The world is full of idiots, and someone needs to point it out to them or they will never know.

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

If You Don't Love it, Don't Leave

Dear reader, there's a phrase that really makes my blood boil, and it's this: 

Love is a very strong word...
For a very long time, it's been the catchphrase (and easiest way to identify) someone who's xenophobic and bigoted (for example, Pauline Hanson). It's a ridiculous phrase that basically says if you don't love Australia and everything it stands for, you should leave the country. Now, I thought as a society we had all agreed this a stupid thing to say, so imagine my surprise when I heard our new Prime Minister utter the following words...

It is not compulsory to live in Australia, if you find Australian values are, you know, unpalatable, then there's a big wide world out there and people have got freedom of movement

Now, I don't mind Turnbull. I think he's head and shoulders a better Prime Minister than Abbott - he's smart, moderate and very articulate. So I have to wonder what he was thinking when he said this. Because, basically, our Prime Minister is now saying, "If you don't love it, leave!"

Folks, as much as I rant about stuff on this blog, I do love a few things - and one of them is Australia. I love my country, I really do. However, as much as I love the country, I'm sure even the most patriotic bogan would agree with me that our country has flaws - every country does. Now, what I consider a flaw may be different to what someone else considers a flaw, but the fact remains our country could use some improvement. Whether it's more money to pensioners, better public transport, better roads, better education... everyone would have a different list of what needs to be fixed. Are you really saying that because I don't love every aspect of Australian culture, I should just leave?

Because that's what's wrong with the "if you don't love it, leave" argument - it ignores the fact Australia (like every country) has its flaws. We should work, as a society, to fix these flaws. The rest of the world has different ideas on welfare, imprisonment, education and so on - and just because someone disagrees with how we do things in Australia doesn't make their opinion invalid. Telling people to leave the country if they're not happy is just ignoring bigger problems.

Imagine if you visited a friend's house and they had a dog that kept jumping on you and biting you every time you walked through the front gate. Wouldn't you be annoyed if, when you asked your friend to control their dog, they just replied, "Hey, that's just the way things are here - you can leave if you like." Or imagine if you're a vegetarian and a friend invites you over for dinner - then proceeds to only serve meat because "That's how it is here!"

I'm not saying we should change everything immediately, but part of being a grown-up is accepting that other people have different beliefs and values to you, and figuring out a way to accommodate them. I could never be a vegetarian myself, but you can bet that if I had a dinner party and knew a vegetarian was coming I would make an effort to accommodate him or her. Because that's what people who aren't dickheads do - they're nice to people who are different. Isn't that a far more important Australian value than a mosque potentially being built down the road?

If I moved to another country and I didn't like the way they do a particular thing, aren't I entitled to speak out against it? You can bet your bottom dollar I would be anti-gun in the USA or anti-censorship in China. Australia claims to be a country of free speech, and sadly that does occasionally mean people are going to say things you don't like. You can't slam Muslims in one breath, hold up your hands and yell, "Freedom of speech!", then savagely criticise anyone who has a different opinion to you - freedom of speech works both ways.

I'm certainly not saying we should just bow down to whatever anyone wants (that would be stupid), but we should be encouraging outside ideas and constructive criticism, not discouraging. Nor am I saying every new idea is good. What I am saying is that it's okay for someone to criticise your country, as long as it's done in a respectful, informed and articulate manner. So no, strapping bombs to your chest is not a respectful way to get your point across. But neither is saying things like, "Halal certification goes towards terrorism!" - that's just plain ignorant.


Telling people to leave the country if they hate it is not helping. All this will do is further disenchant people from Australian culture - ironically the opposite of what Turnbull presumably wants.

This is probably my favourite poster all year

After all, with the exception of the Indigenous Australians, we're all immigrants anyway.

© 2015 by The Free Man

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