If you’re anything like me, you think we’ve got it pretty bloody good, here in Australia. We aren’t perfect but we are a work in progress. In my lifetime so far, I’ve seen our society become more accepting, more open-minded and more inclusive than ever before. I hope to see those attitudes reflected in law before too long. But that’s not what this is about. This is about just some of the small but noisy groups that oppose that progress.
Hate Groups Hiding Behind “Patriotism”.
When I say I want to “Reclaim Australia“, do you feel a yourself cringing a little bit? What if I were to tell you that I consider myself a patriot- an “Aussie patriot”?
If those words and the idea of wearing anything with the flag on it makes you feel uncomfortable, you probably know there are certain groups you can thank for that. Groups that spout hatred, lies and exclusion in the name of patriotism.
Patriotism is what they hide behind, paraphrasing Donald Trump in their belief that we should all “Make Australia Great Again“, but I have to wonder when that was, exactly? When we were a penal colony? When the British were engaged in the brutal acts of genocide that saw thousands of Indigenous Australians slaughtered? After that, perhaps, when the Indigenous people that remained were treated as sub-humans, enslaved, their families torn apart? The shameful White Australia Policy era? Even more modern times like the 1970s or 1980s when racism, sexism and homophobia were socially acceptable? Which particular part of our history do they yearn for?
Patriotism is, in its most basic definition, an attachment to one’s homeland. By that definition, I am a patriot. I love this country. From the red dirt to the white sand and every shade of brown, green, grey and gold in between. Not to mention the blue that foams up on our shores. More than the land, I love the people. The many cultures that have built our society, the varied history that is both wonderful and brutal. The echoes of a past that have shaped the nation we are today, for better or for worse. Our strength is in our diversity and our unique Australian culture. A culture that is willing to give everyone a fair go. Australian people are known for their laid-back nature, their fearlessness and their natural propensity to back the under-dog. What’s not to love about all of that?
But these vocal groups have exploited the idea of loving your country and turned it into something awful; a twisted, jingoistic nationalism. “Aussie Pride” bumper stickers don’t mean pride in being Australian anymore. Singlets bearing the flag don’t even seem complete without a racist slogan to accompany them. Even social media groups and pages dedicated to patriotism (according to their names, anyway) are nothing but collections Islamophobic memes and videos. Calls to ban certain races from our country. Conspiracy theories doubting the existence of the wars these people are fleeing. Blatant lies in shareable meme form.
So-Called Patriot Groups.
These so-called “patriotic” groups baffle me in many ways but what stands out is that the country they claim such fierce attachment to doesn’t actually exist. We have never been a country full of just white people who all live according to the exact same doctrine. Ever. Australia is multicultural. Many races, faiths and ways of life. How can you claim to be a patriot who loves this country while virulently opposing the Australia that we actually live in? Racism, religious discrimination and persecution and acts of hatred are not acts of patriotism. I saw a meme on one such page that declared “Patriotism is NOT Racism!” and I agree. It’s not. So why dress it up that way?
These groups pretend concern for national interests but really, it’s a series of excuses to hide their hatred behind. They oppose immigration, refugees, the building of non-Christian places of worship, religious schools that aren’t Christian and even religious food labeling. This is towards the Muslim community, of course. No one seems to mind Kosher labeling, for example, Catholic schools or migrants from England. They ignore the long history of Muslims in Australia and other salient points. For example, it makes sense that food produced here is halal, so that it can be sold to one of our closest neighbours, Indonesia. You know, only the biggest Muslim nation on the planet.
A “Patriot” goes to Coles.
There are Australians committing acts that range from the violent to the childishly ridiculous towards the Muslim community. This bloke is the perfect example of the latter. He went into a Coles store and draped bacon over packs of halal-certified meat. This photo of him and his efforts appeared on the Facebook page called “We Are One Australia-National”.
The comments section on this post included remarks from people claiming they do the same when they visit the supermarket- draping bacon over halal goods so that Islamic people won’t be able to purchase them.
What the hell is wrong with these people? They live in one of the best countries in the world and this, THIS, is how they spend their spare time? Trying to make sure a minority group can’t buy meat at Coles in whatever suburb they shop in? This bloke, with his bacon- draped efforts, is lauded as a “patriot” because, apparently, this is what passes for an act of love for one’s country, these days?
Patriot? More like utter dingbat.
This is exactly the kind of bullshit behaviour that I think Australia really needs “reclaiming” from.
People who engage in pointless acts of offensiveness and cruelty. Those who create and further the divide between different parts of our society. Those who would alienate certain people yet are always the loudest in complaining about different cultural groups not integrating into Australian society. These people might be a minority but they are a loud one and frankly I am bloody sick and tired of acts like this being called “patriotism”. The bigots that go to such lengths to try to offend Muslim people and the unenlightened troglodytes that egg them on. This bloke didn’t pose with this bacon, giving the one-fingered salute, out of love for his country. He did it out of the all too common combination of fear and ignorance that creates hatred.
And that, in my opinion, is bloody un-Australian.