I've often watched the news and thought to myself, "Jesus, these white supremacist idiots clashing with protesters is insane, lucky there's no crazy Nazi sympathisers around here, that all happens in the city."
I thought wrong.
Obviously I know that disenfranchised youth are everywhere, and sometimes they take up a set of beliefs or a lifestyle that makes them feel more in control of themselves. I should know, a high school boyfriend of mine who hadn't properly dealt with his parents divorce tried to convince a lot of my friends that he was a full blown Satanist. Turns out he was just angry.
That's why I shouldn't be so surprised that in this age of Trump, the alt-right run-off, from places like Sydney and Melbourne, has reached the Central West. First it started with a handful of swastikas being spray painted on the trunks of trees and sides of buildings. Concerning yes, dangerous? No. The amount of inflammatory graffiti I've seen in Dubbo is endless and ever changing. Some idiot teenagers probably stole a can of spray paint from their dad's shed and thought it'd be hilarious. But accompanying the swastikas were the words "WHITE POWER", which before the local paper could report on it, someone from the neighbourhood had covered up.
I saw the pictures plastered over the front page of the paper in my local shopping centre, and started rambling to my mother about how ridiculous it was. Someone, or a group of people, had taken to defacing a neighbourhood in South Dubbo with racially charged graffiti. Maybe it was a bunch of kids being idiots? Maybe it was a couple of disgruntled nationalists who were still pissed off after marriage equality passed? Whatever it was, I was angry for the rest of the day, then I let it fade to the back of my mind.
"That's why I shouldn't be so surprised that in this age of Trump, the alt-right run-off, from places like Sydney and Melbourne, has reached the Central West."
That was until a second town, less than three hours away, had its own white supremacist propaganda crop up, none-other than on the university campus I used to live on. During the summer holidays, someone decided to print out old Nazi propaganda posters and plaster them all over the notice boards outside the university library. They included extreme anti-Semitic remarks and inflammatory language, the sort of thing you'd study in modern history when looking at the atrocities of World War II, and more pointedly Australian and nationalist slogans too.
I was horrified that the university in which I met so many like minded and open people was targeted. This didn't strike me as dumb kid stuff like spray painting a crooked swastika on the trunk of a tree, this seemed more like bait to incite restlessness. Posting Nazi propaganda in a university full of young minds is a perfect way to start debate and in turn find more disenfranchised people who need something to believe in, like I mentioned earlier. What does this mean though?
For anyone who stood firm in their belief that none of the craziness in Trump's America would show up in Australia, it's time to wake up. Watching the news for even half an hour a week will tell you that we as a country are at war with ourselves, just like the U.S is, and that racism is not only more publicly prevalent but is becoming more commonplace by being branded as "Australian humour" and not as what it is, pure racism.
But what can you do if going to a protest and being pepper sprayed isn't really your thing? It's simple, don't let people around you use casual racism and get away with it. Maybe the next time your old friend from high school has a few beers and starts using the N word freely, tell them to shut up. It's not always that easy though, and I know that. Some people, especially older generations, are set in their ways and it's hard to try and counteract their out dated thinking. As long as we as a generation can start correcting the rules by which our society abides, then by the time we're all old maybe the world won't be as messy and as hateful. We can only hope.
Kirra is a young, loud woman with a passion for equality, wine from a cask and drag queens. She is often spotted staring into space thinking about Game of Thrones and pizza.