Why Pauline Hanson is Wrong and It’s Not Okay to Celebrate Being White
Like a redneck cockroach in a white hood, Pauline Hanson has well and truly crawled out of the woodwork, and continues to spout bile about how threatened she, as a white person, is by anyone who doesn’t share her lack of melanin. In case you missed it, yesterday, she moved a motion in Parliament claiming the Senate acknowledge “the deplorable rise of anti-white racism and attacks on Western civilisation” and that “it is okay to be white”.
The latter phrase is deeply rooted in neo-Nazi and other white supremacist organisations: in fact, Klan groups have used the hashtag #IOKTBW on Twitter since 2012. Numerous Liberal, National and One Nation Senators backed Pauline’s motion – in fact, it was only narrowly defeated by 31 votes to 28. Prime Minister Scott Morrison has called it “regrettable” that his Senators showed their support for her, and the Coalition’s Finance Minister says the motion was backed by mistake (but we call bullshit). Channel 7 News is in the midst of conducting a poll – at the time of writing, nearly 65,000 people had voted, and 62 per cent of them had done so in favour of the One Nation Senator.
Whilst some voters may hold these views due to deep-seated notions of white supremacy and a sense of entitlement to what has been well-established to be stolen land (“I’m actually from the First Fleet”), we at Global Hobo like to believe that others are just misinformed. Accordingly, we reckon if everyone was just better informed, they too would be shaking their heads at Pauline and telling her to return to her fish and chip shop (provided a migrant hasn’t taken her job).
So here you have it – a quick and easy guide to what the hell is the go with reverse racism and white pride. Whip it out at bingo or around the dinner table when someone starts praising Pauline’s failed Senate motion, or have a quick read while you’re on the loo to brush up on your knowledge and send any ignorance you may have lingering flying.
What even is racism?
Racism isn’t the same as other types of prejudice – it’s actually defined as historical and systematic discrimination. This means it needs to be rooted in history and supported by a society’s institutional policies and practices, which in turn shape the beliefs and values held by that society. Basically, to be considered racism, racial prejudice needs to be backed by power.
So when white people are the victims of prejudice based on the colour of their skin – say if someone calls a white person a “white cunt” or assumes they have no rhythm – sure, it’s racial prejudice, but because it’s not happening on an equal playing field, and white people are afforded far more privilege and power than people of colour in our society, it’s not racism.
If you have trouble wrapping your head around how racism can be systematic, think about history and the systems we have in place and how they – directly or indirectly – have benefitted white people. We’ve got obvious ones like slavery and colonialism, but there are less obvious ones too, like being paid your welfare in food stamps instead of money because you’re Aboriginal, or not getting a bank loan even though your income is higher than that of a white person who was granted one at the same institution just because you’re black.
Why isn’t reverse racism real?
Basically, if you’re white and someone has been mean to you about your skin colour, that’s probably as far as it will ever go. The scale just isn’t even close; you can’t equate your experiences to the historically entrenched racism that people of colour experience, and because white people have all of the power (Tony Abbott is a special envoy for Indigenous Affairs, FFS), it’s not like a person of colour is going to suddenly be able to define the terms of your existence or limit any of your rights or opportunities.
As human rights lawyer Anthony Morgan said, reverse racism does not exist, and anyone who claims otherwise is “outing themselves as someone who has little-to-no experience or knowledge of what racism is”. But you are no longer that kind of someone, because now you know.
Is there a rise in violent crime against white people in Australia?
What’s wrong with celebrating whiteness?
If you’re Italian, maybe you have a tattoo of your nonna on your chest and will proudly proclaim the difference between a good and a shit tomato when you’re at Coles. If you’re Chinese, perhaps you celebrate the Lantern Festival and are stoked at the fact your culture is the creator of so many ancient wonders. That’s fine – such pride is not negative, nor is it jingoistic or ethnocentric.
If you’re white, obviously there’s a lot to be ashamed of (namely colonising and fucking with most of the world), but more importantly, being white isn’t a culture. It’s a skin colour.
You want to celebrate your culture? Be my guest. Dress in a dirndl and go to Oktoberfest if you’ve got German heritage; wear green on St Patty’s Day if you’re Irish – whatever European culture your roots hark back to, you’ll be able to find an organisation and a day dedicated to celebrating it. And that’s fine. Just don’t celebrate your skin colour on the basis that it’s been used throughout history to exclude groups of people from the rights guaranteed to everyone else (White Australia Policy, anyone? Which by the way even tried to exclude those now considered white, like Austrians and Kiwis).
(In saying that, yes, black is also a skin colour, but black people have a lot to be proud of – surviving, for one. On top of that, black people were enslaved and their cultures were robbed from them. For example, Americans with African heritage are descended from slaves. As someone more articulate than me said, “They can’t have Liberian pride or Congolese pride, or ‘insert African country’ pride because they have no f*cking idea where their ancestors came from other than the broad region of West Africa.”)
We sincerely hope this has helped you wrap your head around racism and white supremacy, and pray that politics and Channel 7 can now return their attention to all the other things they consider more important than sick children in detention centres and women dying at the hands of their male partners, such as Barnaby Joyce’s baby, horse racing ads on the Opera House and the dangers of eating strawberries.
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Gemma Clarke is the editor-in-chief of Global Hobo. She spends her time contracting tinea in foreign countries, taking afternoon naps in her van and drinking red wine through a (bamboo) straw.