Recognising racism (crosspost from Crooked Timber)

Back in 2004, I wrote that

There is only one real instance of political correctness in Australia today and that is that you are never, ever allowed to call anyone a racist.

This was one side of an unspoken agreement among mainstream politicians, the other being that no one would ever make a statement that was overtly and undeniably racist (this was the central content of “political correctness” in its normal usage). Both the use of overtly racist language and the use of the term “racist” in political debate put the speaker outside the Overton Window. The official debate was undertaken in terms of “dog whistle” coded appeals to racism on one side and euphemisms such as “prejudiced” or “racially charged” on the other. The peace was maintained by the fact that the political class as a whole shared a broad neoliberal[^1] consensus in which marginal differences over economic issues were central, and where social/racial issues were primarily seen as a way of motivating the base to vote the right way.

With the rapid rise of tribalism on the political right this tacit agreement is breaking down.

While tribalism (roughly, an identity politics of solidarity with “people like us”) need not, in principle, imply support for racism (I plan more on this soon), the distinction is a fine one, and has broken down completely in practice. There are at least two reasons for this:
* Political tribalism throws up demagogic leaders like Trump, Farage, and (in Australia) Pauline Hanson, whose appeal relies, in large measure on their rejection of political correctness, that is, on their willingness to appeal openly to racism.
* The centrality of migration to current political debate, inevitably bringing race issues to the forefront.

For the same reasons, it seems clear that overt racism is going to be a significant part of politics for the foreseeable future. Individual demagogues like Trump may (or may not) flame out, but the existence of a large base of support for overtly racist policies and politicians is now evident to all, and the agreement that kept this base from having its views expressed in mainstream politics has now broken down.

In response to this it’s necessary to recognise racism as a substantial, if deplorable, political tendency. First, and most obviously, that means abandoning euphemisms, explicitly naming racism and, even more, naming people like Trump and Hanson as racists.

More importantly, identification of policies, parties and politicians as racist needs to be the start of the analysis, not the end. It’s important to recognise that there are different strands of racism, often intertwined in the same political groups, and to distinguish their approaches and potential appeal. To give just a few examples, there’s
* “Scientific” racism epitomized, in the modern period, by The Bell Curve
* “anti-PC” racists, focused on the demand for consequence-free expressions of racist sentiments
* “separate but equal” segregationists, overlapping with
* supporters of racist immigration policies

Even more importantly, it’s important to take racist arguments seriously and respond to them, rather than regarding the fact that they are racist as putting them beyond the pale of serious discussion. As with climate science denial, we might wish that to be the case but it isn’t. On the other hand, also as with climate science denial, there’s no value in engaging with racists.

The problem is to discuss the issue in a way that influences those who can be persuaded, both on the merits of specific issues and on the need to dissociate themselves from racists. That includes people who might be sympathetic to some racist arguments such as “foreigners are stealing our jobs”, but are also open to an explanation of how neoliberalism hurts workers. Again as with climate science denial it also includes professional centrists in politics and the media who need to be pushed out of their preferred position of evenhanded superiority.

There’s lots more to be said on this, and doubtless it will be said in comments, so I’ll leave it at that.

[^1]: As usual, I’m relying on the “three-party analysis” of contemporary politics I put forward here.

93 thoughts on “Recognising racism (crosspost from Crooked Timber)

  1. JQ, I agree with all you have said there. A key idea you mentioned was;

    “The problem is to discuss the issue in a way that influences those who can be persuaded, both on the merits of specific issues and on the need to dissociate themselves from racists.”

    Overt discussions and arguments even directed to “those who can be persuaded” will not be enough in my opinion. The key will be reducing inequality and under-education. I really put the basis of the problem in rising inequality. People pushed down into brutish conditions can react brutishly. Poverty, ignorance and fear and resentment of the “outsider” all go together. It will be a long haul to turn this around. Wrecking social harmony is easy. Wrecking social safety nets is easy. Building all this up again is going to take a long while.

  2. From memory Pauline Hanson was endorsed by the Libs then wrote a letter to the QLD Times alleging that Aborigines were treated differently and said “The problem is that politicians in all their profound wisdom have and are causing a racism problem.”

    For her sins Ms Hanson was tossed out of the Libs and then successfully ran as an independent.

