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It’s no more ‘elitist’ to be anti-Pauline Hanson than it is to be anti-racism

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Last week, veteran commentator Margo Kingston urged her fellow “elites” to tolerate supporters of One Nation. It was wrong, said Kingston, to sneer at these voters and “counterproductive” to mock their personification, Pauline.

OK, sure. We can say that Kingston, whose song to reasonable speech echoes one that is quite generally heard, is right about the sneering. (I’m going to find it hard to stop, though.) We can also say that harassment by the “elites” of a purported underclass will serve only to intensify their rage, see also Trump, UKIP, 1933. We can also say, although Kingston doesn’t, that life and logic in Queensland hardens as commodity prices soften and that these racists (please, they’re racists) could be reformed with some we’re-all-in-this-economy-together kumbaya.

Nah. While Kingston’s advice not to taunt the bear, or the bush turkey or whatever, is OK, her claim that Hanson’s re-emergence in Parliament will “bring [us] together” in cross-class hymn is optimistic bunkum. Hanson is irredeemable. Her supporters are irredeemable. Forget them, even if many of them may have had a lifetime of being forgotten.

This is mean. I don’t like saying this. And I say it as a fairly bog material-leftist who still sometimes believes that once people learn that an ugly phenomenon, like racism, “is made necessary by circumstances”, they will rise, change circumstances and unlearn that phenomenon.

Kingston’s advice that Hanson’s re-emergence in Parliament will “bring us together” in cross-class hymn is optimistic bunkum.

However, there’s just no changing some people. Racism isn’t an innate or irreversible ill, but it’s a pretty complex one. Certainly, too complex to be cured by Marx’s scientific consciousness, let alone a six-year dose of the simple Senator. She will not bring us together.

Shakira Hussein’s good work in Crikey last week reminded us that the sickness of racism is the product of more than “the economy, stupid”. Perhaps, medicine’s biopsychosocial model is a better way to understand how the disease plays out in the individual mind. Whatever the case, Kingston’s diagnosis — those who support Hanson are always oppressed and those who oppose her are always “elites” — is of limited help in treating this disorder.

Even as a regular nursing aide to Dr Marx, I largely dismiss this class diagnosis. There are many “elites” who love the hell out of Hanson — bourgeois New Atheists among them. And, despite Kingston’s curious claim that the politician is “LIKED by most ‘ordinary’ Australians”, there must be just as many “ordinary”, by which we presumably mean white, Australians ashamed to be represented by one to whom English, a language she claims to endorse, remains a puzzle.

Even Rupert Murdoch talks about the “elites” to prove himself, and his publications, of-the-people.

And no, I’m not mocking Hanson here. I am merely declaring a truth. The woman can’t talk. While there are likely those who feel well-represented by her catastrophic speech and, perhaps, those who feel maligned by my “elite” statement of the obvious, what will these things matter? Big deal. She claims to be oppressed? Well, so does nearly everyone. We are speaking in an era where political and media careers are built on the basis they are being silenced by some powerful force. Richard Dawkins. Andrew Bolt. Any popular feminist who was paid to write about the time she was called a slut by a man on Twitter. Heavens, even Rupert Murdoch talks about the “elites” to prove himself, and his publications, of-the-people.

To ask, as Kingston nobly does, “So what to do?” on the matter of dialogue with Hanson supporters is also to ask what to do about this wider tendency to employ oppression as a tactic; to weaponise one’s ordinariness. This is not to say, of course, that the ordinary oppression is not always real — men do call women sluts, writers do call One Nation voters incurably stupid and racism is an ugly fact. It is to say, however, that we must resign all hope for this sort of dialogue.

“So what to do?”

For a start, we all might want to quit claiming to know the “ordinary” Australian. Particularly journalists, Margo. No journalist can remember what an “ordinary” Australian looks like, which is something we media people tell each other all the time but can never admit about ourselves. But, between you and me, I have no fucking clue. The information we collect, whether from a data provider or from lived or field experience, is no prophylactic against the “elite” conditions of our profession. Let’s stop pretending so publicly to know the real Australia.

