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Arseholes of a white empire

27/08/2013

“I always thought it remarkable that Australia, without studying the Fascist political philosophy and methods, so spontaneously developed a form of fascism peculiarly suited to the needs of the British Empire.” – Oswald Mosley

There’s been some fun and games around my district lately.

This suburb of Newcastle has a fairly substantial Aboriginal population, mostly scattered around private rental housing with a cluster in the local Aboriginal Housing Cooperative. Some of us are clearly identifiable as Aboriginal on sight, others are obviously non-white but do not fit most stereotypes of what an Aborigine looks like and yet others could ‘pass for white’ were they to dress and act as one.

In recent weeks an ‘Aboriginal Cultural Walk’ created by the primary school has been vandalised to destruction, the name of the local ‘Awabakal’ tribe has been obliterated from the front of public buildings displaying it and obviously Aboriginal residents have had excrement and fireworks put in their letterboxes.

Although low level racism is practically a given everywhere in white Australia – especially racism against Aborigines – these events represent a substantial escalation of the usual moderate hum of bigotry I experience around Newcastle. Perhaps the increase in racist dog-whistling in the media associated with the current Federal election campaign had something to do with it.

Last weekend, while on a bus passing a pub barely one hundred metres from my home, I was met with a disturbing sight.

Around half a dozen young Australian men – all with closely cropped or shaved heads – were drinking and talking loudly at the sidewalk tables. Though I couldn’t see clearly it seemed there were several more inside. All wore what appeared to be brand new black hoodies embossed with white block capitals. Some had various slogans on various parts of the hoodie but what all I saw had in common were the words “WHITE EMPIRE” in the largest printing of all across their chest.

Call me paranoid but to me it looked like the meeting of a race hate group, possibly one that had just been formed. I wonder if they know anything about what has been going on around here recently.

I was tempted to walk back up to the pub and check them out but were my assumptions to be proved correct it would probably have been in an unambiguous and painful manner. They seemed to have been drinking for some time.

I settled with googling ‘White Empire’ to try to learn more, but the only vaguely relevant hits I found were to a book of that name by a racist American preacher.

After I told my white flatmate what I had seen she took it upon herself to go down to the pub and check it out. When she arrived the meeting had broken up and the barmaid she spoke to denied any such people had been there.

I later learned that the pub has been boycotted by local Aborigines because of the racist behaviour of some of the bar staff.

It was when she was coming home that the most disturbing events took place.

Not far from the pub lives a man of about my own age who has been doing it pretty tough lately. His wife has been a long time dying of a nasty neurological condition and since she was transferred to a nursing home about a year ago he has been on his own in the large house they shared for decades. My flatmate has been giving him emotional support and hugs on a regular basis and dropped by to see if he could tell her anything about the meeting in the pub.

He replied that ‘some of the boys’ had been ‘playing dress-up’, then launched into an extended anti-Aboriginal tirade.

Neither I nor my flatmate had suspected. I’d assumed he didn’t return my smiles and waves because he was depressed about his wife.

During his rant he revealed there ‘had been talk’ about burning down a garage in which a local Aboriginal artist stores his work. The artist is a lovely guy who always has a nice word for passers-by and often gives away his more minor pieces on apparently spontaneous impulse. There is one of his elaborately decorated boomerangs on the wall above me as I type.

The appropriate people have been tipped off and should the ‘White Empire’ roll up they will be greeted in a manner they may not have anticipated.

The appropriate people are definitely not the NSW police.

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