'It's OK to be white': the discursive construction of victimhood, 'anti-white racism' and calculated ambivalence in Australia

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Abstract

This paper critically examines the ‘It's OK to be White’ Senate motion made by Australian far-right politician Pauline Hanson in 2018. Deliberately innocuous, the ‘It's OK to be white’ slogan was designed by online white supremacist groups with the intention of ‘triggering liberals’ and provoking outrage. Drawing on critical discourse analysis, I demonstrate that Hanson's ‘It's OK to be white’ motion was an act of calculated ambivalence, which served to address multiple audiences simultaneously. I argue that the motion provided Hanson with a novel way to discuss so-called ‘anti-white’ or ‘reverse’ racism which succeeded in generating the desired controversy and media attention. I further argue that the success of the motion exposed the Australian media's illiteracy on contemporary alt-right/white supremacist tactics and discourses. I also critically examine the implications of the motion and Hanson's promotion of white victimhood narratives. Despite its innocuous framing, the ‘It's OK to be white’ motion represented the successful co-optation of a racist white supremacist political project, the implications of which should not be understated. This research furthers our understanding of the strategies and tactics employed by the far-right, as well as the interrelationship between the populist radical right and online white supremacist groups.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)593–609
Number of pages17
JournalCritical Discourse Studies
Volume19
Issue number6
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2022
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • far-right
  • Pauline Hanson
  • alt-right
  • anti-white racism
  • critical discourse analysis
  • populism
  • populist radical right
  • reverse racism
  • white supremacy
  • white victimhood

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