Second, as aforementioned, we need triage. Give up on the dead thought of One Nation.  It’s not “elite” to pass by a lost cause, such as the individual swayed to vote for a party that offers cultural purity as a solution to everything. We can certainly, and must certainly, aim for a future that outruns the economic and social conditions likely to provoke such an illness. But no volume of awareness campaigns or patient speech in The Guardian will cure it.

What everyone is really talking about, however, is not what their own values are, but what they are not.

Third, we might more generally question the usefulness of humanism when it comes to the mass culture. And not just Margo but anyone who holds that if we were only nicer and more prepared to listen to others, everything would be better. While egalitarian understanding is useful, and actually necessary, to intimate interaction, it just doesn’t always scale up very nicely. The “if only we saw each other as we really are, things would run more smoothly” view can only produce a result in very limited contexts; it is completely useless, for example, in peak hour. And anyhow. If someone brown, however “elite”, feels the urge to scream at a One Nation voter, it’s really not much use to urge for their humanist understanding. This is an inevitable pile-up. Don’t change the driver, change the road.

Finally, we might actually pause to think about the “values” we are fighting for if we are to overcome this problem, and problems even more monumental than how to speak to One Nation. What we are bound to read and hear more of in coming weeks is “values”. Hanson talks in quarter sentences about Strayan values. Her opponents talk in paragraphs about multicultural values. Kingston talks sketchily of the value of ordinariness. What everyone is really talking about, however, is not what their own values are, but what they are not.

That is un-Australian. I am anti-racist. I am opposed to the “elites”. None of these statements describe what their speakers are, but only what they are not. No wonder there is a frustrating quality to our dialogue; we are uttering the values that we don’t have, often also claiming that the values that we do have are the ones that the “elites” or the oppressors despise.

There is an absence at the centre of our dialogue. And it is not one caused by the “regressive left” failure to fear Islam any more than it is by the failure to sympathise with “ordinary” or less “ordinary” Australians. It is caused by a fight for “values” that we cannot utter or even recognise unless they are defined in terms of what they are not.

“So what to do?”

Fight for values. But take a minute, or a decade, and try to work out what those values are. And whether or not they retain any practical function. Humanism, I believe, ceased to have a practical function shortly after it was created in the very tiny world of 18th-century Europe. But you know, you can talk about that. Fight for humanism if that’s the sum of your values, but address those values fully, and remember that saying that other people are not humanist is not anything like a thorough address.

Fight for multiculturalism. But think about what that means. I would say that it means very little, but once you can convince me that it means a lot more than “what Pauline Hanson doesn’t want”, I might change my mind.

I can only change my mind and you can only change yours if the dialogue we have goes beyond absence. And you can call me an “elite” or an “ordinary” writer. And you can say that I am “racist” or an “Islam apologist”. You probably will. But, dude, you’d still be talking, as everyone is, about nothing.

44 responses to “It’s no more ‘elitist’ to be anti-Pauline Hanson than it is to be anti-racism

  1. If we don’t make up our mind, we won’t change it. Commonsense is made apparent, to the mentally challenged.

  2. All human being are in part racist, probably unconsciously. As an artist I have been treated in a racist way by Indigenous artists in Brisbane. I don’t blame them in a way after what has and is happening to Indigenous People. Its just it. It upsetting to me as I have always been as pro Indigenous as an arty white guy can be.

    Look if Hanson is our worst White Supremacist then be thankful. Hanson is a lot of show but in the end represents a group of people in Australia and having a Democracy says we have to respect these people at some basic level. I do feel a lot of what is called racism is economic inequality. The Elites do run Australia, its a fact. The Australian art world is run by Elites on Govt wages…FACT!!! So many of the so-called educated Elites are absolutely appalling when they get into positions of power….FACT!! Power corrupts…..

  3. The focus on race is counter productive.

    One Nation’s major threat is economic: its anti-trade, anti-foreign investment, protectionist, and bank regulation policies are substantially contractionary. If implemented, they would reduce living standards in Australia materially.