    In her first speech (ironically known as a maiden) she was reported to say “Of course, I will be called racist but, if I can invite whom I want into my home, then I should have the right to have a say in who comes into my country.”

    On a different occasion John Howard said “I don’t think it is wrong, racist, immoral or anything, for a country to say ‘we will decide what the cultural identity and the cultural destiny of this country will be and nobody else’.

    I think racism is mainstream.

  3. I cannot see any racism in statements such as:

    to some racist arguments such as “foreigners are stealing our jobs”,

    ,

    Foreigners are not necessarily from different races,

    Racism can exist without foreigners.

  4. Ivor dangles an alluring bait.

    I’ve been bagged as “racist” myself by a few asylum seeker advocates because I refuse to see “open borders” as the only or best solution for the people movement issue.

    That is based on events over twenty or thirty years in Europe and elsewhere, where uptakes of new people has not been matched by commensurate spending on lubricating the processes so that “multi culturalism” becomes an excuse for an attack on or”disciplining” of, the”labour market”…in a way you see this in Palestine, where all hope of peace between Palestinians and Israelis is reduced to nix be exclusionary rather than inclusionary polices and spending.

    Quite the opposite, open borders fails in an era of unregulated financialised capitalism where the rich have transferred funds in the$ trillions out of Western countries and Third Worldfailed nations alike, to avoid inputting an equitable share of burden for infrastructure costs, whilst no doubt gloating that blue collar racial conflict or divided nations is a result and one that defers attention away from genuine anti social culprits.

    This is the genesis of the hard, anti intellectual right, in the resentments caused in the wider populace induced by exclusion from inputs into Globalisation and fits the market Libertarian/contrarian goal of weakened government and shooting-alley “unfettered” market theory devoid of OHT, consumer protection, use value while lunatic reductions education, science and news create uncertainty-inducive information vacuums.

    The wastage of $15 billion plus dollars re detention centres is something that would thus offer much comfort to the neoliberal right, as funds are diverted from social infrastructure goals, including enviro regulation capacity, whilst creating precisely the conditions that prop up oligarchy through class warfare seen as race warfare within the masses.

  5. Where does exclusionism turn into racism? I ask myself this question. The right to privacy, the right to personal space and the rights to private ownership of goods, chattels and homes all involve exclusion. Using these rights we push other people away and keep them out of our faces and out of our homes. To a real extent, these rights are both necessary and understandable. To remove them would give others the rights to theft, squatting and personal assault.

    Jumping over intra-state racism (to keep the post short), we can move on to the nation state, immigration and refugees. Does the analogy hold? Is national exclusionism a right, in at least some cases? “National sovereignty is the idea that independent nations, which have declared their independence, have an organized government and are self-contained, have a right to exist without other nations interfering. It is essentially the unspoken rule of a nation’s right to exist. Sovereign nations not only have the right to form governments, they have the right to defend themselves against those who pose a threat to their sovereignty.” – Reference dot com.

    That quote might be an acceptable definition of national sovereignty. Let the reader decide. Unregulated immigration and refugee influxes could be seen in some cases as a threat to national sovereignty or as a threat to the cultural, economic or ecological viability of a nation. In that case, a nation might halt immigration and refugee influxes. Conceivably, a fully exclusionary policy would not be racist. “We exclude everybody equally. No racism here.” Would it be acceptable to be fully exclusionist? To let nobody in? I pose these questions hypothetically.

    At this point, I think there are still practical answers which avoid racist responses but are, as always, unavoidably exclusionist albeit on a possibly non-discriminatory basis. Given the political reality of the nations system, and given that a reasonable facsimile of democracy still only exists at the national level and only in some nations, then the sovereign nation must still be taken as a given and indeed as a positive given. In that case and given some realist (realpolitik) assumptions about humans and societies;

    1. Each nation needs a population policy. It is not the case that any nation can grow indefinitely from either one or both of natural increase and immigration. Environmental limits are real.

    2. An immigration policy must set limits which unavoidably are exclusionist to some extent.

    3. Cultural coherence and loyalty to the ideals of the nation do need to be considerations.

    4. Cultural coherence and loyalty need not be so rigidly conceived as to exclude cultural, religious and racial diversity.

