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Don't feel too sorry for our angry white men


So Senator David Leyonhjelm is hauling Fairfax before the Human Rights Commission under section 18C of the Racial Discrimination Act because political correspondent Mark Kenny called him an “angry white man” in an opinion piece.

I too am a white man living in Australia. Yes, I went to a private school. And, yes, I lead a fairly affluent life. And I’m also angry. 


Leyonhjelm to test race hate laws

‘Many people assume it’s okay to insult white people,’ says LDP Senator David Leyonhjelm. Vision ABC News 24.

Why? Because no one speaks up for white men. Where are the white male politicians? Are there any in Parliament? Should we have quotas?

In America, angry white men are perhaps the only demographic that Donald Trump has left – and we all know how Trump has been silenced.

David Leyonhjelm: didn't like being called an angry white maile.
David Leyonhjelm: didn’t like being called an angry white maile. Photo: supplied

So what if the vast majority of broadcasters in Australia are angry white men?

Indeed, there are so many angry white men talking in the media about how they keep being silenced it’s hard to hear any of them over the din.

White men live in complete fear. Speaking of the suffocating effects of section 18C, One Nation’s Senator Malcolm Roberts stated, “People are afraid to speak up.”

Roberts, it should be remembered, got just 77 first preference votes in the recent federal election. And we should at this point acknowledge the brave struggle that gave white men the vote, in many countries a mere one hundred years or so before everyone else.

One Nation senator Malcolm Roberts: "People are afraid to speak up."
One Nation senator Malcolm Roberts: “People are afraid to speak up.” Photo: Robert Shakespeare

To be serious, though, it’s one thing to be angry – it’s another to wilfully turn your back on reality. The reason Leyonhjelm, Roberts and the usual suspects in the media keep whining about how tough it is for them is because they can not or will not acknowledge their amazing luck to be so privileged.

Their assumption is that we live in a society that’s equal, which means, as Roberts and Leyonhjelm have said, that we can simply make a choice not to be offended by derogatory remarks that can go to the very heart of who we are.

The point of Leyonhjelm’s complaint, he said, was a test case to show how “absurd” Australia’s racial discrimination laws are. He said: “I’m drawing attention to the fact many people seem to think it’s OK to insult white people but if it’s black people being offended then that’s racist.”

Powerful white men like him can talk the way they do only by ignoring the fact that while modern Australia is vibrant, complex and pluralistic, there’s an uneven distribution of power and that incendiary, racist and offensive language is how that social power imbalance can play out.

So I am in fact angry. I’m angry that we have to waste so much time on these angry white buffoons who can’t face that – generally speaking – life as a white male is in fact a dream, one that they clearly have no intention of being woken from.

Duncan Fine is a Melbourne lawyer and commentator.



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