    One Nation seems more a minor by-product of economic transition. Hence its appeal during the recessionary 1990s, and again today when a new wave of automation productivity is displacing some traditional employments, and extensive replacement opportunities have yet to appear fully.

    Incidentally, the anti-humanism comments in the article above are redolent of old-fashioned 1930s Marxism. Humanism was a major achievement of Enlightenment Europe, and helped curtail the recidivist impacts of Christian religion. In today’s world, when religion in some quarters is having an anti-modernist resurgence, humanism is one of the more appealing intellectual traditions.

  4. Isam is not a race but a religion.Therefore criticism of Islam is as acceptable as criticism of Christianity or buddhism etc.Anyone familiar with the teachings of the koran a and the hadith, know that islam is incompatible with freedom of speech, freedom of religion, freedom of expression of sexuality,etc.Pauline is a poor spokesman who is not up to the task of explaining what is wrong with islam but rest assured there is much to be concerned about.sharia says that a womans testimony in court is worth half that of a man’s.what does that say about the status of women.a non muslims testimony jn court is worth half that of a muslim,s. A non muslim man cannot marry a muslim woman under sharia.if you are worried about discrimination you will find nonmuslims are d Iscriminated against and referred to in derogatory terms.the jews in particular are referred to as apes.

    1. And…
      Not that many years ago Catholics were forbidden to marry non-catholics. A woman was not permitted to own property in her own right. In fact women were regarded as to unstable to be allowed to vote. As second-class citizens, a woman’s place was in the home; barefoot, pregnant and chained to the sink (You think the Monty Python skit “Every Sperm is Sacred” from “The Meaning of Life” is a joke) such was the status of women in the west. Additionally, in Australia, Aborigines were regarded as Flora and Fauna and not even sub-human; they were cattle.I wouldn’t get so ahead of myself, regarding Islam, if I were you Kit.

      Sadly the anti-Muslim, anti-Islam rhetoric actually is racist as it encapsulates anyone from the middle east as being, as one bright spark among the Hansonites, “Filthy Towel-heads”. They don’t see the difference between Islam, Sikhism, Sufism, or Hinduism, for that matter.

      Additionally they equate the practices of the Fundamentalists within Islam as representative of ALL Islam. That’s like saying that All Christianity is represented in either the Exclusive Brethren, the Amish, or more specifically the KKK and the NAZIs, all of which regard, or regard themselves as Christian organisations.

      The fact that Tehran was one of the most beautiful, modern and cosmopolitan cities in the Middle East, particularly in the 1960s and 70s is lost to those who have only images of the once beautiful city under the Ayatollahs and the Reagan Era, Shock Horror, women in short skirts and studying medicine at university.

      The fact that Islam is the source of the mathematics and geometry required by engineers to construct our cities. Or that you wouldn’t be able to get your Friday night Kebab without Islamic people.

      At least you’ve heard of the Koran and the Hadith. I hope you’ve also heard of the Torah and the Pentateuch. That Islam, Judaism and Christianity all have the same Ancestry is lost on most westerners. The fact that All three have the same Patriarch in Abraham, is conveniently forgotten by the Evangelical Right-Wing fundamentalists and their brand of elitism and that Zionism is no more Jewish than the Mujahideen, the Hizbula or, the Taliban are Muslim.

      The troubles in the Middle East are on the front of the news because of the importance of Oil to the West. But, conveniently the war between the Catholics and the Protestants (Which also actually had nothing to do with Christianity) in Northern Ireland, had slipped to much deeper into the news-stream and today is rarely considered. But, if truth be told, is not that far removed from the conflict in Gaza (two brothers still fighting over the allocation of land and, more importantly the blood that each has spilled [Covenant relationships still taken seriously in middle eastern culture, something the west has allowed to slip into the ether; thanks to the Roman Catholic Church]).

