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Editor's Column: No fairytale ending for fascists

Richmond News editor Eve Edmonds reflects on the bizarre blending of rainbow colours and a swastika symbol by protesters at a Pride event for children.
rainbow pride flag

A rainbow-coloured swastika? Is it just me or has the world turned on its head?

To add to the notion of incongruity, this bizarre blend of symbols was on a placard where people were protesting a children’s storytime.

Protesting at a children’s storytime? Well, I guess in a world of rainbow swastikas, that makes perfect sense.

Now to back up...

On Monday, Bryan Bone was doing something he’s done for the past decade, reading stories to children as part of the local library’s outreach program. The catch is, he does these readings in his colourful drag persona, Miss Gina Tonic.

When Bone is not Gina Tonic, he’s a secondary school teacher and openly gay man who grew up in Richmond and knows the struggles of youth trying to fit in. Not surprisingly, perhaps, the stories he reads as Miss Gina Tonic tend to celebrate diversity and inclusion.

I’m not sure when the tradition of Drag Storytime began, but it was more than 20 years ago that my son was given a CD of Peter and the Wolf read by Dame Edna, also known as the hilarious and satirical Australian comedian Barry Humphries.

Point being, this isn’t a new thing.

Back to Monday, Miss Tonic was busy reading stories when a group of protesters showed up and began heckling. It’s unclear how many were there, but two of them barged through the kids and marched towards Gina, yelling at her and taking pictures.

Later, Bone said he’d never been so scared but, ever the performer, Gina just told the children this would be the last story and wrapped up the event.

The next day, a parent sent us photos of the two men who decided to make spectacles of themselves talking to a police officer who happened to be there (decked out in rainbow sunglasses, I’ll add.)

That’s when we saw the rainbow swastika above which read, “Fascism comes in all genders and colours.”

The other man is holding a placard reading: “Why do LGBTQ organizations hate the innocence of children?”

...interesting tactic. It seems the oppressors are doing a little gender bending (or at least identity switching of their own) by playing the role of victim.

Do they honestly think that a colourfully- dressed person reading stories to children about inclusion and diversity equates to fascism?

And talk about hating the “innocence of children.” I couldn’t think of a better illustration of that than bringing an angry protest aimed at denying people their identity to a children’s storytime.

These, indeed, are interesting times.

When Donald Trump was first elected, I heard an interview with a scholar who studied dictators and totalitarian states. He said the first order of business is to sow confusion, create an environment where ideas are turned on their heads and words mean their opposite.

Trump didn’t expect people to believe much of what he said, rather the aim was to twist meaning and make all facts suspect. The same was done under Hitler in Nazi Germany, Joseph Stalin in Russia and Benito Mussolini in Italy, according to the scholar.

Obviously we’re a long way from any of those regimes and I don’t mean to overplay this situation, but human rights are always fragile, and chipping away at them can start small.

As with many storytimes, the take-home lesson comes at the end. This story ends with people at the event creating a human shield to protect Miss Gina Tonic, and Bone vowing to return for the next Drag Storytime at South Arm Community Centre — albeit with a bit more security.

And that, boys and girls (and those in between), is how we fight fascism.

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