Are White Student Unions At Universities Really Such A Bad Idea?

1 Dec 2015

Yes. They really are a bad idea.

Yes. They really are a bad idea. (I could pretty much end it there, but that probably doesn’t make for a very interesting post though, so I’ll go on a bit of a rant as well and see where it takes us…)

In fairness, not as bad an idea as the NT Intervention, or trying to implement religious tests for refugees, or cutting over half a billion dollars from Indigenous Affairs, and not even as bad an idea as giving Bolt his own tv show, but still… it’s a pretty bad idea.

Luckily, it’s all just a scam.

Sorry, that is to say that there are no actual white student unions at universities, well, not anymore… well, not any that go by that name anyway. All the other stuff I listed above is sadly true, and not entirely unrelated either.

White privilege, and white fragility are such all time highs that it seemed tragically plausible to hear that White Student Unions had popped up at various universities in America, and even in Australia. It was equally unsurprising to learn that it was actually little more than a neo-Nazi prank. The idea being to show how discriminated white people are by watching the backlash from those who believed that it was really happening.

This faux discrimination, this ‘reverse racism’, that many white people have felt ever since the abolishment of slavery, and probably before, takes many forms in society today. The most extreme/comical of these is the White Genocide movement, who pretend to believe that multiculturalism and non-white immigration is all part of some nefarious plot to breed out white people. The more socially acceptable forms of this paranoid phobia are seen within media and government who talk about the need to ‘preserve our Judeo-Christian/Anglo-Saxon/European heritage’, or who refuse to support bi-lingual education programs for Indigenous students because ‘we speak English in Straya!’, albeit not very well.

We debate about moderates vs extremists as though it was not extreme to send tanks into the Northern Territory, or suspend the Racial Discrimination to pass the overtly racist legislation required to implement the NT Intervention. It may be Reclaim Australia who want to kick out anyone who doesn’t love White Australia, but it is our Government who pass legislation to take away basic freedoms, or to deport people.

The line between ‘moderate’ and ‘extremist’ racism in white Australia seems basically just to be who wears a suit and tie vs those with face tattoos, and those who usually try to avoid uttering racist slurs vs those occasionally try to refrain from uttering racist slurs but still can’t help themselves from slipping a 14/88 reference onto their misspelt slogan signs.

We live in a country where immediately after terror attacks our media turn not to experts but to racists who claim that ‘Not all Muslims are terrorists, but all terrorists are Muslims’. A claim so blatantly wrong that is somehow almost made into a truth, solely by the fact that our media refuses to call white people terrorists when they commit acts of terror.

A media that largely ignores protests against the closure of Aboriginal communities or Aboriginal protests against mining companies, but will do a story on a white farmers three generation connection to ‘their land’ when they wage a similar protest against mining companies.

Australia is not now, and has never been a ‘white country’, but it continues to be a country that is dominated by white power. I often think we only use terms like ‘white privilege’ because white people get too upset when we call it what it is, white power.

Perhaps though, it is not so much the use of the word ‘power’ that offends, but merely the word ‘white’. Whiteness is usually the unspoken ‘norm’, that everyone has to define themselves as ‘different from’ by such descriptors as ‘Aboriginal Australian’, ‘Asian Australian’, or ‘African Australian’.

In a country where whiteness is presumed and doesn’t even need to be named for people to know that is who is being talked about you can imagine how white people can feel left out, even though they are the centre of it. They feel discriminated against because we have Aboriginal Student Unions at universities, ignorant of the fact that barely a generation ago Aboriginal people weren’t allowed to attend universities, and continue to be discriminated against within them. They feel oppressed by the existence of Aboriginal Medical Services, ignoring the reality that they only exist because of decades of exclusion from mainstream (read ‘white’) health services followed by decades of ongoing discrimination within them.

They complain that they get called racist for marching for ‘white rights’ but we do not get called the same for marching for Aboriginal rights, despite the fact that white power is an expression of a desire to subjugate others whereas black power movements are about a refusal to be subjugated.

So, are ‘white student unions’ really such a bad idea? You bet your bottom dollar they are. But until whiteness is no longer the status quo, and Australia lives up to its claims of democratic freedoms, representation, and being a multicultural society, a lot of white people, in government, in media, and in other white power movements, are going to continue fighting to reclaim a country they have already illegally claimed and benefit from ‘mainstream’ institutions that were never intended to work for anyone who isn’t white.

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