      It is interesting to note, when flying, that if you take an atlas up with you, you cannot see those great dividing lines between countries. As we have reached toward the stars we have learned that our tiny planet is infinitesimally small, compared to the rest of the Solar system, let alone the universe. We have one planet, that we have responsibility and stewardship of. These appeals to Nationalism are anachronistic and should be relegated as such. It has been said over and over again, since Johnston and was particularly evident under Howard and Abbott; but: “patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel”; patriotism/nationalism, birds of a similar feather.

    2. Have you ever looked into the canon law of the Catholic Church?
      Look. I’m not a fan of religion. I’m not a fan of sectarian states, either. I can find the laws of an organised religion offensive or peculiar, but so long as they do not impact state law, I cannot, I believe, ethically object to the habit of religion.
      Needless to say, Islamic State and other organisations that would impose (an often radical interpretation) of religions law on a nation are terrible. However, the assumption that all Muslims or anything more than a minority of Muslims (which does not exceed the minority of fundamentalist Christians ) wish to see the merging of church and state is wrongheaded.
      Honestly, I think this “it isn’t racist because it’s a religion” thing is tedious. Like everything Cory Bernardi says. Let’s just say racist is a shorthand and call you a tedious bigot who can’t think their way out of simple problems.

      1. My post-humanism is derived from more recent Marxian works. Latour or Badiou are two.
        Can’t be bothered arguing with you much about globalisation. Interpretation by J Stiglitz and others (not a Marxist) demonstrates that World Bank data show a significant increase, not a decrease in global poverty. GDP is not the only measure of people leading good lives. Nor is the “happiness” index UN economists now perversely rely upon.
        This is not to say that protectionism is the solution. It is to say, however, steady on, son. When there are, both in proportion and number, more starving persons in the world and more enslaved persons in the world than in any other time in history, perhaps it’s time to rethink Adam Smith.
        Of course, as I said, the One Nation motivation is largely economic. Just as the vote for Brexit was. But, do not underestimate the unifying, cross-class power of racism. It brings honkies together.

  5. “That is un-Australian. I am anti-racist. I am opposed to the “elites”. None of these statements describe what their speakers are, but only what they are not. No wonder there is a frustrating quality to our dialogue; we are uttering the values that we don’t have, often also claiming that the values that we do have are the ones that the “elites” or the oppressors despise.” …. thanks for another thought provoking article…It may be simplistic, however one of the best “bits” of advice i was ever given was simply… “Focus on what you are for, not what you are against”

    1. It’s great advice, Peter. It’s almost word-for-word a version of something the otherwise very complex thinker Alain Badiou once said. I am really happy that you got that out of the piece. I worked quite hard to make just that the entire point and I am very happy that it is apparent to you. Thank you for reading. Actually reading.

  6. I don’t think the real dilemma here is what One Nation will or won’t do, but whether or not Turnbull is prepared to address the far right in his own party.

    Hanson is just Bernardi in (terrible / excellent) drag.

    1. Isn’t there a “drag” performance quality to the cultural right? There’s something about even the most terrifying fascist dictators that is strongly ridiculous. Of Hitler, the great critic of Nazism Adorno wrote something like “he appears as a conflation of a neighbourhood hairdresser with King King”.
      Trump. Hanson. That Milo thing Andrew Bolt loves. Andrew Bolt. There is something flamboyant there nearly always. Always outsize and always a bit ultra-normal-mixed-with-Vaudeville. Hollywood monster meets Average Joe.
      Honestly, the thing that scares me most is the nice neoliberal who talks the tolerance talk, but walks toward economic outcomes that make this sort of evil camp possible. And I don’t want to diminish in any way the real trouble many people of colour/religion encounter when these people legitimise hate speech . But, yes. They ARE a bit funny.

      1. This is a really interesting phenomenon, Helen. And I think it relates to your comment about ‘what are our values?’ Somehow the idea of confidence, flamboyance and assertiveness seems to have become the cultural property of the conservatives, with progressives left to own carefulness, respect and equivocation. Those gentle things are great and important but in order to generate the kind of exhilaration and joy that a confident society should feel about itself, I think we should have a go at reclaiming some of the fun stuff. And might I say that you, Ms Razer, set a good example.

