Set Them Free Why Doncha Babe?

My good friend Paul has very kindly forwarded me Malcolm Fraser’s online petition seeking the release of kids from illegal entry-associated confinement. As Tim Dunlop observes, a spot of petition signing isn’t a bad way for bleeding hearts to salve their consciences – and it beats those “refugees are welcome here” signs that used to festoon to-die-for Paddo Terraces when it was fashionable so to do; at least with a petition, there’s no risk of some deluded soul actually taking you up on your commitment. And let’s face it, no-one wants to see kids confined indefinitely while their parents appeal endlessly against the decisions of Refugee Review Tribunals, do they? Had Malcolm been willing to offer himself up to Woomera as a permanent hostage against absconders, I might even have signed – until I read this in the email blurb:

“I know this message is doing the rounds so please excuse me if you’ve
already seen it. But the petition it mentions is in an especially important
cause and is initiated by the now-rehabilitated Malcolm Fraser.’

Now-rehabilitated!? Wha? Is he hanging out in Newtown cafes, with a pierced eyebrow reading Michael Moore, or something? Last time I looked he was the same old pompous, Tory blowhard consumed with bitter rage that he – a Bunyip aristocrat – should have been succeeded by an unspeakably suburban, petit bourgeois nobody who doesn’t deserve – d’ye hear me?! – doesn’t deserve to preside, statesmanlike, over the fora of the internationally Great and hence (obviously) Good? It’s just not fair. One very minor incident involving a rooms- by-the-hour hooker hotel and the loss of one’s trousers and you’re reduced to the electronic equivalent of the Jim Cairns Prahran Market card table, touting your “rehabilitated” wares.

Still, there were some interesting entries in the petition. Here’s Janet Keese:

“I am ashamed to be an Australian. I was proud of our nation’s support of the oppressed, the dispossed, the refugees fleeing man’s inhumanity to man; of our religious, cultural and ethnic diversity, and our humane unity. Mr Howard, your government has returned Australia to the dark days and zenophobic fear of the ‘White Australia Policy’. By inflicting oppression and dispossession on the desparate few who face enormous odds to reach our shores, we are no better than those from whom they fled. Our national character is tarnished. Free the children! Unite the families! Replace detention with compassion! Restore our national pride!!”

Gimme more of that oldtime humane unity! Gimme an x in xenophobic!

Chris Chaplin offers:

“Abolish mandatory detention, release ALL asylum-seekers who pose no threat to the community!”

Which is kind of confusing. Does Chris wish to retain asylum-seekers who do pose a threat to the community? How would he/she do that if he/she had abolished mandatory detention? How would Chris assess the ‘threat?’ What would Chris do about an appeals process. Maybe Chris should ask Malcolm? Maybe Malcolm – who despite being a rehabilitated Republican still clings to his royalist ‘Right Honourable’, I note – could tell us? Or perhaps not. Rehabilitation only goes so far…

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wen
wen
2021 years ago

Last time I looked he was the same old pompous, Tory blowhard consumed with bitter rage that he – a Bunyip aristocrat – should have been succeeded by an unspeakably suburban, petit bourgeois nobody who doesn’t deserve – d’ye hear me?! – doesn’t deserve to preside, statesmanlike, over the fora of the internationally Great and hence (obviously) Good? It’s just not fair.

Yes, I have been thinking lately that this all -consuming Howard hatred is in some quarters just a weird manifestation of the old class wars …

wen
wen
2021 years ago

BTW did you read the Judith Brett?I’ve been waiting for a library copy, but it seems to be all booked out.

Dave Ricardo
Dave Ricardo
2021 years ago

“this all -consuming Howard hatred is in some quarters just a weird manifestation of the old class wars …”

Well, maybe, but John Hewson hates John Howard even more, and Hewson is exactly the same petit bourgeous Poujadist class as Howard

It’s funky that Malcolm is now a hero of the Left. I remember once at an anti-Fraser demonstration the crowd chanting, “Tammy’s got one, Malcolm is one”. (The chanters included women clad in the (then) de rigeur uniform of purple overalls.) Malcom’s prospects for rehabilitation didn’t seem all that hot back then.

wen
wen
2021 years ago

growing up – my Dad’s an unrehabilitated Whitlamite – we had goats called Malcolm & Tammy.

wen
wen
2021 years ago

Oh & Dave, what’s “poujadist”?

