Who knew children on billboards could be this scary?
Something is really wrong when a billboard with an Australia Day image featuring two young girls waving Australian flags is taken down due to threats of violence. That is terrorism.
Did I forget to mention the girls were wearing hijabs and the threats of violence came from right wing extremists? No I didn’t forget, I left it out because that detail isn’t important.
Terrorism is generally defined as the unlawful use of violence, or threat of violence, against civilians in pursuit of political goals. It doesn’t distinguish for the colour of your skin or the supposedly righteous cause you are using to justify it (I’m looking at you Y’all Qaeda).
No one thinks of themselves as a terrorist, but when your behaviour fits the criteria, that is exactly what you are.
There will inevitably be a backlash against outspoken bigots such as Pauline Hanson who feed this hatred and fear for their own purposes, however people like me need to be a little careful who we direct our anger towards. Not every person who is worried about Muslim immigration is a right wing terrorist sympathiser (does that sentence sound familiar? It should).
Just as I argue that Muslim terrorists do not represent all Muslims, right wing extremists are not representative of white Australia. There would be many people who are both concerned about a perceived erosion of Australian identity, whilst also being sickened by extremism like this.
I appreciate that position to a degree, but you might like to consider whether you have added to the clamour fearful voices on social media that build hysteria until a pair of children holding Australian flags seem like a threat.
For anyone that wants to minimise this issue by saying, “What about Islamic terrorists? They are much worse,” that isn’t a justification for this. Both are wrong and I completely condemn both forms of terrorism.
Similarly this isn’t just a one off example of right wing extremism in Australia. Right wing extremist, Phil Galea, was arrested last year for planning a terrorist attack, while ASIO director, Duncan Lewis, has been on record several times stating that far right groups are of concern to his organisation.
I get it conservative Australia, you have any number of concerns about societal change, but this is indefensible. You don't have to react with fear, outrage or hostility every time you see a Muslim. That is also indefensible.