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Peeling the Potato: Dutton, the Greens and Fraser Anning

The responses to Fraser Anning’s asinine statement following the Christchurch Mosque Massacre have come thick and fast. But none is ridiculous, or more dangerous, than Peter Dutton’s recent spat with the Greens. Get your potato peelers out, ladies and gentlemen, for we are going into the veggie patch to confront Spud on his home turf.

The sourced article opens by quoting Spud drawing a direct equivalence between the Greens and Fraser Anning. This was in direct response to the Greens accusing Spud of having a role in fueling the anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant sentiment that underlined the Christchurch attack. Specifically, Greens Senator Mehreen Faruqi, who is a Muslim, accused Spud of contributing to ‘creating an atmosphere where hate is allowed to actually incubate in our society’. Given Mr. Dutton’s rhetoric on boats and national security as well as his comments on Lebanese immigrants, this is not an unreasonable claim.

Spud Replies #adultgovernment 

What was Mr. Dutton’s mature, well thought out response? He said as follows

“I’m hardly going to take morals lectures from the extreme left who frankly are just as bad in this circumstance as people like Fraser Anning, they should equally be condemned. We have people on the far-left or the far-right trying to extract political advantage. I think it’s a disgrace

Ok, the Greens are not on ‘the extreme left’, but even if they were, that does not invalidate their opinions. This quotation from Spud exposes two of the right wing’s favoured tactics when it comes to dealing with their opponents.

Right-Wing Tactics and The Stunting of Discourse

The first is to place a label on their opponents, which, by its very existence, will make them go away. An American example of this is the attachment of the slanderous label ‘anti-semite’ to anyone who dares to criticise Israel for anything, whatever the evidence. If you criticise Israel, you are an anti-semite by definition. This tactic has the added bonus, so they think, of preventing the right from having to engage with the actual arguments that their opponents advance. Sorry, but this is called ad hominem (toward the man), and it means attacking the person making the argument rather than the argument itself. It does not work on anyone with even the most fundamental grasp of logic.

The second tactic this calm, mature and even-handed response exposes is the dangerous habit on the right of false-equivalence’. This is the idea that both sides of an issue are equally to blame. This is intellectually lazy and requires very little actual thought or analysis. We see this in politics constantly ‘they’re all bastards’ or something to that effect. While no side of politics is perfect, it is the height of laziness to simply say ‘both sides’. This tactic, like the ad hominem approach, prevents us from having a serious discussion and actually placing blame where it lies, since neither side is more responsible than the other.

False Equivalence: ‘He did it Too!’

Mr. Dutton is drawing an equivalence between criticising someone for yelling ‘FIRE’ in a crowded theatre and actually doing so. The Greens rightfully called out Dutton, Anning and the rest of their right-wing nutjob (RWNJ) colleagues for their bigoted rhetoric. His response was to say ‘Well, you’re being bigoted as well’. No. They are not. You are simply trying to drag them into the mud with you so the Ray Hadley, Alan Jones and Sky so-called News crowd will think the whole thing is a wash. To respond directly to Mr. Dutton’s false equivalence, pointing out the bigotry of those who fanned these fires is not ‘extracting political advantage’. If it happens to be to their political advantage to take a stand against prejudice, so be it. But that was not their intent.

The point rather was to point out the bigotry of those who seek to actually make political hay of the issue of immigration and to politicise religious tension. If that happens to render Mr. Dutton and his ilk uncomfortable by getting too close to a nerve, that is on them, not on the ones pointing it out. To take a somewhat less abstract approach, how can criticising a thing be the equivalent of that thing? Mr. Dutton’s comparison is ridiculous. As a side note, I am not asking for parliamentarians to be Vulcans, but some basic knowledge of argument and logic would not go astray.