Dave Ricardo
Dave Ricardo
2021 years ago

Named afterf Pierre Poujade , French politician who rose and fell in the 50s, Poujadiste denotes support for revolt and protest, hostility to government taxation, defence of the small man, the small business, the small town.

Pujade died a few nths ago. Here’s an excerptfrom his obituary in the Guardian

*The weakness and inadequacies of his position were only too evident. He had organised a movement of protest. Apart from this he had organised nostalgia, regret for the France of the old days with small farms and small shops, a powerful army and a colonial empire. He had always been quarrelsome: now he was soon at odds with those deputies who had been elected in his name. He was seeking interviews with de Gaulle and for audiences with the Pope. He had been thought dangerous. Now he was ridiculous.*

Sound familiar?

David
2021 years ago

Your Dad, Wen had the grace to transcend Great Sorrow.

Australian politics on the internet sometimes reminds me of a kind of digital all-in wrestling match… in the left cornah, wearing a fetching cape, rose coloured glasses and sequinned boots we have “Berleeding Heart”, a game contender but beaten in the last nine hundred bouts, and in the right corner, soldered into rusty armour and dragging a small cart full of slave chains and mouldy textbooks we give you “Dismal Science.” A constant winnnah, but only by corrupting the umpire and swamping the ring with malevolent dwarves in ill-fitting suits..

You have to laugh, as your Dad would probably say.

Geoff Honnor
Geoff Honnor
2021 years ago

Pauline Hanson! Oh hang on….she’s a rehabilitated heroine of the Left as well….:)

David
2021 years ago

not my corner of the left Geoff – while we got our Biggles from the skool library, we were secretly reading the grown ups books about the rise of fascism.

craig
craig
2021 years ago

Geoff I think the government’s refugee policy stinks and I don’t even know where the Paddo Terraces are. I suppose you’ll have to find another convenient little label for people like me.

Hope my spellings alright, can’t have a valid argument with poor spelling can we.

By your Pauline reference I can only guess that it is your view that we should confine our sense of justice for those of the same politics.

Wen

Nice picture of your kids. I’m a little troubled that you would consider putting them on a leaky boat just for the hell of it, or are you just a superior parent to the refugees.

Geoff Honnor
Geoff Honnor
2021 years ago

Craig, it’s preferable to engage the case being put rather than the perceived deficiencies of the people putting it.

wen
wen
2021 years ago

Thanks Craig – A superior parent? No, I’m fully cognisant of the fact that those Australians who don’t think John Howard is some version of the anti-christ – whatever doubts they might hold as to various aspects of border & other policies – have relinquished their rights to be regarded as decent – let alone superior.

David
2021 years ago

Something bad has happened to Craig. He is channelling an armour plated bleeding heart lesbian poujadist, and he’s been disowned by everyone.

craig
craig
2021 years ago

Geoff

I did engage the case being put by you in various comments. Read your own material.

I just don’t think you need the cheap political shit, it doesn’t make sense anyway. Leave it to Tim Blair.

David

When I hear people like you talking about so called rich boat people it makes me think that there must be a misconception that all refugees once lived exclusively in caves or refugee camps.

They are people like you and me, they had homes and possessions. I know it’s a bit of a shock so you might need to lie down.

Actually they are not quite like us because they were not fortunate enough to be born into this society, or depending on your political persuasion, group of individuals.

Wen

I’m pissed and confused. What are you on about?

I’ll have a go anyway.

I assumed that you supported the locking up of families, some of which do not have an adult male with them. If I’m wrong, sorry.

I just think it is a funny that some mothers don’t recognise how desperate you would have to be to take such a risk with your children’s lives or who see nothing wrong with detention of kids.

