Australian govt lambasted after supporting ‘It’s OK to be white’ meme as policy
Some 23 members of the ruling Liberal-National Coalition, including several cabinet members, voted in favor of a motion introduced by Senator Pauline Hanson – the leader of the anti-immigrant One Nation party – which lamented the “deplorable rise of anti-white racism and attacks on Western civilization,” while stressing that “It is OK to be white.”
Here's the 28 senators that just voted in favour of One Nation leader Pauline Hanson's "It is OK to be white" motion. List includes government ministers Mitch Fifield, Michaelia Cash, Simon Birmingham, Nigel Scullion (indigenous minister), Bridget McKenzie, Matt Canavan. pic.twitter.com/e56w9LlbIZ— Alice Workman (@workmanalice) October 15, 2018
The Senate ultimately voted 31 to 28 to reject the motion – but the ruling coalition’s support for the failed declaration sparked condemnation from opposition parties and commentators, who claimed that the term “It’s OK to be white” is a popular slogan used by white supremacists and neo-Nazis.
I'd like for the Senate to acknowledge:(a) it's okay to be rich(b) it's okay to be good looking(c) it's okay for our senate to vote on motions that are slogans used by white supremacists (d) it's okay to not know the difference between baking soda and baking powder#victims— natalie tran [bring them here] (@natalietran) October 15, 2018
The government immediately went into damage control, claiming that it had mistakenly supported the resolution and agreed to redo the vote. Senators present for Tuesday’s do-over voted unanimously against the motion.
.@Barnaby_Joyce: It's okay to be white, black, Asian; if we had a resolution like that, everyone would support it. I don't believe they understood the motion until it was too late. A lot of the time you don't even know what you're voting on.MORE: https://t.co/FzMVwiHhiE#Speerspic.twitter.com/By506pcbso— Sky News Australia (@SkyNewsAust) October 17, 2018
Attorney General Christian Porter said his office was responsible for the providing faulty guidance on the resolution. “An early email advising an approach on the motion went out from my office on this matter without my knowledge,” Porter said in a statement on Tuesday.
“This one was not escalated to me because it was interpreted in my office as a motion opposing racism. The associations of the language were not picked up. Had it been raised directly with me those issues would have been identified.”
The coalition’s ranking member of the Senate, Mathias Cormann, said he also took responsibility for not adequately preparing his party members for the vote, describing the incident as “severely embarrassing.”
However, while critics lambasted the government for backing a neo-Nazi mantra, “It’s OK to be white” has far more innocuous, although considerably more troll-y, roots.
According to internet legend, the phrase appeared on the popular and very seedy message board, 4chan, on October 31, 2017. 4chan readers were encouraged to post the message in public places, as a “proof of concept” that a “harmless message” would cause a “massive media sh*tstorm.”
Signs saying ‘it’s okay to be white’ found at Maryland high school https://t.co/h0JyuPyvyT— Post Local (@postlocal) November 2, 2017
The plot was a runaway success, with media outlets reporting on “It’s OK to be white” fliers terrorizing schools, college campuses, and other public places – a coordinated campaign that was attributed to hate-filled extremists.
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