It’s a little naive at this point to think panel shows which throw commentators from a myriad of political inclinations against each other will directly fix anything, but by God, did tonight’s episode of Hack Live unearth some of the most hardcore views on nationalism around.

While the show’s promo spots highlighted a discussion around the Southern Cross tattoo and the concept of pride in our flag, the vast majority of the program left symbology behind to thrash around the topics of Islam, Muslim immigration, and the burgeoning movement against it.

Personifying those discussions was Blair Cottrell, head of the United Patriots Front, and each and every point raised on the electrifying show passed through him. Sat front and centre, his take on a constellation of issues was the show’s most confronting aspect outside of host Tom Tilley’s shirt. Soz not soz, Tom.

‘Hack Live’ On Nationalism Proved Nothin’ But Blair Cottrell’s Intolerance

Early in the piece, an Aussie veteran Andrew Fox-Lane, who served in Afghanistan, recalled how a farmer had brought food out for him and his fellow troops out of what we’d generally term “kindness.” As such, Fox-Lane suggested to Cottrell that maybe, just maybe, Muslims aren’t just a homogenous group of baddies. 

In response, Cottrell actually asked Fox-Lane why he believed the character of all Muslims could be extrapolated from an isolated incident. That argument is structurally identical to the one laid against the UPF’s assertion that Islam is inherently linked to terrorist acts. Cottrell either didn’t recognise the similarities or simply didn’t care.

‘Hack Live’ On Nationalism Proved Nothin’ But Blair Cottrell’s Intolerance

That wasn’t the only glaring fault the bloke didn’t seem too fussed about addressing. Although he did hammer home that you don’t need to be white to be a part of his movement, it’s nigh impossible to reconcile his ultimate goal – the safe “reproduction” of “his people” – with the idea of ethnic diversity. In words and in action, Cottrell and his group really do bear the hallmarks of a white power organisation.

In fact, Cottrell’s vehement defence of white Australians even incited the broadcast’s most intense moment. Nayuka Gorrie, the sole Indigenous panelist, pushed Cottrell on the obvious impact white settlement had on the First Australians. Cottrell contended that Indigenous peoples would have been completely wiped out if Captain Cook were Captain Abdul. 

‘Hack Live’ On Nationalism Proved Nothin’ But Blair Cottrell’s Intolerance

Not content to deal with hypotheticals, Gorrie reminded him that it was actually white settlers who uprooted millennia-old cultures, killing untold thousands of Indigenous Australians in the process. His response, verbatim, was “so what.”

Cottrell offered up some other statements that may have been worth interrogating, if he hadn’t just brushed off the unfathomable trauma white settlers – white Australian settlers – inflicted on Indigenous Australia. Truly – the bloke made some conspiratorial claims about who controls the migration of refugees, which was met with claims he believed in the Illuminati – but tbh, after he dropped that “so what”, it was game over.

Put simply, Blair Cottrell was given an audience tonight. He was given viewers. He was given everything he needed to put his case across… And he shat the bed with patently racist and nearly goddamned fascist ideas. He alienated anyone who might have wanted to understand his frothing fear of Islam, while only speaking to those who’ve already made up their minds.

At least his outfit was understated. Seriously, Tom’s shirt…

Source and photo: ABC2 iView.