Freedom of Speech Doesn’t Justify Racism

10126520-3x2-700x467.jpg
Courtesy of ABC

Australia has suffered Islamophobic remarks from the very man who described this nation as a “multicultural society,” Fraser Anning, revealing his true stance on immigration and his true colors as person and leader. He degraded so many people and perpetuated so many stereotypes by claiming all immigrants were from “third world countries” and were all of Muslim faith. In asking the Australian people if they really wanted these “types” of immigrants to come into Australia, he demonstrated the racism and xenophobia that has plagued so many across the globe, rightfully sparking outrage.

Evidence of Anning’s xenophobia once again emerged when he called for an outdated and bigoted immigration law which had “restricted non-European immigration” from 1901 until the late 1960’s to be put into effect once more. His racist ideology and motives were clearly seen when he mentioned that he wanted “to return to the predominantly European immigration policy of the pre-Whitlam consensus.”

Anning’s actions are completely despicable and outrageous, and the very fact that, in 2018, there are still those who are prejudiced against people based on faith or ethnicity is alone appalling. Perhaps even worse about this situation, however, is that Anning is now yet another person to hide behind the guise of “free speech” in order to spew unwarranted hate. Yes, free speech is an important part of the United States constitution, but these days, it is being twisted into a means of attack. A way to hurt people. Racial division is at an all time high, and when people in power use their positions to spread bigoted messages, it only exacerbates the problem.

Ever since Donald Trump called for a ban on Muslims entering the United States under the guise of “national security,” Islamophobia has been at an all time high, ailing millions in America alone.  Targeting innocent Muslim communities has never, will never, and can never yield favorable outcomes, and as Anning continues to pull biased and altered statistics to display Muslims in a negative light, the damage becomes irreversible. While many will choose to ignore the hate, there are still those who will inevitably believe it and internalize the racism.

Though many Australian cabinet members came to condemn Anning’s comments and referred to the fact that Australia  has always been and always will be a “warm and open nation,” the mere fact that he was elected in the first place demonstrates where our world is right now. Not everyone always agrees with their government, but the percentage that does seem to follow whatever their leader propagates is too high for a person in power to be spouting hate against any community. Anning’s words have furthered and will continue to aid racism, xenophobia, and brutality against innocents, and this should not be acceptable. This is not the purpose of free speech.

 

-Ayesha Middya