Words by: Sam Herriman
It takes a lot of passion to muster up the effort and energy to organise or attend a rally. However, issues pertaining to education, health, immigration and environment consistently attract passionate and vocal supporters largely due to their impact on the wider society or due to their importance as a social justice issue. These rallies are held consistently, they receive very little (if any) coverage, and everyone else moves on with their life.
There was however one rally over the weekend that stuck in the gullet of the Australian population and caused a nation-wide stir. Yes, following on from their wildly ‘successful’ rally on April 4 earlier this year, the bizarrely named ‘Reclaim Australia’ group organised a second wave of protests to be held around the country.
You would think that this title belonged to a more appropriately inclined group such as Indigenous Australians, however ‘Reclaim Australia’ belongs to…well, who exactly? And what are they so passionate about?
Who Are Reclaim Australia?
The sole purpose of the loosely defined Reclaim Australia movement is to coordinate rallies such as the one that took place over the weekend. The rallies claim to be independently organised, and although it’s very difficult to find any information about the people involved with Reclaim Australia, the group seems to have been created – or at the very least strongly supported – by Danny Nalliah.
Nalliah is an infamous evangelical preacher and aspiring politician who has kept himself busy since immigrating to Australia from Sri Lanka in 1997, founding both the fundamentalist Catch the Fire Ministries and the extreme, right-wing political party Rise Up Australia – who disturbingly did better than you might expect in the 2013 federal election.
There are some other relatively significant people who have also thrown their weight behind the Reclaim Australia movement, including the alarmingly still-elected coalition MP for the Queensland seat of Dawson, George Christiansen, and the revered, reputable and respected political heavyweight Pauline Hanson.
So that’s who advocates for them, but who are the amorphous mob that make up the bulk of Reclaim Australia’s supporters?
On a website (that looks like it was designed by a year four student as a part of an assignment for IT class) there is a lot of effort devoted to explaining who Reclaim Australia aren’t. According to them they aren’t a ‘racist hate group,’ ‘neo-Nazis,’ or ‘white supremacists,’ but they are ‘patriotic’ Australians ‘from all walks of life concerned with a certain issue.’
In other words, people like you and I. Right? Wrong. Reclaim Australia’s use of collectivist language is a clever yet ham-fisted way to shroud the ignorant, intolerant and hate-filled simplicity of Reclaim Australia’s central tenets.
What Does ‘Reclaim Australia’ Mean?
Much of the intrigue surrounding Reclaim Australia concerns their interesting use of the word ‘reclaim.’ ‘Reclaim what? And from whom?’ the huddled masses whisper in confusion. Well according to them, they ‘just want [their] successful Australian way of life retained’…whatever that means.
The word ‘Australian’ has moved beyond its simple definition, meaning ‘a citizen of the Commonwealth of Australia’, and warped into a word loaded with semantic complexities. Notably, the word has undergone years of misuse and misappropriation that has resulted in it being colloquially used as a form of social currency to confer mythical and undefined cultural supremacy.
Because of the connotations that this word harbours it is regularly trotted out by politicians and other societal leaders as a cheap way of undermining criticism and arguments against a policy or position that they are supporting. It is also unsurprising that due to these connotations the term has become synonymous with groups that are anti-Islam, anti-Immigration, and socially conservative.
Many users of the term possibly also own a number of Australian flags, and would perhaps be inclined to drape said flags over their shoulders on days on national significance. It is interesting to note the continued use of the Australian flag by groups such as Reclaim Australia, considering that the two major elements of the flag – the Union Jack and the Southern Cross – also feature on no less than five other national flags respectively, including Papua New Guinea, Brazil and Tuvalu. That’s as un-Australian as you can get.
What Do Reclaim Australia Stand For?
With that in mind, Reclaim Australia has helpfully laid out the 24 items that they are ‘reclaiming,’ listed under the ‘Reclaim What?’ section of their website. It’s a cracking read and could almost qualify as satire if it weren’t so painfully real and poorly written. It is littered with grammatical errors, not to mention the blindingly paradoxical nature of many of the clauses.
