A vigilante group known as the Soldiers of Odin recently hit the streets of Melbourne’s CBD. An offshoot of an anti-immigration group from Finland, the gang claims to be patrolling the streets of the Victorian capital to protect against rising street crime.
The members dress in black jackets with an insignia of a Norse god draped in an Australian flag on the back. Their regalia is reminiscent of that worn by other far-right groups such as Reclaim Australia and the United Patriot Front.
The Soldiers of Odin say they are targeting street criminals from African and Middle Eastern backgrounds, including the gang known as Apex.
But it’s obvious they’re another example of the growing vocal minority of Anglo Australians, who despite being a part of the overwhelming majority holding all the power, feel they’re somehow under threat.
White Lives Matter
Towards the end of last month, the Party for Freedom Australia were once again stationed outside Sydney’s Downing Centre Court holding a small “White Lives Matter” rally (pictured).
The party has been staging protests around metropolitan Sydney, where they’ve been calling for an end to the subjugation of white people and for the deportation of Middle Eastern and African immigrants.
These “White Lives Matter” rallies would bear the air of the ridiculous about them, if they weren’t so sinister.
Black Lives Matter
The Black Lives Matter movement originated in African-American communities in the United States. It’s a campaign against the nation’s systemic racism, which has led to the deaths of large numbers of black people at the hands of police.
Black Lives Matter began to catch on in Australia in July this year, when marches were held in Sydney and Melbourne in solidarity with the movement.
They’ve struck a chord with the Indigenous communities of Australia, where a parallel has been drawn to Aboriginal deaths in custody that have occurred in our nation.
But the current White Lives Matter protests in Australia are completely missing the point.
The Anglo Australians carrying out these rallies are overlooking the fact that it’s people from their ethnic background that hold most of the power in this country, as they make their cry of reverse racism and claims of being victims in their own country.
Dr Jean Jonathan Bogais is an adjunct associate professor at the School of Social and Political Sciences at the University of Sydney.
The professor explained that reverse racism is when an individual from a dominant group believes they’re being treated unfavourably if someone from a disadvantaged section of society “makes a claim for political or cultural identity.”
He gave the example of when Anglo Australians believe they’re at a disadvantage due to affirmative action programs for Indigenous Australians.
A 2014 beyondblue survey found that one in three young Australians believe that Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people are given an unfair advantage by the government.
However, what the people surveyed were neglecting to see is that these affirmative action programs are attempting to address the structural inequality in the system.
And in the decades these programs have been implemented, there’s no evidence to show that Anglo Australians have been placed at a disadvantage at all.
Holding onto the past
According to Dr Bogais, these Australian ‘patriots’ are holding onto a notion of an old traditional Australia. “They still live in a world that no longer exists and that’s a major problem,” he told Sydney Criminal Lawyers®.
Dr Bogais cited Pauline Hanson as an example of this attitude. “The way she does it is extremely detrimental, because it is impossible to go back,” he said, adding that there needs to be a move towards a notion of “internationalism” that welcomes all cultures.
But it seems unlikely that Pauline is going to be embracing a multicultural nation anytime soon, even though Australia clearly is one.
In her maiden speech in the federal Senate last month, the senator proclaimed the nation is “in danger of being swamped by Muslims,” a claim she’d made about Asian Australians in the House of Representative in 1996 – one it seems she’d be prepared to make against any group to further her own political agenda.
As Hanson called for a halt to Muslim immigration, an Essential Research poll of 1,000 people came to light suggesting that 49 percent of those surveyed supported such a ban – although the methodology employed by the survey has been widely criticised, as well as the conclusions drawn.
Interestingly, 62 percent of respondents to the poll said that while they didn’t necessarily agree with everything Pauline has to say, they believe she “is speaking for a lot of ordinary Australians.”
It sounds like many non-racist types are glad there’s someone there to represent those with a xenophobic bent.
Reverse racism in the workforce
But claims of reverse racism have been around for quite a while. In a 2010 segment on Channel Seven’s Today Tonight, the program found there were concerns that “racism is working in reverse and threatening the Australian way of life.”
The segment opens with the quote, “Welcome to the new Australia: one where you can be pushed aside by migrants willing to work twice as long, twice as hard and for half the pay.”
The report suggested that businesses were getting “rid of Aussies” in favour of cheap foreign labour.
Today Tonight claimed that most of the work in factories, car washes and takeaway stores was being done by people from Asia.
However, the reality is that in multiple studies, applicants with ethnic sounding names were found to be far less likely to achieve an interview than those with Anglo Australian names, suggesting that racism is well and truly alive in the employment arena. Those with ‘Chinese’ or ‘Middle Eastern’ sounding names are consistently found to be especially discriminated against.
The Australian Protectionist Party
Darren Hodges, a representative from the Australian Protectionist Party (APP), appeared on the program, proclaiming that he was not a racist, but was simply “advocating on behalf of the majority of Australians.”
But when you visit that party’s site you find an article posted this week that lists reasons to stop Muslim immigration.
The author states the APP are “Australia’s original Islam-wary political party,” that has been advocating to halt Muslim immigration long before Pauline Hanson ever did.
And it becomes clear that most people calling out reverse racism seem to be the biggest racists of them all.
Real reverse racism
Perhaps, Aamer Rahman, from comedy duo Fear of a Brown Planet, summed up the issue of reverse racism best in a 2013 show.
He said many of his white friends accuse him of reverse racism when he gets up on stage and makes jokes about white people during his performance.
But he countered their accusations by explaining what he thinks reverse racism would actually be.
Rahman said he would go back to a time before Europe colonised the world, and “he’d convince the leaders of Africa, Asia, the Middle East, Central and South America to invade and colonise Europe.”
He’d steal their land and resources, set up a “trans-Asian slave trade” and “systems of privilege, so black and brown people would have every conceivable social, political and economic opportunity.”
Then, when white people had a real hope of self-determination, he’d make up some “fake war,” bomb them and “say it’s for their own good because their culture is inferior.”
“If after hundreds and hundreds of years of that, I got on stage at a comedy show and said, ‘Hey what’s the deal with white people? Why can’t they dance? That would be reverse racism,” Rahman concluded.
Paul Gregoire is a Sydney-based journalist and writer. He has a focus on human rights issues, encroachments on civil liberties, drug law reform, gender diversity and First Nations rights. Prior to Sydney Criminal Lawyers®, he wrote for VICE and was the news editor at Sydney’s City Hub.