An Australian Senator invoked the language of the Nazi Party to demand a plebiscite on the White Australia policy, 50 years after it was dismantled by Harold Holt, Gough Whitlam, and Malcolm Fraser.
Former One Nation, now Katter Party Senator Fraser Anning used his maiden speech in the Senate to praise the White Australia policy, call for a “Final Solution to the immigration problem”, and claim all terrorists are Muslims.
And he says he was taken out of context.
Speeches, especially first speeches, are written down, prepared days, even weeks, in advance so that the message and agenda being set down is clear. Senator Anning knew exactly what he was saying, the historical context, and how it would be interpreted. He deserves nothing but condemnation and repudiation. As many others have said, the standard you walk past is the standard you accept.
No one should accept Fraser Anning’s use of “The Final Solution” as meaning anything less than an attempt to ape the attitudes that led to millions of Jewish, black, Romany, LGBTIQA, and disabled people being murdered and experimented on, along with countless others.
Following the speech, Senator Anning shook hands with Coalition and Centre Alliance senators including Leader of the Government in the Senate Mathias Cormann, as well as Cory Bernardi, David Leyonhjelm, Tim Storer, and Derryn Hinch.
What the fuck is wrong with this country?
Hinch (to his… credit?) has attempted to walk back his initial endorsement of Anning’s speech, retweeting criticism of Anning, going on ABC radio to condemn Anning, and claiming he cringed when he heard Anning say “the final solution”.
I mean, Tasmanian Greens Senator Peter Whish-Wilson walked out of the speech; Labor Leader of the Opposition in the Senate Penny Wong condemned the speech in no uncertain terms immediately; and shortly after the speech was made, Shadow Minister for Immigration, Multicultural Affairs and Citizenship Tony Burke made a rebuttal speech in the House of Representatives, calling out the racism and bigotry in both Anning’s speech and more broadly across the political spectrum, drawing a line in the sand. But sure, Derryn Hinch decided it may have been a bad thing to say publicly – unlike, say, his endless talk of the African Gangs in Melbourne.
I know everyone wants to imagine that Australia is better than Fraser Anning’s first speech, but the reality is, One Nation got four Senators elected in 2016, and they, along with their subsequent replacements, have been just as foul as Hanson was 20 years ago.
And while we’re at it, can everyone stop with the bullshit “19 votes” rhetoric about Fraser Anning? Especially when it’s coming from those who actually know how Senate elections work.
Pretending his ideas have no support does nothing to address the virulent racism in this country. Any Australian of colour can tell you how racist this country can be. If you’re shocked by what Anning said, then you’re just as ignorant as he is.
Australia has always been a racist country, our proudest achievements are things like basic human rights for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people. And since then, any time Indigenous Australians try to as for more, like, considering the fact that this country was invaded, has 60,000 years of black history, that sovereignty was never ceded and Australia is the only Commonwealth nation without a Treaty. One only has to look at the Turnbull government’s outright rejection of the Uluru Statement from the Heart to see how basic our approach to racism can be.
This trend of denying the ubiquity of the racism that exists in Australia was demonstrated during the furore around the Sky News interview of neo-Nazi Blair Cottrell by former NT Chief Minister Adam Giles – a man best remembered for his handling of the abuse in the Don Dale detention centre. This don’t-call-the-Nazi-a-Nazi denialism is an attempt to obfuscate and talk around the creeping fascism that has been a resurgent force worldwide for the last few years. The alt-Reich cheer when attempts at balance see journalists, politicians and the generally educated talk out both sides of their mouths, claiming that there are no Nazis, only dickheads and fuckwits.
No, there are Nazis, white supremacists and nationalists, and powerfully outspoken racists being given incredible platforms to spew their horrendous ideologies, without challenge or rebuke.
Fraser Anning was elected by more than just 19 votes, he was elected by a country that absolutely believes in the need to ban non-white immigration, even if it won’t admit it. I have no doubt an anonymous poll on White Australia would return double digit support.
Hanson and her ilk have broad support, it’s why the Turnbull government has been trying to court them for the last few years.
And for the most part, the response from the Turnbull government has been as spineless and ineffectual as Turnbull himself. Alan Tudge, Minister for Citizenship and Multicultural Affairs, tip-toed around the issue, tweeting that Fraser Anning’s views do not reflect those of the Government, promising that there will be no changes to immigration policy. This led to an online circle jerk, as Scott Morrison and Malcolm Turnbull, amongst others, retweeted Tudge and commenting, “Well said Alan.” Turnbull added, “We reject and condemn racism in any form.”
To react, only now, with shock and disgust, because a Senator invoked the language of the Nazi Party, is disingenuous and hypocritical. Never mind the fact that Turnbull, Tudge and Morrison have spent months pushing the rhetoric of the Victorian Liberal Party’s ‘African Gangs‘ problem, even though this is easily disproved, simply by looking at the crime statistics. Just last year, Turnbull lackey, NSW Senator, and ICAC amnesiac Arthur Sinodinos declared that One Nation had evolved and was a lot more sophisticated than the party of yesteryear, despite zero evidence to support such claims. And Lest We Forget Manus or Nauru, and the demonisation of immigrants and refugees by Morrison, Dutton, and Turnbull.
They support the dogwhistle, but not the bullhorn approach to racism. If racism helps keep them in power, well, that’s just political expediency.
And look, to be brutally honest, Fraser Anning didn’t say anything new. His denigration of all people of colour; his ugly attacks and accusations against our Muslim brothers and sisters; and the hatred he espoused for his fellow Australians as he called for a return to the White Australia policy, we’ve seen it all before. This is Hanson, Katter, Palmer, Christensen, Turnbull, Dutton, Abbott, Howard, this is the punter on the street, the drunk uncle, and the racist lady on the bus. The reaction here was something else.
Frasier Anning invoked the Holocaust. He borrowed the language of the alt-Right, neo Nazis, and white supremacists to demand brutal Gestapo-like tactics in the treatment of immigrants. One can imagine Anning celebrating the suicides and murders of those on Manus and Nauru, and this is exactly the point. He revealed the monster at the heart of Australia’s special brand of realpolitik, that great multi-headed racist.
And because of the global regard held for the victims of the Holocaust, anything that could be construed as anti-Semitic, critical of Jewish suffering, or dismissive of the horrors had to be condemned in the extreme. There can be no backstepping in the shadow of goosestepping. This is why Jeremy Corbyn is denounced as anti-Semitic, and Bernie Sanders is called “self-hating Jew” for wanting Israel’s illegal occupation of Palestine to end. That special status means that Anning HAD to be denounced this time, no matter how we have reacted in the past. He finally went too far.
This is like the US Republicans who have walked away from Trump countless times, only to return as soon as the dust settles. It’s pathetic, and if voters can’t see through it, then this country is truly lost.