Australian outrages: Australian media on Nazis and Islamists

You know about the protests in Sydney last week. All the outrage. People like Tim Blair, Andrew Bolt and Peter Fitzsimons flirted with the sentiment of who in the Muslim community should go back to where they came from.


Much of the outrage focused on a child holding up a sign calling for the beheading of those who insult the Prophet. Such a murderous and intolerant ideology was deeply offensive to the Australian media. Some called for soul searching about the role of Muslims in Australia, and once again Andrew Bolt took the opportunity to wonder about the wisdom of letting Muslims into Australia.


On Sunday, we had an interesting opportunity to learn about the sensitivity of the Australian media to murderous, intolerant ideologies.


Consider the report in the reportedly liberal’s Fairfax Age on the Sunday demonstrations. Benjamin Millar reported that “About 50 nationalist protesters appeared outside the [State Library in Melbourne] early in the afternoon, some wearing Australian flags and chanting “Aussie Aussie Aussie, Oi Oi Oi” and “we grew here they flew here”.” Millar wrote that the Police Commander “said the predominant “pro-Australian” group was vocal but peaceful.”


It was also noted that a text message “circulated during the week urged a counter-protest comparable to the Cronulla riots and called for Australians to “come ready for a battle for our rights and our land” to counteract the rally at the State Library.””


Was anything left out? Well, the content of the text message  was

“Let’s show these bearded goat-herders that we run this country, not them and if they don’t like it, they can f*** off back to whatever s***hole they came from on the leaky boat they showed up on. Spread the word and come ready for a battle for our rights and our land. They thought Cronulla riots were bad. We grew there, they flew there! Australians unite!”


What was mentioned in a much briefer AAP report – hours before Millar’s report – was what kind of protesters were there. Some of the men gathered were “wearing T-shirts bearing SS insignia and some with shaved heads”.


That is, a group of Nazis gathered, after a text message calling for “bearded goat-herders” to “f*** of back to” where they came from, and calling for something worse than the Cronulla riots. In the Age’s longer report , this was just “pro-Australian” and “nationalist” protesters.


The Australian also noted the SS insignia and shaved heads.


The Herald Sun reported that “An argument erupted in Melbourne between men wearing SS Nazi insignias, young men draped in Australian flags, placard-waving atheists and a Muslim couple.”


The Hun reported that atheists and Muslims got into an argument about atheist signs, including one declaring “Islam is false”. Tensions “escalated as men, some with SS insignias, and others draped in Australian flags… got involved.”


Police asked a Muslim to leave. Because freedom of speech is really important in Australia, especially the freedom to denounce Islam and Muslims.


The atheists, Nazis and flag wavers responded to another argument which broke out – presumably with one or more Muslims – by chanting “Aussie, Aussie, Aussie”. Because that’s what being Australian means to them.


I think the events, and the media coverage of them, are a rather interesting reflection on the fabled and celebrated Australian values, purportedly so deeply violated by the protest last week.


More importantly, they show what is and is not considered offensive in Australia. A kid holding a sign calling for beheading of those who insult the Prophet was outrageous. Australians should have the right to denigrate Islam as much as they want.


But actual Nazi protesters? Apparently, not so offensive. Not such a big deal. No calls for deportation, no bold declarations about what Australian values could not ever possibly incorporate. Just the casual noting of an additional feature of a boring protest that didn’t turn interesting, because no Muslims were violent.
Perhaps it is a measure of my personal bias, but I can’t think of a more murderous and intolerant ideology than Nazism. For me personally, there is no more offensive protest imaginable, and there is no protest I would find more personally hurtful.


In short, I learned something new about Australia on Sunday. I was not very impressed.

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