    5. Some core cultural coherence and values must be retained and will relate mainly to the constitution, conventions and traditions of governance and law, individual rights and certain accepted standards which might be termed “liberal humanist” or a general tradition of tolerance.

  6. “Cultural coherence and loyalty” is a furphy and smacks of ethnocentricity. It was past govts that removed all means of ethnic, cultural or racial discrimination from immigration law only to have the intent of those laws challenged by Howard and Hanson

  7. @Ivor
    What’s the value of parsing a statement without any context? The reason Prof Q identified that as a ‘racist argument’ is because it’s commonly made by politicians or activists in service of a racist agenda; i.e. in order to demonise racial and ethnic minorities. It is never made in any other context.

  8. @rog
    I can see where you’re coming from, but I think Ikon is right in the sense that a society needs some kind of common cultural core that enables all its members to participate in it. I think Ikon is on the money in making civic culture, rather than ethnic cultural elements, the common core, although even civic institutions and practices do have ethnic and linguistic histories and elements, which is inescapable.

  9. @rog

    That reasoning will rapidly get you into difficulties if you think about it. Are aboriginals not permitted to show cultural coherence and loyalty to the aboriginal cause?

    In turn, the presumption for a sovereign nation under a constitution and the other factors I mentioned presupposes some level of cultural coherence and adherence to certain values. This is unavoidable. Those I mentioned were “liberal humanism” and a general tradition of tolerance. I should have also mentioned democracy and rule of (enlightened) law. With no values we permit anything, including religious and racist fundamentalism for example. We perforce must reject fundamentalisms if we do not subscribe in toto to their values. I make no bones about the fact that I reject Christian fundamentalism, Islamic fundamentalism, Atheistic fundamentalism, Scientistic fundamentalism (like say Social Darwinism) and Market Fundamentalism to name a few. My values are those of scientific and liberal humanism. These are cultural values. They need be and are not specific to your definition of culture which apparently see culture as only ethnic. Culture is wider than that. Scientific-liberal humanism is a set of cultural values; a very tolerant set which however cannot tolerate extreme intolerance of its own values which would lead to its destruction.

  10. Correction: “They (cultural values) need not be and are not limited to your definition of culture which apparently sees culture only as ethnic.”

  11. Even more importantly, it’s important to take racist arguments seriously and respond to them, rather than regarding the fact that they are racist as putting them beyond the pale of serious discussion. As with climate science denial, we might wish that to be the case but it isn’t. On the other hand, also as with climate science denial, there’s no value in engaging with racists.

    Minor observations

    – maybe clarify the difference between ‘respond’ and ‘engage’. The two seem to be used interchangably. More precision would be useful. Certainly I’m unclear where the border lies.

    – many people lie on the border where their racism seems commonsense but who have never had their view confronted or analysed their positions. Nor have they been led to consider the dark implications of their ‘beliefs’. Its a tricky situation but one most of us come across often when talking with friends who are otherwise reasonable. Arguably ‘PC’ people should engage with them before they are drawn into the One Nation/Cheerleader media morass.

    – another form of future racism we may now be seeing is media commentators taking a position of ‘balance’ based on nonsense like because Hanson has been elected therefore her position has merit. This worries me greatly as we have seen this ‘equivalence’ argument with climate change discussions including on the ABC and BBC and it has been extremely damaging to climate change action IMO. A possible taste of things to come was an ABC RN journalist, one Tom Switzer interviewing a Trump spokesperson as though the latter is reasonable. Talk about oxygen.

    You can listen to this chilling taste of the future(?) here

    http://www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/betweenthelines/in-defence-of-trump/7445464

  12. @Tim Macknay The “kind of common cultural core that enables all its members to participate in it” sounds very much like our current form of participatory democracy, with its attendant laws.

    And that should be the end of it! Principles need to be upheld not abandoned.

  13. @Ikonoclast “Are aboriginals not permitted to show cultural coherence and loyalty to the aboriginal cause?”

    Put that in the context of 3) “..to the ideals of the nation..” implies that they are not.

  14. Ivor :
    I cannot see any racism in statements such as:

    to some racist arguments such as “foreigners are stealing our jobs”,

    ,
    Foreigners are not necessarily from different races,
    Racism can exist without foreigners.

