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Dear Racist. Australia is not yours to reclaim.

You’d laugh if it wasn’t so awful, so sad and so very pathetic.

Yobbos at Reclaim Australia rallies fly Australian flags made in China. A blonde speaker thanks the traditional owners of the land before ‘reclaiming’ it. A Sri Lankan Immigrant leads a chant of ‘Aussie! Aussie! Aussie! Oi! Oi! Oi!’  Neo-Nazis tattooed with swastikas remain ignorant to the fact the symbol is a twisted version of the sacred cross of India’s Hinduism.

A Brisbane rally blasts out a Cold Chisel song sung by a Scottish immigrant married to a woman of Australian-Thai parentage.

So many inconsistencies. So many stupidities.

But Jimmy Barnes is not laughing. And neither are many of us.

The Cold Chisel frontman and singer has asked anti-Islam groups to stop playing his songs at their hate fests. He saw a video with a mob playing Khe Sanh as they rallied in Brisbane and posted a Facebook page comment asking them to cease and desist. They have since agreed.


Chisel fans who were singing along should have known Khe Sanh is a song about the cost of hate and fear. It’s a tune about a Vietnam veteran being traumatised by war. Jimmy sings about “hearts held in fast suburban chains” and the song ends with the character flying out of Sydney for kisses from a jaded Chinese princes and to “hit some Hong Kong mattress all night long”.

Guys, your hero is going to have sex with Chinese women. Or is that okay with you? Is it okay to have sex with Asians – as long as they don’t live here? Or is it just Asian Muslims who are the problem?

Of course, you could say music is in the ear of the beholder. That once music is released, it has a life of it’s own. Musicians can’t control it. But when it’s being used to rouse abject passions, it’s both brave and good to take a stand with your fans.

Jimmy Barnes is seen as a True Aussie Bloke. So let him be that. A bloke who lives multiculturalism. Who proudly wore his kilt to his daughter’s wedding. Who believes in equal love and gay marriage. I’ve seen him dancing at Mardi Gras. To misappropriate his music is madness.

australian racism
The Barnes family photo. (Image: Twitter).
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I remember right wing skinheads head-banging to Midnight Oil at a concert in the 80s. I always wondered if they listened to the lyrics as they attacked middle class complacency, border security – and sang loudly for land rights. Did they eventually get the drift when the Oils  released Redneck Wonderland? Perhaps the penny dropped when the Oils appeared at the closing ceremony of the 2000 Olympics to perform Beds Are Burning wearing black clothes covered with the word “sorry”. D’oh!

The Olympian Sorry.

I know the only thing about inconsistencies is their consistency.

Yet I can’t help feel sickened whenever I see a song or a symbol of Australia misappropriated by a group who represent hate and fear and stupidity.

Witness the morons at the Cronulla riots in 2005. All piss and blood to the head. Their own toxic mix of racist nationalism, in-built superiority and simultaneous inferiority complex combined with alcohol and male bravado in an eruption of violence. It was so brutally ugly. And those pictures of Aussie flags wrapped around sunburned, angry, sweaty bodies went all around the world.

Cronulla Riots.

I am Australian. I am glad to be Australian. But I can be Australian and be against Islamic terrorism and Sharia law and still worry when I see Australian flags flown for the wrong reasons.  Flown as a threat to ‘be an Aussie or else’.  Or wrapped around a pale-faced Pauline Hanson as a symbol of her purity and power. I’m not calling for an end to the flag, the t-shirts or the bikinis, just a raised consciousness about how and why we flaunt them.

I grew up proudly Australian (more so after I traveled), but we didn’t have our nationalism forced on us. There were few flags fluttering around, but they seem far more common now.  In 2004, John Howard made all primary schools who received federal funding fly the flag. We face it in assemblies now as we sing the Australian anthem (only the kids know the second verse). The school flag is solemnly raised every morning and night.  With the Aboriginal flag. After all, with the exception of indigenous Australians, we are all immigrants, on a land taken.

I acquired my love of my country slowly, surely and thoughtfully.  I acquired it by studying, travelling and thinking. By acknowledging its dark-stained past and its faults. I didn’t have it forced on me.

I can live with more flags. But I can’t live with the flag becoming a symbol of empty passion that comes to represent racial white superiority and hate. Because the flag is meant to be a symbol that unites us brings us together. It is not meant to divide us into ‘good’ and ‘bad’ Aussies.

I know people are scared we are being swamped. Yes, our real estate is being bought up by wealthy Chinese (10 per cent of recent sales). But a simple change of the law can fix that. Yes, Sharia law and Islamic State are barbaric, terrifying, awful and revolting. But I don’t see any Australians publicly supporting them for the Reclaim Australia group to argue against.

Let’s not get to the stage where our flag and our songs becomes a symbol of hate like the confederate flag in Carolina. That flag is now being pulled down.

That would be a tragedy.

This article was originally published over on Debrief Daily.

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