Peter Dutton is determined to entrench a deep rift into our society between those who care and those who hate, writes John Maycock.
Much has already been written about the radio “interview” where, with enthusiastic encouragement from Alan Jones, Peter Dutton delivered a veritable smorgasbord of “meat” for bigots — or to quote IA columnist Alan Austin, the
'…right wing nutters and the intellectually disadvantaged.’
To justify pushing refugees out into the community and penniless, Dutton “broadcast” the message to the bigots that lawyers and refugees are “gaming the system” and that it is:
"…all the political correctness out there… events taking place around statues and all this nonsense... it extends into some of our major law firms, where part of their social justice agenda is for pro bono work to be provided ... lawyers…. lodge their papers in the high court and it costs the taxpayer tens of millions of dollars…"
Also, when Jones suggested writing a law to force the refugees back to the camps, Dutton replied:
"… there's constitutional issues involved… we can't pass legislation to dispense with that [constitutional] difficulty… we defend these matters, we fight them in the courts and it is incredibly frustrating."
Incredibly frustrating? Consider for a moment Dutton’s recent amendments to his whistleblower legislation, which he used to gag those who worked within the refugee detention regime. Greens Senator Nick McKim alleged that the changes were not made out of any feelings of compassion or humanity, but rather to save the humiliation of having the laws removed in the High Court.
Peter Dutton's comments to Alan Jones a betrayal of 'Australian values', lawyers say https://t.co/bEOmRHIqbL— Bella flokarti (@BellaFlokarti) August 29, 2017
Indeed, Dutton may well blame those who seek social justice for wasting taxpayer money, but here we have him maintaining a fiction that his legislation was sound, all the way to the High Court — only to bale at the last minute, probably to avoid having his deception reflected in the records. Which begs several questions, such as: was that a waste of taxpayer money, who was frustrating who, and how do notions of ethics sit with all this?
In any case, it seems it is Australian laws, legal and constitutional obligations, which are in the way — and he wants to ignore them. But he also wants to convince the bigots that there are no justifiable reasons to not ignore them. He would have them believe it is political correctness manifest as social justice that is in his (and the bigots) way — not the law. And so people who take the time to keep him and his government (and the bigots) to account are blamed, maligned and made irrelevant.
In regards to evicting and abandoning the refugees to the community; a favourite retort of the anti-refugee camp is to tell the “bleeding hearts” to take the asylum seekers into their own homes and to use their own money to support them. This is exactly what Dutton is doing and it is certainly a bone to the bigot. But there seems to be a more devious ploy at play here — to “break the banks” of the refugee support networks.
(For example, IA contributor Binoy Kampmark tells us the ‘cash-strapped Asylum Seeker Resource Centre’ has offered assistance for those in Melbourne but at an expected cost of a million dollars over six months. And consider the current push ‘to strip eco-charities of tax-deductibility status’.)
So if Dutton can’t beat them in the courts he will circumvent the courts by destroying those who stand in his way, exploiting his position and using refugees as a tool — not just economically, but also socially.
Hence he loads his rhetoric with dogwhistles and memes that stimulate the mind of the bigot: "unAustralian, "political correctness", "willing participants gaming the system". These are appeals to the downward envious anti-taxers/anti-welfare brigades and just about anybody else plugged into the Murdochian Matrix.
However, erroneously connecting social justice with the PC myth – suggesting that people are socially engineered by political correctness into believing in social justice – is another matter.
Suppose that rather than pro bono lawyers, we were talking about members of the community donating money to fund the cases? Not forgetting, of course, that ordinary people are donating time and money in support of refugees and that the bigots are aware of that support coming from within the community. What would Dutton’s words mean then?
Dutton is effectively saying that people’s notions on social justice have been shaped by outside forces — not by their inward conscience, empathy compassion and reasoning. He is telling bigots that empathy is not a normal trait of mind and that notions of social justice are not the product of free thinking. He implies to the bigots that their own cognitive processes are working fine while those who oppose them are flawed in their thinking. The underlying message is that this "flawed thinking" poses a threat to social cohesion and therefore the bigot’s wellbeing.
Everything Dutton said was about further entrenching division in the community along the lines of the caring and uncaring — those who care can pay to care. Those who don’t care will embrace it as they see it as punishing those who care. After all, the bigot’s nature is to enjoy, wish for, or threaten to cause the suffering of those they hate as well as those who defend the hated.
And now holding notions of social justice, empathy and compassion as core values will not earn you recognition as a “well-adjusted member of society”. You are something to be scorned — a messenger to be shot.
But then, perhaps this too should be expected. You see, just as the counter narrative to the bigot’s position reveals the bigot’s lack of proper reasoning, causing them the most “pain”. So too, when empathy, compassion, ethics and notions of social justice are held up as a mirror, the reflection reveals the bigot’s own moral bankruptcy.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Australia License
It's progressive. Subscribe to IA.