    Was this a Dorothy Dixer Ivor? Its so easy to deconstruct. For example:

    – do you mean new migrants or refugees or do you mean carworkers in Germany manufacturing small Holdens instead of here because our government is not terribly concerned about deindustrialization in the manufacturing sector?

    – stealing implies theft and conjurs up images of armed robbers or burglars potentially threatening our physical safety…..talk about a dog whistle trigger.

    – ‘different races’ ….. havent you been reading any modern genetics texts? Apart from a few trivial difference which can be addressed with biochemistry and surgery if one really must be obsessive we are for all practical purposes biologically identical, and not much different from Chimpanzees. Who are these different races? Do you include the Irish or the Swedes or the Italians or the Maltese? Take a look at the appearance of people around the Mediterranean. Their appearances overlap completely between and within countries. Have you taken a genetic test that might show you like most people you are in fact a bit of a genetic mongrel? Which is fine.

    If these werent DD comments then perhaps its time to wake up and realize you have been conned by the oldest trick in imperial book……divide and rule by neoliberal power brokers… much as practiced by British during their own empire data as a really efficient means of controlling a large population without having to put too many boots on the ground. A lesson the US seems to have not understood.

  15. Malcolm Farr said something that agrees with my priors

    Senator Hanson dredged the depths of fear to play to a constituency aching to be assured they are insecure for valid reasons not of their creation.

  16. @rog

    The constituency in question are insecure for valid reasons that are not of their direct making. However, these reasons are due to neoliberalism and market fundamentalism and not due to immigration and multicultural policy. This is the tragedy of it. Neoliberal and market fundamentalism makes uneducated people become low-waged or unemployed and then poor and insecure. Next, they fall prey to any rabid right-wing populist simpleton, like Pauline Hanson, or any amoral Machiavellian manipulator like Trump, who comes along.

  17. @rog
    We seem to be in heated agreement. I think you were interpreting an abstract statement by Iconoclast as more concrete than it was.

  18. @rog

    I disagree. Our formal national ideals now imply aboriginals are permitted to show cultural coherence and loyalty to the aboriginal cause. Our ideals and statements of them, in relation to aboriginals, have evolved. Aboriginals are recognized in the Constitution. Terra Nullius is now wound back at least a bit. There are some native title rights. There is some positive discrimination. However, do we not yet live up to the all the necessary ideals yet, not anywhere near it in fact, so there is still a long way to go.

  19. Ikon, re “insecure”, was just thinking the same thing..unemployment, offshoring, the wealthy allowed to get away with tax dodging on an exponential scale,457 visas abused and an oppressive soc sec regime make it inevitable that there are resentments that can be exploited by populist politicians.

    rog, I wouldn’t have thought Malcolm Farr would be the best source on these things. There is an ugly classist slant that denies tangible realities in a different part of town to yourself, perhaps?

    From my end of town it is a dirty system, but few will acknowledge these things in these debates.

  20. Reading comments elsewhere on the matter, I would say ~80% are against Hanson and her speech. Perhaps she has gone just too far and revealed more than anticipated?

  21. why is cultural coherence and loyalty a furphy?

    i took a walk up into the bush the other day, the flowers are just coming rolling into the second slow wave of colour, one of many to come before the heat dries everything to
    uh oh.

    not for the first time, it occurred to me that i don’t know the names given by the original locals.

    i have only childhood names like trigger orchid and donkey orchid and the pretty blue one.
    (the Linnaen(sic?) system aside )

    the cultural coherence and loyalty of the original locals has kept the original names.

    i have it within my ability to learn them. (i know people who know the names and haven’t asked them ( more fool me))

    when i do, i will be part of that cultural coherence.

    without lessening the prevailing CC (sorry.saying cultural coherence is getting a bit much.)
    i am also part of that CC which does know the names of those flowers.

    as for the Greens walking out.
    bloody Di Natale abandons the place of parley.
    turning ones’ back in that place doesn’t make the grade.

    it surprised me he didn’t sprint like abbott and the gazelle to the door.

    signed: fed-up-with-stunts-from west-oz.

  22. rog, she has gone way too far, but the country now operates in information vacuum that discourages refutation through lack of info..we don’t know if people are still being beaten to death on Nauru or traumatised women sent back to their rapists.

    may, I deeply feel for what you say, but national identity is in danger of becoming”volkische”, given the type of politics dominant at this time.