I have close friends with exactly the same view (as you). It amazes me. Good people do support it, that is what think is so insane.

Or maybe it’s me who is insane.

craig
craig
2021 years ago

David

Sorry about that, I was responding to Dave at Snark something or other.

I could tell the old joke about being a lesbian trapped in a mans body but you might think I’m sexyist.

What are you lookin at?

wen
wen
2021 years ago

I have close friends with exactly the same view (as you). It amazes me.

You actually know other people who don’t think Howard’s the anti-christ? Perhaps your social garden needs a good weeding, Craig! (maybe some garlic would help – or no, that’s only for vampires…)

James Farrell
James Farrell
2021 years ago

Bleeding hearts, Paddo Terraces, pierced eyebrows, Newtown cafes, Michael Moore, all-consuming Howard hatred… its’ all there. You’re a worthy graduate of the Bolt Ackerman Divine School of Cliche and Ridicule.

The detention system is cruel and unnecessary. I signed the petition and encourage others to do the same.

Geoff Honnor
Geoff Honnor
2021 years ago

“Bleeding hearts, Paddo Terraces, pierced eyebrows, Newtown cafes, Michael Moore, all-consuming Howard hatred… its’ all there. You’re a worthy graduate of the Bolt Ackerman Divine School of Cliche and Ridicule.”

And you, James, are utterly devoid of irony. Unless it suits of course…:)

James Hamilton
James Hamilton
2021 years ago

this James is devoid of irony as well. I thought your comments taken literally were spot on.

Let’s have a petition to nullify the last election results. Let’s have a petion to nullify the next election results. Let’s have a petition to nullify every poll taken on the matter of asylum seekers.

By all means be active to change the view of the majority. Tell them brutal ignorant why you think they are wrong and offer them alternatives. Work to right a wrong, don’t send a petition out you dickheads, it is people power you are actually fighting against on this one.

As the bear in the old joke said when he bent the hunter over for the third time “You ain’t here for the hunting are you, son…”

Geoff Honnor
Geoff Honnor
2021 years ago

To be clear: my reference to “irony” was in respect of self-proclaimed “leftists” _ “we’re People Persons!” – worshipping at the allegedly “rehabilitated” shrine of an utterly unreconstructed Tory grandee, who once conspired to dismisss Gough Whitlam from office.

” Y’know, it was the tea ad that did it. We knew after that, he was one of us…”

craig
craig
2021 years ago

Geoff

Maybe you should explain irony to me.

We attack Iraq and Afghanistan and proclaim ourselves as liberators of the oppressed. Yet when those same oppressed people seek asylum in Australia we treat them like a boat load of scabby mouth sheep.

We often assert our superiority over countries such as Pakistan and Indonesia yet we expect them to harbour many thousands of refugees, and when a very few do actually reach our shores we want to send them back.

Or is it being a staunch advocate of people power while declaring utter contempt for petitions and protests.

Fill me in Geoff, and try and keep the stereotyping to a minimum, it gets a bit boring.

Geoff Honnor
Geoff Honnor
2021 years ago

Cheers Craig!

AA Milne
AA Milne
2021 years ago

Geoff said: “And you, James, are utterly devoid of irony. Unless it suits of course.”

Why don’t you respond to James’s assertion that “The detention system is cruel and unnecessary”?

And why is it that whenever such cruel and unusual government-instituted punishments are identified for what they are, the best that the supporters of such punishments can come up with are absurd irrelevancies such as:

– you’re fighting against the majority so give up;
– you’re a bleeding heart;
– you live in Paddington;
– you like Whitlam;
– you drink coffee in a cafe;
– you don’t really believe what you’re saying;
– you don’t realise that Fraser is motivated solely by his hatred of Howard;
– you think Howard is the anti-christ;

…and almost anything else that avoids explaining why they think the detention system is necessary and not cruel?

Geoff Honnor
Geoff Honnor
2021 years ago

“…and almost anything else that avoids explaining why they think the detention system is necessary and not cruel?”

Yeah…but..that wasn’t what the post was about.

