August 9 2018
On the same day that Indian-born migrant Akshay Venkatesh was receiving the prestigious Fields Medal in mathematics, the Australian born son of Dutch immigrants, mediocre columnist Andrew Bolt was publishing an article full of racist gobbledygook to titillate those on the extreme-right of Australian society.
The piece titled; “The foreign invasion” claimed that a “tidal wave” of migrants was “changing our culture.” In it he pointed out the proportion of Chinese, Cambodian, Indian and Jewish people living in various suburbs.
He has, as a consequence of his rather thoughtless, some say racist observations, been referred to the National Press Council.
Although usually an insipid few with fewer teeth, I expect this time the Council will be a little harsher.
Kaye Lee in her piece for The AIMN last week title “Andrew Bolt is a threat to our social cohesion” quotes from Bolt’s article:
“Immigration is becoming colonisation, turning this country from a home into a hotel. There is no ‘us’ any more, as a tidal wave of immigrants sweeps away what’s left of our national identity. Another 240,000 foreigners joined us last year alone, not just crowding our cities but changing our culture.”
She responds thus:
“Let me begin by saying Bolt would not be included in any group I would call “us”. We most certainly do not share the same values. And whilst we might both be speaking in English, we do not speak the same language.
Bolt singles out groups such as Chinese, Cambodian, Indian and Jewish and quotes what percentage of the community where they live that they represent
He laments, “Dandenong now has an official Little Indian Cultural Precinct, with 33 Indian businesses.”
One would have thought he would commend their industry in starting up businesses that provide employment and pay taxes but no, Andrew thinks this is a bad thing.
Bolt’s own history makes his words seem very hypocritical. His parents migrated to Australia the year before his birth. Even though he was born here, in a 2011 interview, Bolt reveals how hard he found it to settle in.”
It is not my intention to cover all of the very critical aspects of Bolt’s piece as Kaye Lee has done, but rather seek the “why” of what pretext he uses to justify the filth masquerading as journalism that he writes.
After all, Kaye has done a fine job on the angle she took particularly with this put down:
“For the son of Dutch migrants to lecture us about the dangers of “colonisation” of Australia by newcomers takes unbelievable gall, ignorance of history, and a complete lack of self-awareness”
There is nothing I would disagree with in her piece. Yes, he does find our opera not of his standard and he did work for Bob Hawke on two campaigns.
In 2016 the conservatives failed in an attempt to alter the legislation pertaining to free speech. I wrote:
I find it quite disconcerting that the Prime Minister of our country finds it necessary to ring a certain Murdoch columnist to inform him that legislation pertaining to freedom of speech would not be proceeding.
As if the journalist in question was on some sort of a promise of personal reward and needed to be pacified.
As I was scrolling down the comments on Kaye’s piece I came upon a point of view that happened to agree entirely with my own.
Terence Mills, commenting on Kaye’s article, wrote:
“Bolt has latched on to a money-pot, there is big money in being a contrarian, on being outrageous, unconventional and controversial.
These guys don’t actually believe in what they are spouting but like little kids teasing an animal, they keep on doing it just to get a reaction and of course a few more dollars.
Sadly, the echo chambers of Sky and 2GB are fertile ground, where they thrive following the template developed by Fox News in the US and by the dirty-digger.
But let’s not kid ourselves that they are serious commentators or that they believe in the controversy that they peddle: they are just another version of the Kardashians without the big arses – well, other than Latham!”
Putting the money aside for a moment I have always felt that people like Jones and Bolt fill a void in the Australian psyche, a place where the non thinking fools of the world dwell and are comforted by those who say things in a childlike black and white manner that they can understand.
“We would be a much better society if we took the risk of thinking for ourselves unhindered by the unadulterated crap served up by the shock jocks the media and other self-interest groups.”
Obviously it is the money that attracts them but to justify their presence they need to raise the standard as people become acquainted with it. So in order to maintain the viewers, or reader’s interest, their expectations, it progressively becomes more outlandish – more tantalising – seductive-more flirtatious-more provocative – more stunning and more enticing and in their desire to maintain some dominance, that’s exactly what the shock jocks and mainstream media do.
They choose to prostitute themselves in order to remain relevant and justify the huge salaries they receive. As if telling the truth wouldn’t suffice. If they think their audience is going to sleep they crank up the rhetoric and become more sensational.
So it’s all about the money. They get paid enormous amounts to spread their filthy commentary. The more outrageous the better. Filth, like sex, sells.
It is well-known that Bolt years back was looking for a niche in the industry that would make him stand out in political commentary. One that would pay exceedingly well. He visited America where Fox was experimenting with blatantly biased right-wing news. He took their advice.
These perverted peddlers of verbal violence and dishonesty are the most vigorous defenders of free speech because it gives their vitriolic nonsense legitimacy. With the use of free speech, the bigots and hate-mongers seek to influence those in the community who are susceptible or like-minded.
They use free speech as a justification to incite racism, validate hatred and promote both religious and political bigotry.
Where as it should be incumbent on people to display decorum, moderation, truth, fact, balance, reason, tolerance, civility and respect for the other point of view.
People of the ilk of Andrew Bolt, Piers Akerman, Janet Albrechtson, Miranda Devine, Dennis Shanahan, Paul Kelly, Chris Kenny and Tom Switzer. Gerard Henderson Paul Sheehan, Miranda Divine, Alan Jones, Rupert Murdoch, Michael Smith. Steve Lewis and Ray Hadley spread their abominable words to which clings a currency of untruths.
