In Australia recently a white racist called Pauline Hanson was elected to the Senate. This woman first ran for office over 15 years ago on a racist fear campaign targeting Aboriginal and Asian people.
The racists crawled from under their rocks, happy to bash an Abo (abhorrent, racism term for Aborigines) and buy into fears that Asians would take over Australia.
The Asian invasion never happened.
But, undaunted by facts and the truth, Hanson popped up again to run yet another fear campaign, this time against Muslims in Australia. She lives for White Australia and the White Picket Fence, as well as spewing prejudice and hate. She has nothing more to offer Australians.
Similarly, in the United States, Donald Trump is also peddling fear, hate and division with his talk of “Make America Great Again”, his vicious comments about women, immigrants, Mexicans, Muslims, killing women and children in the Middle East if he thought their husbands might be in Daesh – you name it, he’s happy to take a swing at it.
And there are plenty more doing the same thing: Marine Le Pen in France; Geert Wilders in The Netherlands; the National Front and British National Party in the UK; Australian Liberty Alliance and Australia First in Australia; numerous extreme right-wing groups in the US.
The one characteristic of all the above, and other extreme right-wing organisations is that they are drawing a lot of support from people who are fed up with traditional party politics which have led to a dead-end. But they also get support from thugs and low-life who just like violence and hating “the other”. Because, hey, it’s easier to hate than it is to don our thinking cap, identify the real enemy, and sort out the mess which are capitalist economies these days.
I don’t know about other people but I’ve dithered in how to approach this whole issue of racism because I’m caught between something I espouse dearly, the power of love, and disgust at racist attitudes in people who may well be very nice people in their community but who have blinkers on when it comes to racism, or the Islamic religion, or the Jewish religion or disabled people – because where does the hate stop?
I dither because I make excuses for people – they have been screwed by the system; they’re angry at the loss of jobs; they are …. well, you can make a lot of excuses but I’m fed up making excuses.
Because today I saw two things: an image of a young Aboriginal boy in a Northern Territory prison in Australia with a hood over his face strapped into a chair which could have been photographed in the infamous Abu Ghraib prison in Iraq; and a movie about the death of a young black man, Emmett Till, in the US in the ‘fifties for the alleged crime of daring to whistle at a white woman. The image of that young man’s face after he’d been beaten to a pulp, had his eye gouged out, been shot in the head then thrown into the Tallahatchie river haunts me. His mother, bravely, insisted on an open coffin so that people could see the brutality enacted on this 14-year-old by his white kidnappers. A white jury found two men arrested for this savage crime not guilty after deliberating for less than an hour.
And frankly, I thought “Fuck it”. I’m over making excuses for racists. Absolutely over it. Because these people who scream horrible, racist slogans, who deface synagogues and mosques, who feel it’s okay to abuse on the streets people they don’t like are cowards. Yellow-bellied cowards. Gutless. Hateful people. I am so over making excuses.
If you abuse complete strangers because you’re too damned stupid to find out facts, to realise that the person you’re abusing is someone’s wife, husband, child, sister, mother or father, take the consequences. Take responsibility for being a hateful person.
I’m sick of hearing people with racist views whining about being called racist. It’s tough love, princes and princesses, so damned well suck it up. Racism leads to the Emmett Tills of the past. It leads to the police killings of black people in the US where white people make excuses for what is legalised murder. It leads to the resurgence of the Ku Klux Klan, a hateful organisation. It leads to the vigilante killing of a young, unarmed black man, Trayvon Martin, and then we watched as the murdered youth was trashed in the papers and his killer got off scot-free.
In Australia the result of racism is the horrendous picture of that young man in the NT prison. Aboriginal people are jailed out of all proportion to their presence in overall society, often because so-called “tough laws” deliberately target Aboriginal people who face discrimination, poverty, exclusion from society, and so on. I know this because I lived in Queensland where I heard a horrible “joke” denigrating that wonderful athlete Cathy Freeman the day after she won a gold medal in the 2000 Sydney Olympics.
My husband heard a worker at the Ipswich power station complain that early settlers had fallen down on the job by not exterminating Aboriginal people altogether.I’ve heard a friend’s husband stating that asylum seekers and refugees arriving by boat should be thrown overboard and shot. I thought he was joking but, when I queried him, he meant it. I’ve lived in a small town in New South Wales where three children disappeared, the police turned a blind eye and reckoned the 4-year-old “went walkabout”, until it emerged that all three had been murdered. No-one has faced the white justice system for these killings.
I return to saying that racists are fundamentally weak, gutless people because they never have to face the consequences of their racism – the abuse on the street; the calls in the UK after the Brexit referendum to “go home where you came from”, being yelled at on buses, having insults screamed at you on the streets, as happened to Aboriginal kids twenty years ago when Hanson was on the rise, or be attacked and killed for the crime of being black of Muslim, kids getting scared to go to school in the US because they fear deportation, black kids terrified of being shot by police, women wearing the Muslim veil being abused or having their headscarf ripped off.
No, it’s okay to throw out racist insults because you don’t cop it yourself, racists. You can go on your smug, self-satisfied way, patting yourself on the back because you fancy yourself superior to those who are different to you. But as Shakespeare says, “Aye, there’s the rub” because racists, in their cowardice are inferior beings, living little, contemptible lives.
Quoting Shakespeare again, however: “To be or not to be”. You have the choice. You can wallow in shit, or you can rise up and open your heart to humanity and live your life with love not hate. The choice is yours but, if you choose racism, be prepared to face the consequences and don’t start pathetic whining because you elect to play little. Because eventually racism will be given an indecent burial and be careful, if you’re racist, that you don’t get buried along with the racism.