• Lately, Hanson accuses people she consistently demeans and accuses of “reverse racism”, saying she’s “fed up” with not being allowed to say what she thinks. (AFP/Getty )
Generations of migrants and their children are now successfully active in Australian society. Even though their achievements have made the fabric of our nation's society so much richer, some 'racist people' feel they are under threat.
By
Amal Awad

30 Nov 2016 - 2:53 PM  UPDATED 30 Nov 2016 - 2:53 PM

I’ve lost count of the number of times friends have shared videos of a certain flame-haired politician immersing herself in tones of hate on social media.

Pauline Hanson’s latest diatribes are zingers, so I understand the fury that may be fueling the reposting of these clips, even if they end up giving her bigoted remarks more oxygen than they deserve.

Lately, Hanson accuses people she consistently demeans of “reverse racism”, saying she’s “fed up” with not being allowed to say what she thinks.

The problem is that what ‘she actually thinks’ is generally an expression of superiority over ethnic and religious minorities. Hanson’s gripe du jour and, in my opinion, her ticket into the current Senate, is her enduring dislike of Muslims and risible aversion to halal snack packs.

The fact is, you can voice an “opinion” and still be a racist.

Despite making a career out of telling ethnic minorities who they are and what they stand for from her singular, Anglo perspective, Hanson recently expressed that she doesn’t like being called “racist”.

It’s a breathtakingly myopic statement, made only worse when she goes on to say she’s not racist because she married a Polish man, had a Laos refugee manage her fish-and-chips shop and once rented out property to an Aboriginal woman and her child. And all of this comes from a representative who is currently positing the notion that there is no definition of “Aboriginal”.

The fact is, you can voice an “opinion” and still be a racist. Hanson’s entire political mythos is based on recapturing some glorified vision of a past Australian utopia where migrants knew their place, and this included not ruining the fun for racists.

Second, there’s no such thing as “reverse racism”; there is only racism and anyone can be guilty of that, including a politician who continually marginalises minorities to deepen the ‘us versus them’ divide.

The freedom of speech fallacy

In a recent Senate session, Hanson also expressed frustration at the repercussions of expressing an opinion. That she wants to be able to say anything she believes in without being the recipient of negative feedback is an extraordinary expectation from an elected government official. But it’s not terribly surprising given how frequently the glories of freedom of speech are intoned – so long as they’re speeches being made by people who represent an apparently silenced group of racist Australians.

More specifically, Hanson said: “I’m in this chamber, I’m protected. I can say what I like in here, but if I go outside this chamber and say it outside like many Australians, well, you can’t have an opinion. You can’t say anything anymore”.

And in Hanson’s eyes, white Australia is the custodian of this rich nation, not the Indigenous people who occupied it for millennia.

Groups that don’t allow her to speak freely include ethnic minorities who no longer find it hilarious to be called a “wog”. Hanson lamented the good old days when migrants could take it on the chin and just get on with things. The essence of her commentary being that not only did we know our place in society, we were being handed a privilege to enjoy so long as we didn’t aim too high.

This is the real problem, of course. We (“wogs”) were less of a threat when our parents were newcomers to the country, not adept in the primary language, and generally not occupying high corporate positions, let alone seats in Parliament. That has all changed with generations of children of migrants developing into more “Australian” members of society, educated and at times, not identifiably “foreign”.

And in Hanson’s eyes, white Australia is the custodian of this rich nation, not the Indigenous people who occupied it for millennia.

I don’t doubt that Hanson genuinely feels attacked by people who don’t agree with her. But the rising voices of minority groups bring with it power to influence sentiment (or at the very least, it doesn’t make it so easy to get away with racism).

This power is what makes racist people feel that they are under threat. Their entire premise is that they’re superior to you.

Don’t feed the hate by sharing it.

 

Amal Awad is currently working on a new book, Beyond Veiled Cliches: The Lives of Arab Women. 

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