I don’t think any fair-minded person could argue that when things aren’t going well for the Coalition they drag racism or national security into the mix to further muddy the swamp in which they dwell. We can go back to when Philip Ruddick was demonizing refugees by not even referring to them as people.
They were in trouble against Kim Beasley and John Howard, played the race card with his children overboard comment, which he knew to be untrue but he let it go anyway. He could have disclosed the truth prior to the election but didn’t.
In spite of the fact that we have never had a serious terrorist attack in Australia the Coalition continuously tries to create an atmosphere of scare mongering. Their anti-immigration stance come racist sentiments always come to the fore when they are in trouble politically.
At the moment they are recovering from the bad news of the recent bi-elections and are hopelessly cornered with their tax cuts for big business. Together with that they are struggling to get the Energy Guarantee over the line. Climate change never passes the lips of a divided ministry.
Hence Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton’s continuous hyping of “African gangs” destroying the calmness of Melbourne’s culture. People are afraid to leave their homes. Fairdinkum, one would think there is a civil war taking place. The sad thing though is seeing the Prime Minister follow suit with same racist comments.
Playing the race card has always been the conservative default position when things are going bad for them and you can prove it historically.
Writing in The Saturday Paper, Mike Seccombe drew the analogy of Dutton’s “African Gang” attacks with those of Kevin Andrews in 2007. Sudanese refugees were used to try to save the Howard government.
I said they had form. Seccombe wrote:
“At the time former Liberal immigration minister Ian Macphee (a descent and honest man) argued that John Howard had deliberately shattered the bipartisanship on race issues that had settled after the abolition of the White Australia policy.
Macphee traced this back as far as 1988, when Howard decried the “Asianisation” of Australia and led the Opposition to vote against a Bob Hawke motion supporting a racially non-discriminatory immigration policy. Macphee told Seccombe: “I’d always known Howard was a racist, but he demonstrated that clearly in that motion.” Macphee described the continuing efforts of conservative politicians to exploit issues of race for political ends as “quite tragic”.
Channel 7’s involvement in putting to air a dishonest view on African gangs must also be mentioned for its lack of societal responsibility. The Somali community is larger than one or two small gangs. The police wont even describe them as gangs.
Further evidence of this base racism was evidenced in Tony Abbott’s tenure of Prime Minister when he almost daily tried to whip up a storm, or perception, of continuous chaos and bedlam.
All around the world people are experiencing this sort of Trumpish propaganda that is very reminiscent of the days prior to Hitler’s takeover of Germany.
On 2GB last week Abbott asked; “why do we store up trouble for ourselves by letting in people who are going to be difficult, difficult to integrate?”
He was advocating the complete exclusion of an ethic group from this country. I have never heard an Australian politician do this before.
So Andrew Bolt’s despicably xenophobic piece for Murdoch’s Herald Sun last week became a bit much for some people. He spared no one. From Chinese to Indian to Vietnamese to Muslims to Jews. The only group he let alone was followers of Christ.
Former senior journalist at The Australian George Megalogenis was appalled, tweeting: “A short history lesson for my old mates at News. The bigotry in your news and opinion pages would make Robert Menses turn in his grave.”
Paddy Manning writing in The Monthly reported that:
“Author Richard Flanagan said in a powerful speech at the Garma Festival yesterday, the Uluru Statement from the Heart demanded too much of Canberra’s politicians: “It demanded [they] imagine their country anew, stronger, richer. It required people who knew a life of the mind and a life of the soul, a largeness and generosity of spirit, and all these things are not just absent in the Turnbull government but consistently attacked and destroyed by them whenever they appear in Australian life.”
But of course Sky News topped it all off by interviewing Neo-Nazi Blair Cottrell. Cottrell appeared on Sky to give his views on immigration. He was once the leader of far-right group the United Patriots Front and advocates a photograph of Hitler in every classroom and that every student should be handed a copy of Mein Kampf.
We have recently seen the retirement of Gillian Triggs and Tim Soutphommasane made a retirement speech last Tuesday. Both are to be congratulated for publicly standing up to people like Bolt, Abbott and Turnbull.
In his speech Soutphommasane said that we had “good reason to boast that it is one of the most successful multicultural societies in the world.”
“Never been a more exciting time to be a dog-whistling politician or race-baiting commentator in Australia.”
“This is dangerous territory, … When politicians resort to using race in advancing their agendas, they inevitably excite racial anxiety and stir up social division.”
Soutphommasane concluded by labelling anti-racism the “highest form of patriotism.”
Personally, I have never turned my back on racist remarks be it at the football at a pub or a restaurant or the work place because that is what we must do.
Without even mentioning the redheads name I think I have established that the right do indeed have a long history of race baiting in Australia.
I started with Andrew Bolt so allow me to finish with him by repeating some words I wrote in 2014:
People who support Bolt and his racism need to ask just why it is that he is fixated on the subject of race (and Muslims and climate change for that matter) and the answer is simple. Murdoch has built his news empire on smut and controversy. The formula has made him extremely wealthy. And there is no doubt that Bolt is paid extraordinary amounts of money to proliferate the pages of The Herald Sun with this sort of gutter journalism.
It is where the truth goes to die.
My thought for the day
“An enlightened society is one in which the suggestion that we need to legislate ones right to hate another person is considered intellectually barren.”