Some racist things that have been said by Pauline Hanson

Pauline Hanson, the leader of Australia’s One Nation party, has issued the following challenge:


“We have a disease, we vaccinate ourselves against it. Islam is a disease. We need to vaccinate ourselves against that”

Framing adherents to a religion as disease vectors is an extremely accurate replication of the philosophy of Nazism:

“I believe we are in danger of being swamped by Asians. They have their own culture and religion, form ghettos and do not assimilate”

This is racist because it frames immigration as undesirable based solely on the racial characteristics of the person migrating to Australia. Spoken in 1996.

To state that a person ought not to be present based on their ancestral features is to discriminate, irrationally, based on race.

“You go and ask a lot of people in Sydney, at Hurstville or some of the other suburbs. They feel they have been swamped by Asians and regardless of that now, a lot of Australians feel that Asians are buying up prime agricultural land, housing, you ask people in Melbourne how they feel about it as well.”

In 2016, Hanson again states that the presence of a large number of people belonging to a specific race is a negative. This is racist because it assigns a negative framing to the presence of people based on their ancestry.

“We’re bringing in people from South Africa at the moment. There’s a huge amount coming into Australia who have disease; they’ve got AIDS…..They are of no benefit to this country whatsoever; they’ll never be able to work. And what my main concern is: is the diseases that they’re bringing in and yet no one is saying or doing anything about it”

Hanson argues against allowing “black South Africans” into Australia, on the assumption that they have AIDS. She also claimed that ‘ white South Africans were rigorously checked compared to their black counterparts’.

This is racist because it assumes all individuals within a category possess a feature, without consideration of individual circumstances or variation within that group.

“I do believe there are some that want to get on with a quiet life and a good life, but you tell me, you line up a number of Muslims, who’s the good one? Who’s not?” — A Current Affair, 2017
“Radicalisation is happening on our streets, in our suburbs and mosques. Yet, our leaders continue to tell us to be tolerant and embrace the good Muslims. But how should we tell the difference? There is no sign saying ‘good Muslim’ or ‘bad Muslim’. How many lives will be lost or destroyed trying to determine who is good and who is bad?” — Maiden speech, 2016

Assigning a quality of amorphous, generalised suspicion to adherents of a religion is racist and discriminatory. This is because Islamophobia is simultaneously a proxy for hatred towards people from Middle-Eastern countries, in addition to a straightforward critique of the principles of an organised religion.

To imply that the ‘goodness’ of adherents to Islam cannot be determined by visual inspection is a racist assumption, and incites racial hatred towards individuals assumed, through physical characteristics, to originate from specific places in the world (regardless of their religious affiliation).

These calls to treat adherents of a specific religion with suspicion is racist.

“It’s my favourite topic. Ref-u-gees. You’re not going to tell me you’re a refugee are you, James?”
“No. Aboriginal”
“Really? I wouldn’t of picked it. It’s good to see that you’re actually, you know. Taking up this and working”

Hanson expresses surprise after discovering a member of the crew on an SBS documentary is Aboriginal, as she couldn’t determine this by visual inspection. She also congratulates him for finding work.

Assuming someone is likely to be unemployed based on their race, and congratulating them for finding work is racist, as it is based on the assumption Indigenous people are largely unemployed, and that an Indigenous person working is an abberation that needs to be highlighted. This is a racist assumption as it dehumanises an individual and reduces them to a stereotype, based on their racial characteristics.

“I love England but so many people want to leave there because it’s overrun with immigrants and refugees. France is becoming filled with Muslims and the French and English are losing their way of life because they’re controlled by foreigners in the European Union”

In 2010, Hanson stated that the presence of immigrants and refugees is a valid reason to depart a location. This is racist because it states that the existence of someone in a country is a negative if they do not originate from that country.

Racism is about flattening the complex troughs and peaks that exist in a large group of people. Hanson defines racism narrowly:

“Racist means to believe your race to be superior to another,” she said. “To make a comment on an issue doesn’t necessarily mean you are racist, but they use that word because it’s supposed to shut down a debate.”

As she has done for many years — eg, in 2004:

Let’s define the word, what ‘racist’ is — “A person who believes that their race to be superior to another’s.” I’ve never advocated that. And I challenge anyone to tell me one thing that I’ve said that is racist. Criticism is not racism. Accountability is not racism. And that’s what I’ve tried to say over the years.

Racism is double-edged: it involves assumptions of superiority, alongside assumptions of inferiority and homogeneity. As illustrated in the many examples above, forcibly removing the humanity from a group of humans through generalisations, statistical errors and calls for discrimination is racist.

To use a powerful platform to shake society into a state of suspicion, unkindness and unfair discrimination is a racist act, and it goes beyond being a racist or saying racist things to creating racists, as society changes in response to those powerful and influential statements. The emergence of these attitudes has influenced me and my family.

Redefining racism to exclude all but literal genocide, as Dick Smith has done above and as Hanson seems to be have done for decades, simply condemns a gigantic proportion of the Australian population to literal abuse, harassment, discrimination and casual, daily acts of cruelty on the streets and in the workplace. The message here is that this stream of abuse, and the machine that keeps it going, won’t stop until bodies pile up. Anything before that cannot be ‘racist’.

Efforts to call out and reduce racism are related to helping humans beings have the freedom to exist in a society. The word matters.