This is just a recount of a casual conversation I had about politics the other day when a friend asked me what I thought of Pauline Hanson.
I had a casual conversation with a lady yesterday. She asked me what I thought about Pauline Hanson. I said “Hate her guts, why do you ask?”
I then said, “I’m quite involved in politics and I vote Labor, I’m not interested in Hanson, she tries to pit group against group and make us hate each other.”
She then said, “Oh I dunno, It seems wrong to me that only white people can get sued if they say something wrong and it isn’t fair that people come here and try to change our laws. I mean they come here from other countries and try to change Australian Laws.”
I said “Which ones?”
She said, “That we can’t have Christmas.”
I said, “But who or what group have gone to the courts to do this?”
She said, “I don’t know but they do it.”
I looked at her quite confused and said, “Are you talking about Muslims.”
She said, “Yes, they come here and try to stop us from having Christmas.”
I said, “Have you seen any family in the news who can’t have Christmas because of Muslims? Surely that would be big news.”
She said, “No, but they try to say we can’t.”
I said, “Have you heard anyone on the news demanding that Australians can’t have Christmas? Surely that would be big news, if someone made a demand like that.”
She said, “No I haven’t.”
I said, “Well….you do know that people just make things up on Facebook. If it is something big like that, it will most likely be on the news, not just on Facebook.”
She said, “Yeh I suppose”
(But seriously you could see she was not convinced. What is happening to people? This lady was in her 50s and quite well to do, and intelligent, I would describe her as.)
I then said, “Did you know that there are lots of religions in Australia and they all celebrate their own festivals, but they don’t say we can’t have ours. In fact some other religions collect gifts for kids and stuff for kids at Christmas, although they don’t even have Christmas. I’ve seen that on the news, not just on facebook. Did you see that?”
She said, “Oh I didn’t think they did that.” She then said, “but they all just come here.”
I said, “Yeh they do, like my ancestors did from Germany and Prussia, Ireland and Wales, like your ancestors did we all just come here.” I said, “Every country has immigration. We are not special.”
I said, “Look around this town, when you go to the bulk billing clinic, the emergency ward, the dentist, the supermarket, have a good look around. Not everyone is white Australian or Aboriginal. Do you think because these people just “come here” that we have problems here? We don’t.”
I said. “I can guarantee that there are Doctors and Dentists and Lawyers and shopkeepers who are all Muslims that you think are just fine.”
She said, “Yes I suppose. “
Then we started talking about something else and that is where it ended.
I just want to share this with people to show that many people have an irrational fear of other people for absolutely no reason, and with no evidence whatsoever. I wanted to show that this woman is not uneducated, she is not ‘bogan’ or racist, but is taking in information that is not true and believing it to be true. This is a huge problem – particularly when that information can make other people feel not welcome in our communities. That makes me feel very sad.
I would like to encourage people to think about if this escalates further. If the fear people have of others continues to be even more ingrained and more urban myths are taken as verbatim. Our kids all have to go to school together. What type of playground do we want for our kids?
This is my plea to everyone below:
Start judging people as individuals and treating them like they treat you. You might even make a new friend. This horrible “this group or that group are all horrible people and we should be scared of them” really has to stop.
We are supposed to be the laid back country. We don’t have a bloody class system in Australia. Lets keep it that way.
*I just want to put into context my local newspaper pushes Hanson a lot and she received around 10% of the vote for the senate in my electorate. She has been back to visit four times including the media circus/stunt at Great Keppel Island the other day; so she is quite a topic of conversation or on people’s minds. I live in regional QLD.