If Dastyari didn't want abuse, he shouldn't be non-white in public

November 10, 2017
Labor senator Sam Dastyari had even offered to take Pauline Hanson out for a delicious Halal Snack Pack.

I had considered the racist abuse hurled at Labor Senator Sam Dastyari to be a deliberate publicity stunt by a group of neo-Nazis, enabled by a climate of rising bigotry and white nationalism, on the grounds that they deliberately sought out the senator, filmed their racist abuse and posted it on Facebook.

That was before Pauline Hanson explained otherwise. The senator pointed out that Dastyari was just using abuse he faced in a pub on November 8 to sell his book. It was quite a trick really – engineering an unprovoked ambush by far-right thugs that clearly took him by surprise.

Hanson saw no need to condemn the neo-Nazi “patriots”, because, in her words, Dastyari is a “smart arse” who was abused “because he’s a wanker ... and not because he’s a Muslim”, which, you must admit, is an interesting interpretation. A proudly anti-Muslim group publicly film themselves abusing a politician with a Muslim background for being a Muslim – but it had nothing to do with him being a Muslim.

Maybe that’s just how Hanson’s “battlers” talk to anyone they consider a wanker. “Are you a Muslim?” means “How dare you cut me off in traffic” and “Go back to Iran” means “Your shout, prick”. 

Hanson suggested it was really about Dastyari’s “character”, a clear reference to the scandal about donations from businesses connected to the Chinese government. 

I guess what Hanson is saying is that when the Nazis got in Dastyari’s face and shouted “You terrorist!”, what they meant was: “We are very concerned about the impact of political donations by corporations tied to foreign governments on the transparency of our political system and the healthy functioning of democracy.”

And when they followed up with “You monkey!”, it should be clear to all that they were really saying – in simple language that anyone can grasp – that “we think processes should be put in place to ensure all our elected officials are not subjected to the corrupting influence of money from powerful, unaccountable forces”.

Hanson appears to be suggesting racist abuse is fine if the victim has acted inappropriately in some unrelated way. Presumably, asking Rosa Parks to move to the back of the bus would have been fine if it could be proven she hadn’t paid the correct fare, possibly asking for a one-zone ticket for a clearly two-zone trip.

When someone is filmed racially abusing someone in public, we should all hold judgement until we find out if the abused victim has any unpaid parking fines.

I guess the real lesson here is you shouldn’t appear in public in this great nation of ours while being non-white and imperfect. It is sad something so obvious needs to be stated explicitly, but that is what Hanson does. She speaks unpalatable truths.

Well, that and explicitly encourage hate groups and their campaign of public abuse.

Others have pointed out that Dastyari is not the only politician subjected to abuse. The Australian noted that, “abuse in politics crosses party lines”, adding: “Pauline Hanson’s inbox has always been ugly.” No doubt — and that’s just her fan mail. 

Exactly how other examples of abuse minimise such public racism is not really clear.

It is often denied that the sort of Muslim-baiting Dastyari was subjected to is actually racist, with the disingenuous question: “What race is Islam?”

Labor MP Tim Watts, in the pub with Dastyari, responded on the night with the immortal quip: “What race is dickhead?”

This is obviously a rhetorical question: all races produce dickheads. But it may be worth noting that racist dickheads do generally have flags.

And right now, under the Australian flag, refugees are being abandoned on Manus Island, in actions whose justifications are based on variants of the racism regurgitated by Patriot Blue.

The Manus Island detention centre was opened by the party Watts and Dastyari represent. The Labor Opposition they are part of continues to fail to oppose the systemic cruelty meted out to desperate people seeking asylum.

It is harder to find bigger dickheads in this country than the members of Patriot Blue. But it would be a lie to say they are the only dickheads in this nation.

Quite a few sit in parliament, too.

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