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Saturday, March 01, 2014


Yesterday I wrote about how Australians had surrendered their compassion with regard to boatpeople. I showed how they had become convinced by the rhetoric and propaganda of the right-wing of the commentariat and the right-wing of both major political parties that stopping the boats was imperative in order to ‘stop the drownings’ of refugees seeking asylum in Australia by boat. I showed how the ‘stop the drownings’ meme had become a useful catchcry to cover for the real reason for many Australians not wanting to allow non-European non-white foreigners into Australia and that racism was the unspoken real reason behind Australia’s attitude toward boatpeople.

I suggested that by the simple expediency of providing seaworthy boats to those seeking refuge or even just flying them in would solve the problem of deaths at sea. I suggested that quick and efficient on-shore processing based on humanitarian principles would extinguish the angst refugees currently are force to endure during detention prior to processing.

Today, Dr. Gordon Menzies of the University of Technology in Sydney in an op-ed piece in ABC News Online perpetuates the nonsensical myth of the government’s policies being for the boatpeople’s own good. He writes:

The driving force of the current policy regarding refugees emerges directly from consequentialism: tough treatment now will deter future arrivals down the track.

It is important to realise, too, that this line of thought can be compassionate, which is why it has penetrated some notably left-leaning political minds. Stopping people from risking their lives is surely a compassionate goal?

In reality, no self-respecting ‘left-leaning political mind’ would be falling into that trap.

Menzies also demonstrates the point about how the lies embedded in the rhetoric and propaganda of the right-wing about boatpeople have become entrenched in the psyche of many an Australian voter. Menzies writes: 

It has taken a while, but it now appears that both the major parties, and a good deal of their support base, have reached agreement in principle on a tough stance towards boat people. The majority of voters, assailed by the twin fears of terrorism and the "wrong kind of person" entering the country, are broadly supportive of a "whatever it takes" approach to dissuading asylum seekers from coming to our shores.

The ‘fear of terrorism’ and ‘the wrong kind of person’ notions were both introduced into the boatpeople narrative by the extreme right-wing commentariat. While the ‘wrong kind of person’ rhetoric transparently attempts to disguise outright racism, ‘the fear of terrorism’ idea is not supported by any actual evidence.

Menzies avoids asking the unasked question: Why do we want to stop asylum seekers arriving here by boat? He parrots the same old line about wanting to ‘stop the drownings’. But we know this is nonsense because there have always been Australians who have wanted to stop boatpeople coming to Australia even before any of them actually drowned and, besides, as I’ve already mentioned, the problem of stopping the drownings is very easily solved without having to send thousands off to places they don’t want to be housed in concentration camp-like conditions for indefinite periods of time and without any certainty of their future and where they still risk life and limb anyway.

The tone of Dr. Menzies piece is vague and the reader is left wondering if he’s just being cynical about government policies by parodying the right-wing view about boatpeople or if his words reflect his own thinking about the issue. Either way, he’s been unable to face the real test that determines an individual’s stance on the subject; he’s failed to face the reality of Australia’s racism and, in doing so, has conceded his own racism by virtue of perpetuating the myths about boatpeople.

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