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Giving One Nation its racist platform

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One Nation's James Ashby, Pauline Hanson and Steve Dickson front media after the airing of Al Jazeera's 'How to Sell a Massacre' (Screenshots via YouTube)

It’s difficult to see how there was ever any good reason for mainstream media to give One Nation Leader Pauline Hanson a platform. Her racist views – and those of her followers – are not platform-worthy and never have been, and it was a better time when they were denied an audience.

Hanson successfully markets herself as the voice of “ordinary people” and so-called “real Australians”. However, her assumptions wrongly define both those categories of citizens as willfully ignorant, racist, xenophobic and malicious. It is to succumb to Hanson’s narrative to concede that “ordinary people” and “real Australians” (whatever they may be) necessarily possess those characteristics. Hanson has glorified these disagreeable traits and normalised them as signifiers of “ordinary Australia.”

In other words, Hanson has taken the worst of human bigotry and ascribed it to ordinary Australian people and in so doing, with the assistance of media, has normalised it.

In fact, the people Hanson actually represents are those who exude ill will towards anyone who is not like them. Until Hanson came along to give them voice, people in this group bitterly resented their inability to engage mainstream media and the larger population with their bellicose views. Her base may largely lead unremarkable lives and have been born in Australia but they are not, however, as representative of that demographic as Hanson would have us believe.

This matters because Hanson justifies her right to a platform on the grounds that she is speaking for “ordinary Australians” who have for too long lacked a voice. This gives her legitimacy and it also validates the mainstream media who offer her so much exposure. If she’s speaking for previously silenced ordinary Australians, both Pauline and the silenced people she represents deserve a platform, don’t they? Or so the argument goes.

Well no, they don’t. Simply disliking, or worse, hating your fellow humans because they are unlike you is not a valid argument for anything and, hopefully, it does not make you an “ordinary” person. Racism, xenophobia and malicious discontent are not legitimate arguments for or against anything. It’s surely reasonable to demand that before anyone is given a public platform they fulfil certain criteria, such as the ability to make a legitimate argument and valid points based on evidence and facts. “I don’t like it”, is fine for a five-year-old but it isn’t a political position and should never be presented as such.

Mainstream media have not given “ordinary” Australians a voice by so generously supporting Pauline Hanson. Instead, they’ve given racists, xenophobes, the ignorant and the deeply malicious an entirely undeserved platform and justified that by describing them as “ordinary”. There’s nothing at all “ordinary” about despising others. However, there are many politicians, not just Hanson, all aided by mainstream media, who would have us believe irrational hatred is normal. It’s a constant struggle to resist their efforts.

In the remarkable Al Jazeera sting – in which the media organisation infiltrated the NRA and secretly filmed One Nation efforts to wrangle $20 million from the U.S. National Rifle Association (NRA) – former minister in the Queensland LNP Government of Campbell Newman, Steve Dickson, is shown to have what some might consider an unhealthy obsession with firearms. Dickson defected to One Nation from the Liberal Party in 2017.

In a secretly filmed segment during the U.S. trip, Dickson is shown expressing his desires thus:  

I'm going over to one of those drug-dealing mansions on the beach. I'll hire it for a month. You know the ones that are 25 rooms and the chef and everything. We'll drink and shoot the s**t out of everything down the water. Machine guns and everything, mate that's my dream. We can protect ourselves just in case.

This statement ought to be enough to get the speaker on a watch list. “Shoot the shit out of everything down the water” could mean humans.“Machine guns and everything, mate that’s my dream” suggests that the speaker is dreaming of mass slaughter, and not of sea birds.

Why has this man not been arrested and interrogated on his intentions?

In another conversation, Dickson is caught on film explaining to NRA representatives how the Australian parliament would work should One Nation secure the balance of power, as is their hope:

'The thing you need to understand about the balance of power is the headlock and the 9mm to the back of the head. That's where it sits. Once you say we want something, we will get it. Without it, they don't get any legislation through.'

“… the 9mm to the back of the head. That’s where it sits.”  Why has this man not been arrested and interrogated as to his intentions in our parliaments, state and federal? He has unequivocally advocated violence and possibly murder as a means of subverting our democratic process, so why isn’t he in custody?

None of this horror would have been possible without the mainstream media, who fell and continue to fall over themselves to give Hanson and her band of violent men platforms from which to propagate their hate, division and murderous intent: “Machine guns and everything, mate, that’s my dream.”

You only need machine guns for one purpose: to kill other people.

There was never any justification for giving Pauline Hanson a platform. She is unfailingly incoherent, willfully ignorant, racist, bigoted and a stranger to facts. Those who follow her must, of necessity, share similar characteristics and they don’t deserve a platform either. Yes, “ordinary Australians” are entitled a voice to air concerns about the difficulties of their lives that can and should be addressed by our politics and our politicians.

However,  nobody's hatred of another based on race, religion or ethnicity is deserving of a platform. None of those factors contributes to the resolution of daily difficulties encountered by “ordinary” people struggling to make ends meet, or trapped fighting a system that leaves them at a disadvantage.

Hanson represents an unforgivable failure by major political parties to address the concerns of “ordinary Australians”. Their failure has allowed her to conflate those concerns with racism and now with violence, as Dickson advocates armed revolt as a means of gaining control and achieving goals.

While there may well be Hanson voters who primarily identify with her stand on the family court, small business and men who feel alienated by the judicial system, it isn’t possible to segregate those concerns from the racism and bigotry that underpins One Nation.

This is Hanson’s most significant and most warped achievement: she has managed to conflate genuine concerns with racial prejudice — a conflation that would not have been possible had the major parties attended to those concerns in the first place.

You can follow Dr Jennifer Wilson on her blog No Place for Sheep or on Twitter @NoPlaceForSheep.

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