It says a lot about the state of politics today that the worst thing following the Murdoch-owned Sky News interview with neo-Nazi Blair Cottrell on immigration earlier this month, was not that a media outlet was giving a fascist a platform. The worst thing was that Cottrell’s comments were indistinguishable from those of other mainstream media outlets and elected politicians.
The views Cottrell offered were hardly a shock. On Sky News he called for an end to immigration, except for the ever-popular white South African farmers. Wow, a neo-Nazi wants to stop foreigners coming here?
You might as well ask me the hard-hitting question: “Should we go to the pub?”
Or possibly, “After the outrageous affront to civilised values that was Hawthorn’s four-point win over Essendon the other week that effectively ended Essendon’s final’s chances, should Hawthorn Football Club headquarters be burned to the ground and all players, officials and fans interned for the sake of society?”
The answer to both questions is obvious: “For God’s sake, yes!”
The most notable thing about Cottrell’s views was how closely they resembled an op-ed published just days earlier, by Murdoch columnist Andrew Bolt.
Complete with factual inaccuracies, the rant by the self-described “Australia’s most-read columnist” even had a clear dig at Jewish people allegedly taking over a Melbourne suburb.
Cottrell must have read it with tears of joy in his eyes.
Bolt, of course, joined the condemnation of Sky News for inviting Cottrell on, presumably because “hypocrisy” is too hard a word for a Herald Sun hack to spell.
The same principle is at work in the responses to Katter’s Australian Party Senator Fraser Anning’s maiden speech on August 14.
It was the most rabidly racist speech delivered to federal parliament for decades: it hailed the White Australia Policy, slandered all Muslims, and even called for a “final solution” to the “immigration” issue (via a plebiscite).
It was so extreme that even One Nation Senator Pauline Hanson called it “offensive”. That’s like me suggesting “another beer might not be a great idea” or “maybe shooting all Hawthorn fans is a bit much”.
The speech generated widespread condemnation, but no less than five government ministers and two assistant ministers were among the parliamentarians who rushed to shake Anning’s hand straight afterwards.
This is Australian politics in 2018.
Those condemning the fascist speech include other members of the Coalition government who, with Labor’s complicity, are running torture camps for asylum seekers, condemned by the United Nations as “hell-holes”.
Those major party politicians condemning Anning’s or Cottrell’s fascist rhetoric are like a gang of thugs bashing innocents senseless, stopping only to condemn some raving madman waving a stick about and making wild threats.
It is not that Cottrell or Anning are not of any concern. They are, because they serve to shift the public discussion ever rightwards, allowing those who actually run the island gulags in which innocent people, including children, are locked up indefinitely, to make their justifications ever more blatant.
Meanwhile, more wealth shifts to the mega-rich as inequality grows and we rush headlong to eco-oblivion. Not, of course, before chucking about half a billion in public cash to “save the Great Barrier Reef” at a group headed by the same people causing its destruction.
Racism makes a nice distraction while our wealth is nicked and environment trashed.
It’s much like if I shouted, “Look over there, it’s some immigrants!” in the pub, then, when you turned around, skulled your beer and pissed on your schnitzel and chips. And, when you complained, folded my arms and said: “I know, you just can’t trust these Muslims.”
Only, for that analogy to truly work, the bar tender would have to grab your wallet and hand me all your cash so I could “save your beer”.