Wednesday, 19 August 2015

Reclaiming What?

Recently, the word reclaim has become very popular in the country where I live, Australia. It has become synonymous with a particular group of supposedly 'ordinary' Australians, predominantly (although not entirely) white, working and/or middle class.

Many words and actions are becoming synonymous with the activities of this group, and serve to distinguish the politics and prejudice of many of its members. Take the word 'ordinary' for a start, particularly when it is followed by the word 'Australian'. The term is used to signify a number of things, firstly, that the people involved in the reclaim movement are the ordinary Joe and Jolene Blog's from down the road; you know the type - a classic Aussie caricature - hard working, love footie and lighting a barbie, drink XXXX or some other shite Aussie beer, march on ANZAC day, think the flag is sacred and transfers magical powers when wrapped around true believers, and above all believe in the Aussie creed of giving everyone a fair go... as long as you are white and born here.

The word ordinary implies that those not involved in the movement are not ordinary. Does this then mean that they are extraordinary? No. It means those excluded from the movement are different, and not in a good way.  They are what the Palestinian social theorist Said called 'the Other'. And who are the 'others'? Well, for a start anyone who doesn't agree with the Reclaimites and their beliefs (as they will be called from here on in, only because di*kheads might be a bit unfair for some of its members); Muslims, or to be more accurate if we are to believe the reclaimite rhetoric, adherents of radical Islam and sharia law; and finally, immigrants, at least those who try to enter illegally, despite the fact that those who arrive without documentation, or by boat, plane etc, who claim refugee status are expressly NOT acting illegally.. but lets not let legal status, international law and covenants get in the way of a good, old fashioned xenophobic beat-up. What's a little racism and prejudice between friends? And I say excluded, because although I am sure adherents would say that anyone can be part of their movement, and that membership will be dictated by ideology and actions. But have no doubt ease of entry will also be dictated by the colour of your skin.

Let us examine the rhetoric of this movement. Let us start with what it is they are seeking to reclaim, because this indicates that its members have lost something, or are in danger of losing 'it': According to Jill Ireland, writing in the Sydney Morning Herald, they seek to "reclaim the country from child brides, sharia, halal food and the way we 'do Australian'". Anyone watching the marches the 'movement' recently held and noted that everywhere participants wrapped themselves in the Australian flag, might come to the conclusion that they are reclaiming that as well, although they should be aware that no one else is interested in 'owning it'; after all, there are about 4 others national flags (most notably New Zealand's) that look exactly the same... boring. So, what have they lost? Absolutely nothing. Are they in danger of losing 'it', whatever 'it' is? No. And neither can its members actually point to anything lost, but that doesn't stop them from making over-blown unevidenced claims that the immigrant, Muslim hordes are coming to take 'it' away.  I use the 'it' because I've had numerous discussions with Australian's who make these claims but have yet to find one that can tell me a) what 'it' actually is, and b) how exactly 'it' will be lost.The fact that Australia is an immigrant nation, and since the lifting of the White Australia policy has developed a cultural framework that has been positively transformed by this diversity, is lost on these idiots.... something for them to ponder when they sit down to enjoy their 1am kebab on the way home from the pub this Saturday morning.   

There is nothing new about the racism and xenophobia that defines the Reclaimites: Australian (and New Zealand) history is replete with similar events and movements focused on excluding those who are deemed to act, think and speak in ways they define as 'UnAustralian' (interestingly enough, we don't use the term 'UnNew Zealand' to describe people believed not to live up to the idealised New Zealander of the white power/privileged bullshit artists). If one bothers to read the histories of Australia that the likes of Christopher Pyne, Federal Minister of Education describe as 'black armband' depictions of history, the ones that stupidly include discussions of negative things like genocide and colonialism, you'll find episodes of similar outrage that exaggerate the dangers to the purity of Australian 'culture' from letting the coloured folk in, such as the Chinese menace and related moral panic of the late 19th century. All of which of course resulted in the introduction of the white Australia policy in the early 20th century, and which stayed in effect till the 1970's.  Good old Australia, the land of the 'fair go'... if you are white.     

There is no mass movement within the Muslim community to take over Australia. Of course there is a small number of wacko extremists in this community who make noises about this, but let's view them as the Muslim version of the white power extremists that populate and support the Reclaimite movement... fringe idiots at best - or at least I am hoping they are only a fringe element. As Jill Ireland states "...the vast, vast majority of Muslim Australians don't want to impose sharia on the country or breed terrorism and simply want to eat their halal pies in peace".  

And finally, on the topic of halal and halal certification. Lately a couple of Aussie mates attempted to persuade me to support the anti-halal certification movement; a rather silly idea because in trying to sway me to the stupid side they used the easily discredited arguments of this movement, for example, that the certification is a 'tax' (no, it is not), that monies go to terrorist organisations (not according to the Australian Crime Commission), that it raises the cost of food items (no it does not - see Chalmers (2014) via Mates, one and all, if you are going to support bullsh*t, racist, Islamaphobic movements first check their claims and then check the facts, unless of course like many of those who support the anti-halal movement, and by extension Reclaim Australia, hate, intolerance and xenophobia trump facts, ethics and support for human dignity every time.  


  1. Hi Juan. I am a fan of your blog and I want to ask you one question. Do you think its better concept "white supremacy" is more valid as opposed to "white privilege"?

    1. Hi Jason. Why do you think the concept of 'white supremacy' is more valid than 'white privilege'. I'm happy to answer your question but would like just a little more context.