It almost seems as though political right-wing extremism comes and goes in cycles As each cycle comes round again so the latest advocates of right-wing ideology need to find different ways of putting distance between themselves and the excesses and abhorrent reputations of their predecessors.
Today’s cycle of Australian right-wing extremists, who through the virtues of modern instantaneous communication technology are closely associated with like-minded right-winger extremists around the world, are a mixed bag. Most in Australia, however, because of their distinct nationalistic tendencies, reflect attitudes that are racist and supportive of the notions of ‘Western Exceptionalism’. For some of them their racism is blatant; Keith Windschuttle and Andrew Bolt for example, are classic haters of non-whites who are obsessed with the idea of Western monoculturalism flavoured with what they consider is the unique culture of ‘Australianism’.
The latest crop of right-wing extremists have found a new way of putting distance between themselves and the genocidal practices and propaganda of past outrageous right-wing racists. They do this by simply denying they are racist and they even deny, as Keith Windschuttle does, that white people in Australia were collectively racist or practiced racism as a matter of policy. They go to extraordinary lengths, for example, to deny that any Aboriginal children were taken away from their parents by white governments for the purpose of depleting and ‘breeding out’ the Aboriginal population. Windschuttle also denies that there was any wholesale slaughter of Aboriginal people in Australia and infers that what killings did occur were merely as result of just a few white settlers protecting themselves and their properties and families. Aboriginals that died at the hands of police were, according to Windschuttle, only killed while the police were going about their lawful duty imposing white colonial law on the Aboriginal peoples. Never mind that police were often summoned to protect settlers from Aborigines that were only trying to reclaim the lands that were stolen from them by the settlers in the first place.
Today’s Australian racists insist that they are monoculturalists and decry multiculturalism. While they recognise that since settlement there has been an influx of many races into Australia, they claim that Australia has maintained a uniform sense of culture because the vast majority of migrants have been British or white northern European. The extent to which any form of multiculturalism has been accepted of late by today's new breed of Australian racist is to recognise the culture that Mediterranean peoples, particularly Italians and Greeks, have brought to Australia; indeed, many of Australia’s new breed of Australian racists are themselves descendents of Italians and Greeks and who today are readily accepted by modern Anglo-Australian racists.
There is today a vast difference between the vision of a united Australia and a monoculturalist Australia; a difference which today's modern Australian racists are unable to accept.
Most Australians are pleased about being able to live in Australia regardless of their origins. Despite the best efforts of past racists, most people that have come to Australia from elsewhere on the planet have found a home and a place in the community while still being able to practice freely their culture and religion. They found or created work and businesses for themselves and built places they can share with others in the community from different origins. They have been able to do this while keeping for themselves aspects of their heritage and history that are important to them. All this has been achieved largely in an atmosphere of acceptance and tolerance. It is multiculturalism at its best.
But the racists of Australia want to stop multiculturalism from evolving any further.
Since British settlement in Australia there have been many waves of immigrants including Northern European, then Mediterranean, Eastern European, and Asian, and all in turn have contributed richly to Australia’s ever-changing culture. Today there is a new wave of immigrants arriving. They are predominately Muslims, many from countries that Australia has been militarily involved in or from countries that have been in civil wars in Asia and Africa. Most come as refugees seeking asylum and a new life just as so many new Australians have done before. It is these people that the modern Australian racists object to. They simply don’t want Islamic peoples to come to Australia. They don’t want African people to come to Australia. They insist that, if they do come, then at the very least, they must become ‘Australian’ as though there was some rigid specification that defines the Australian character that must be enforced upon all that come here turning them from what they are to what the racists want them to be – except, of course, they never can be because they are non-white and/or Muslims.
Today's modern racists fear that the latest wave of newcomers will change the Australian character. It is this fear of change that motivates their racism, as indeed it has motivated all racism down through the ages. As a result, today's modern Australian racist has no respect for the culture and heritage of many of those that are arriving at our shores today – many of them literally as they arrive by boat as asylum seeking refugees.
Today’s Australian racist vehemently draws the line at allowing migration to Australia by Islamic and African peoples. They want it stopped. For them the change is too much, too quickly.
