One of the wonderful things about free speech is that it allows genuinely loopy ideas to be paraded in front of the masses, where all of their flaws can be unflatteringly displayed. The populace, alert to such defects, can give the proffered ideas a gentle squeeze and a sniff, like a thrifty shopper in the produce aisle, leaving behind what is unattractive and unsound, to moulder and decay on the shelf.
The manifold flaws in the platform pushed by these modern-day Blackshirts are now exposed for all to see. This spasm of knee-jerk racism having been splashed over media, the protagonists can return to their reality-proof bunkers to congratulate themselves on having made Australia a safer place for their "way of life".
It is worthwhile, perhaps, to make a few observations about this most recent manifestation of Australian racism and bigotry, of which all Australians should now be aware.
Firstly, there is the name of the movement: 'Reclaim Australia'. Precisely from what, or whom, Australia needs to be reclaimed is not spelled out with any clarity.
Some guidance can be found on the Facebook page of the movement, which states:
‘We as patriotic australians (sic) need to stand together to stop halal tax, sharia law and islamisation’.
Looking at some of the banners of those few brave crusaders who took to the streets on April 4, an overriding concern appears to be the introduction of Sharia Law in Australia.
It is by no means clear when Australia is supposed to have fallen under the sway of the Caliphate, from which it must now, apparently with some urgency, be reclaimed.
The news on this front is, of course, spectacularly good, from the point of view of those paralysed with the fear of such a legal system. There is no sharia law in Australia – anywhere, at any level of government – and never has been.
If it were possible to comfort a paranoid with reason, then the fact that the prospect of sharia law being introduced into any part of the Australian legal system is, to say the least, impossibly remote, would do so.
To believe such a dramatic event is somehow likely a person would need to be entirely ignorant of the Australian constitution and the legal and political system it underpins. It would be puzzling if a group describing itself as composed of "patriots" were to be so unaware of the nature of the legal system they appear to be (unnecessarily) seeking to defend.
The other alternative is that the individual espousing the belief would need to be suffering from some form of pathological fear of the introduction of sharia law, strong enough to override all verifiable evidence.
Secondly, the Reclaim Australia folk appear keen to be seen as "not racist", with various representatives declaiming the descriptor being applied to the group.
The rallies on 4 April have given lie to these fatuous claims. It would be very difficult for any reasonable observer to conclude other than that they were witnessing a group of racists displaying their racism, upon viewing the proceedings.
The Reclaim Australia website allows earnest patriots to download a variety of banners and leaflets. The website says that downloaded banners must not be altered in any way and any altered banners ‘will not be allowed at any of the rallies’. There may have been a breakdown in the system of vetting banners, a bald attempt to clothe the racist fearmongering in faux respectability, demonstrated by these banners here and here.
Thirdly, the movement (if it can be called that) appears to be deeply concerned about a loss of Australian sovereignty. Some of the banners available for download on the Reclaim Australia page proclaim
‘... reclaim Australia over the UN’ and ‘reclaim our laws, our ways, our nation’.
To the extent that ‘our laws’ and ‘our ways’ are represented by the Australian legal system and what can, perhaps, broadly be described as the (white) Australian way of life, it is very difficult to see that either of those things are under any credible threat from the direction of Islam in general and sharia law in particular.
While the dim and deluded advertised their shortcomings before an incredulous public last weekend, a real threat to Australian sovereignty, the Australian legal system and way of life is looming.
Reclaim Australia appears unaware of and unconcerned by the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), which essentially will allow multinational corporations to sue the Australian government for damages where Australian laws affect corporate profits.
Of course, real threats to the integrity of the Australian political and legal system may be a little beyond the grasp of your average white supremacist.
Prime Minister Abbott appears sanguine at the prospect of a loss of sovereignty to multinational corporations, who will be able to hold his, and future, governments, to ransom and scuttle any form of legislation designed to better the position of the Aussie battlers the "Reclaimers" claim to represent.
It is interesting that the Prime Minister has loudly called for a "clamp down" on groups inciting religious and racial hatred, but appears prepared to give his tacit approval to the Reclaim Australia extremists.
Worse, the Reclaim Australia phenomenon appears to be nothing more than a response to the frantic dog-whistling of Abbott and his cronies, ever since they discovered it was their only path back to something resembling popularity with the punters. Doubtless, there is room for the bigoted and hate-filled "Reclaimers" in Mr Abbott’s narrow-minded vision of Team Australia.
Just as Cronulla was the logical end-point of the Howard fear-mongering, so the ugly scenes on display on April 4 are a direct consequence of Abbott whipping up of fear and loathing of Islam.
Reclaim Australia will disappear presently, but the groups behind it, like the Australia Defence League, will continue to foment hatred as long as they know that their particular brand of extremism is approved of by the Australian Government.
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Reclaim rallies are the result of years of cynical dog whistle politics upon an ignorant, badly informed populace. pic.twitter.com/yK2kUX7fik— Dave Donovan (@davrosz) April 4, 2015