It’s hard to know how to respond to the weekend’s anti-Islamic ‘Reclaim Australia’ rallies.
Paying too much attention to the participants gives a lot of misinformed people a platform they shouldn’t have, while ignoring them risks dismissing the evidence of active anti-Muslim sentiment in parts of the community.
While most of the nation’s parliamentarians avoided being drawn either way, one got their response pretty much perfect.
Labor MP Tim Watts came out swinging after the rallies, posting this from his facebook page.
Judging by the responses, the Member for Gellibrand hit his target.
Watts was inundated with replies from people determined to partake in the heroic crusades against Sharia law, halal backed terrorism, and a host of other terrifying threats very obviously not facing Australia.
After the post, Watts started getting messages like this.
As other similar comments flowed, Watts rolled up his sleeves and did something most media advisers would tell their boss to never do: he headed down into the comment section.
By the time Watts was done the Reclaimers weren’t looking so good.
Clearly enjoying himself, Watts was even prepared to concede defeat when his opponents hit their stride.
It was trolling that Christopher Pyne himself would have been proud of.
For some it was all getting a bit confusing.
Others were appreciative of the MP’s efforts
And somewhere along the way Watts even made a serious point about cycles of racism and immigration in Australia.
The polite chidings Watts was dishing out put him in stark contrast to the Prime Minister.
Tony Abbott’s response to the rallies has been to say nothing about them at all, a decision that will do little to reassure Australia’s 500,000-odd Muslim population that the PM really wants them on ‘Team Australia’.
Bill Shorten, on the other hand, found the courage to say the glaringly obvious, and dismissed the ideas put forward at the events as conspiratorial.
In the carefully worded statements Shorten missed a golden opportunity, however, and failed to deliver any of his trademark zingers.
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