LETTER TO EDITOR: Saturday, April 4, made me want to weep.
Since the days of Terra Nullius, the racial purges on the gold fields, the years of White Australia and the 'yellow peril', Australia has gone nowhere. Still the word 'assimilate' is written on placards. Still people who were born in Australia are told to "go back to where they came from".
Still people are marginalised and rejected by their own nation.
I can't even imagine how that must feel for our Islamic Australians. So when I wore my Australian flag as a hijab on Torquay Beach on Saturday and listened to the obscenities flung my way, I was not angry. Just sorrowful.
When I read the 'assimilation, not alienation' placards, I thought about the young Muslims pushed to the fringe of society by this very notion. Did the people holding these placards not see that in this very action they were the alienators?
Alienation, incidentally, leads directly to radicalisation.
When the crowd around us on the beach began singing the National Anthem, I joined in, at which point, they stopped.
I finished the song. I believe strongly in the freedom and in
clusion the song intones. I believe our freedom to choose beliefs, words, clothing life
style and actions is the best thing about our nation.
Even when it means we are also free to choose bigotry and ignorance over understanding and acceptance.
But if this action against choice continues there won't be much to rejoice, for we'll be nowhere near to 'free'. And although we live in stability and peace, our home is girt by fear.
- Jo Shepherd, Takura
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