Little Awful Anning and The Censure Motion

The man at the centre of this storm, apparent Senator Fraser Anning, will have a censure motion brought against him when Parliament resumes. Notably, fellow bigot Pauline Hanson, from whose Senate ticket Anning emerged following the ousting of Malcolm Roberts, will abstain from the motion. This means she will not vote. Her grounds? The motion will ‘not prove a damn thing’ as she said. Hanson went on to say that ‘He [Anning] is an elected member of the parliament. He has a voice’. Indeed, as does the rest of the parliament. The motion is not to silence him, so you can put the ‘free-speech’ combination strawman and red herring away. This is a censure motion condemning his ill-informed bigotry. Nothing more. He retains his right to spew his bile, and any suggestion to the contrary is inaccurate.

This incident, for all its horror, has successfully shone a spotlight on both the bigoted rhetoric and the terrible ‘argumentation’ of the right. This group of increasingly disconnected radicals are being pushed out to the fringes where they belong. The real shame is that it took an incident as tragic and vile as this to achieve a result which, in any functional democracy, would have been achieved decades ago.

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13 comments

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  1. Frank Smith

    It is idiotic to suggest that anyone who attracted only 19 votes is an “elected” representative. How bloody absurd!!! Out with the useless turd.

  2. Alcibiades

    Bravo. Excellent writing.

    He also arrogated to himself the power to suppress Senator ‘Final Solutions’ right to Free Speech, thereby attempting to simultaneously distance himself, suppress him & seize higher moral ground.

    Peter Dutton Verified Account
    @PeterDutton_MP

    1/2 Earlier today I called Senator Anning and asked him not to make any public comment today. Inciting a volatile situation is not in anyone’s interest. His statement yesterday has been rightly condemned.
    12:03 AM – 16 Mar 2019

    Peter Dutton
    @PeterDutton_MP

    Replying to @PeterDutton_MP
    2/2 It is in everyone’s best interest for Senator Anning to make no further statements on this matter.

    https://mobile.twitter.com/PeterDutton_MP/status/1106813139813830656

    Obergruppenfuehrer Dutts, formerly Immigration Minister, most recently promoted to ReichsMarshall, Uber-Minister of the super-Ministry of Home Affairs, being a mere mortal, has no judicial nor legislative authority, let alone moral, to demand such.

    Um, weren’t these RWNJ extremists champions of Free Speech, especially by extremists ? Am so confused …

    – Tim ‘FreedomBoy’ Wilson (IPA)

    Appointed by “It’s Okay to be Bigot” former Attorney-General George Brandis to a protected soiree salary/allowance rorts position on the Human Rights Commission, without any additional funding, forcing out an actual disability commissioner in consequence.

    Then there was when Dutts falsely claimed a refugee was shot for doing what today would colloquially be, a George Pell (Convicted paedophile) :

    Howzat all workin’ out for ya Pete ? (As ratbag Dr Phil would say)

    Odds, Dickson(QLD)
    Peter Dutton now 3.00
    Labor on 1.33

  3. Fascist peeler

    Haha. That’s funny. Himmler is actually a spud 🙂

  4. Lambert Simpleton

    Dutton really is the animal of Australian politics. Linda Reynolds is horrible also.

  5. Alan Nosworthy

    Reynolds stuck to the company line on qanda and claimed an equivalence between the Christchurch terrorism and the nightclub bombing terrorism in Bali. A nasty piece of work indeed.
    Apparently, they/them/the other did it first and so there.

  6. Patagonian

    Her comments on Q&A tonight were incomprehensible, and she denied that Morrison ever sought to use anti-Muslim sentiment to beef up the COALition’s vote. She’s a trainwreck.

  7. paul walter

    Patagonian, imho Linda Reynolds was an utter disgrace and Tony Jones not much better a lot of the time.

    They’ll resurrect this Islamophobia thing if it kills them.

  8. Trish Corry

    Excellent article Tim!

  9. helvityni

    The Drum was excellent last night, the Muslim women were outspoken but stayed civil, thank you Ellen Fanning….

    Q&A was unwatchable, Ms Reynolds spoiled the broth; I had to turn the TV off.

    Maybe Jones let Reynolds make herself a laughing stock deliberately, it worked, people shook their heads when she did her long scomo style rattling….