  7. “There are many “elites” who love the hell out of Hanson — bourgeois New Atheists among them”. Really? Bourgeois as a description belongs with far out and groovy. That aside, whoever these “bourgeois” New Atheists are, do they exist anywhere other than in your mind (or inner city Melbourne)? Farkin hell. Bourgeois. Haven’t heard that one in decades. Made me feel all counter revolutionary.

    1. Perhaps this term is unfamiliar to you because of your usual choice of reading material. It is a term that retains or has reacquired its value in much writing. Sadly for you, Marxism is back.

      1. Probably best not to make too many assumptions about my reading material, I read you after all. Marx, of course, never went away. Required reading in most MBA courses. Why? Because Marx not only wrote the history and effect of capitalism, but accurately predicted what the collapse of capitalism would look like. The business world devours it looking for ways to make money from the chaos. But as a political philosophy? Not influential outside a small circle. The term bourgeois would be little known now, though popular when we were young. Recently I used the term petite bourgeoisie without irony, but the term, alas, was not helpful in furthering understanding. If, indeed Marxism is back I have yet to see any evidence of it. Perhaps my life is too cosy in the outer outer suburbs?

        1. I don’t know. 100,000 chiefly young UK citizens joining Labour in the last week in an attempt to give their vote to a declared socialist seems like evidence to me.

  8. Aha, you’re back in fine form, helen, hittin so many nails on the head/

    As for the racist commenters above – fuck off to the Enclave of Hate where your comments will be appreciated

  9. ‘And you can call me an “elite” or an “ordinary” writer.’ Well, you could be both but not this time. Thankfully you are a sort of anti-Pauline regarding racism and bigotry, but some of your economic thoughts may be not be as distant. What I would love to read is an immensely positive rant from you about the future of Australian society: a flare path of blazing rhetoric to lead us forward. You’re brilliant and respected. Have a lash at positivity. Cheers, M

    1. I think the difference between my view of economics and Pauline’s is that I have read the occasional article.

  10. It’s really quite disappointing to realise that by being an open democracy, we automatically allow really stupid people like Pauline Hanson to qualify for a seat in our federal Parliament.
    Worse, that demonstrably stupid race hater gathers up and stimulates the really nasty people who are delighted to be able to have
    a person to spout their hatred on their behalf.
    Oh well, don’t worry…it’s only a relatively small, mean-minded mob.

  11. So you think ‘supporters of One Nation…are racists (please,they’re racists)’ – racists are people that think their race is superior to other races..I’d venture to state that most of Hansons’ supporters dislike multi-culturalism;preferring ones own race and culture isn’t racism.

    1. Preferring one’s own race and culture is not only not racist, it’s how nearly everyone in the world feels. All of us is most comfortable with the world in which we grew.
      It is entirely possible to retain these customs, inasmuch any custom can be retained over time. (Everything always changes.) But, the choice of One Nation to demand a Royal Commission into Islam, to say “our values” without defining them and to generally be, as a consequence, so uncertain of those values that everything seems like a threat to them is just the lowest malarkey. I will have none of it. I do not think this lack of thought can be analysed. I do not think “understanding” it helps. I think that Hanson has received sufficient embrace by people and institutions to feel comfy. They can all get knotted.

      1. Actually, amend that. Preferring one’s own culture is quite human. Preferring one’s own “race” seems actually impossible to me.

        1. The first rule of fascism is to demonise a small group (let’s call the Hansonites), attribute all kinds of evils to this group and demonise them and deem them not worthy of engagement with, nor their place in society. Then turn their plight into the cause of all of societies ills rather than a result off it. This has been done before and you lot are doing it again. History shows that communists/marxists are much more closely related to fascists than they want to admit. That’s why they fight so ferociously! Plenty of Hitler and Mussolini’s henchmen were former communists and switching to the opposing camp was a common occurrence. The Antifa, Autonomen and other left/anarchist groups in Europe behave like fascist street gangs of 1930’s

          1. That is not only historically nonsense about the followers of fascism in Italy and Germany but also untrue about the antifascist movements in Europe now. Your point about communists being shown to be closely related to fascists is popular amongst libertarians but is also an intellectually bankrupt position and not supported by evidence. I am sick of correcting so called history like this. Your comments show the paucity of teaching in some educational institutions and little else.

