In denial over a deep vein of hate
Nick O’Malley and Matt Wade
The Sydney Morning Herald
February 6, 2010
The Indian media lambasted Australia as a nation of racists after attacks on their students – and they may be right. Nick O’Malley and Matt Wade report.
For almost a decade Kevin Dunn has gathered the most comprehensive data on racism in Australia. Each year since 2001 he has surveyed 12,000 people across the nation, digging into their psyches to tease out details not only of the racist attitudes they may hold, but the racism they feel they suffer…
Among other things, Dunn was “stunned” to discover that, “as a group, Indians in Australia perceived themselves to be victims of racism as much as the Aboriginal community” — which is “as bad as racism gets” in this country, according to the Professor.
And he certainly has a point.
But while this perception may or may not be correct, it certainly suggests very strong feelings on the part of Indians in Australia. Leaving aside the apparent wave of assaults upon Indian students in particular (and especially in Melbourne), O’Malley and Wade proceed to make reference to the existence of “nationalist” Australian Facebook pages — such as ‘Speak English or Piss Off’ and ‘F— Off We’re Full’ — as evidence of a more generalised, non-Indian-specific, racial hostility.
Speak English or Piss Off Because We’re Full of F—ing Racists… Or Something
‘Speak English or Piss Off’ has 58,673 fans, and is “For those who STRONGLY BELIEVE that the AUSTRALIAN way of life (culture, language, clothing, etc) should be embraced by all who set foot on her soil and choose to live here.” On November 23, 2009, the group had 23,448 fans.
The slogan ‘F— Off We’re Full’ has been circulating for some years now, but it gained added notoriety on Australia Day 2009, when several hundred yoof ran around Manly in Sydney: three in particular were photographed and had their img splashed across the media. A later phone call to a local Sydney radio station by one of the girls (see : Australia Day Corso racist displays: Sharon realises she’s busted, rings 2GB, Hoyden About Town, January 30, 2009) revealed a less-than-coherent rationale for the action: “Um, because we … we didn’t actually meant it, in … in a racist way at all? Yes, it was racist, and stuff, but it was for the peop – it – it – I don’t know how explain it. It wasn’t against anyone in partic – especially in Australia.”
While xenophobic sentiment has been a mainstay of Australian culture for most if not all of its history, the Facebook group ‘F— Off We’re Full’ has gone up and down like a yo-yo over the last year or so, in response either to some form of hacking by critics or as Facebook responds to media criticism it cultivates racism (in explicit contradiction with its TOS). Established in the wake of incidents such as the above it remains, more or less, under the control of Darrin Hodges, currently the chief spokesperson for the ‘Australian Protectionist Party’ (and, it should be noted, formerly an avowed anti-Semite and Fascist admirer).
- For further disco on Facebook, racism and ‘viral expansion loops’, see : “Fuck Off We’re Full”, “Speak English or Piss Off!!!” – Australian hate-groups, viral expansion loops & Facebook, Bob Gosford, The Northern Myth/Crikey, January 9, 2010. SlowTV features a ‘debate’ — actually, a discussion — on Australia, history and racism featuring Henry Reynolds, John Hirst, Judith Brett, and Ghassan Hage from October 2009 here; also relevant is Drawing the Global Colour Line – Henry Reynolds, Marilyn Lake and David Marr @ Adelaide Writers’ Week (March 2008); of further relevance is the excellent two-volume series by Theodore W. Allen, The Invention of the White Race (Verso, 1994/1997) and ACRAWSA (Australian Critical Race and Whiteness Studies Association); Race & Class is another neat-o UK sauce of scholarly disco. Oh, and Benedict Anderson, Under Three Flags: Anarchism and the Anti-Colonial Imagination (Verso, 2007), Reviewed by April R. Biccum, Capital & Class, Autumn 2008 is worth taking note of, especially in terms of its examination of the transnational dimensions of race, racial(ist) politics and (anti)colonialism.
Racism and the far right
Along with its chief rival the ‘Australia First Party’ (under the leadership of fascist veteran Dr James Saleam), the APP has recently declared its having reached a membership of over 500, thus entitling the party to formally register with the AEC and obtain access to the various privileges other registered parties receive. AF, however, is further along the road to registration, having formally submitted its application, which is currently being processed by the Commission.
All things being equal, both parties are likely to be in a position to participate in the upcoming Federal election under their respective party banners and, in the less likely event their candidates receive 4% or more of first-preference votes, to also receive government funding.
