Last week, New Zealand experienced its first and most deadly mass shooting in decades. An Australian man, among three others, has been arrested in connection with the attacks on two mosques in Christchurch that left at least 50 dead. The shooter posted a manifesto online detailing his inspiration by various white supremacists amongst other things. Details of the shooting, shooter and possible motivations for the incident can be found on most online publications, so I don’t really see a need to further discuss these things here.
Instead I would like to focus on the words of Fraser Anning in the aftermath of the attacks, the cracking of an egg on Anning’s head in retaliation for his words and a century-old parallel with Australia’s seventh prime minister.
Fraser Anning’s Statements
Fraser Anning issued a written statement following the shooting. In it he implied that the victims of the shooting bore at least some responsibility for their own deaths, being that they were Muslims. In the statement Anning said “the real cause of bloodshed on New Zealand streets today is the immigration program which allowed Muslim fanatics to migrate to New Zealand in the first place” and has since only doubled down on these original comments.
In response to the statement from Anning, Will Connolly, a teen from Melbourne took matters into his own hands to express his disgust at Anning’s comments in a way he felt the senator could really feel. He cracked an egg on the senator’s head. To which Anning turned, assessed the boy a moment and delivered what looks like a slap and a punch to head of Connolly.
At this point, Conolly is tackled to the ground and choked by some of Anning’s supporters, while the safety of Anning is softly assured. Anning was speaking to a crowd of about 60 people while access to the building was controlled by Neil Erikson, an extremist agitator who staged a mock beheading in Bendigo to stir up fear of Muslims.
Whether you agree with the actions of the lad, or not, he at least got his point across Anning’s head.
The Egging that Spawned the AFP
A century ago there was another political egging in Australia, this time regarding conscription. Billy Hughes was Prime Minister at the time. He was heading to a rally in Warwick, Queensland in 1917 to try and raise support for compulsory conscription to help the British war effort (this was not a popular policy, nor has it ever been). This was when two lads decided to humiliate Hughes. The boys were named Patrick and Bartie Brosnan.
Each of the Brosnan brothers were well armed for the occasion, so when one was asked to disarm by a police officer (dropping three eggs from his pockets), the other had enough eggs for the plan to be fulfilled.
The boys let fly, knocking the hat off Hughes. He allegedly reached for his gun in retaliation, though had thankfully left it on his train carriage. The story gets a little hazy at this point, though according to Australian legend Hughes demanded that a nearby policeman arrest the perpetrator. To this the officer responded “you have no jurisdiction”, as he only enforced the laws of the state.
In an outrage, Hughes returned to Canberra and founded the Commonwealth Police Force, which would become the Australian Federal Police. Hughes also used the egging incident to demonise Irish Australians (as the Brosnan brothers were of Irish descent), claiming that they were showing disloyalty!
While there are obvious similarities between the two incidents, we can be thankful that neither egg recipient had access to a firearm. Though this may be a funny or controversial (depending on where you stand) moment in Australian history, there remain lessons to be learnt by the experience. That inciting further sectarian fear and hate in the style of Anning can result in retaliation. That blaming a victim of a violent crime for that crime in its aftermath should be avoided by all but those who want egg on their face (or thrown anywhere else at them). And that so long as eggs exist, someone will be there to show their disapproval with the words/policies of politicians by throwing them.
By Nathan Booth