    The ordinary people should not be blamed or punished though, blame rests with oligarchies and a neoliberal brand of globalisation that relies on conflict for dominance rather than a cooperation within a community… no use value here.

  23. @GrueBleen

    Are you asking this to be mysterious, to stump me or to make a rhetorical point?

    The closest I can guess is;

    “In 1962, the Menzies Government (1949-1966) amended the Commonwealth Electoral Act 1918 to enable all Indigenous Australians to enroll to vote in Australian federal elections. In 1965, Queensland became the last state to remove restrictions on Indigenous voting in state elections.”

    or

    “1959 Australians were permitted to sponsor Asian spouses for citizenship.
    1964 Conditions of entry for people of non-European stock were relaxed.”

    Nope? Well, I am still guessing.

  24. @Ikonoclast
    Your #26

    All three ? No it was just so I could drag in some obviously forgotten history.

    In 1961, the long standing Australian magazine The Bulletin was acquired by Kerry Packer and his newly appointed Editor-in-Chief, Donald Horne caused the phrase “Australia for the White Man” to be permanently removed from the magazine’s masthead.

    In 1966 the Immigration Minister, Hubert Opperman (everybody just loves a famous cyclist, right) introduced legislation that effectively ended the White Australia Policy in Australia – though it wasn’t finally completely tidied up until 1973 and Whitlam. You do remember “Two Wongs don’t make a White” ?

    But your answers were good too. Now, for my next trick: in terms of people’s beliefs, what is “the backfire effect” ?

  25. Researchers at America’s Harvard University have and they’ve created a simple test to determine if a person is a racist https://implicit.harvard.edu/implicit/australia/takeatest.html
    It is called an implicit association test, and it measures whether your brain associates good things more with one sort of person than another. It is supposed to reveal whether we subconsciously harbour beliefs about certain types of people….

    Coda:
    https://priceonomics.com/why-is-interracial-marriage-on-the-rise/

  26. In the end, things need to come down to this: there has to be confidence in government , open and transparent government involving trustworthy humans prepare to be answerable to the electorate, before the psychic change can come.

    This is directly against current totalising, homogenising and heterogenising trends, involving dodgy secret treaties, cronyism and obsessive tendencies toward surveillance, propaganda as substitute for valid information and dumbing down.

    The sort of thing I think of was covered in the series “Send Them Back Where They Belong”.

    At today s ABC Online is the following epiphany:

    http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-09-15/how-i-did-a-180-on-nauru/7815860?section=analysis

    Note the atypical circumstances under which this developed.

  27. John, I assume by “racism” you mean hatred of people purely because they belong to a particular race. I think that is close to non-existent in Australia. I think people are concerned about the unbounded pursuit of diversity rather than social cohesion, particularly in our immigration policies. I am such a critic and think we should have a selective migration program that promotes social harmony as well as diversity. It is not a simple policy exercise.

    Australia is a liberal democracy with high community tolerance for those who are tolerant. Those who assign close to zero value to our culture and society (they are mainly on the left of politics) see diversity as a way of enriching a blank canvas on a common property asset that belongs collectively to the world rather than the people resident here. I join with those on the right who utterly oppose such attitudes.

    Pauline Hanson is fearful of rapid social change and gets some of her messages garbled and, indeed, wrong. But she does express real fears about trends in the diversity-promotion industry and should not be ignored and dismissed as a “racist”. Australia is a community of people – not a social science experiment being conducted at the ANU (or UQ) by those on the intellectual left of politics. The theories belong in journal articles, not necessarily in our representative politics because they do not reflect the way Australians think about these issues.

    It is not just opposition to “political correctness” but opposition to a narrow view of Australia as needing a diversity supplementation that many of us find unrealistic and offensive.

  28. hc, I disagree that Australians should be worried about”diversity”. We have always been “diverse”, since Irish convicts versus English proprietors. “Diversity” is no problem, we are all human and basic efforts at communication generally lead to a settling down after adjustments.

    People were once wary of “reffos”, then “poms”, then Southern Europeans, than Vietnamese, before the current wave from the Middle East.

    Then there is this strange notion that “leftists” are alleged to look down on their own culture.

    No, I don’t think so, what has happened has been a tendency amongst many intelligent people to question our credentials as “civilised”, particularly involving treatment of Indigenes.

