Woolworths is in hot water over “inadvertently” stocking and selling this singlet:
“If you don’t love it, leave” image via Twitter: @heartsR4love
Since the news of this hit the papers, the internet has gone into a little meltdown over whether or not this shirt is racist or offensive.
Politician Jacqui Lambie thinks it’s fine. Shock-Jock Ray Hadley thinks it’s fine.
My take on it is that it is not fine. Not because I’m overly politically correct or because I want to censor everything. I recognise that, viewed on it’s own, it’s easy to justify this as a patriotic shirt with a simple message. The thing is, we don’t exist in a vacuum. We can pretend all we like that this shirt only represents patriotism and a simple message but it just isn’t so.
The Australian flag has been a subject of debate for some time due to the inclusion of the Union Jack. Many interpret this as only being representative of Australia’s British heritage and observe that does not encompass our multicultural society. It also does not extend to our Indigenous people, who may well find the Union Jack an oppressive symbol. In short, there are many people that feel that the flag only represents ‘White Australia’. Since 2005 that association has become much stronger, after the flag was so prominently worn and displayed by participants in Sydney’s Cronulla Riots- essentially race riots that received international attention.
Love it or Leave it
There are a huge number of things going on in Australia right now that I don’t love. I don’t love the governments abandonment of science, I don’t love that politicians are fueling fear and hatred towards Islamic women, I don’t love the plans for our Great Barrier Reef, I don’t love the rampant sexism in the media, I don’t love shark culling. Should I leave? Or, like any good relationship worth saving, should I try to work towards fixing these problems within the country that I do, indeed, love?
The other problem with the slogan is the use of that word: love. In this context, it’s subjective. “Love” means something different to me than it does to someone using the slogan to criticise another race or culture. Personally, I don’t want anyone to abandon their culture or heritage to “prove” that they love Australia and are worthy of staying. I don’t even think love is required to stay here. Many people have fled terror and persecution in their homelands to seek refuge here, only to be greeted with racism and discrimination. I don’t blame them in the slightest for not feeling the love straight away! Even skilled migrants who have made the decision to live in Australia are subjected to discrimination and racism. It’s not as simple as “if you don’t love it, leave”.
There’s nothing wrong with being patriotic; with loving and taking pride in your country. We are regarded as the Lucky Country and have been for some time. But instead of wearing divisive slogans while sticking our fingers in our ears and singing ‘Advance Australia Fair’ we should acknowledge the context these slogans are placed in, take note of the current climate surrounding our multicultural society and look towards solving these issues rather than callously exacerbating them.
If you are reading this here in Australia, you are a lucky person. You have so much freedom. You are even free to wear this awful shirt if you feel your right to do so is more important to you than how it might make others feel; new immigrants, refugees, fellow Australians who aren’t loving what Australia is doing at the moment. Go right ahead. Myself, I prefer this version I found online:
Would YOU wear it?