Pauline Hanson

A month after Fraser Anning’s Goebbels-inspired maiden speech, Pauline Hanson is clamouring to reclaim the mantle of most reactionary person in the Senate.

The One Nation leader decided to move a motion in the Senate on Thursday acknowledging “the deplorable rise of anti-white racism and attacks on western civilisation”, while also declaring that “it is okay to be white”.

There’s nothing at all new here. The idea of anti-white racism is a comforting myth for Hanson and her ilk, another play in an endless game of “trigger the libs“. 

But where does it come from? The “evidence” for anti-white racism is found, primarily, in anecdotal incidents and occasional online exchanges. 

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In his gargantuan defence to a defamation action brought by former Junkee political editor Osman Faruqi, Mark Latham claimed that Faruqi had aided Islamic terrorism by stoking anti-white racism. Latham’s main source for this claim was a series of irreverent tweets about white people.

Elsewhere, earlier this year conservative keyboard warriors responded to technology writer Sarah Jeong’s appointment to The New York Times editorial board by excavating more similarly ironic online comments about white people.

Meanwhile, News Corp breathlessly found evidence of anti-white racism in a student dance performance.

It seems that the mere mention of whiteness is enough to incite charges of “reverse racism”. 

By contrast, racism faced by people of colour goes much further than a bunch of snarky tweets.

Real racism is a country where Indigenous Australians die 10 years younger than non-Indigenous Australians, where bipartisan refugee policies leave children traumatised in tropical gulags. It is regular blackface incidents, like minstrel-show cartoons going viral for all the wrong reasons, and the mob-like bullying of those people of colour uppity enough to dare question the existence of such racism in the first place.  

In this context, the motion takes on a far more sinister edge. By re-framing racism as something which afflicts white people, Hanson’s comments read like a cynical attempt to overshadow her own long and storied history of xenophobia.

But most troubling of all are the roots of Hanson’s myth. The idea that anti-racists are responsible for the marginalisation of white people quickly takes us into bleaker waters. The apocalyptic belief in an oncoming white genocide first gained traction in the writings of Neo-Nazis, and has been gurgling around the online sewers of the alt right for some time now. Hanson’s statement that “it’s okay to be white” reflects a catchphrase popularised by Neo-Nazis, which was recently proudly displayed by far-right activist Lauren Southern on a t-shirt.

Hanson takes these ideas straight out of the sewers and into the Australian Senate.