Is there a more potent symbol of post-colonial Australia than the pub?
It’s a space where white Australian masculinity is forged, where the country’s drinking culture as we know it was born.
So maybe it’s no surprise that a Melbourne pub was the scene of a racist tirade on Wednesday evening.
Iran-born Labor Senator Sam Dastyari was confronted by men affiliated with a far-right hate group, who filmed him as they hurled threatening insults.
“You terrorist, you little monkey,” one of them said.
“Go back to Iran.”
Just tired variations on, “You’re different so we hate you”.
Senator Dastyari, a non-practicing Muslim, clearly doesn’t match up with some people’s idea of the archetypal Australian.
“I don't know anybody more Australian than Barnaby Joyce,” Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said during a recent visit to Tamworth.
He was there to bolster the campaign of his former deputy Barnaby Joyce, who is standing in the New England by-election after being ruled ineligible to sit in the federal Parliament due to being a dual national.
An akubra-wearing, straight-talking bloke’s bloke, the leader of the Nationals could be seen to represent an antiquated idea of a ‘true Aussie bloke’, a romantic Crocodile Dundee-type figure.
Australia’s long been a multicultural melting pot, but this lionised image of the white Australian bloke has only recently fallen out of fashion.
Barnaby Joyce is no more, no less Australian than someone like Senator Dastyari.
Of course, Mr Turnbull was playing to Mr Joyce’s adoring base.
But it’s a jarring insinuation for the Prime Minister to make, a week out from rejecting a proposal for an indigenous voice to parliament.
But Labor isn’t innocent in all this either.
Federal Opposition Leader Bill Shorten was the face of an ALP television advertisement earlier this year, in which he was flanked by 11 white people and one asian person.
The ad’s slogan?
‘Employ Australians First’.
From both major parties, the message has been crystal clear: if you’re not white, you’re not as Australian as the rest of us.
And it’s a message that trickles down to the wider population, propagated through such ordeals as the one endured by Senator Dastyari.
One Nation leader Pauline Hanson said the verbal abuse levelled at Senator Dastyari had “nothing to do about him being Muslim”, despite the fact that he was specifically targeted by his harassers due to his religion.
Junkee politics editor Osman Faruqi came under fire for a tweet he posted regarding the Senator Dastyari episode.
“No one is asking white people to chime in with their hot takes about what the ‘real issue’ is,” he wrote.
Lyons Labor MP Brian Mitchell dubbed Mr Faruqi’s tweet “outrageously offensive” while Tasmania Talks host Brian Carlton appeared to invoke the language of slavery in his condemnation of the political journalist.
No one is asking white people to chime in with their hot takes about what the “real issue” is. For once just sit down.— Osman Faruqi (@oz_f) November 8, 2017
“Please let me know when it’s OK for this ‘white people’ to speak freely, master,” Mr Carlton tweeted.
How about we get with the times and let minorities speak on issues that directly affect them?
Let’s do away with the apparent spectrum of Australianness once and for all.