  10. lizbo

    spud’s comment re anning – “we can’t get rid of him – if you don’t want someone in parliament, vote them out”

    small problem there

    a) we didn’t vote the bugger in – anning just got washed up with the garbage of one notion

    b) we can’t vote for anything until you lot call an election

    c) we can only vote people in not out – there are many dangerous people who have overstayed their welcome who i would love to vote out including darth tater, most if not all of the current lying nasties plus a couple of strays including lyingtoad and the fake redhead but our electoral system says we are stuck with them regardless of the appalling things they say and do

    so it’s beyond time and i don’t think i’m alone in wanting an election sooner rather than later – waiting for the polls to improve is no longer a valid option – i really don’t think that the polls are going to improve any time soon – especially when they keep rolling out idiots like price and reynolds – if they are trying to prove their women got into parliament on merit they are failing badly – you couldn’t do worse – oops forgot about screech cash – yes you could do worse

  11. Vikingduk

    For a start, the Dutton thing is not a mister, it is a diseased pus bag, rotten to the core, oozing its way through life disguised as a human. A repellent, repulsive slime able to convince enough fellow travellers to vote this hatefilled thing into being. A strange cognitive dissonance that gives us this disgusting farce known as coal ition government.

    Yep, it’s time to eject these traitors from memory.

  12. Andreas Bimba

    Tim you are indeed a very skilful writer equal to the best our print media ONCE had.

    “how can criticising a thing be the equivalent of that thing?”

    Fraser Anning may have been elected with almost no votes which is a failing if our electoral system which must be addressed but the same can’t be said of Pauline Hanson who along with her party One Nation does have substantial electoral support in the backblocks especially in Queensland. The prominence of similar politicians of the right like Christensen, Spud, Canavan, Katter, Bernardi, Abetz or Abbott indicates that many do want this type of political representative even allowing in most cases for their unfair advantages arising from the backing by the local media oligarchs and the kleptocracy.

    Bigotry, racism and the hatred of innocents is very common in many areas of our country as it is in many others. There is definitely a correlation between these negative behaviours and social disadvantage, unemployment and underemployment, especially when those same people recall a past with less hardship or more opportunities for a better life. There is also a strong correlation with these negative behaviours and white skin while Australia’s aboriginal population which has been treated the worst of all generally shows much greater tolerance and acceptance of difference. What is the reason for this paradox?

    Our national government does have the capacity to address most of this unfair disadvantage and hardship and to ensure full employment, both in the regions and in our cities. The duopoly of our LNP and Labor governments have been implementing the neoliberal policy agenda of the finance sector elites and the resources industry that has led to the extreme concentration of wealth and of the deliberate policy of high unemployment, record levels of personal debt, inflated housing costs in our major cities, declining working conditions, stagnant wages that have been unlinked from any productivity increases, totally trade exposed markets leading to the massive loss of industry, exploitative privatisations and similar.

    The duopoly have created our current circumstances, not just the conservatives, they have both formed our governments over the last 40 years of the neoliberal era and the duopoly are to blame more than any other, even more than the likes of Hanson that fan the flames started by others. That fire began in the kleptocracy and was stoked by its media oligarchs which bribed, threatened and charmed the duopoly and distorted the beliefs of much of the electorate. We must put out that fire at its source or we will all be consumed eventually.

    I actually think Bill Shorten and some of his inner circle recognise many of these historical failings and understand these powerful and malevolent external influences that both we and they are currently entrapped by, better than Rudd or Gillard. I hope that Bill Shorten and Labor win decisively in the forthcoming federal election so that he doesn’t have to waste valuable time guarding his back, but that will be just the first needed step.

  13. Patagonian

    That piece of filth Dutton was here in WA today. At a presser with Hastie the Nasty Pastie he said agencies would be monitoring people of interest to ensure a similar incident could not take place in Australia.

    “We do worry about RETALIATORY ATTACKS (my caps). We worry about copycat attacks,” Mr Dutton said. He just couldn’t help getting out the dog-whistle.

    And already in WA a Muslim family with an 11 month old child has woken up early this morning to find that their car has been vandalised with anti-Muslim slogans.

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