Dear Australia. We Are Not Better Than This.
Updated: Sep 1
Following on from the recent tragedy in New Zealand, with the terror attack on both Al Noor Mosque and Linwood Mosque, I wanted to write a brief reflection on the thoughts and discussions that have arisen as a result.
First and foremost, we cannot be surprised by the events and actions of an Australian that unfolded on March 15th. Egyptian born Lawyer, Waleed Aly puts this reflection simply:
(Video sourced from: https://tenplay.com.au/channel-ten/the-project)
How can we be surprised when this Nation was built upon stolen land? A Nation that disregarded and continues to disregard a population of people who have lived on this land for centuries before us. A population who have been forced into conditions often considered to be those of extreme poverty, as a result of our policies and ideologies.
How can we be surprised when the very foundation of our Nation have been built upon racist ideologies? Countless times throughout our history, our policies have been structured around discrimination and the forced limitations and exclusion of others. The White Australia policy is a perfect example of an extreme policy that ruled Australia’s society for nearly seven decades; one that was built upon ideologies that encapsulated those of European origin as the ‘elite’ and excluded any other individual who was not.
Although considered ‘historical’ views today, these very ideologies can be seen throughout so much of our current policies to date. Our policies on refugees and status of immigration, as well as our positioning towards our own Indigenous population reflect so much from our historical past. Policies that instil racist values and fear among our community are sadly not historical, they are current. This is happening now.
We excuse and dismiss these values and discussions through the labelling of such people as simply having ‘right winged values’, neglecting to acknowledge further, that such values are a simply the continuation of ‘Neo-Nazi’ ideology.
We need to call it as it is; it’s dangerous and there is no place for it in 2019. Yet, we continue to vote these people in. People that are considered 'leaders' who continue to create such destructive and dehumanising policies and conversations.
A majority of our politicians are responsible for our current racist positions. The actions that unfolded in Christchurch were no to different from the values being expressed daily by Andrew Bolt, Peter Dutton, Pauline Hanson and Fraser Anning (to name a few). This is not uncommon; this is the reality. This is Australia.
These extremist, fascist and racist values and discussions are happening every day and continuing to divide our nation and destroy people’s lives. The only difference between these high Australian figures and the white supremacist terrorists is they didn’t pull the trigger. But they may as well have.
Let us not forget what these 'leaders' have said:
"Islam is a disease Australia needs to vaccinate"- Pauline Hanson
"The truth is that Islam is not like any other faith. It is the religious equivalent of fascism. And just because the followers of this savage belief were not the killers in this instance, does not make them blameless" - Fraser Anning
Our very own Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, suggested that the Liberal party use and exploit 'anti-Muslim sentiment' within the community as a political strategy.
We elect these ‘leaders’ into parliament and give them a voice. Yet, they do not deserve a voice. This is not free speech, this is hate speech and it’s incredibly dangerous. Each and every day it has its impacts. These politicians and their like-minded supporters persecute minority groups to make themselves feel strong.
I made the mistake of reading comments linked to Fraser Anning’s xenophobic parliamentary response; mentioned by Waleed Aly in the video above. To no surprise, I found people in support of this incredibly racist man. Each and every one of these people are middle-aged white individuals, whom I can only assume have never experienced any form of racial discrimination in their lives. Putting my anger and disgust aside, I feel sorry for them. Although these comments presented high degrees of hatred, they also showed a lot of fear. How sad that these people live their lives with so much fear. How exhausting it must be for them to write such hateful comments. What a limiting and ignorant life that must be.
And how easily persuaded they are by like-minded, uneducated, repressive bigots in parliament. It terrifies me to think how these positions of power are so influential in narrating society's current values.
For more information on these thoughts, I wrote a post recently regarding these ideas, called: ’What are White People so Afraid of?’
Our politicians have a history of profiting from the division of our community. Throughout history, they have been complicit in the act of instilling fear among our population to gain higher positions and votes from the Australian community. Let's not forget about the 'Children Overboard' affair and the significant and harmful detriments that still exist as a result of this political ploy towards refugees and asylum seekers. Some of the most vulnerable people in our world today, continue to be exploited and abused for political gain.
That is not what leaders should do. Leaders have a responsibility to empower everybody, to uphold the rights of all; not just a select few they are comfortable with. Leaders do not exclude and disempower others to build themselves up. Leaders do not instil fear and hate.
Racism and bigotry are the problems here. It is not religion or immigrants and refugees; and it has never been. Racism is racism. Racism fuels terrorism. Religion does not. Fear creates terrorism. Race does not. Hate is threatening our way of life and continuing to allow politicians to be complicit in the act of instilling fear and racism among our community.
It’s 2019. We all have a responsibility. And we can do better.
Australia, we should be better than this and we should be ashamed. Not only because the terrorist of this horrific attack was an Australian himself, but because of the history we have and the hatred we continue to grow. We have not been better than this, and we have never been. Our country is embedded in racist foundations and continues to harbour such backward views through the destructive leaders we continue to give the power to.
We should be ashamed of so much more than just this tragic event. We should be ashamed of the racist, bigoted, fear-mongering country we are and have always been.
When will we learn from our mistakes? This is not the Australia I want to be a part of; this is not the Australian I am. My deepest solidarity to the Muslim community at this time.