Typed in by Tracy, as stated by John
We were in Northam today, our regional centre, where we do most of our shopping, other than what we are able to do in our immediate, much smaller town. One of our kids went to high school there, because it's the only Senior High in the region. Northam is the centre of the Avon Valley wheatbelt region in which we live.
It was disgusting to see a bloke arrive in town with his tray-top bedecked with large painted panels carrying maps of Australia with diatribes of racial vilification. Without going into the details, suffice it to say that there was a representation of a figure in a hijab with a line drawn through it, bearing the word "parasite", and referring to the Northam Army Base, intended site of a refugee detention centre, as "our sacred site" (meaning of the military). The ironies and insensitivities behind the use of this phrase are obvious.
I managed to control myself and not call out, "You racist bastard". But I feel it essential I articulate my opposition to the mass racism taking place in Northam and surrounding region at the moment. It was doubly disturbing to see bigots drive past this bloke in their utes, giving him the thumbs-up.
On top of this is the irony that Northam has a long history as a migration centre. But the racists are busy differentiating between the European migrants after the Second World War and the Afghan refugees who have left the country which those very same bigots are more than happy to insist needs the Australian military to be waging war against oppressive political elements.
My concern is with the fact that these refugees have to be kept in detention at all. It would seem a far more humane approach to treat them as migrants awaiting confirmation of their status, rather than as prisoners in a concentration camp.
In country that was stolen from the Nyungar people, it is bizarre that the non-indigenous residents feel they have a claim to this land through eternity.
During the 1890s, my great-grandfather, who was foreman of the South Champion mine at Kookynie, was dying of thirst in the desert when he was saved by an Afghan camel driver. Anyone with any knowledge of Western Australian history will know that Afghan people have had a long and important relationship with this place. But even if that were not the case, we are all humans, and all humans should be treated with dignity and respect.
It is many years since I and my fellow activists were involved in resisting the anti-Asian racism campaigns of Jack Van Tongeren and his ultra-nationalist cronies. But today, seeing those signs in Northam made me feel as if we have not progressed, not gone any further forward at all. Western Australia still reeks of racism.