Earlier this week, 9news.com.au published an article about a Reclaim Australia supporter – Nathan Paterson – who is upset because people are judging him on his looks.
“People judge you just for the way you look, without knowing anything about you, which I think, that’s not fair,” Nathan said.
This is our open letter to Nathan.
We saw your story on 9news. We wanted to let you know that we wholeheartedly agree with your statement.
When people call us names based on how we look, it really hurts. It makes us feel anxious. They don’t really know who we are, so who are they to judge?
When people abuse us based on what we wear, it makes us feel frustrated. Nobody else has the right to tell us what type of clothing is acceptable.
When people ridicule the way we present ourselves – you have been ridiculed about your tattoos so we know you can sympathise with us – when people do this we feel that it is unfair. They talk about us from a distance so we don’t get the right of reply.
Why do people judge others before they get to know them? It doesn’t make sense.
Like you, we want to be defined by what we do and say as individuals, not by how we look.
All Together Now supporters
Reclaim Australia has been around for less than a year, and already they have generated a reputation that many Australians don’t want to be associated with. Their Islamaphobic slogans and swastika-tattooed supporters clearly demonstrate what they really stand for.
Earlier in the year, Jimmy Barnes, John Farnham and John Schumann asked that their music not be played as anthems at Reclaim Australia rallies. This past weekend, Mark Seymour from Hunters & Collectors joined them. Mainstream Australia is turning its back on Reclaim Australia and its divisive slogans.
As the Managing Director of an anti-racism organisation, one might assume that I would want to be on the front lines of the counter rallies to oppose Reclaim Australia, dishing out abuse to racists who would like to see an end to Islamic faith in Australia.
However that’s not how most anti-racists behave. Most of us believe in peaceful protest and nonviolent action. We are compassionate towards the targets and the perpetrators of racism. Yes that’s right – we are compassionate towards the perpetrators!
I have met former far-right nationalists and have seen first hand that it is possible for them to turn their lives around. Having witnessed this, I know that a compassionate approach can enable a violent extremist to transform his or her life and become an integrated member of society.
Conversely, when anti-racism protestors hurl abuse at perpetrators, they ensure people with racist views continue to hold their problematic beliefs. Far-right extremist groups like Reclaim Australia exist because members are looking for something to belong to – and for most of them this means a group where fear-fuelled beliefs about Islamic practices are shared and perpetuated. Abusing members of Reclaim Australia makes them feel more connected and legitimate.
Some anti-racists might attend Reclaim Australia rallies because they do not want people with strong racist views to present their oppressive ideas in a public space. I completely agree with this sentiment; however I disagree with their method of trying to prevent it. I believe that abuse simply breeds more abuse. Given the history and effects of racism in Australia we need more effective methods of preventing racism.
So, you may ask, if I’m not protesting then what am I doing to prevent racism? Instead of attending the protest in Sydney last weekend, I spent my weekend studying. I’ve been awarded a full scholarship to study an MBA. Studying business is giving me the privilege and opportunity to address interpersonal and systemic racism from another perspective. That is, I believe that social change comes through strategic thinking, effective leadership, and academic evidence, not through violent protest. My MBA studies are enabling me to work in this way.
If, like me, you believe that there is power and dignity in non-violent action and that it can effectively advance racial equality I urge to you seek creative ways of doing this. There are plenty of options.
Priscilla Brice is the Managing Director of All Together Now, the national anti-racism organisation. All Together Now’s project Community Action for Preventing Extremism (CAPE) works to undermine recruitment by white supremacists.
All Together Now is pleased with Australian and Communication Media Authority’s (ACMA) decision announced today that the “All-Asian Mall” story aired on a A Current Affair breached the Commercial TV Industry Code of Practice.
In November 2012 All Together Now sought an explanation by Channel 9 as to how the segment was allowed to air. All Together Now believed that the story did not portray Asian people in a respectful and unbiased way and that it contravened the Code.
After an unsatisfactory response from Channel 9, All Together Now contacted ACMA to investigate further. ACMA this morning sent us a 45-page investigation report. It found that:
Channel Nine’s A Current Affair has breached three clauses of the Commercial Television Industry Code of Practice in a broadcast which:
ACMA recommended that Channel Nine make a public statement acknowledging the findings and that it remove the segment from Channel Nine’s website.All Together Now is pleased that Channel Nine has agreed to both of these remedies, with the public statement expected to be aired during A Current Affair tonight.
This will be the first time a commercial tabloid current affairs program has agreed to issue such an on-air statement.
A collection of stories from Australia about racism, curated by All Together Now
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