    Given an ugly history of classism and industrial relations already in our county, it was hardly surprising that such questioning people found out eventually how tragic the history of anglo-aboriginal relations has been over two centuries (also a “hidden”history, to some extent involving women, gays and migrants).

    Only last week, for example, came the story of the brutal death of David Dungay at Long Bay jail, again demonstrating that nothing had changed since Mulrunji Doomadgee.

    Our history has not always been a history a “civilised” people should be pleased with and the manifestation of the worst of our culture has continued over the last fifteen years re Africans and Mid Easterners fleeing from wars and dictatorships offshore, often wars and dictatorships sponsored by the West for quite un-civilised reasons.

    People like Alan Jones, Peter Dutton and Hanson are in fact paradigms for the unhealthy tendencies lurking in the darker corners of the Australian psyche (as indeed with all people or tribes of people). The sort of people who play on anxieties out of self interest regardless of harm done others are the ones you could spare a moment to consider, rather than phantom “lefties”.

  29. @hc Racism does not automatically translate to hatred; it is the belief that people can be grouped using racial markers and then treated as superior or inferior. Regardless of their own attributes individuals of these groups are regarded as sharing the characteristics awarded to that group.

    Racism is based on flawed logic.

  30. @hc

    I agree with you that people generally do not hate other because they are of a different ‘race’. Most people that I know and these would be very different people from those you know Harry, do not even understand technically what ‘race’ means. They certainly don’t understand the definition of racism.

    But despite not having ordered thoughts about humans and races, they do ‘know’ that black people are not as smart as us white people – they didn’t even invent the wheel you know – they are more violent than us – lots of myths about how the white race is inherently better are unconsciously held until directly challenged with facts and evidence. This challenge has to be face to face with someone they trust.

    They are very wary of people with university degrees. I stopped telling people because of the reactions, that I had been to uni, until they got to know me and then I could reveal my terrible secret. This will change quickly now though, as some of their grandchildren are now going to unis.

    Harry, there is a huge ignorant public out here who have listened to the racists like Bolt for years and who really believe that full blood aborigines are less intelligent. You do know that is why Bolt Picks on white aborigines. He thinks that these ‘aborigines’ are bright enough to make their own way in our world but the ‘full-bloods’ need help because they don’t have any white genes that make them smart enough.

    There is a global group of racist people who are still spreading this eugenics nonsense – like there are people who spread the climate change denial nonsense – and somehow the uneducated and resentful neighbours pick up bits and pieces about ‘races’ and it makes sense to them because of Bolt and the way Murdoch has presented their story.

    “Those who assign close to zero value to our culture and society (they are mainly on the left of politics) ”

    Pfft you are just making this up. It is the right of politics who have denied that there is a society – how could you forget that Thatcher woman and her famous saying? Societies need to be supported and provided with the welfare they need since your economic policies have taken all the jobs and rendered poor and despicable people those who did not want to rip off their neighbours by making a profit rather than making a living.

    It is not the left who destroyed our egalitarian society. The left has always known about and cared for those who suffer from the polices that you and your fellow wealthy white men support.

    Pauline Hanson is just a sad lonely woman who has found herself in a position in which all her petty resentments and hatred can be vented and appreciated by the equally tragic misfits. She has said she went into politics to find like minded people. Clearly she doesn’t make friends with her neighbours. She doesn’t go to local events or try and fit in. She doesn’t go to church. She has made a mess of her personal life. She really should try and fit in with the majority of Australians who didn’t vote for her.

    All she has is a huge sense of entitlement and a hatred of people who have sneered at her over the years. She needs to see someone and get over her psychological issues, get involved in her community and build good communities that way.

    Bottom up cohesion is the only way Harry. You can’t push your top down ideas on us. Come down from your ladder of superiority and get to know the people you talk about.

    It’s so appallingly ignorant of you to pontificate about what my neighbours want – and I have talked to women in my community who voted for Pauline – and they didn’t vote for the reasons you think they did. Lol.

  31. btw, I don’t feel I am black arm .

    Both sides of my family have been here for generations. I remember my dad showing me a barn, put up by ancestors on his side, in the Barossa in the 1840’s. The joinery was brilliant and involved the use of hard wood in an era when there were no Black and Deckers to do the hard stuff.

