If anyone knows about being 'civilised', it's definitely Peter Dutton

The very civilised immigration minister Peter Dutton.

Explaining his call to fast track visas for white South African farmers, the renowned humanitarian Peter Dutton, whose famed concern for those in need of asylum is matched only by his complete lack of potato-like features, explained: “They need help from a civilised nation like ours.”

I’m glad he explained, as I was quite confused. I mean, obviously it is sad when someone suffers persecution, but why could they not just go to a neighbouring country? Or even, for that matter, why not Sri Lanka, which we’re told is really quite safe these days. Hell, if they really cared about their country, shouldn’t they stay and fight?

How, in other words, could we really be sure they aren’t just economic migrants?

After all, we learned in a particularly fine March 20 op-ed in The Australian by the chair of the WA Liberals policy committee Sherry Sufi, about how the “premature” ending of Apartheid, which “seemed a no-brainer at the time”, has led to the nation suffering “record unemployment and corruption”. Can we be sure they aren’t just trying to take advantage of our prosperity?

(I wish I was exaggerating Sufi’s stance, but he really does blame South Africa’s problems on “control of the nation [being] transferred from those with centuries of experience of stable governance” — that’s the white minority, whose famed “stability” somehow failed to stop the Boer War between the British and Afrikaners — “and handed to those who struggled with internal tribal frictions for centuries”. That’s the Blacks, in case you wondered.)

So I was obviously curious as to why such logic is fine to justify deporting entire families back to the countries from which they fled and to jail asylum seekers indefinitely in offshore torture camps, yet doesn’t apply to white South Africans.

The answer is, and I guess it was obvious, that white South Africans need a “civilised” society. And what nation could be more civilised than the one that tortures innocent children in offshore camps condemned by the United Nations as hellholes?

I remember the old days when our politicians used “dog-whistling”, whereby they made coded comments that were merely implicitly racist. These days the Duttons and Sufis just shout “These Africans aren’t civilised!” and then still try to claim they aren’t racist, like some smashed bloke trying get to past a bouncer at a late night pub, swearing black and blue they haven’t even had a drink before falling on their arse.

Of course, no one should think Dutton is just a big-hearted softy. He is also concerned, naturally enough, with the impact on Australia of bringing in people from a different country, which is why he was so quick to point out that these are “the types of migrants we want”.

Lest you think he just means “white”, no, far from it. It is more about culture. The cultural similarities between Australians and white South Africans means, in Dutton’s words, they could “easily integrate into our society”.

A cynic might think these similarities relate to extreme racist oppression of Black people, but actually, as Dutton and Sufi point out, it is much more to do with things like sport. After all, don’t we both play cricket?

Now, a pedant might point out, don’t they also play cricket in Sri Lanka? But what you need to understand is, sure the most successful spin bowler in history might be a Sri Lankan Tamil, but Muttiah Muralitharan simply isn’t as civilised a man as Shane Warne.

The apparently urgent need to fast track white South African farmers’ visas doesn’t actually match the facts. Attacks and killings of farmers (of all races) were up last year compared to the previous couple, but are still significantly lower than at the start of the century.

And, not to shock Sufi with facts, but a 2016 Conversation article pointed out that while crime is a big problem in South Africa, statistics show it hasn’t become more violent since Apartheid ended in 1994.

That said, South African farmers, like anyone else, should be able to come here if they want. Despite some fanciful claims about “overpopulation”, Australia is far from having too many people and the evidence is immigration has a net positive impact on an economy.

They should be able to come in the same way that people from any other country should be able to — not because of “cultural similarities”, “ability to integrate”, supposed “civilised” nature or any other thinly veiled code word for “white” that racists like Dutton can think up.

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