At the 2016 Australian Federal Election, there was a party formed by an intolerant woman called “Love It Or Leave.” And there was another well-worn bigot who claimed that she would be happy to personally drive people she didn’t think should be in this country to the airport and wish them well.

That same bigot then had an idiotic rant in the senate where she claimed that autistic kids held others back and that teachers approached her saying that they weren’t equipped to teach autistic kids. Now, any teacher who would talk to let alone vote for that bigoted politician is in the wrong profession and an intelligent person would have instead of calling for autistic kids to be put into special classrooms, called for better education of teachers to be able to teach them. Some might say, “Oh, but that will reduce the number of teachers,” but I remember a teacher at my old high school saying that the government wanted to attract the best graduates to teaching. At that time, teaching was seen by some, not all, as “Okay, I don’t have good enough marks to get into medicine or law, or whatever else, so I’ll do an arts or science degree, or even commerce, and then, they say they couldn’t get another job, so they’d have a go at teaching.” You don’t become a teacher because you didn’t get good enough marks to be a doctor, dentist or lawyer. Similarly, you don’t become a teacher because you want to be the classroom bully. You become a teacher because you want to work with kids or teenagers and you want to impart knowledge to them. If you become a teacher because you want security of employment, even, you’re becoming a teacher for the wrong reasons.

I remember my senior math teacher, a man who used to arrive consistently late, and in the first year I had him, wore one of two pairs of beige slacks, and any of a beige, light green or light blue shirt and he only ever wore one white and grey jumper in winter. The second year, I wondered what had happened, as on the first day I had him, again, he walked into the classroom in a royal blue polo shirt (being an extremely corpulent man, it didn’t suit him) and a pair of dark blue jeans. One day, somebody asked him if he was married and he held up his third finger, showing a wedding ring. I asked him if his wife was also a teacher, and he replied, “No, only one of us was stupid enough to do that.” Another day, he walked alongside me to another class, and I asked him if he liked science, and he waved his hand as if to say, “It’s all right,” and the same for math. He even said that he really only liked computing. I don’t think he really wanted to be a teacher, to be honest.

Anyway, one thing I say, when it comes to liking or not liking change, is, there’s more than one type of change. I don’t like change for the sake of change (for example, I went to school with a guy who said that the longest he’d been in a house was two years, and I was amazed when he told me that, within a few months of moving, his house was up for sale) but I do like social change if it’s for the better. For example, I fully supported the change to the Marriage Act to allow same-sex couples to legally marry, and I applaud supermarkets that have the quiet hour every Tuesday.

I do NOT, however, support regressive change, like the bigoted politician called for. For starters, being able to call some immigrants derogatory names but then laughing at suggestions that she’s a white supremacist defies logic. How is being able to call immigrants such names not an expression of a belief in superiority or supremacy?

I have been watching SBS Insight and I saw one story about Australians who have married outside their culture and another about people who date outside their culture. There was a stereotype, dating back decades, whereby people who dated and married outside their culture were somehow misfits, but on this story, a Chinese woman who married an Anglo-Australian man said that she wanted a man who didn’t smoke, drink or gamble and she noticed that more so with Western men. Some Australian men believed outdated notions about Asian women, too. But one thing I will say is, some Australians who have married outside their culture have done so because they have developed interests in the culture of the person they marry.

In this age (pre-COVID19) of greater international travel, Australians have travelled overseas and seen things that they liked. I remember reading Looking For Alibrandi where Josephine Alibrandi’s grandmother said that some Italian women had been married by proxy to Italian men who had emigrated to Australia after the war, and unlike today, where people can travel back to their birth country every year or even every few years, in some cases, their families never saw some of these Italian women again. Okay, part of that was because a woman could not obtain her own passport until the early 80s, and part of it was that their families in Italy were too poor to travel to Australia and they sent their daughters wanting them to have a better life. Nowadays, it’s much easier, and some people may have taken Contiki European tours, and said, “Okay, I like a bit of Italy, I like a bit of Germany, I like a bit of Spain,” and so on. And some Australians have travelled to Asia. Yes, there might be some Australians who’ve been to Indonesia not to try Nasi Goreng, but to have a two-week surfing holiday in Bali, and gone to Japan, not for the temples and other beautiful sights, but to ski at Nagano or in Hokkaido.

What “Love It Or Leave” says to me is, “This is the way it is. If you need something or want something, too bad.” This is ignorant and a belief in supremacy. It is the same as saying, “No, we won’t have signs in Braille, if you can’t see, too bad.” Or, “No, we won’t have sign language, if you can’t hear, too bad.” Or, “No, we won’t have ramps for wheelchairs, if you can’t walk in, too bad.” Immigrants are not looking to take over suburbs or towns. If a Muslim wants to have a mosque, then that’s their right. And the only reason the community should be able to object to one is if the location poses a planning problem or is contrary to the planning scheme, not because the locals don’t approve of the religion. If they don’t like the religion, don’t attend the mosque. Just like, if you don’t agree with Christianity, you don’t have to go to church. And let’s not forget, the Constitution guarantees religious freedom!

What Love It or Leave says your way or no way. And we are talking about a country that has a transplanted culture. The First Nations Australians had their own cultural and spiritual beliefs, but we told to reject them in favour of Christianity. And that’s what these bigoted politicians push.

Diagnosed with autism at 35. Explained a lifetime of difference.