    But the binary that because a person sees achievement and character, this must preclude any examination of darker aspects, is equivalent to putting on a blindfold before a walk along a cliff.

    We could quite easily end Manus/Nauru and add quite a few still rotting in Indonesia.
    If we were in that situation would we not be begging for deliverance?

    What I take as a question as to our current maturity is the government wasting 160 million dollars on something that could be sorted in parliament; gay marriage, let alone !6 billion wasted on detention camps so foully and deliberately mismanaged, that the option of calmly and efficiently processing applications in a civil atmosphere offshore is now gone.

    So sorry, but I feel I am perfectly reasonable when I question what appears to be anomalies in the narrative and I know from sad experience that denial and conceit lead to a fall.

  32. This is a slightly different concept of racism.

    Different races are “diverse”, and recognising this is not racism.

    Programs restricted to Australian Aborigines to improve their health, education, housing and services are not racist policies.

    You can recognise differences in all manner of identities, and develop different policies without being racist or sexist or whatever.

  33. @paul walter

    As Refugee Action Coalition say “Detention (by) Australia costs $239,000 per year. By contrast, allowing asylum seekers to live in the community while their claims are processed costs just $12,000 per year, one twentieth of the cost of the offshore camps, and even less if they are allowed the right to work.”

    Logically, it would far cheaper, far quicker and more humane to process all asylum seekers in Australia. We could save a lot of that $6 billion, if that is the correct figure. Do you have a source for that?

    Even with a population policy we could do this. Genuine refugees, as per international treaties and definitions, could stay. Non-genuines would be repatriated. Any population increase, over and above targets set to reach a sustainable plateau population in future, would be offset by reducing voluntary immigration intakes accordingly.

    There is no reason that illegal people smuggling could not be combated at the same time. Cooperation with Indonesia could include Australia processing in Indonesia in combination with a commitment to take genuine refugees, repatriate those who don’t qualify and have a fair and reasonable cost sharing arrangement with Indonesia.

    We should also stop joining coalitions to bomb poor nations back to the stone age. These actions have a big push effect on generating refugees. Aid to these nations would help plus progressive reductions and restrictions on the international legal arms trade and stronger action on illegal arms trading.

  34. Ikon, the figure of nearly $ 16 billion was mentioned in the news reasonably recently and from memory comes from the UN. I cannot for the life of me find the story googling, though, although it mentioned about a billion for year 2015 elsewhere…although wait up, here we are, from a comment I left elsewhere:

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com.au/2016/09/12/the-incredible-15-3-billion-asylum-seeker-cost-and-it-s-human-t/?utm_hp_ref=au-homepage

    ok, it’s not the best source but I don’t think they have descended to outright lies yet.

    re my earlier comment on efficient rather than Konzentrationslager places already set up, my point was that need not have failed had it been done properly and in no way precluded doing it here simultaneously and parallel…de- binaried.

  35. @23

    ” national identity” is not a thing.
    from currency lads and lasses to what has eventuated.

    we’ve been at it for a couple of hundred years so far.

    a couple of generations back,not that long ago, in Perth you could not sit outside on the pavement and get a cup of coffee.
    the hoohah about mafia and romans and all and all!

    volkische “Pauline” (is she a mick?) is our very own peculiarly Australian canary in the coal mine.

    the changes people must go through, both new comers and receivers,happen in this country in a rather boisterous way.
    we’ve been doing it for yonks and have got reasonably good at it.

    from the end of WW2 millions of people have made the change to being “straiyuns”

    up until the”rationalisations”begun in the 1980s the public service sifted and weighed (horrible phrase but you find a better one) out the bad basta*ds.
    and there were bad basta*ds.
    everybody else just got on with it.

    the “swamping” happening now?
    oh dear!
    remember when it wuz tha “Ayzhuns”?
    swompt! swompt we wuz!
    it wuz terrible! you couldn’t get a pair of gumboots for love or money!

    this all veils (heh) the betrayal and degradation of publically funded government activities for the benefit of profit takers slurping in the public purse.

  36. Thinking further, I really mentioned that money, along with the gay marriage plebiscite in relation to a contention that we are a rational society. Context.

    Í was neither endorsing or disendorsing detention centres, which need not have become the monstrous things they have become. I doubt whether a given asylum seeker would have much cared if her application had been done here or offshore, so long as the thing was expedited in a reasonable manner.

