If you don’t love it, leave it? Poppycock

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March 22, 2015 by Paul Goldsmith

A vest with an Australian flag and the slogan 'If you don't love it, leave'

Do you HAVE to love your country? If you don’t love your country, should you leave it? I’m not just asking rhetorical questions here. I’m asking you what you think.

Is it not possible to LIKE your country, or love it sometimes and be embarrassed of it sometimes? Shouldn’t it be possible to make it your life’s work to point out imperfections and try to improve your country to meet the ideals by which it was created. Or maybe to question traditions?

If you feel alienated by your country, or maybe the behaviour of its’ current government, can you not feel that at the moment you don’t love your country but you might again if things change?

Is not a country just a place where you live right now, and have friends and family, and a community you feel safe and fulfilled with, without needing to actually LOVE the country?

I ask all these questions because of the singlet sold by Woolworths stores in Australia. Under an Australian flag was the message “If you don’t love it, leave”. Think about that message for the moment. From your point of view, and now from the point of view of an immigrant. Sounds pretty hostile doesn’t it?

That’s what lawyer Mariam Veiszadeh thought, posting a picture of the T-Shirt and the message “I’m outraged that #WOOLWORTHS are allegedly selling these bigoted singlets at their Cairns stores” on Twitter. As her message trended online, Woolworths pulled the T-shirts from their stores and what could be easily filed as an error of judgement could have ended there.

Only the far right didn’t like what she wrote. First, the Australian Defence league shared her comments with its 5,000 fans on facebook. This led to a young woman being arrested for posting a stream of racist abuse on Veiszadeh’s facebook page.

Then the Daily Stormer blog, based in the USA but with a strong Australian following, published an article containing a definite call to action – “Gentlemen, I think we all know what needs to be done here. Get out your Twitter accounts – make as many as you can… We need to be as hurtful as possible when abusing her, and we need to offend her Moslem sensibilities too.” Veiszadeh got heavily trolled and, given the accounts were anonymous, all she could do was report the offending accounts to Twitter.

Thankfully, plenty of Australians, and others around the world, have been supporting Mariam Veiszadeh through the hashtag #istandwithmariam.

More importantly, her life story has been highlighted, and its one worth thinking about. In particular, the first paragraph.

“I was born in Kabul, Afghanistan during the Soviet War in 1984. I, like every other human being living on this earth, didn’t exercise any choice in where, or the circumstances in which I would be born.

Due to the Soviet war my family had to flee Afghanistan in 1988. Our journey took us from Kabul to India, to the Czech Republic, followed by Germany and then finally we were granted asylum in Australia in 1991 under the Refugee and Special Humanitarian program.

I was enrolled in school both in India and Germany, each time making new friends and learning a completely new language. Upon arrival in Australia I was immediately enrolled into English as Second Language (ESL) classes.

Now when I reflect on my humble beginnings, it is still unbelievable to think that I arrived in Australia as a shy 7 year old who couldn’t speak a word of English. I will be forever grateful to Australia for the educational opportunities I have been given and for allowing my family and I, to call Australia our ‘home’.”

She makes a very important point about immigration that few people think about when they try to block it. People can’t choose the circumstances into which they are born. So when someone chooses to come to your country, it should be celebrated, because it normally means yours is a country that they would prefer to live in than elsewhere. That doesn’t necessarily mean she has to love her country, but reading her story she does love the opportunities it has given her.

Those lucky enough to have been born in a safe, democratic country who think that someone who doesn’t love their country should leave it should be invited to try where people came from, then they would understand why they come, and be proud of it, and immigrants too.

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10 thoughts on “If you don’t love it, leave it? Poppycock

  1. fanny says:

    Mariam understands how insulting to Aussies it was to be called bigots. She’s an intelligent enough lady to grasp that “bigot” is an insult. Especially in context of the t-shirt being sold for Australia Day. The t-shirt has been around for years. Our flag with love it or leave it on. It is who we are. Very much a sample of typical of our Aussie spirit.

    Paul, I hear, sadly for you don’t have a UK or England day… So you may not understand culturally, spiritually and emotionally how loved and important it is to us. You would know we are descended mainly from convicts. My people sent out here for simple things such as stealing a loaf of bread, only to be used as slaves, tortured, raped and murdered. We are naturally proud of what we’ve built and survived, especially from such shocking odds.