    1. Thanks for really enlivening the conversation with a trenchant observation that no one has previously made! And, thanks for commenting without reading. It’s always a pleasure. It really makes us all feel great about the intellectual bounty the internet has delivered.

  12. Sometimes we are fortunate in the people given to raise us. I had two of the best – my mother – looked after by all manner of people and friend thereby, too, to all manner of people – our neighbours – immigrants of a diversity of ethnic/linguistic origins – an Indigenous family (I am writing of early to mid-1960s). And then there was my bullying step-father (a coward, too, outside the home) whose rants and raves against all manner of human difference was equally instructive of how not to behave and what not to believe. And what NOT to say. They say in Japan that “the world is a mirror” – the way we look at or treat it is how it looks at or treats us back in return. It seems pretty good advice. Smile – first! Be kind or generous – first. It will come back from the other likewise. If you tell me something complimentary about myself I will quickly return the compliment. The other advice which I think comes through from my lived experience is that there is no need to fear others – and not to have others feed my fears. Politicians in the name of so-called democracy (and in the freedom apparently permitted “within” the House) are given bizarre rights to mouth some of the most extreme views with impunity. Then mass-media shock-jocks broadcast those racist and bigoted views as commentary – making it appear normal – as did Bigot George. Appalling. Be kind and not afraid! Thanks Helen – I love your verbal dexterity! I’m reading you hoping some of that may rub off on me – faint hope, alas!

  13. Spot on Helen, I thought Kingstons piece was so warm-puppy-sick. Hanson is a semi-literate ignoramus who should be ignored. Why would anybody who can read be bothered about her trashy remarks and pasted/copied manifesto?
    So many comments referring to Islam conflate race with religion and cultural values with religious ones. There are a lot of people with opinions based on really poor “scholarship” who have actually no idea what they are saying. Now we have “food racism” mentioned, which is all cultural, but has been twisted into racism because its the flavour (ha) of the month. To be excluded or even commented on by a group, who are a different skin colour is “racist”, when in reality, the same happens between ANY group/sect and “other”.
    Fine , let the oxley moron have her say, but I couldnt give a shit what she says, I wont listen because its the same gutter diatribe thats always been said by the terminally ignorant, and if that makes me an elitist I think there are a lot of people in my “elite”,.

  14. I loved what Margo said and i don’t care what that makes me. Irredeemable racists or not, everyone is fucked up in this system. That some people are able to separate their fears from their projections and others aren’t shouldn’t change the tenor of our treatment towards them. Why is it kumbuya to want to not treat everyone else like a piece of shit just because we all feel like shit ourselves? If we all have to swim in fear then at least we can try and do it with a bit of class. Might stop us drowning

    1. At no point did I suggest rudeness. to One Nation. I suggest ignoring them. Margo may think there is something there to be understood about racism. (Why she just doesn’t read Frantz Fanon on the matter, I dunno. He had it sorted a while ago.)
      I suggest ignoring them because there is little to be gained by understanding them and much to be lost.
      For example, working out what our values in Australia actually are. I’m not sure, but I would like to engage in that conversation. And I would like to propose that “not listening to fundie idiots on any side who can’t stand other people” is one of them.
      They are idiots. They have nothing to offer but a distraction.

  15. OK. I’m with Helen on this. And there’s a lot to be said for Dr Marx, but essentially that’s a separate argument in this context.

    How is it proposed that Australia organises a royal commission into Islam? Into what would this inquire? Are we to find a jurist whose scope of knowledge in secular law will make it possible for her or him to make secular findings on a religion? Don’t be potty. That would be the singular strand of advice that I would offer Pauline Hanson.

