Reclaim Australia, and the Counter Rallies that Strengthen Them
With all the derision of the beliefs of the Reclaim Australia movement, there has been resounding adulation from certain sections of the community towards the so called “anti-racist” counter rallies. Although a supporter of the general message of these counter rallies I believe they weaken and are ineffective at spreading the message of Australia as an accepting country that says no to racism. Further, I believe they strengthen an extreme point of view.
Firstly, we have to acknowledge that the Reclaim Australia group are a bunch of gooses. Even their name seems ignorant, and one can only imagine what our First Nations peoples think of it. There rallies are typically small, and their ideas are seen as fringe and extreme. However, they still get a lot of media and it is easy to see why. The headlines focus on clashes between this group and counter-rallies organised to quieten their message. By providing the chance of violence, these counter protests ensure national coverage and media presence.
It is possible that violence at these events is the desired result of anti-racism protesters, which is why provocative chants such as “racist scum” emanate from the crowd. In this way they can hope to achieve a “heckler’s veto” where a reacting party effectively causes their opposition to be shut down (by law enforcement) to preserve the peace. This is an extremely dangerous tactic which risks the safety of both demonstrators and police to stop their opponent’s free speech, which is not a very meritorious outcome. Indeed, it feeds into the Reclaim Australia movement’s message. Their website says
“We are losing our democratic freedom to speak openly and honestly, we are losing our voice and our NATIONAL character. I am an Australian. If I say I love Australia and Australian values I am now labelled a ‘racist’”.
Now whether the heckler’s veto tactic is being employed is beside the point. Indeed, most of the anti-racism protesters would be seeking a peaceful protest. But there are always going to be provocateurs in rallies. The counter-rallies have the appearance of an aggressive attempt to stop one group’s point of view, and when it creates violence it this enlivens the appearance of an extreme movement which harms their own message (which is ironically based on tolerance).
So, my advice to the people who disagree with Reclaim Australia is this. The best way to counter them is to let their ideas be defeated in debate and drift into the media vacuum of other extreme ideology. Don’t try to strangle them into silence, making news in the process. People are smart enough to realise that Reclaim Australia is a fringe group, and the minority that attend their rallies do not represent the Australian people.