I was a teenager when the Port Arthur massacre happened, and I don’t
recall there being a backlash at the time against white people with
blonde hair. I’m a white person with blonde hair, and no one has ever
heaped me into the ‘possibly a mass murderer’ bucket along with Martin
Bryant. Or more recently, Norwegian Anders Breivik, who apparently
killed 69 young political activists because he didn’t like their party’s
immigration stance which he saw as too open to Islamic immigrants. In
fact, in neither case do I recall the word ‘terrorist’ even being used
to describe the mass murders of innocent people.

As soon as I saw the images of the white Islamic text on a black flag
in the window of the Lindt Café on the news this morning, I knew
Australian bigots would be singing with the cries of ‘I told you so!’
and I was right. According to The Guardian’s commentary
of today’s events, King Bigot, Ralph Cerminara, leader of the
anti-Muslim organisation Australian Defence League, hurried down to
Martin Place to rant about Muslims and was moved on by police. Charming
stuff. But of course Ralph is not alone. I noticed Greens MP Adam Bandt
received a series of bigoted responses to this tweet:


Here are 5 of the first 6 responses on the twitter feed:



It’s important to note, not that Murdoch’s Daily Telegraph cares to
be accurate, that the flag photographed in the window of the café is not
an Islamic State flag. We don’t know anything at all about the hostage
takers yet, they may be Islamic State supporters, they may not. But
Murdoch’s newspapers, and the bigots who take this news as truth won’t
let unconfirmed facts get in the way of a good excuse for some
old-fashioned fear mongering and racist bigotry.

afternoon edition Daily Telegraph front cover makes the very dubious
statement of ‘THE INSTANT WE CHANGED FOREVER’. But have we changed?

The only thing that I can see as having changed in this situation is
the level of comfort bigots feel about being openly racist towards
people of Islamic faith. And that’s the very real, very scary, very
confronting part of this tragedy. Not just that this shocking, violent
siege can happen to innocent people on a quiet Monday morning a week
before Christmas. The tweets to Adam Bandt show a side of Australia that
we all know is there, but we prefer not to think about. These bigots
are the reason asylum seeker policy is such a political hot potato in
this country, and why Tony Abbott is able to be elected promising to
‘stop the boats’. These nasty racist people aren’t a rarity. And they
vote. Welcome to Australia. We haven’t changed a bit.

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