Put your dog whistles away, the “final solution” is here

14 Aug 2018

Fraser Anning's speech is the latest step in a downward spiral towards blatant racism and intolerance in Australian politics.

“The final solution to the immigration problem, of course, is a popular vote.” – Senator Fraser Anning, Maiden Speech, Canberra, 14 August 2018.

If there was any doubt that the Australian Senate was a hotbed of racist, sexist and bigoted xenophobes then let’s welcome its newest Senator, Fraser Anning. He is a product of what has been a deterioration in national discourse on immigration and minorities.

Civility has been on the slide in the Australian Parliament since Pauline Hanson’s infamous maiden speech 1996. Then Prime Minister John Howard condemned Hanson’s speech before swiftly adopting many of her policies.

In some ways it is good that the dog whistling is over. It’s out in the open. Aboriginal people have always been wise to government rhetoric since the first invaders established “Aboriginal Protectorates”.

In 2018 we are now at a point in Australian politics where the era of dog whistling is over.

There is no longer any spin behind the racism and bigotry of some of our parliamentarians.

Comparatively sophisticated terms such as “Australian Values” or labelling someone or something “Un-Australian”, any attack on the flag or Australia day means you’re not a real Aussie.

We’ve rebranded the Immigration Department to what is now known as the Department of Home Affairs, home to Border Force, Criminal Justice and National Security.

The Department is headed by ex-Queensland copper and a shock jock’s best friend, Peter Dutton, who claims that Melbournians are afraid to dine out for fear of being attacked by hordes of African gangs. We have former Deputy Prime Minister, Barnaby Joyce repeatedly referring to the “poor white fringe”, to be fair, he probably doesn’t even know what the hell he’s talking about. Unlike NSW Opposition leader whom referred to “white flight” in Sydney suburbs, he knew exactly what he was talking about.

We are at a crossroads as a nation, as to where we want to head. Do we want to fall deeper into white nationalism, or do we want to strengthen and build on the pluralist and multicultural society that so many of our elected representatives want to destroy.

Deeply steeped in white supremacist history, Anning would know full well how incendiary the use of the term “final solution” is.

But of course that’s not the only point of hate filled rhetoric the newly minted Katter Party Senator sneered during his maiden speech, “the first terrorist attack on Australian soil in 1915 was when two Muslim immigrants opened fire on a picnic train of innocent women and children in Broken Hill and Muslim immigrants have been a problem ever since.”

I would like to refer the Senator to events that unfolded in and around Sydney Cove circa 1788, but then again, the truly ignorant only choose the history they want to read and use the gaping holes in their knowledge to create and lionise a fantasy of what Australia once was and what it could be again.

Cory Bernardi wearing a make Australian Great Again cap.

Fantasist and Senator, Cory Bernardi

Anning’s Grade 3 logic, pathetically attempts to provide justification for his prejudice, “we have black African Muslim gangs terrorising Melbourne, we have Isis-sympathising Muslims trying to go overseas to try and fight for Isis and while all Muslims are not terrorists, certainly all terrorists these days are Muslims.

So why would anyone want to bring more of them here?”

One could ask, why would we want anyone in the Australian Parliament hellbent on fraying the social cohesion that makes this country, the envy of many across the world. That’s the bigger risk. Not to mention that all terrorists are muslim only because the media is very reluctant to call anyone who isn’t a muslim a terrorist!

Senator Anning’s vile comments have already been condemned by the Leader of Opposition Business in the Senate, Penny Wong who personally reflected, “my parents were married in the dying days of the White Australia Policy. We’ve rightly consigned that policy to the dustbin of history.”

Greens Leader, Richard Di Natale also slammed the speech, “Referring to immigrants, particularly Muslim immigrants, with the same language that the Nazi’s used to discuss the extermination of Europe’s Jews during the Holocaust is vile, racist, bigoted and has no place in our society, let alone our Parliament.”

The real test will be for Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull.

The Liberal/National parties have made a science of tacitly giving a nod and a wink to the racist rhetoric of, what until recently, have been the racist trolls on the fringes of the right. The same trolls that now find themselves in the heart of Australia’s democracy.

My tip is the coalition will do little to condemn Anning’s speech, he is a vote the Government needs; is it really any wonder politicians are a disdained profession?

Anning, the same age as my late father, served in the Australian Army at the same time. One can only imagine his attitude to minorities then. My dad’s generation had to put up with the blatant racism in the army, the workforce and everywhere in between.

He and his generation would have hoped for better for those generations that followed. But here we are in 2018, those hopes are now diminished and it is now up to our generation to stand-up and fight hateful rhetoric that becomes ‘legally’ sanctioned action from becoming the norm, any more than it is already is anyway.

The truly menacing thing about where Australian discourse is at in 2018, is that we are still in a period of sustained economic growth. Most people can’t remember or have forgotten the recession of the 1990s. The real fear is the scapegoating and targeted harassment of minorities that will occur if the economy starts to head south, which it will do at some point.

It is not an easy time to be a new Australian of colour.

The Sudanese community is under attack daily.

Those already marginalised within those communities are at risk of becoming even more isolated. Aboriginal people, as always, will be there at the barricades, with the tolerant, in the fight against intolerance and hate.

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