Australia needs to tackle Pauline Hanson’s racist ideas through improving the state of multiculturalism in the community to beyond merely ethnic tolerance to active inter-ethnic engagement.
Pauline Hanson and her One Nation political party is a name that has struck fear among many Australians especially those from an ethnic background. Her re-election to Parliament will undoubtedly serve as a platform for the furthering of controversial views on immigration and multiculturalism.
As a child of immigrant parents growing up in the 90s when Ms. Hanson first declared that Australia was being swamped by Asians in her Parliamentary maiden speech, my family quickly developed a strong disdain but not hatred for the right-wing of politics including then Liberal Prime Minister John Howard for his failure to condemn the comments.
To most of the Asian Australian community and now understandably the Muslim community, Ms. Hanson is the despicable red witch from the north. However thinking in hindsight, I can attribute the rise of One Nation as one of the reasons that I have spawned a strong interest in current affairs and politics.
My family despite experiencing racially motivated attacks in public which my father claims to have increased following Ms. Hanson’s maiden speech in Parliament refused to accept a blanket notion that was spread among the Asian Australian community that all Anglo-White Australians were racist.
Watching my parents and others in the Asian Australian community’s response to Ms. Hanson throughout my childhood has encouraged me to take a not so black and white view on the issue of immigration and multiculturalism.
Multiculturalism or Ethnic Tolerance
Although I am no supporter of One Nation or Ms. Hanson’s inflammatory remarks, I do often beckon the question of whether multiculturalism is actually working well in Australia. As a young adult living, studying and working in what is regarded as highly diverse localities of Sydney, it does seem that what we have now is ethnic tolerance but a lack of cross-cultural and inter-ethnic interactions.
It would be very easy to label Ms. Hanson a racist and move on with life, but how does that actually deal with the real issues of immigration and multiculturalism in Australia. Also to forget that Ms. Hanson was legitimately elected to the Senate in Parliament in her own right after nearly two decades of failed political endeavors would be a failure to acknowledge the importance of perseverance.
Australians need to persevere in the engagement of controversial issues such as immigration and multiculturalism and not to be merely throwing around insults such as racist, bigot or intolerant. Sure some if not most of One Nation’s policies may be viewed as offensive or fringe, but if we are to succeed in establishing a truly multicultural society it is an engagement that will win over hearts and minds not a campaign of retaliatory name-calling.
The easy way out of controversy is to sideline the issue on to the fringes of the field if I may use a sporting analogy. Although it may be on the center field, the issue is actually closer to the crowd than much of the action in the middle of the ground. The continued blanket attacks on Ms. Hanson’s views on immigration and multiculturalism will only spur a louder cheer squad for One Nation.
Tackle Hanson Once and For All
Instead, let’s welcome One Nation on to the field just as Ms. Hanson is now a Senator in Parliament, and let everybody see why they should be dropped from the team because we cannot forget that that nearly tens if not hundreds of thousands of Australians actually voted for her at the election.
Keeping Ms. Hanson on the sideline would only enable her to reach out to more spectators and potential supporters. Putting her into the scrum pack in the middle would see how quickly she crumbles. The scrum pack of genuine multiculturalism and tolerance will prevail if that is what Australians truly believe in.
People are also never one dimensional as we often like to assume especially through online and social media portrayals. So before everyone jumps on the bandwagon to post a comment labeling Ms. Hanson a racist or the red witch from the north, it probably will serve Australia better if we actually stopped for a moment to reflect on the state of multiculturalism in the country.
In working to achieve genuine multiculturalism, let’s not be too quick to pigeonhole people such as that of Ms. Hanson, but rather highlight her misunderstandings and show the rest of the country what good that inter-ethnic interaction is for everyone. Fighting prejudice with acts of kindness such as actively engaging with people of different ethnicity instead of just merely passing by them on the street is better than online battles with the right-wing.
Attacking Pauline Hanson without dispelling the concerns of her supporters doesn’t progress Australia. Ethnic communities can be showing why multiculturalism does in fact work and through the demonstration of its effectiveness will be the best way to make sure that One Nation is not re-elected in future.
We do not need to subscribe to One Nation’s fear of immigration and multiculturalism either, but what we need to do is be thanking Ms. Hanson for reminding us that the current form of Australian multiculturalism requires greater perseverance and needs to be genuinely furthered in the community.
This article was first published in The Typewriter