Culture

Liberal MP George Christensen Calls #illridewithyou “Pathetic”, Really Doesn’t Get The Point At All

The man's campaign image is a hideous cartoon; could we really expect more from his views?

Today in White Middle-Aged Conservative Man Gets Mad At Them Blimmin’ Latte Sippers, North Queensland Liberal MP George Christensen has hauled himself from backbench obscurity to launch a tirade against the universally beloved hashtag and well-meaning social movement #illridewithyou.

Strap in, kids. Just like Beauty and the Beast, not only is this is a tale as old as time, it also involves a cartoonish brute who has trouble relating to the basic tenets of humanity.

So, here’s the thing. These kind of thoughts aren’t new; left-bashing and reductive rhetoric have been the bread and butter of controversial columnists and radio shock jocks for generations. Here’s one they prepared earlier. And though this is far from being ideal, it’s somewhat expected. Their controversy translates to profits and everyone’s learnt to take the Tele with a grain of salt.

A different standard applies to politicians. George Christensen has been an elected representative for four years now. These thoughts aren’t productive. They don’t help his constituents. They may win over some far-right voters, but even Tony Abbott — our most conservative Prime Minister in recent memory — has tackled the tragedy with a level head clarifying that the gunman acted alone and was not representative of members of the Islamic faith nor any militant groups.

Furthermore, the #illridewithyou campaign has been met with cross-party support from members of the LNP, Labor, Greens and PUP in the form of #weridetogether, and Christensen’s comments have even come under fire by fellow Liberal MP and close friend Ewen Jones.

It’s difficult to see how he saw this playing out.

“It’s not just tokenistic, I’ll Ride With You has been designed to do something, it’s been designed to take away focus from radical Islam,” Christensen told Fairfax this morning. “I’m saying lets have the conversation [about] radical Islam rather than people saying ‘don’t even mention the ‘I’ word because if you do someone will get bashed up on a bus’.”

Here he’s presumably talking about this episode where a woman abuses a young Asian boy for standing up on a busthis similar one with an Asian woman, this time where teenagers screamed “Kill the Jews” to a bus full of 5-year-old Jewish kids heading home from school, or this time when people abused a French girl saying things like “Speak English or die, motherfucker.”

In fact simply Googling ‘bus racist Australia’ produces a staggering list of results that would scare the shit out of me if I was a person of a race or religious faith that had just been unfairly lumped in with the actions of a lone criminal or something that the front page of one of the nation’s highest selling newspapers had misidentified as a “death cult”.

People were taking their children out of school, for god’s sake.

Of course this doesn’t mean we can’t have discussions about radical Islam. In fact most people of the Islamic faith would welcome it. At this point, there’s a whole lot to clear up.

But really, a few tweets by a comically vile and otherwise irrelevant politician lambasting a sympathetic and innocuous social media trend probably isn’t the best place to start.