With the registration of AF and APP, the far right in Australia will have turned a new page, one which follows upon the decline and eventual dissolution of previous formations such as ‘Australians Against Further Immigration’ (AAFI), the ‘Confederate Action Party’ (CAP), ‘National Action’ (NA), ‘One Nation Party’ (ONP), and several other, tinier, and even more obscure fascist groupuscules. Thus, while Pauline Hanson remains a nostalgic figure for many — in her last tilt at Parliament in 2009 in the State seat of Beaudesert, Hanson received 5,998 votes or 21.25%, placing third behind the ALP and Liberal National candidates — as a figure capable of uniting the disparate elements which comprise White nationalism, she is a spent force; at the same time, while one permutation on the ‘One Nation Party’ brand is still formally registered, many appear to have lost their passion for politics, while some others have gravitated to either AF or APP.
The far right network also includes openly neo-Nazi organisations and networks such as ‘Blood & Honour’, the ‘Southern Cross Hammerskins’, ‘Volksfront’ and fascist yoof organisations such as ‘Nationalist Alternative’ and the handful of teenyboppers associated with the ‘national anarchists’.
The links between the memberships of the more openly fascist and neo-Nazi groups and parties such as AF and APP are many and various: that said, both groups (but APP especially — and probably more genuinely) have made conscious efforts to shed neo-Nazi imagery, and to disavow any such link (see, for example, Martin Fletcher’s re-modelling of his ‘Down Under Newslinks’ website). In AF’s case, this can assume some fairly comical forms. Generally speaking, the ‘white nationalist’ milieu comprises perhaps several thousand individuals, adopts a variety of attitudes towards economic and cultural questions, is often volatile (with some internal disputes, very occasionally, assuming violent and even murderous form), and is still to establish a viable street presence.
See also : Pride & Prejudice : Mark White investigates the rise of Australia’s far right… (November 8, 2009) | Dreaming of An Aryan Jeannie : Australia First, Australian Protectionist Parties (July 10, 2009) | White With Fear : Flagging A New Hate (June 11, 2009).
AF is the leading fascist party in Australia. It’s led by a man with criminal convictions for fraud and for organising a shotgun assault upon the home of an opponent; invokes the Australian nativist tradition, and consciously models itself upon the German NPD. The Idealistic Faces Of “Australianism” (November 28, 2009) provides a profile of eleven leading men in the organisation; other supporters of AF have also gained notoriety. Disgraced neo-Nazi Nicole Hanley, for example, helped to organise AF’s last conference in September 2009, one proudly hosted by the Petersham RSL. Another neo-Nazi, Welf Herfurth, has a long history of involvement in the far right, both in Australia and Germany, and serves to provide another bridge between the German (and European) and Australian far right in terms of ideology, organisation, propaganda and even materials.
Most recently, Hanley has enthusiastically taken up the cause of the perennially beleaguered Australian cockie. On the world’s leading white supremacist forum Stormfront (‘Report from Farmers Rally in Canberra 2 Feb’, February 2, 2010), ‘BlueEyedBlonde’ joyfully recounts the presence of multi-millionaire shock jock Alan Jones at a rally in Canberra last week. (Besides providing an outlet for the endless complaints of several hundred local racists, SF is regularly used by Saleam/’radnat’ to broadcast his views and to attack his rivals on the far right; the administrator of its Australasian-based sub-forum is Perth plasterer Paul Innes/’Steelcap Boot’). In the universe of Australian nationalism, the Australian farmer eternally returns — despite, or perhaps even because, of the fact that Australian society is so massively urbanised.
January 26 — the day on which Australia celebrates its Goodness / the commencement of the genocidal assault upon its indigenous peoples — was marked by the usual proliferation of Australian flags (and mimicry of the American tradition of placing a flag on every available surface). AF held a tiny protest outside the Caringbah offices of Scott Morrison, the Shadow Minister for Immigration & Citizenship. According to AF (Eureka!, No.211, January 29, 2010):
The kerbside protest, complete with picket signs and National, Eureka and Federation flags, attracted shouts of approval from motorists on the packed Kingsway. Both the Sydney Morning Herald and The Australian gave the protest one-paragraph mentions in their reports of Australia Day in Sutherland Shire. Small mercies: probably at least 100,000 readers saw those small snippets. Members adjourned and met up with others for a BBQ and drinks. A large Australia First party banner draped over a fence on Princes Highway, Kirrawee, attracted further comment from enthusiastic passers-by.
Elsewhere, the online antics of AF have come to the attention of the rural press:
Refugee supporters receive hate mail
The Daily Advertiser
February 3, 2010
SUPPORTERS of Wagga’s African refugee community have become the target of “hate-filled” mail and phone calls from individuals claiming to represent the right-wing Australia First Party.
