The Good. The Bad. The Asinine.

Reclaim Australia


Depending on who you talk to, either:

a) Some stern and reasonable patriots held 16 rallies across the country in order to make themselves heard on an important issue, or;

b) A small group of mindless troglodytes gathered together in order to shout at Moslems for no reason at all.

Now, considering that the group in question is called ‘Reclaim Australia’, combined with the fact that its guest speakers included Pauline Hanson and Danny Nalliah, option b actually looks pretty good. It looks even better when you look at what Pauline and Danny had to say, always assuming our translation from Stupid to English has been accurate.

Pauline’s barely comprehensible rant about Halal and terrorism, combined with Danny’s immediate plunge into a ‘Hitler Argument’ make it temptingly easy to look at this phenomenon, shrug, giggle, and then simply dismiss it. I like to call it ‘The Bill Shorten Approach’.

But this would be wrong.

While there is no valid set of arguments to support what Reclaim Australia laughably calls a ‘viewpoint’, the fact remains that enough people are sufficiently anxious about Islam in Australia to warrant 16 rallies round the country. The fact that none of these people appear capable of formulating coherent statements makes it more, not less important that we try to understand where this idiocy is coming from.

A good clue to the answer to this question can be found in what they are pleased to call their ‘arguments’. Leaving aside elementary mistakes in logic, which are to be expected when people talk about their feelings (I wish they’d stop, but there you have it), what we mainly have is a critical lack of understanding and knowledge of the things that they are talking about. These people don’t know a damn thing about Islam or Islamism. Or, more accurately, they each seem to know one or two things, without context or understanding, These one or two facts are then crow-barred into a confused narrative about a type of xenophobia that is as old as the nation itself.

We have to ask two fairly obvious questions:

  • Are these concerns valid?

Well, no, but what they are is very understandable. It’s very easy for us to sit smugly in our white enclaves in Sydney’s North and East and airily dismiss any such fears as groundless, but we don’t live in suburbs like Auburn or Lakemba, from any point of which golden minarets are visible. The fact of a neighbourhood filling up with mosques and halal restaurants is just that – a fact. When people become concerned about this, we can’t just pooh-pooh them for being ignorant plebs, or revile them as racists – these people are worried about their homes, their families and the futures of their children. We can’t just laugh at them or call them names – we have to listen to what they’re saying and then point them back toward reality.

It’s a process I like to call ‘Discussion’. I believe there are some precedents for its utility in past cases.

  • Why has this latched onto Moslems?

Well, we all know the answers to this one – irresponsible media and irresponsible government. Between the two, the Islamic community here and elsewhere have been laid open to vilification and scape-goating on a monstrous scale. But why does it persist? Well, I’m afraid that a large part of the blame rests with those of us who camp out on the liberal-humanist left. We see that the ideas circulated about Islam are beneath contempt, and we simply dismiss them. By doing this, however, we forget that there are human beings out there who truly believe in them, and our contempt looks remarkably like contempt for them as individuals. So, these individuals do what everyone does when they are not being listened to: they start shouting. Usually, soon after this, they start swinging.

Which leads us to an uncomfortable, but I’m afraid inevitable conclusion. The reason that groups like Reclaim Australia are stinking up our political dialogue is ignorance. But it’s not just their ignorance – it’s ours. Our deliberate refusal to hear or even consider certain opinions. Our fanatical adherence to a particular orthodoxy of tolerance. We are losing the ability to talk to each other as our politics and ideologies become ever more polarised by our mutual refusal to engage with each other’s ideas.

Reclaim Australia? Nope – nobody has taken it from us.

What needs to be reclaimed is something far more valuable – our ability to talk to each other as a nation.

 

Category: Asinine

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