Briefing | opinion

Even the people who invented Pauline Hanson's 'It's OK To Be White' stance don't want anything to do with it

You idiot. Picture: Getty Images

The Coalition government is already scurrying to distance itself from its senators backing Pauline Hanson’s motion in the upper house that “it’s okay to be white”.

The motion called for the Senate to acknowledge “the deplorable rise in anti-white racism and attacks on Western civilisation”, and even Australia’s Indigenous Affairs minister backed it.

Now, Leader of the Government in the Senate Mathias Cormann has apologised for the support of the motion, and there’s talk such support may have been an “administrative error”.

It’s too late. The damage to Australia has been done, and once again, we’ve all been tarred with a brush clumsily chucked about by our leaders.

In this case, it’s Hanson and the better-than-average chance she doesn’t know where her new favourite slogan came from or even the real reason why it exists.

Around late October 2017, 4chan users on the “politically incorrect” messaging board hit upon what they thought was a great idea. Promote the phrase “It’s OK To Be White”, and it gets white folk who wouldn’t normally associate with the alt-right thinking thoughts they maybe had never thought before.

Of course it’s okay to be white, they might thin. Who’s saying it isn’t?

Reinforcing that twinge of uncertainty, as an obvious rallying call for the alt-right, the left would be forced to refute it. In that regard, the left would be seen to be advocating that “It’s Not OK To Be White”. Cue more self-examination from the “normies” – people who wouldn’t overtly associate themselves with either side of the “alt” equation.

Why do this? A big part of 4chan’s popularity is based on the membership amusing itself. But it was also aimed at exposing anti-white bias in American society.

It was a classic 4chan play by members of a board considered a safe house for white nationalists and the “anti-PC” brigade.

But apart from the chance to stir up trouble, some of these kind of 4chan-driven campaigns also play devil’s advocate, and – maybe inadvertently, maybe not – provide opportunities for people at large to have a good, hard look at themselves and why they might think the way they do.

If you’re new to this kind of thing, here’s the kind of discussion at the original post that goes on at 4chan when these campaigns are being kicked around:

Picture: 4chan
Picture: 4chan

It almost caught on. Several famous examples of it in use include the creator of Minecraft, Markus Persson, telling it to his Twitter followers in November last year.

And here in Australia, Canadian YouTube activist Lauren Southern arrived for her dinner date with Hanson in July wearing the slogan:

That seemed to be the bait Hanson took.

But first, back to 4chan, where the ploy in this case didn’t work as well as it might have hoped. Possibly because “It’s OK To Be White” wasn’t the “harmless message” the instigators at 4chan thought it was. (Or maybe it absolutely was.)

The proof that IOTBW would start a media “shitstorm” was shown by an incident at Boston College around October 20, 2017, where this Uncle Sam poster appeared at the site of the start of a “Silence Is Still Violence” march:

Picture: Supplied

Boston College called the police in to investigate the appearance of the “offensive materials”.

Predictably, InfoWars’ Alex Jones Radio Show added fuel to the fire, saying it was “simply another example of how American liberals want everyone to be inclusive and be proud of who they are… unless they are white”.

After Halloween, 2017, the plain black and white IOTBW stickers and posters began popping up on postboxes, lamp posts and power poles all over the US. And England. And Australia. As one blogger put it:

But as it turns out, the exact phrase “It’s OK To Be White” actually did have links to neo-Nazis – on several fronts. In 2001, it was the title of a song sung by white supremacists Aggressive Force:

Picture: Supplied

Maybe due to that, the Ku Klux Klan, according to the American Anti-Defamation League, began using the phrase on posters and flyers in 2005. In fact, a member of United Klans of America even used the hashtag #IOTBW on Twitter in 2012.

And several weeks after the 4chan campaign launched, the University of Connecticut invited right-wing blogger Lucian Wintrich to give a speech. The title? “It’s OK to be White”.

He wore a tuxedo and sat a glass of milk on the podium as he spoke. Milk, in case you didn’t know, is the official drink of white supremacists.

For many of the original board participants, the whole thing had got out of hand. Quartz has an excellent rundown on just how far it got.

The simple beauty of the original strategy had quickly been destroyed, as it wholly relied on the slogan keeping clear of any racist or white supremacist connotations, as this original contributor noted:

Picture: 4chan

So those who breathed new life into the term now realise they’ve lost control of their Frankenstein.

Sadly, it seems Hanson has jumped on-board an internet campaign specifically – and mischievously – designed make “normies” feel like they’re being marginalised.

But in the words of the internet, “THIS IS NOT A THING”.

And for Hanson to actually take it to Parliament, and now with the world watching, that’s just embarrassing – for all of us.

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