Fraser Anning, a Senator in Australia’s federal parliament and a member of the Katter Australia Party (KAP), gave his first speech in the Upper House on Tuesday night. In it he called for what amounted to a return to the policy of White Australia, an approach to immigration that discriminates on the basis of race.
He also praised the authoritarian and racist Bjelke-Petersen Government, a government that has been exposed as corrupt through a Royal Commission, and whose legacy has been rejected on an ongoing basis in nearly every election since their demise.
The speech articulated such profound racism that even Senator Pauline Hanson—no stranger herself to calls to curb immigration on the basis of race—declared herself ‘appalled’.
(This is kind of like Harvey Weinstein telling Donald Trump to tone down the sexism a bit.)
Anning, like a lot of people who espouse this sort of rot, would no doubt tell you how much he loves Australia, but I think the opposite is true.
People like Anning don’t love Australia. They hate it.
What they actually love is White Australia, in all its dated, discredited irrelevance.
Actually existing, multicultural Australia, where half the population was either born overseas or has at least one parent who was, fills people like Anning with hate and disgust and they want to see it destroyed.
We need to get this through our heads: those who share Anning’s worldview are not patriots, they are traitors to the place Australia actually is. We are multicultural all the way down and we will remain that way unless…unless what?
It is surely no accident that Anning evoked the notion of a ‘final solution’ in his speech.
He has since denied that he intended any reference to the Holocaust, but colour me unconvinced. I suspect he knew exactly what he was doing when he said, ‘The final solution to the immigration problem is, of course, a popular vote.’ Attaching the phrase ‘final solution’ to a discussion of immigration, in a speech predicated on race purity (‘We know that we represent a race … which never had its equal on the face of the earth’), is either done on purpose or with a level of stupidity that beggars belief.
He hides behind the idea that the ‘final solution’ he mentioned was merely to have a vote, but that just doesn’t cut it. Suppose he gets his vote, and suppose it endorses his view (it wouldn’t, but that’s not the point). The vote is not actually the final thing then, is it? We would still have to set about creating the White Australia of his dreams, and just how does he imagine that happens?
So this is something else we need to be clear about: the only way to achieve the White Australia that Anning wants is via a final solution, either mass deportation or worse. This is the logic of what he was calling for and it was revealed in his choice of words. He shouldn’t be allowed to hide from that logic.
Unfortunately, in the current environment, our institutional ballast to fight this sort of racism has been diminished.
For most of this term of parliament, Australia’s conservative political class, including those within the media, have been testing the waters, seeing what they can get away with in terms of race baiting.
Nothing new in that, you might say, and fair enough, but I would argue they have kicked it up a notch over the last few years.
Anning’s speech has to be understood in this context, and let’s just go through some edited highlights of what I am talking about.
We have had Andrew Bolt publish his racist assessment of Melbourne in a column in the Herald Sun.
We have had Sky News give a platform to white supremacists from the around the world, including Canadian Lauren Southern and homegrown neo-Nazi, Blair Cotterill.
We’ve had Senator David Leyonhjelm invite former Breitbart racist Milo Yianoppoulos to speak at Parliament House.
We’ve had the actual fucking Prime Minister running the line that the people in Melbourne are too frightened to go out at night for fear of ‘African gangs’.
The prime minister’s party has also preferenced One Nation in recent by-elections, putting the party of anti-immigration ahead of everyone else.
Anybody who has dared to speak out about this stuff has been accused of virtue signalling or of being politically correct. We have been accused of trying to shut down debate and of not understanding free speech.
In fact, what was happening was the people making these accusations were laying out the welcome mat for racism and intolerance, and surprise, surprise, it showed up in the Senate the other night in the form of Fraser Anning.
So here is the third thing we need to get through our heads: racism exists in every society and what holds it in check is not political correctness but decency, a commitment to equality and a life in common. That decency, in the first instance, needs to be embodied in our key institutions, including the parliament and the media. It needs to be fought for, argued for, and believed in over and above almost all other value.
Fraser Anning’s vile opening speech to Parliament has put us all on notice, but most especially it has put on notice our media and our politicians. If these elites, those with the power to shape and form public opinion, give in to the temptation to seek what they see as political or commercial advantage from racism—and let’s make no mistake, that is what has been happening—then we shouldn’t be surprised that some hater of our beautiful and hard-won diversity has come along and is calling for a ‘final solution’.
Fraser Anning is bad enough, but he doesn’t exist without a political class willing to tolerate implicitly the sort of racism he has now made explicit.
Tim Dunlop is an author, writer and academic. His first book was The New Front Page: New Media and the Rise of the Audience, while his new book, Why the Future Is Workless, examines the changing nature work as more and more jobs are automated. You can follow him on Twitter @TimDunlop
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