Inspired by rage and reason- my response to Fraser Anning’s pitiful fragility.
Why Fraser Anning is wrong about Muslim Australians
What Fraser Anning doesn’t understand is hatemongers will never conquer the resilience and power of our diverse communities.
Fraser Anning has won the coveted prize for being the first Australian politician this side of the 21st century, to not only call for a ban on Muslim immigration, laud the White Australia policy but slip in a reference to the ‘final solution’ – and he got our attention.
Though Anning maintains his use of ‘final solution‘ has been deliberately misunderstood. I would posit that after lauding a return to a White Australia policy then throwing Muslims and non-English speaking migrants under the bigot bus, his comments were far from misconstrued. I believe it is what we call a Freudian slip, Fraser. Look it up – its somewhere between ‘falsehood’ and ‘fraught’ in the Oxford Dictionary.
Leaders have a responsibility for calling out the vitriol like that of Anning. While today’s condemnations from Prime Minister Turnbull and opposition leader Bill Shorten MP go some way in ameliorating the sting of those words, it is impossible to discount the conditions that have enabled this.
Australia is a nation built by people from every part of this world; a strong, independent, multicultural nation.
Australians overwhelmingly support values of tolerance, respect, acceptance and equality.
We must continue to promote inclusion by rejecting all forms of racism.
— Senator Penny Wong (@SenatorWong) 11:30 AM – Aug 15, 2018
The disgraceful and divisive comments by Senator Anning yesterday were a low point for our parliament. But this morning’s contribution from @SenatorWong is a reminder that there is plenty of good in this place.
— Bill Shorten (@billshortenmp) 10:00 AM – Aug 15, 2018
Well said Alan. Australia is the most successful multicultural society in the world built on a foundation of mutual respect. We reject and condemn racism in any form.
— Malcolm Turnbull (@TurnbullMalcolm) 9:46 PM – Aug 14, 2018
Indeed our political establishment and discourse have nurtured an environment that has emboldened individuals to spew forth divisive rhetoric with impunity.
The sentiment underpinning Anning’s remarks go to an exhausted trope of ‘Muslim siege’ mentality that is as flawed as it is incendiary.
In a delivery fraught with lies and lacking any statistical basis, Anning demonstrated a stunning lack of knowledge about a community whose presence in this country originates in the 1600’s, via Maccassan pearl divers settling in Australia’s north-west region, marrying into Indigenous communities. The following streams of Muslims in the 19th century, like the cameleers from India, Pakistan and Afghanistan, were involved in mining and building this country’s railway and building infrastructure. They too, were overlooked.
As for the current contributions and accomplishments of today’s Australian Muslims at 2.2% of the population, they comprise of taxpayers, CEOs, entrepreneurs, writers, surgeons, artists, engineers, educators, MPs, parents, students, law enforcement officers, academics, sport stars, actors and TV anchors. Apparently their invisibility is essential in maintaining an Anning-like grasp on reality.
The continued spate of Islamophobia has only escalated in recent weeks. From prime time platforms allocated to conservative pundits spewing hateful rhetoric, to tabloid coverage inciting fear about Muslims, it feels like it is open season. And to be honest, it’s frightening.
The consequences of such wanton racist attacks are real. Last year’s Islamophobia Report detailed the extent to which hate crimes impact the physical and psychological well- being of Australian Muslims across the county who continue to suffer a range of abuses from online trolling to fire bombed mosques.
What Anning and his ilk do not comprehend, is that try as they might, they will never conquer the resilience and power of our diverse and strong communities. We have survived and will continue to thrive. Australia is a diverse and robust multicultural society – when it works. We are a nation built on migrants and their contributions.
In a quest to maintain relevance, the demagogue’s only line of attack is hyper reaction and a desire to incite division. This predictable approach lacks both nuance and sustainability and will only serve to expose their self-serving agenda for relevance in the short term.
Muslims and migrants are easy fodder for a news grabbing headline and sure fire way to bolster your career and ratings. Sadly, the collateral damage in the after shock of their bigoted rants, relegates 2.2% of the population into a state of vigilance, wondering when this will end.
Until then, we remain fighting for the right to be respected, protected and included in our own home.
We shall not be moved.
Tasneem Chopra is a freelance writer and former curator of the Islamic Museum of Australia. You can follow her on Twitter @TasChop.