9yo Harper Nielsen got attacked by politicians for taking a stand. She's now making international headlines

Nine-year-old Harper Nielsen got attacked by politicians for taking a stand. She’s now making international headlines

Harper Nielsen
CNN is reporting it. The BBC is reporting it. The Washington Post is reporting it. Some of the biggest international news outlets are talking about the stir nine-year-old Harper Nielsen has started in Australia.

Especially the fact that Australian politicians are attacking a nine-year-old for taking a stand.

All in the same week in which much of the world’s media have already been discussing the racist depiction of Serena Williams, published in an Australian newspaper.

Last week, Nielsen was given a detention from her Brisbane school after she refused to stand for the national anthem. The school also threatened to suspend her if she didn’t apologise. The Courier Mail then reported the story.

“Advance the white people, that’s what it meant when it was written. It completely disregards the Indigenous Australians who were here before us,” Nielsen told Nine on why she didn’t want to participate in singing the national anthem.

“I’m not someone who obliges by the rules of older people, just because they are older.”

That resulted in Pauline Hanson attempting to take her on, calling her a “brat” and stating that she would “give her a kick up the backside.”

A number of other politicians also came out against the nine-year-old, with Queensland Liberal MP Jarrod Bleijie tweeting that “suspension should follow if she continues to act like a brat”.

Tony Abbott declared that Nielsen should “follow the rules”.

Meanwhile, Alan Jones had his go at taking on the year four student, saying her parents should be called in and told that if she doesn’t obey the rules, she should find somewhere else to go to school.

As Van Badham writes shares in The Guardian today, “Imagine being so threatened by non-conformism you’d bully a child.”

Appearing on The Project on Wednesday night, Nielsen explained that she feels we should respect Indigenous people and their culture. “[The anthem] says Advance Australia Fair, which when it was originally written meant advance white Australia. It says we are young, but we’re not young if we count the Indigenous Australians, who were here for over 50,000 years before the British colonised Australia.”

Nielsen’s parents have told various news outlets that they are proud of their daughter for taking a stand, and how she’s handling the controversy.

She’s also receiving plenty of support across social media, with the Washington Post describing Nielsen’s protest as “an echo” of NFL star Colin Kaepernick’s kneeling protest against police brutality in the US.

Earlier this week Prime Minister Scott Morrison declared that the Liberal Party doesn’t need quotas in order to improve its female representation, but rather women need “support” and “training” programs.

A broader aspect of this could be to ensure that confidence and a willingness to speak up on challenging issues isn’t beaten out of girls and young women before they have a chance to even think about career in politics.

We should be supporting young girls in wanting to express an opinion, even if you disagree with those opinions, and even if those same opinion threatens the comfortable, convenient status quo. All power to Harper Nielsen.

 

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