Over the past few weeks we have watched, mouths agape, as the impossible happened.
One of the world’s greatest racists, Donald Trump, flounced headfirst into the terrifyingly powerful position of President of the United States. We pitied those poor bloody Americans, and felt grateful to live a world away from his xenophobic madness.
Not this week. This week, our very own Immigration Minister Peter Dutton gave us a sharp reminder than racist attitudes are very much alive and well on home turf.
In case you missed it, Peter Dutton appeared on Sky News last week to declare former Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser had “made mistakes” by allowing some refugees into Australia, and the country is “paying for it now”. When asked to clarify this comment in parliament this week, Dutton said:
“The advice I have is that out of the last 33 people who have been charged with terrorist-related offences in this country, 22 of those people are from second- and third-generation Lebanese-Muslim background.”
In one fell swoop, those fearful Australians who’ve been scrambling for a target were given one on a silver platter: Lebanese Australians.
Oh, how I would love to introduce the sodden-brained Dutton to my friend Sikni.
Sikni is a razor-sharp University of Sydney graduate, journalist, a wife, a mother to two, and a proud first-generation Lebanese Muslim. She's also very concerned by Dutton's comments.
Like many other members of the Australian-Lebanese community, Sikni is all too aware how Dutton's mindless comments have worked to condemn a whole faction of proud and wonderful Australian citizens to feelings of intense shame and fear.
This bizarre racial profiling has riled Aussies like Sikni, who doesn't have the desire (nor the need) to defend herself, her parents, her heritage, or her religion.
"What's the prerequisite of a terrorist? Do you just have to be Muslim?" asks Sikni.
"I'm not just fearful for myself. I have children now. When my kids are growing up, how do I explain to them that they're not wanted here?"
Trite to quote the bible, but there's a line I can't seem to shake.
"Our fathers sinned, and are no more; It is we who have borne their iniquities." (Lamentations, 5:7)
If you're white, no such issue. The violent colonialist history of our English forefathers - ahem, and current leaders - is fast forgotten by men like Dutton, whilst the actions of just 22 of the 476,290 Muslims in Australia are now the yardstick for the average Lebanese-Australian citizen.
The question was clear: Who, Mr Dutton, do you think were a 'mistake' to allow into the country? Who bought terrorism to Australia?
The answer was even clearer again: Easy, mate. Lebanese people.
It was an accusation that was as absurd as it was hateful.
"How is the world terror problem now being directed to my parent's immigration in the 1970s'?" asks Sikni, dumbfounded.
"How is that correlated with the multi-layered, extremely difficult situation that is occurring in the Middle East? How are MY parents, who came from a village in Lebanon in the early 70's, now being put in the same pot as people who want to incite terror from others?"