It’s a line you’ve either overheard at a bar spewed by a drunken nationalist or immortalised on a sticker on the back of a ute. It’s a line you’ve either unequivocally agreed with or awkwardly shifted away from. Theantibogan is a website that does neither. It aggressively challenges the very origins of the catch phrase that has divided a nation.
Referring to itself as an anonymous entity playing Internet watchdog, it republishes the diatribes of people making publicly racist and other forms of bigoted comments under the guise of patriotism, the protection of a so-called constitution of Freedom of Speech and a defence of a so far undefined Australian ‘culture’.
The hypocrisy of the ‘love it or leave’ line is that the very people who are touting it are usually the ones who are so outwardly fed up with the state of the nation. They exhibit no love for the culturally diverse, progressive and educated Australian society that has been built on the backs of migrants. Australia truly is a multicultural country with one out of every two people either born overseas or having a relative born overseas. It would seem that if you’re the kind of person who believes in the ‘love it or leave’ mantra, you must either learn to love or put up with multiculturalism – or pack your bags.
It seems that racism has always been a subtext in Australian society from the invasion of Australia and the declaration of Terra Nullius (the idea that Aborigines were not really people, but vexatious fauna) to the White Australia Policy and the subsequent decades of discrimination towards Asians, Italians, Greeks, Indians and other scary, slightly different looking lifeforms.
Successive Australian governments have continued to disadvantage Aboriginal Australia, giving with the one hand and taking with the other. Meanwhile the rest of society watches on, unwilling to challenge the frequently presented negative generalisation that Aboriginal people are all drunken criminals.
Last week, the Australian Football League (AFL) promoted ‘Indigenous Round’ which was supposed to slide us harmoniously into National Reconciliation Week. Tens of thousands of true blue Aussies cracked the shits at Adam Goodes who pointed out a girl in the crowd who aggressively screamed at him, calling him an ‘ape’. Later on she claimed she didn’t know that the term was racist or offensive in any way, much to the soothing tuts and nods of those defending freedom of speech.
Many have been quick to denounce her actions but a similar amount of people have been quick to defend her. Perhaps she should have taken a ‘love it or leave’ approach to Aboriginals who can play football, vote and be counted in the National census. Security asked her to leave.
In 2011, one in seven people was racially discriminated against, which is nearly 3 million people. Nearly half of our population hailing from a culturally diverse background has experienced racism and three out of every four Indigenous Australians regularly experience racism. Nearly 30% of people living in NSW and Queensland harbour negative views about Muslims and it can be argued that such irrational resentment can contribute to a shift towards extremism for some misguided young men.
Islamaphobia is rife in Australia with sensationalist media outlets like Today Tonight, A Current Affair and various Murdoch rags fanning the flames whenever there is a slow news day. So desperate are these aspiring journalists to hit a nerve and attract publicity to a sensitive story that they rarely bother to illustrate the thoughts and feelings of mainstream Muslims in Australia, instead choosing to interview underground garage-preaching shady sheikhs ad nauseum about how stoning women who have been raped should be part of an Australia that Islam apparently wants shifted away from democracy and equality.
So where does the ‘love it or leave it’ mantra fit in here? In 2010, Australia welcomed fewer than 2% of refugees worldwide, yet after reading an issue of The Daily Telegraph or the Herald Sun on any given day, one would be forgiven for thinking that there were hordes of faux asylum-seekers literally docking their cruiseliners at Bondi and hacking through the beach-goers with machetes and Qurans. Yet when one takes a closer look at where refugees are actually coming from around the world, we can see that out of the top refugee contributing countries, Burma (Myanmar), Bhutan, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Ethiopia are all healthily represented – all with Muslim minorities.
The ‘love it or leave’ and the ‘f— off we’re full’ approaches are divisive and destructive to the cause of cultural diversity and societal harmony. It can be argued that people caught up in image and identity inferiority are more inclined to become extremist and isolationist. If there’s one way to radicalise a person risking their life by escaping from a country full of war and terror, it’s to label them as being the very scum they’ve run away from.
Why risk a self-fulfilling prophecy by trying on the notion that all human beings can find commonality and share a sense of community with one another, regardless of background or religion? These guys wouldn’t.