    I hope now with that reminder, you and Mariam can see that to be called bigots over Australia Day traditions is deeply insulting.

    I was genuinely horrified at being called a bigot over this. As I have never nor would ever abuse anyone.

    I will put it to you a cleaner bit thinking on equality. We’re all equally able to say no to offensive behavior, not just some of us. Also none of us have to accept insults.

    I wish you and Mariam all the best, but I would appreciate an apology on the ‘bigot’ slur and maybe a rethink on this article from you too Paul to at least include some context on my peoples culture and painful but strong and proud history.

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    • Thanks for the comment. I have a problem with the “love it or leave” slogan. I don’t care how long it has been on a T-shirt nor do I care if it is related to Australia Day. Yes, I don’t understand enough about the Aussie spirit, and I thank you for your contribution to that. But telling any group of people that if they don’t love the country or the flag they can leave, especially in something sold in a large store, is, I believe, bigoted.

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      • Ah, but you are mis-reading what I am saying. The definition of bigot is someone who is intolerant of others’ opinions. I am saying that the slogan on the t-shirt is bigoted. It says, that if you don’t have the opinion that you love Australia, you should leave. That, by definition, is bigoted.

        I did not accuse you of being a bigot. I imagine, in fact, that you have found many people intolerant of your opinion, which is perhaps why you are sensitive yourself to being called a bigot.

        I have written on this blog before about the bigotry of those on the left towards a political party we have here called UKIP, who present right wing views, want to leave the EU, and echo concerns about the effect of immigration. Some students have even banned them from debates on campus, even though they are a mainstream political party, which is bigotry defined.

        Anyway, if you genuinely believe there is nothing wrong with the slogan on that T-shirt then that is fine with me. That’s your opinion. I disagree with you.

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      • John says:

        If say I went to Vietnam to live and a Vietnamese asked me how I am finding the place and I respond that its a shithole. I would imagine after been taken back the Vietnamese man or woman would respond then leave. That would be logical in fact expected. Its not bigoted to love ones own culture and nation Paul. Its what great successful societies have in common. Give it another decade and we will witness how the UK fares.

        You are meant to be a reporter yet you strike me as nothing more than an ideologue parroting propaganda.

        When I mentioned the incident with Mariam you immediately blocked me showing how open minded you are not. For a reporter its pretty poor.

        The problem with you Paul and others of your ilk as Peter Hitchens once said Liberal bigotry is worst of all, because it thinks it’s so enlightened”

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      • John – you seem to be incapable of understanding that Paul is not a reporter. You also seem to have misunderstood much else of what he has said on this issue.

        On an earlier point you made in this debate – I would ask – which aspect of Australia do you and the defenders of this unpleasant T-shirt want people to love exactly? Is it the excellent food and wine – the cold beers – the beaches – the surf culture – the weather – the great culture in the cities – the sporting excellence – the sense of humour – democracy and freedom of speech – the tolerance (celebration even) of gay culture? Well I would love all those things – and I’m sure most people who have moved to Australia do as well. But if it’s the casual racism towards the ‘Abbos’ that I have heard come out of the mouths of way too many Aussies that I like and respect – or any of the other aspects of Aussie culture that cross the line into intolerance – then I think anyone should have the right to criticise – without fear of being told to go back to a war or poverty zone.

        If that makes me a ‘liberal bigot’ according to that lovely model of caring humanity Peter Hitchens – then please someone print me a T-Shirt and I’ll wear it with pride.

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      • John says:

        I understand now Paul is not a reporter but a teacher and this is his public forum so drop the sarcasm.

        What is unpleasant in loving ones own nation? If you find loving and taking pride in your nation or culture is unpleasant then please find that utopia to move to. As Gandhi said be the change you want the world to be,

        I cannot remember where in that T shirt it ever denigrated or even mentioned Aboriginal people. Are you sure you are not self projecting your own racism towards a group? You are not the first closet racist who accuses everyone else of racism I have met.

        I do not believe I stopped anyone’s right to criticize the shirt but merely criticized their point of view stating that if they do not like the nation that has given them safety and a future they should try elsewhere.