    Hanson probably thinks she isn’t potty, which is precisely the problem. It’s fashionable in some potty quarters to believe that Hansonism, a single-issue, blunt intrusion into normal, civilised, life, holds answers to the complex business of politics and civil administration.

    We should of course always be polite. But if you’re careful with your language, you can quite easily call someone an idiot. And when that’s necessary, as Razer suggests, you should.

  16. I agree. Bigots don’t have the imagination or concentration span to work out who they are so they can only come to know themselves by virtue of who they are not.

    1. Also, I am saying that those who do nothing more than oppose bigotry are likely to meet the same intellectual fate.

  17. I am for freedom of speech, freedom of religion. The problem I see with the way that Islam seems to be progressing is that that these freedoms are denied. I have seen the progression of these Islamic values in the last 40 years or so and they seem to be more and more radical as time goes on. The fact that that a majority of Muslims don’t hold these more radical values does not mean that they do not have an impact all over the world. It is hard to deny that Muslims in countries like Pakistan, Sudan, Indonesia, Turkey and many other Moslem nations as well as western nations such as France UK, Holland etc have become more fundamentalist in the past 40 years. This is having an impact on peoples rights and freedom all over the world.
    Saudi Sunni Wahhabism has been propagating Islamic radicalism by funding mosques and madrasas (Islamic schools ) throughout the world since the 1970,s. Not just a few countries but many, many countries in Africa, Asia, Europe, Central Asia, America, Australia…you name it.
    A lot of these countries are poor so they were quiet happy to accept funding to build and run mosques and madrasas in their towns and villages so that their children could get some form of education. The Saudis used their petrodollars to do this.
    The problem is that this form of Sunni Islam is fundamentalist and quite radical. The fruit of this seed that the Saudis have planted has seen a huge increase of Muslims holding a view of Islam which is far more orthodox, puritanical, and austere. Thereby the growth of militant, politically activist ideology whose ultimate goal is to create a worldwide community, or caliphate, of Muslim believers.
    I See this as a big problem and one that should be discussed openly without fear of being called a racist. It is a pity that the likes of
    One Nation is so incoherent that all is does is muddy the waters.
    What to do?

    1. I would say that worrying about Islam is pointless. As I have said, we who give a banana about such things are absolutely justified in defending secularism in all our state institutions. But, many of the persons who seem to be worried about very unspecified things (“it will ruin our culture!” Like, how exactly?) are not also worried about, say, the School Chaplain program. My personal faithlessness aside (let’s pretend I’m still a Catholic, or that I’m a religious Muslim or a Jew) I totally see the point in resisting the imposition of religion on persons by the state.
      The imposition of religion, or other ideas, by private organisations on persons is largely another matter. I mean. Sure. I wish everyone would read certain kinds of books and I would rather see a local library built than a temple, church or mosque. But, the mosque (and, no, I don’t live in the inner city because I am a writer and can therefore not afford to) or other place doesn’t really impact me. Only if I believe, as you do, that somehow, Islam is more troubling than other religions.
      Look. You and I can agree that all religions are intrinsically troubling. But, I find a lot of things troubling. I find the supply side ideas of the Liberal Party troubling and I would say that this idea of trickle down wealth has caused many more problems than anything else in the present era. But, I am not going over to the local branch and protesting its right to exist. Because I am not a fool who has somehow overlooked the simple fact that riling people up, whether One Nation or a local Muslim community, makes them feel more determined to assert themselves.
      There are plenty of things to worry about. Especially among religious groups. The Dalai Lama is not very pleasant about homosexuality. Many Catholics are still psychologically ruined by the idea of hell. And, have you ever read a single thing about Israel and its militarised Judaism? The new chief rabbi of the IDF has used the Torah to justify the rape of Arab women by Israeli soldiers. This week. And that link is to Haaretz, Israel’s most storied newspaper.
      So, what possible reason is there, really, to loathe Islam with more force than other religions? And, please. Do a little reading or give the matter a little thought before replying with the usual “they oppress their women” rot. Ask yourself, without cut-and-pasting ideas that come from fearful and ignorant people, what really troubles you about Islam. And, no. The “they do more terrorism” argument is actually false, too.
      But. Hey. If you would like to create a nation where terrorism is more likely, keep speaking with ignorance about Islam. In a range of studies from conservative to progressive think tanks, it has been found that the fastest route to provoking acts of domestic terrorism by a particular group is to vociferously say that this particular group is balls.
      Some Zionists say horrific things, as per above. This does not make me hate Judaism. Some persons from Ipswich say horrific things, but this does not make me want to call for an end to Queensland. Some men rape and beat women, but this does not make me hate their gender. Because I know that the attainment of social balance is not helped by irrational attribution of the qualities of some to the qualities of all and FFS I am SO TIRED of this fear of Islam. It’s a hobby for idiots and a tool for politicians.
      Please. Think.