    A comment on our supposed level of civilisation, I couldn’t see how’we we could be regarded as “civilised” when there seems such illogic in our decision making and prioritising of employ of scarce resources.

    I could start harping on about our weird and furtive defence spending, but that must wait for another opportunity.

  37. Í was neither endorsing or disendorsing detention centres, which need not have become the monstrous things they have become.

    In abstract theory, maybe. For the offshore ones… in context, or rather considering the context you have to have before you get offshore detention, really not so much.

    There’s really no way that offshore detention centres could be hugely better than they are, because you only get offshore detention centres if there’s things you want to do that you can’t or “can’t” do domestically, and the only things you “can’t” do domestically are things that are not very nice.

    There’s no path that passes through “we want to do possibly illegal probably vile and certainly unpopular things [so we have to do it overseas]” that leads to happy-happy-fun-land with bunnies and puppies.

    If you’re talking about possible onshore detention centres… again, consider where they were: woomera, no? literally the middle of nowhere: out of sight. Why out of sight? … there’s no answer to that question that doesn’t include “because you’re a shitty human being who wants to do shitty things”.

    [and while we could in theory have open onshore detention centres that work… when you’re engineering social change — in the population or the bureaucracy — you have to over-correct, because people’s attitudes are resiliant, bounce back: the change has to be bigger than you need, so that after the bounce-back happens you’re where you want to be. Path dependency: to have a different present we’d have needed to have had a different history.]

  38. Here in Canada, we have the beginnings of a Conservative Party leadership contest. Various dubious characters are manoeuvring for positions.

    At least one of them, Kelly Leitch, seems to be using the dog-whistle trick of proposing that prospective immigrants be screened for ““anti-Canadian values”. What exactly those are remains a bit of a mystery.

    However one of our highly respected news organs has published a “Canadian Values Test for Immigrants https://www.thebeaverton.com/2016/09/try-kellie-leitchs-canadian-values-test-immigrants/. Australians might find this could be adapted to Australian conditions and provide a useful tool in debates.

    I scored “Deportation” so I may be on a leaky boat to Australia any day now. Oops, gotta go, there’s a knock on the door.

  39. # 36 Iconoclast

    Judging by the record of the late and unlamented Con Gov’t here in Canada “logical” or “fact-based” decision making is no longer a function of a conservative government.

  40. jrkrideau…very nailed it.

    As you head south, look for little boats on the horizon heading in the opposite direction for underlyingly identical reasons.

  41. It’s so predictable that Harry looks for and finds the real meaning of Hanson’s ‘message’ for the toiling masses of poor people that he can only imagine having never actually mixed with any of them, in the mixed bag of beliefs that Hanson and her ilk hold.

    He reads – or not – what they say and then simply decides on the basis of his awesome intellect – or something – and wide ranging knowledge of others, – yeah right – what he personally likes and what makes sense to him while ignoring the rest of the message.

    Doesn’t she want a people’s bank and no free trade and no selling off the country to foreigners? That’ll be good for the neo-liberal economics Harry likes and prefers, I don’t think so really, but apparently Harry doesn’t care about this and simply ignores this message in favour of the other stuff she says that fits in with his personal desires to have the world the way he thinks is the best way.

    But according to this article in which the author has actually talked to the people who do vote for Hanson, it is the economic lies people have been told that underpins the rejection of mainstream politics and the Hanson vote.

    https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2016/sep/17/meeting-pauline-hansons-voters-silent-screamers-find-their-voice

    It would seem these people who vote for Hanson are more motivated by the economic destruction of the country that has happened and the lack of any future for their children in this economy. Like Harry these people lack the ability to objectively work out at what has happened to our economy and our way of life but unlike Harry they actually are suffering economically or think they are and they actually are compared to Harry who looks down on them as people who didn’t choose well.

    It is despicable that Harry and his kind choose to use this emotional pain to argue for more of what has created their unhappiness

  42. Apparently the Hanson team have an economist from the Trump team coming over to help them with their economic policies.

  43. @jrkrideau
    do you know the brits actually did deport people in canada to Oz as convicts back in the day (when Oz was a convict colony). Not many, a few hundred perhaps. Interesting historical nugget.

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