        Even if you do not like Peter Hitchens even a broken clock is right twice a day and his comment on liberal bigotry is right on the mark.

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  2. John says:

    I did not agree Paul I also brought to your attention that Mariam Veiszadeh had an Iranian human rights dissident’s account suspended from twitter who did not abuse or threaten her but merely challenged her views on sharia and like you she could not tolerate a view that either did not agree or make her seem like a victim of abuse which she could use for her victimhood status.

    As for the T Shirts there is nothing bigoted or racist about loving ones own nation and culture. One only has to visit the UK to see a political establishment and elite that despises its own culture to see the horrendous results. Where police, politicians and government workers looked the other way and were afraid to help 1200 children mostly girls sexually groomed. One only has to see the reports of clashes with Muslims in English cities and see the grief. Or the amount of ISIS recruits from the UK.

    Your nation is a dismal failure in proper integration and its due to your political establishment, media, elite and leftists.

    You have created a future battle ground. Nothing at all to be proud of.

    You and your nation should be the last to lecture Australia and Australians on tolerance and a fair society when your nation is deplorable example of integration.

    Most credible reporters at least try to be impartial and some even do not mind if their views are challenged. But I did say credible.

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  3. Brad C says:

    You ask us to view this slogan from the point of view of an immigrant, If I was a refugee given safe harbour by a country and granted all kinds of financial largesse by the citizens of that country I would walk that land with a heart full of gratitude and strive with all my might to integrate and repay the kindness that had been shown me.

    Now I ask you to view Miriam’s reaction to this slogan from the point of view of an existing Australian citizen who does, indeed, love his/her country, warts and all (love is not an opinion btw). Now, keep in mind that Miriam recently made a lot of noise about her right to wear whatever she pleases even if the majority of Australians find it confronting. This is just the usual hypocrisy demonstrated by religionists of all stripes.

    I in no way condone the abuse leveled at Miriam but also think a conversation needed to be had about her views.

    Re: “I, like every other human being living on this earth, didn’t exercise any choice in where, or the circumstances in which I would be born.”
    What kind of God is this? The God of mistakes? Who could have faith in a God who makes such fundamental blunders as putting you in the wrong place and time? I could throw a dart out of the window and find an omniscient God to worship.

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  4. John. There is a difference between saying that there are some things you don’t love about your country and saying it is a sh*thole. There is also a difference between me questioning whether someone should be allowed to say they love their country (of course they should) and whether someone should should be told that if they don’t love their country they should leave (I believe they shouldn’t). I can’t remember if I blocked you or not, over the past few days I have been inundated with people telling me that Hitler was right/the Holocaust didn’t exist as well as writing things that they are entitled to write but I don’t have to share with my audience. So you know who my audience is – I am not a reporter. I am a teacher and this blog was set up for my students’ benefits. I have had to delete a lot of things because, frankly, I don’t want children to read them. I am no more enlightened than you – but I do have a responsibility and this simply isn’t a media forum.

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    • John says:

      Well first thank you for your reply.

      Paul if you are a teacher then you do have a responsibility to instill in the children you teach the value of the truth not ideological perspective.

      Paul I look at words closely and I despise when they are used in the wrong context and for effect. You used the word racist to describe that T Shirt when there is absolutely nothing racial about it.

      It did not say Asians, Blacks etc go home. Or Australia is white or anything that had any racial undertones.

      It merely stated ‘love it or leave it” I personally know newly arrived immigrants who share that same thought.

      Most of the opposition against illegal boat people to our shores Paul are newly legally arrived Australians. Did you know that? Or in your mindset they were all redneck conservative bogans?

      I feel people such as yourself use the word racist to silence and intimidate those that have different views than you. Even legitimate critics. I think its nothing more than a lie and slander.

      As for Twitter I was polite and made it clear the issue I had with Mariam Veiszadeh with her having a legitimate critic an dissident Iranian human rights spokes person who took exception to Mariam’s advocacy of sharia. I even provided the link of this person’s site which had more information.

      You decided for whatever reason not to look into this and to block me.

      I never mentioned Hitler or Nazis or anything like that so please for the sake of mutual trust be honest.

      Honesty is the first step to any path Paul once you start to over look that for the sake of ideology then you are an ideologue nothing more.

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