  18. One of the best (in entertainment terms) discussions I’ve seen on this website. Congrats to Helen for the spark. So despairing, however, that so many people actually want their names associated with ill-informed, unthinking statements that reflect laziness in research about things they obviously feel passionate about. Why do the ignorant want to remain in a fog? Helen’s dropped some names into the debate that would lead any person truly interested to understanding about the world we live in, and insights into the challenges humanity faces, as well as reasons why we’re all so deeply in the shit. The strangled chirpings of hatred from Hanson, like those of Hitler in his time, bring to mind canaries choking in the mine of society. Yet so many insist on following them into darker depths. Is the world about to be dragged into decades of wasteful global violence? A cycle we can’t resist? Too bad so many don’t recognise we’re threatened by seeping fumes of ignorance the canaries have reacted to. I see no point in either tolerating the rants of the brain-dead, or pandering to their determination to stay ignorant. If the blind haters refuse to google some of the thoughts and writings of the genuine thinkers Razer has mentioned, why bother giving any respect to their decision to cling to stupidity?

  19. Congrats Helen on the article. Right or wrong your voice is true. We desperately need to cut the crap and look at what is at the heart of this fracturing of society and I personally cant look past the gap in equality. If you have the top 20 percent earning half the total income, the bottom 20 percent less than 4 percent of it your going to have a problem. If people like Scott Morrison respond to attacks on his management of the budget and the effect cutting tax to that top 20% has on the bottom line by proposing cuts to social services, you are going to get anger. That anger will be directed at any perceived threat. This isn’t about Islam, that’s just an easy and popular target. We need to address the issue of inequality and that means investing in our society directly and broadly not just in the top end of town.

  20. I think Helen has hit he spot. As I understand her piece, we must articulate and act upon what we believe and what are values are. People who see themselves as progressive waste far too much time saying how much they reject Hanson and her like. The result is a chasm or vacuum in the middle between us and them. We need to fill this vacuum with positive action. This is best achieved by ignoring Hanson – stupidity is not worth the distraction. Hanson and her followers are not able to be redeemed. We don’t need to apologise for refusing any dialogue with them. True – no need to scorn them. Just ignore. But at the same time get out there and constructively support multiculturalism and enjoy this engagement. A nation having fun is the best way to define our values.

  21. Interesting article and as the team psychologist I feel I have to comment.

    People’s attitudes come ready made with their group identity. Once you know what ‘type’ of person you are you know what attitudes to adopt. People do not work through issues one by one deciding what to think. This decisions are made for them by their group identity.

    And people always everywhere use the out group (s) as a way of deciding their attitudes. We don’t believe what those non u people believe. You’ll see this in the more cartoonish and schematic comments online. Usually no ideas, just name calling: leftard greenie and more often and quite quaintly roughing, commie. For Petes sake. What decade is this?

    There is another cognitive system used to reason on the basis of evidence instead of identity. You don’t see that much and even so among Rightwing identified types. Progressives are more likely to use evidence based reasoning.

    How to change attitudes? Change behaviour. You simply can’t reason people out of something that they didn’t reason themselves into. But make bad behaviour stemming from bad attitudes illegal and peoples attitudes change for the better.

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