Yesterday, Pauline Hanson’s racism-powered vote narrowly failed to pass, making international headlines. But, those who were shocked haven’t been paying enough attention.



Yesterday, Pauline Hanson tabled a motion based not on fact, or change, but blunt prejudice, asking the Senate to vote whether they felt it was “ok to be white”.



The Senate voted on it, and they decided that it was not okay to be white, by a score of 31-28. But this was just the prologue; the reaction to it has been far more interesting. Some recoiled in shock at the margin, wondering aloud what this country of ours is becoming, and indeed, some pushed us to name names, and shame shame shame all the politicians who sided with Pauline.


Yes, the vote was close, and for those who have the luxury of finding it shocking, it certainly was that. 31-28 was a vote “too close for comfort”, but an arbitrary vote on a nameless Monday means nothing. It merely revealed the obvious. If you’re just understanding this now, you’ve not been paying enough attention. However, while we’re familiar with the names Hanson, Anning and Bernardi, we should be more familiar with those closest to us; Uncle Barry, Mum, Mr Ngyuen down the street. Racism is a large part of the Australian experience, and we need to accept that. It’s not the far fringes that hold these views, it’s far more than assumption grants us to believe. We need to shake loose this wattle-tinged delusion that we all think the same way. This vote, or those who hold these views, didn’t just pick a side when prompted – they all chose one long before this motion, long before the dark corners of 4chan met the red decor of our democracy.



We should recognise that this is not who we’re becoming, it’s who we are. 31-18 is an accurate representation of what Australia has always been. Our newly-minted race discrimination commissioner, Chin Tan, put it best, stating that we’re not a racist country, but some of us are. “I’ve always espoused the view,” he said, “that Australia, compared to many other countries around the world, has a far better system, in the sense that it is a non-discriminatory system right across, and that has given us the backbone to be able to find opportunities in this country as well.”



Yesterday’s vote echoes that thought. We suffer from this delusion. We see what we want to see. After all, we’re not totally racist, no. After all, the vote failed to pass.

But there are many of us, more than we want to believe, who hold an opposite view. While we might reach for examples today on why we’re exactly not racist, that doesn’t change the opposite. That is something that we should not forget, especially when the international headlines dissipate.



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