A fervent advocate of the region’s African migrant community, David Fletcher this week was shocked when a piece of unsolicited mail, purporting to be from the party, was delivered to his Forest Hill home.
Mr Fletcher, who has submitted several letters to The Daily Advertiser weighing into the debate surrounding an anonymous blog recently created by a Riverina Australia First Party supporter, said he was outraged by the contents of the letter…
Note that ‘AFP denies ‘hate-mail’ involvement’, The Daily Advertiser, February 5, 2010.
In drawing attention to the presence of black-skinned refugees in the Riverina, AF are hoping to revive an older tradition of racist antagonism, as well as draw attention to the use of non-White “contract labour” in rural industries. Ironically, AF also complains (Eureka!, No.210, January 24, 2010) that: “All those who favour contract labour and refugee privilege are lining up behind the local town political-economic mafias who prevail in many Australian regional towns. These little dictators take locals for granted and operate policies to their disadvantage.”
The irony here lies in the fact that party leader Saleam is himself the child of non-White migrants; further, “In a very working-class town, he was one of the spoilt rich kids” (see : Dr James Saleam & ‘The Audacity of Hate’, September 26, 2009).
Beyond this, AF is also attempting to capitalise upon the apparent spread of ill-feeling towards Indian students, boasting that ‘Australia First Grabs National And International Headlines In The Overseas Student Debate’ (Eureka!, No.212, February 1, 2010):
The Indian national magazine Outlook has interviewed Australia First in connection with its report “Do You Speak Australian?” This item dealt with so-called ‘racist’ harassment of Indian students in Australia.
As police are aware, the assaults and robberies directed at Indian students largely come from members of certain migrant groups – not Australians. If this is ‘racism’, then it is a different version of it!
But the issues are very complex and run very deep.
Has a member of your family not been able to get into a university or technical college?
Has a foreign student taken a job you or a family member might have had?
Why should foreign students get an education here, then “migrate”, displacing us from the careers and positions we should hold?
Of course Indian students and Indian contract labour have both been in the spotlight of late.
Truckies report that Indian contract labour is now employed by the big transport companies.
Building workers report the same on construction sites.
Standover rackets operate both in the student and contract labour industries and Indian criminals have murdered Indian nationals.
It is hot and getting hotter.
Australia First puts Australians first.
AF then republish a segment of the article, noting that “the comments of Australia First have been widely broadcast”, and objecting to the description of the party as belonging to the “extreme right wing”.
The article itself makes some interesting claims, including that Victoria is “crime-prone”, and that “33 Indians died in violent attacks between 2004 and 2009” (of whom “six died in 2009”) citing Federation of Indian Students of Australia spokesperson Gautam Gupta.
See also : Editor persists with claims of Australian racism, Amanda Hodge, The Australian, February 4, 2010.
- Benjamin Cass
Also noteworthy is the appearance of Benjamin Cass, “who has worked with Indian students planning to come to Australia to study” according to Outlook. Cass is the former Melbourne University Student Union (MUSU) President (2000) who established ‘Victorian Student Housing’ with convicted criminal and fellow former MUSU President Darren Ray (2002) (see : A lesson in economics, June 16, 2007). Their company was the subject of complaints from the Tenants’ Union, the Indian students to whom they offered housing, and collapsed after being fined by the courts for failure to maintain rental properties in a fit state. In February 2008, Cass’ former business partner Ray was convicted of tax fraud and sentenced to 20 months in jail.
Ross ‘The Skull’ May
As a further, curious aside: ‘Exhibiting artist Peter Milne, who also teaches in UQ’s School of Journalism and Communication, has created a new series that blends Queensland historical fact and fiction. In Dreams of The Skull, Dr Milne investigates the role of the far right in Queensland politics, presented as “fictional history” through the possible dreams of neo-Nazi Ross May, a.k.a. “The Skull”’; ‘The Skull’ has been serving as Saleam’s sidekick for the last 30 years, recently being spotted at a fascist gathering in September 2009.
See also : The KKK Took The Victorian Education Industry Away (January 9, 2010) | Victory to Terrie-Anne Verney! Indian students finally “get the hint that they are not wanted here!” (January 2, 2010) | ‘Bigots hurting Victoria’ / ‘Neo-Nazi skinheads party in Melbourne’ (September 16, 2009) | F*** Off, We’re Full (Of Terrie-Annes) (July 2, 2009) | Australia is racist / Australia is not racist. (June 28, 2009) | F*** Off, We’re Full (Of Shit) : Part the 2nd : Timmy! (June 10, 2009) | Australia, India, racism, students (June 2, 2009) | Careful, They Might Hear You (February 19, 2009) | “Fuck off we’re full.” (Of shit.) (January 28, 2009).