It’s not the shirt, it’s the assumption

Well, I’m actually going to do something kind of current for a change. I’ve been reading some comments about this shirt, and whether it’s racist or not, and thought I might share my two-bobs.

When I first saw it I suppose I started with the most obvious. For the question of racist or not – not really. The shirt in and of itself could be worn by any race and be directed at any race. However, I believe the assumption behind the shirt is very racist. It’s directed at a very specific part of the population – the ‘unAustralian’ haters.

I’d like to add at this point that I hate John Howard’s whole ‘unAustralian’ thing. It’s diabolical in the way it pits people against each other. It makes such huge assumptions about what it means to be Australian – most will picture things like a BBQ, beer, maybe church, probably sport and the beach, and, you guessed it – white people. It’s a pervasive myth, the blonde, athletic, tanned, young, white Aussie, going about his carefree day. But the fact is, it’s just not true. At least half the population are either 1st generation Aussies or weren’t even born here. Let that sink in for a second. HALF.

We’re a culture of many religions, many languages, many cultures and many colours. This type of t-shirt is predominantly aimed at white Australians with some version of – ‘nerr they made that place halal the whole countries going to shit, their taking over’ blah blah blah. These people, tend, ironically, to be the ones who take Australia and what it offers them for granted the most. They complain about a shop that sells halal meat, but neglect to take similar advice and simply go somewhere that doesn’t. In terms of business’ it’s simple, if they don’t get enough people buying halal meat it won’t be profitable to sell it and they’ll stop. For it to be becoming more common doesn’t show that ‘they’re taking over’ it shows that selling that type of meat is more profitable for the business than not selling it. But people complain and whinge and act like the way the meat is killed/prepared is so important, even though they don’t even know how it’s killed/prepared when it doesn’t say halal.

Or arguments over ‘losing Christmas and Easter’ will pop up. Because of course it’s impossible for people to individually celebrate Christmas here if they choose to, what with a public holiday, freedom of speech, and private areas where you can do pretty much whatever you want. Never-mind that the many other religions in our country don’t get any public holidays or specific spaces within which to celebrate their beliefs. We ‘Australians’ must be so hard done by, we’ve just got no Judeo-Christian moments left… As well, of course, as this also implying that white Australians all have Judeo-Christian faith, discounting the many atheists in our communities.

Because of this the shirt has an implied direction, and it assumes that it’s targets are immigrants or refugees, people who ‘have a choice’ about whether to live here, and should ‘go back home’ if they don’t like it. This therefore creates a strong ‘us’ ‘them’ mentality among those who choose to adopt this type of slogan. We assume that to be good enough to live in this country you need to be ‘one of us’ and as I’ve discussed, the ‘us’ that they’re referring to, is white Australian-ism. Which on it’s own fails to recognize the way that we took over this land from the Aborigines and forced them to adopt Anglo-Saxon beliefs and behaviours. But we can disregard that information because we are already in ‘us’ ‘them’ mode, and therefore anything that is not white Australian is foreign and not to be trusted or empathized with.

This is the real problem with the shirt. It allows for a series of assumptions in the minds of many people already partial to racism, and encourages it to bubble to the surface, instead of engendering a country of people with tolerance and compassion for others.

Personally, I would feel more comfortable leaving this country I know and love than being the kind of dick that thinks a shirt like this is okay.

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One thought on “It’s not the shirt, it’s the assumption

  1. janetkwest says:

    We in the states are struggling with the same sentiment and it’s rudeness is like being slapped in the face. It implies that it’s “our” country, so leave. Especially since we are all immigrants.

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