Voter: It's Australian for "Xenophobe"! (5.00 / 1) (#63)
by daniels on Fri Feb 01, 2002 at 10:36:41 AM EST
Sadly, this appears to be correct; rooted in our history. Most Australians seem to have "patriotism" mixed up with "closed-mindedness" and "xenophobia". Hell, we even treat the Aborigines like shit, as if they were refugees (sorry, "illegal immigrants"), yet we're the invaders. Hell, we were proud of our (now dead, wink, wink, nudge, nudge, ho ho ho), White Australia policy until the 70's, when we realised that a bit of culture past awful sweet and sour pork wasn't an altogether bad thing.
In the later 90's, a political force out of traditionally right-wing Queensland sprung up; its hair was red, and its name was Pauline Hanson (here's some irony: One Nation, as its name implies, claimed to be unifying the nation. Hardly "Unity in Diversity" [Indonesia's motto]; how do you get unity by blaming all your troubles on a sizeable group?). She was basically a one-(wo)man juggernaut, blaming all our troubles on Aborignes, immigrants, single mothers (ironically, she herself is a single mother), and anyone who wasn't perfectly white, a farmer and married with 2.3 kids and a dog. She rapidly gained ground. Why? Because it's somehow ingrained in this "Australian spirit" that we keep being reminded of to be quite closed and xenophobic. I can't think of a single instance where "Australian spirit" (replace spirit with the appropriate word if needed) hasn't been invoked in the same sentence as xenophobia.
Yet, aren't we the "lucky country"? The land of a "fair go"? That's what we'll waffle on about, yet we have a habit of tainting refugees (OK, asylum seekers) as terrorists! That's pretty odd, considering that they are (were) fleeing the very regime that supports all this terrorism. We put them in inhuman conditions and tell them, "Piss off where you came from, but just wait a while while we grandstand on it for a couple more votes". They don't even bounce them, they decide to lock them up for a while.
They're pretty comfortable, apparently. All the luxuries of home! Yeah, like a desert (Woomera was created to be as far away from anywhere as possible, and was a "secret town" until 1982), barbed wire, abusive guards, and more. Nice. I wonder if Howard/Ruddock would be willing to swap them for a couple of nights. Kirribili House (our Prime Ministerial home) for Woomera, or even Port Hedland? Doubt it.
This is a "crisis" of the government's engineering. Sort of like Wag the Dog, except now we're actually fighting. If you punch someone in the face long enough, they'll eventually kick you in the balls. AusSAR pointed out to the Tampa that there was a sinking ship; whether it asked it to pick them up or not is still under debate, but it still said, "Look, they're there". The Tampa picked them up, except the Government then refused permission to land. The refugees refused to go back to Indonesia, so they were at an old-fashioned stalemate. Conscious of the fact that it needed a couple of soundbites and a couple of nice newsreel shots for its campaign, the government sent in SAS troops to "overpower" the crew (reality: they asked politely, and the crew weren't about to argue with sub-machine guns) and command the ship. While, of course, silencing anyone else with a differing opinion (and yet we pay out Malaysia for the same thing - but don't say anything).
Just when you thought things couldn't get any more ridiculous, Howard bought out a bankrupt nation (Nauru, whose name you may recognise from the heady 80's, or associate with the word "phosphorus"), and basically gave it fresh water in turn for accepting refugees. This "Pacific solution" was absolutely ridiculous, as it basically involved saying "We can't take anyone, but the tiny islands can cram them in!". As it turned out, they were having trouble enough supporting their *own* population, but a couple of bucks under the table quickly shut that side of the argument up. Bribery, pure and simple.
Eventually, this appeal worked. Howard got his soundbites worked in, as he always does. This time, however, he was on the "right" (read: popular) side of the argument, as opposed to the Patrick Stevedores debacle, where Peter Reith and Patrick forever became intertwined with dogs and balaclavas.
So, there's the last year in Australian politics, conveniently presented in the shell of a nut. Unpopular PM realises he's stuffed, makes desperate power play in the form of creating a crisis where there was none, and gets returned with a thumping majority.
Man, that's a pretty damned good plot. Someone should make a film out of it.
Oh wait, they have.
At least we have a hope for the future. Maybe it's just my school, known for its (mainly left-wing) political activity more than any other school, but the student movement is very active against stuff like this. Organizations such as Resistance, etc, have a somewhat formidable presence. Sadly, the popular media choose to distort the facts as usual - what's more important, 500 protesters getting injured because of crowds being trampled by horses and being thumped by long batons, or a sole policeman being punched in the face? If you're a sensationalist newspaper, the latter. Clearly. *sigh*.
The only thing worse than that is the few who come along because they feel like it, or who are just there because their friends are. Thankfully, they're a small minority. Much smaller than the government would have you believe.
DanielS, born and bred Australian 16-year old student.
: Most of the links provided by The Age, because it's the most objective newspaper I can think of; also the one I read every day.
somewhere in space, this may all be happening right now