Modern Australian racists have a number of resources at their disposal with which to peddle their message. Racist Australian journalists such as Tim Blair, Piers Akerman, Andrew Bolt, et al, are able to disseminate their racist ideology through their columns at various mainstream Rupert Murdoch-owned newspapers and online blogs. They have built around themselves a network of like-minded Australians who refer to each other via links on their blogs. Most of their work is by inference rather than directly through their own ideas. They have a strong propensity to cut and paste cherry-picked extracts of other peoples work and use them in their columns. They do this for several reasons. Firstly, if what they are using comes across as being too outrageous, they can simply claim they are quoting someone else; secondly, they hope that, if the piece quoted and linked to is from a person of note then it somehow gives weight and credibility to the journalists racist argument; thirdly, it gives the impression that the author of the original work used is supportive of the racist view when, invariably, if one reads the whole original article, they are not, it’s just that the segment used has been used outside of the original context; and finally, where they can find support from like-minded racists that purport to be people of note, they will work closely with each other to provide mutual support for each others views. The relationship between Keith Windschuttle, a historian, author and editor of the extreme right-leaning Quadrant magazine, and Melbourne’s Herald-Sun’s Andrew Bolt is a classic example of two fervent racists who closely support each other through their respective publications.
Recently, Bolt was taken to the Federal court to answer charges of racial vilification. He was found guilty. The verdict effectively silenced Bolt from directly saying or publishing anything that was likely to be construed in any way as vilifying other peoples, especially people that identify as being indigenous. Bolt has argued that this was an infringement on his freedom of speech while the judge merely ruled that Bolt had deliberately contravened Australia’s racial vilifications laws. The judgement was seen by many on the right – and also a few on the left – as an attack on freedom of speech.
Since the judgement has been made, there have been moves by the government to establish a news media regulatory body to limit the political power of the media in accordance with the recommendations of the Finkelstein Report of the Independent Enquiry into the Media and Media Regulation. The release of the report and its recommendations has caused uproar in the media industry. And the irony is, because so much of Australia’s media is owned by Murdoch and staffed by his army of loyal right-wing journalists and commentators, most debate within the print and online media itself has been stifled with only denouncements of the proposal making any headway. Andrew Bolt, unsurprisingly, is up there amongst those leading the assault against the notion of a regulated media.
Using his well-honed propagandist skills, Bolt has been able to use the judgement made against him about further vilifying people as a tool in his fight against media regulation and what he perceives to be a withdrawal of his rights to ‘freedom of speech’. In his column at the Herald-Sun, Bolt is constantly referring to the fact that he is unable to comment about certain subjects, i.e., the physical appearance of a person identifying as an Indigenous Australian, through fear of being prosecuted for contempt of court as well as further charges of racial vilification. By merely stating this at his blog, Bolt effectively (but not literally) invites his followers and fellow travellers that operate other blogs to make comments that directly reflect Bolt’s opinions which, had he said himself, would possibly have seen him back in court. Bolt’s fellow Murdoch propagandists and bloggers, Piers Akerman and Tim Blair at Sydney’s Daily Telegraph are more than happy to oblige by writing posts that support and cross link to Bolt. And, since Bolt is unable to allow even comments at his own blog on these matters, Akerman and Blair are quite happy to allow commenters to use their blogs for Bolt supporters to express themselves. Indeed, many of Bolt’s regular commenters can also be seen at making comments at Akerman and Blair’s blogs.
Bolt has also relied on Windschuttle’s support. In his most recent piece at Quadrant, Windschuttle, while taking care not to even mention Bolt, says he will defy any legislation that prevents him from publishing material that becomes controlled. Bolt, however, readily links to Windschuttle’s article.
The modern Australian racist’s propaganda, both in the mainstream media and within the extreme right-wing peripheral blogs that they link to, has become relentless. There’s barely a day goes by that the likes of Akerman, Blair and Bolt don’t make some kind of either blatant or inferred racist comment.
The only reason that these racists fear their so-called ‘freedom of speech’ being curtailed is because it will prevent them from continuing to peddle their racist ideology.
The reality is that there is no such thing as ‘free speech’; somebody always has to pay. People that identify themselves as Indigenous have to pay. People who are asylum seeking refugees have to pay. People who are Muslims have to pay. People who are Africans have to pay. They have to pay for no other reasons than for being what they are. The quicker the freedom to vilify other people for being different is removed from the network of racists in the media, then the better for Australia and the better for the world.
Our country already has freedom of speech; what the likes of Australia’s modern racists don’t have, and should never have, is the freedom preach hatred and to vilify people just because they are not the same as the racists.