A couple of weeks ago, Pauline Hanson put forward a motion asking that the Senate acknowledge these two points:
- The deplorable rise of anti-white racism and attacks on Western civilisation, and
- That it is okay to be white.
This motion was rightfully, albeit narrowly, shut down (although there is a better reason, in my view, than simply the ties to white supremacy movements).
The Coalition at first supported the motion, and then back flipped on that position when they got slammed by the Opposition and the public. They tried to spin it as an administration error, but that would be just as bad. Either our government is in support of the white supremacist movement, or they are so incompetent and lazy that they did not even bother reading two lines of text. Both are grounds for concern.
But antics of the Coalition aside, the motion itself poses some interesting questions. Firstly, what anti-white racism and attacks on Western civilisation are out there? As a straight white male, I am supposedly being oppressed by this wave of ‘otherness’ that does match my being. Well, as a straight white male, I honestly have no idea what Hanson is referring to. I’ve never felt as though my skin colour has determined what another thought of me; I know plenty of cases that go the other way though. And last I checked, white men still held the majority of seats in government, so the idea that our country is being dictated by other cultures is objectively false.
Then there’s the phrase “It’s okay to be white”. Well of course it is. It’s okay to be black too. Common sense and decency says that it should be okay to be of any ethnic descent. So why is it contentious to say it’s okay to be white? Well the simple answer is that the groups associated with that term take it beyond its literal definition. The people, like Hanson, who parrot it to cause controversy aren’t just saying that it is okay to be a particular colour. The implied meaning behind it is that it is not okay to not be white as well.
So when people, whether they believe in that implied definition or not, say it, they get labelled as white supremacists as well. I know people who genuinely believe they are being unfairly targeted with blanket statements simply because their skin colour, and that is why they repeat phrases like that. But it’s the same as when the March for Men took place in Melbourne in August. Men took to the streets in defence of men’s rights and to bring awareness to men’s issues. Not all them did so as an affront to women – they simply believed that there was so much focus now on equality for women it left men behind instead. This is arguably false, but the hashtag ‘not all men’ does apply. But the issue isn’t with these men’s motives.
The woman (yes, woman) behind the March, Sydney Watson, is a massive Trump supporter whose main followers believe Trump to be the moderate hero of ‘traditional values’. She provokes tensions by perpetuating the divide between ‘left and right’ not through arguments, but by simply calling all ‘leftist’ ideas stupid, and daring people to ‘shame’ her for being ‘a proud nationalist Australian’. This brings in the white male supremacist crowd; this is why people associated with men’s rights or movements for white people get labelled that way.
Because the people behind these movements are pretty f*cked.
But this still leaves people feeling disenfranchised (whether they are or not). Bringing awareness to male mental health issues (for example) is important, but when you approach it in a way they diverts focus away from the issue itself and towards a divisive gender-based argument, you lose all credibility. Yes, campaign for awareness of men’s rights if you want, but don’t rally behind professional provocateurs to do so, because they are not experts in these matters. Find legitimate causes and studies by respectable people, then present your case.
The same applies with the “it’s okay to be white” slogan. Yeah, it is okay, but phrases like this have more context than just its literal meaning. People aren’t telling anyone that it isn’t okay to be white. People are asking white people to recognise that there is institutionalised racism and sexism and to help, together, so we can move forward as a society and change things. Chanting slogans and joining rallies led by a woman who once wore a “Grab ‘em by the pussy” t-shirt drives us further apart. Rather than follow the populist route, acknowledge issues everyone faces, regardless of colour, regardless of gender. Because at the end of the day…
It’s okay to be human.