I would have thought that a celebrated literary figure like yourself would have been on to that not insignificant fact, AA…

AA Milne
AA Milne
2021 years ago

Geoff,

Yeah…but..that wasn’t what the post was about.

Blogging For Beginners:

(1) The original post is merely the starting point for a ‘discussion’ (I’m using the term loosely, of course).

(2) The THREAD is ‘about’ whatever is brought up.

Geoff Honnor
Geoff Honnor
2021 years ago

Blogging For Beginners 2

(1)The blogger gets to define the posting parameters.

(2)Those who aren’t happy with that are at liberty
to start their own blogs.

James Farrell
James Farrell
2021 years ago

Geoff:

As revenge I am starting a dossier on you.

It opens with your implication that I missed some intended irony in this post. I note that you have used this disingenuous tactic before.

When James Hamilton pointed out the obvious – there was no irony in the sense of a hidden subtext – you dug yourself in deeper by pretending that the irony you referred to was Fraser’s reincarnation as a hero of Whitlamites. This was pure obfuscation, mixing up irony as a paradox with irony as a rhetorical device. I doubt if any Labor-voting opponent of refugee detention has not been amused to find himself allied with Mal. There is no contradiction between noticing this irony and being repelled by the hackneyed sarcasm aimed, directly or indirectly, at us signatories of the petition.

Unlike AA Milne, I wasn’t expecting you to mount a defence the detention system here in the comments thread. But I was struck that in responding to him/her you again threw dust in our eyes, claiming that your piece isn’t about refugee detention. In fact, while the post is primarily about how opponents of detention have misread Fraser’s motives, a significant proportion of it is directed, at least implicitly, at the substance of the petition. (Have you signed it yet, by the way?)

I admire your writing in general, but there seems to be a character issue here.

Geoff Honnor
Geoff Honnor
2021 years ago

“As revenge I am starting a dossier on you.”

I find the concept slightly creepy but over to you I guess..

My post was about publicly configured altruism and expressed nobility of purpose not necessarily always being what they appear to be. The petition was simply the illustrative vehicle.

I think you’re reading far more into this than I would have considered humanly possible. Just shows you how wrong you can be about humans.

I’m not entering into a debate about border control, mandatory detention or associated policy matters. The post isn’t principally or primarily
about refugee detention James. Believe me. I wrote it.

AA Milne
AA Milne
2021 years ago

Commenting on Geoff Honnor’s ‘clarification’ at December 4, 2003 03:22 PM:

My post was about publicly configured altruism and expressed nobility of purpose not necessarily always being what they appear to be. The petition was simply the illustrative vehicle.

So are we to take it that this post wasn’t reeeeeally about the petition, the signatories, or Malcolm Fraser per se, but was in fact the assertion, colourfully dressed, that those who publicly express sentiments of altruism are, more likely than not, disingenuous? (If THIS were all that was being said, then it would have been an unmitigated general slur, unworthy of public airing.)

One finds it difficult, however, to believe that this IS what is intended because there is no hint whatsoever in the original post that this general claim is being made, or that the petition is merely an example of this general claim. From the content of the post, a reasonable person could only infer that it is making quite particular claims: that the people who signed the petition, and especially Malcolm Fraser, are disingenuous in their concern for the imprisoned children, and further, that the signatories, by their comments, reveal themselves to be morons. (As it stands, it is in fact an unmitigated targeted slur.) The implied imperative is also clear enough: if you sign the petition then you are a liar and/or a fool, so don’t sign the petition.

Geoff Honnor
Geoff Honnor
2021 years ago

“So are we to take it that this post wasn’t reeeeeally about the petition, the signatories, or Malcolm Fraser per se, but was in fact the assertion, colourfully dressed, that those who publicly express sentiments of altruism are, more likely than not, disingenuous?”

It was certainly about Malcolm Fraser and the, “assertion colourfully dressed,” you refer to is a valid interpretation – though I’m not sure that I’d always apply “disingenuous” to the concept.

However, your assertion – that I believe that everyone who signs the petition is a liar or a fool – is nonsense.