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Recently, Peter Dutton appeared in an ad for a Brisbane car dealership. After Twitter called out the owner for exhibiting white supremacist tendencies, I fear we find ourselves in a familiar situation.
As I’ve said before, Australia has a bit of a Nazi problem. Growing far-right, white supremacist movements have taken root in this country, as well as in the United States and parts of Europe. While Fraser Anning might have been shown the door, that doesn’t mean the problem has disappeared.
The CPAC conference, (founded by the right-wing American Conservative Union) has taken root in this country, featuring such notable extremists such as Milo Yiannopoulos, Nigel Farage and Jeanine Pirro alongside our home-grown fanatics Mark Latham and Tony Abbott.
“For a long time, a lot of right-wing figures have seen a potential market in Australia,” David Smith from the US Studies Centre told the Guardian Australia.
“The kind of threatened conservatism they’re selling is transnational and it already has a place in Australia. You know, Sky News after dark, the syndicated Murdoch columnists. Australia really is a natural direction for CPAC to go in.”
That’s where our boy Peter Dutton comes in. He has a penchant for the righter side of things, even when he’s not trying. Dutton recently appeared in a commercial for a car company called SCD American Vehicles. This company is run by a man named Eddie Kocwa, who can be seen posing in a photo flashing the “ok” sign, which by now has been co-opted by the far-right a literal Nazi sign. Former Race Commissioner Tim Soutphommasane also noticed this and called it out on Twitter.
Kocwa, of course, denies that that’s what he was doing, but by now this has become part of the playbook of people dog-whistling to Nazis worldwide. The symbol is widely recognised by online Nazis and those who spend any time paying attention to them. It should be noted that Kocwa can be seen sporting a MAGA hat, which has also become somewhat of a short-hand for people who support, if not directly engage in, white supremacy. Describing the social media backlash, Kocwa said to SBS that it was all “…complete fucking horseshit. That circle thing is…if you ask any Aussie dude, you do that, it’s a punch in the shoulder if someone sees that. If they look through that, if someone puts their finger through it you get a punch in the shoulder.”
A post from the SCD American Vehicles Facebook page called people commenting on the photos “snowflakes”, another oft-used term by internet Nazi bros for anyone critical of their activities, going on to say that the election proved that they were “in the minority”.
It seems very implausible that Kocwa had no idea that the OK symbol had been co-opted by the types of online trolls he clearly identifies with, given that he uses their verbiage as well. But let’s say it’s true that he was merely referencing the “circle game” from Malcolm in the Middle, and that the photo is “from seven or five years ago”, he has to know what the MAGA hat represents to everybody, especially minorities, right? And shouldn’t Peter Dutton be vetting who he’s going to represent in his official capacity?
And hey, speaking of official capacity, the official Ministerial Code of Conduct, that can be downloaded by anyone and everyone from the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet website, states pretty explicitly that “a Minister shall not act as a consultant or adviser to any company, business, or other interests, whether paid or unpaid, or provide assistance to any such body, except as may be appropriate in their official capacity as Minister”.
It seems very implausible that Kocwa had no idea that the OK symbol had been co-opted by the types of online trolls he clearly identifies with, given that he uses their verbiage as well. But let’s say it’s true that he was merely referencing the “circle game” from Malcolm in the Middle, and that the photo is “from seven or five years ago”, he has to know what the MAGA hat represents to everybody, right?
Maybe Dutton just doesn’t care. Tired of hiding his true feelings – if you can even call it that – he’s just straight-up shaking hands with a MAGA hat-wearing troll at this point, daring us to do anything about it. He’s done everything in his power to show us who he truly is and we keep voting him in, so I guess we’re just fine with it. Why should we censure one of our ministers for violating an article of the Code of Conduct?
And that’s the issue with the way modern Nazis are working; they hide behind nice suits, and plausible deniability, and victimhood until people just stop asking questions. Slowly but surely their behaviour is normalised until people don’t even realise the signs. It’s exhausting keeping track of all of this. It’s exhausting having to explain that someone who wears the uniform, utters the dog whistles, and speaks the language is someone we have to worry about. Minorities like me have to keep telling the wider populace what’s happening, only to be told we’re crazy, we’re fragile, we’re snowflakes.
On and on it goes until, what? We’re also on a plane to Christmas Island? I’m sure that would be OK with Dutton.