What comes across as most apparent in perusing the list is the repeated use of the term ‘Australian.’ What’s easy to see is that the term ‘Australian’ is here being used in place of the more accurate ‘Judeo-Christian,’ or the less accurate, but more widely used, ‘Western.’ If you substitute those words the whole thing starts to make a lot more sense.
Although the tenets appear to be very broad, general and downright sensible (some of the tenets include ‘Equality of Gender’ and ‘Recognition and Respect of Australia’s Indigenous Community) the whole document is essentially a coded attack against an irrational perspective of the Islamic religion.
Just like the vast, vast majority of the entire world Reclaim Australia condemns the radical militant group known as the Islamic State of Iraq and the Levant (‘ISIL’). However, unlike the vast, vast majority of the world Reclaim Australia is incapable of separating the actions of ISIL and other extremist groups, such as Boko Haram, and the Islamic religion as a whole.
So They’re Racists?
Reclaim Australia constantly assert that they aren’t racist, however as outlined by people much more intelligent than me their actions are based on creating a ‘Racial Other’ out of Islam, and demonising the religion as a means of asserting the cultural dominance of Christianity, which the tenets claim is intrinsically linked to supposed progressive Western values such as ‘equality of religion.’ They might deny racism, but intolerance, zealotry and bigotry are still firmly applicable and undeniable.
Considering the public disdain for radical Christian groups such as the Ku Klux Klan (which is still kicking around) and the Westboro Baptist Church, Reclaim Australia’s ideology is a tough sell, which is why their message is veiled under faux-patriotic nonsense.
You don’t have to dig too deep to uncover Reclaim Australia’s intended message. For example, on their website there are constant references to how ‘Judeo-Christian foundations’ and ‘white heritage’ are being denigrated and eroded due to multiculturalism, and how recurring secular events, such as Australia Day and ANZAC day, are supposedly of Christian tradition.
What’s the End Game?
In an end goal that seems strikingly reminiscent of the Spanish Reconquista it appears that the aim of Reclaim Australia is to remove all Muslims from the continent. In fact, they themselves say it best, when they say: ‘stop all forms of radicalisation within our shores until it stops. If that means removing imams, Korans, and closing down all mosques and Islamic schools then so be it.’ That’s the sixth tenet.
The point really hits home though at tenet ten, which states: ‘equality and tolerance for all races and religions – this also includes Aussies and Christians’…as well as all the other minorities out there, right?
The Reconquista was officially completed with the Treaty of Granada, containing sixty-seven articles. Such articles included:
- ‘That their [Muslims] laws should be preserved as they were before, and that no-one should judge them except by those same laws’;
- ‘That their mosques, and the religious endowments appertaining to them, should remain as they were in the times of Islam’; and
- ‘That the Christians who had embraced Islam should not be compelled to relinquish it and adopt their former creed.’
Here’s to progress.
Why Should I Care?
Reclaim Australia receive an inordinate amount of attention, not due to their message or their rallies but because of the vitriolic response to their public events by anti-racist groups. It’s right to be angry and upset that views such those espoused by Reclaim Australia are still held in modern Australia, but nearly all of the mainstream news coverage of the event was dedicated to the clashes between Reclaim Australia and ‘No Room For Racism’ groups.
It’s fantastic to see the level of opposition to Reclaim Australia – especially in the nation’s capital – but by purposely inciting and reacting to the group it gives their cause unwarranted attention. Without a competing rally the event is inherently un-newsworthy, and justifies perhaps a 50 word story on page 21 of the state newspaper.
The numbers of attendees from the April protests to the July protests dwindled significantly, yet now more than ever people are aware of the ‘Reclaim Australia’ movement. It’s all at odds with the prevailing sentiment of the majority Australians, which is why the backlash against this particular group is bizarre, if still heart-warming.
Violence is no way to combat hate, and perhaps if we treated these people with the contempt they deserve, they’d all go quietly back to their corner. I realise that the very act of writing this article contradicts most of what I just said, but hey, when the ball’s rolling you’ve gotta jump on board. Can we all agree not to let this happen at the next inevitable rally?
As sickest bloke out Jeremy said: ‘Whats wrong with Muslims anyway? I dun get it’