Human rights Opinion

Far-Right fails to shut down Rainbow Storytime event

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Storytime events featuring drag queens are being targeted by neo-Nazis (Image by White Rose Society)

The Australian Far-Right recently targeted an LGBTQ-inclusive Rainbow Storytime event. However, this time, tactics of issuing threats until the event was cancelled didn’t work, writes Tom Tanuki.

ANOTHER RAINBOW Storytime event was targeted by the Far-Right last weekend in the NSW Wollongong suburb of Thirroul. This time, the usual campaign tactic – issuing a bunch of specific threats to performers, politicians and so on until the event is cancelled – didn’t work.

Event hosts accepted the well-meaning presence of the local community with plans to show up to protect and support the event — which went ahead. And it went well. Nothing bad happened. Nobody was hurt. Success.

That’s no surprise at all. The Australian Far-Right has never yet mounted a successful physical response to a Rainbow Storytime or queer-friendly youth event. Every cancellation has been due to concerns that range in legitimacy from an understandable fear of reprisal to a bureaucratic paranoia about risk and indemnity. 

But, again: they’ve never really done much. Their threats have been hollow — a silencing tactic for homophobic clicktivists who don't seem to want to hurt anybody. Every time an event goes ahead, it’s a success on the inside. And on the outside, an increasingly large community support contingent is afforded another opportunity to show how it can protect children’s events from cancellation.

With all these cancellations, it’s almost unfortunate for the Australian Far-Right that it rarely gets the opportunity to show how well-organised it is. After all, there have been so many successes — it must really have gotten things together! 

And in Thirroul, it did everything right: issued all the threats and publicly announced the protest, after which self-declared neo-Nazis signalled their intent to come. That’s usually enough for event hosts to panic. 

That’s why Thirroul is a helpful case study — because the event went ahead anyway. It should show us the stretch capacity of the country's Far-Right to materialise locally on this most important activist matter: cancelling children’s activities.

Well. About that.

There was a small gaggle of these guys (see image below). They had their neo-Nazi get-up on — all their little black suns and ‘88s (that’s 88 = HH = Heil Hitler, for the uninformed). Lots of guns on their shirts and stuff, but we’re supposed to believe they’re out protecting children! No worries.

(Image courtesy of White Rose Society)

This protestor (see image below) is sieg-heiling Hitler outside the library. Presumably, in case any kids inside the event can see? I think these scumbags may be part of Illawarra Activ88, which includes violent local gaolbird-neo-Nazis and some hangers-on. My suggestion to these people is to leave children’s events alone if you're possibly ineligible for a Working with Children Check yourself.

(Image courtesy of White Rose Society)

There was also a One Nation idiot standing right next to the neo-Nazis (see image below). These are the kind of soft-brained morons who’ll be first to howl at you about Nazis in Ukraine, or the Left being the real Nazis, or whatever other line they’ve been drip-fed as culture war fodder. 

But their keen fascist detection systems go down when they literally stand next to literal neo-Nazis. Presumably, actual Australian neo-Nazis view One Nation types and cookers as useful pawns — and sometimes, they’re right. They really are gullible.

(Image courtesy of White Rose Society)

The organiser of the protest showed up — late, mind you. His name is Joel Davis. He is a neo-Nazi.

In a public conversation with other neo-Nazis, Davis recently said he believes it’s permissible for a woman to marry at 14.

Davis specifically said:

“To me, that’s reasonable... Women do mature, physically, in general, faster than men, so the idea of a man being... a few years older makes sense.” 

When confronted over his pro-paedophilia statements, he and his Australian neo-Nazi comrades suddenly become partial to more shades of grey than they’re able to envision regarding certain Storytime events. They equivocate at length over what is ephebophilia versus what is paedophilia, transforming into surprise lovers of nuance.

In essence, it sounds like Australian neo-Nazis want to be able to marry and have sex with children, as long as it only happens across "traditional" gender lines. 

Setting aside my issues with this brazen support for paedophilia, I simply don’t understand how these people expect the public to take them seriously as children’s rights crusaders. I feel very deeply that Australian parents would be more comfortable with someone in makeup reading their child a book than having their child marry an adult Nazi with such beliefs.

So, anyway. Davis was there. Perhaps, hoping to spot a potential wife on the way into the Storytime event? Why else?

Not much else. The Far-Right protestors only included about 20 people. The community contingent protecting the children’s event numbered in excess of 100. They did their job well, so the fascists achieved nothing.

I hope, in future, this sends a sign to councils and other organisations who are spooked about such threats that there’s probably no need to cancel these types of events if this is all the Far-Right protestors have got. 

From the looks of Thirroul, it would seem the Far-Right didn't send its best... but I think it did.

Tom Tanuki is a writer, satirist and anti-fascist activist. Tom does weekly videos on YouTube commenting on the Australian political fringe. You can follow Tom on Twitter @tom_tanuki.

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