Legacy of a whingeing bogan


Pauline HansonPicture this: London, July or August. The new Prime Minister, the Conservative Party leader David Cameron, is seated in a chair once occupied by New Labour's Gordon Brown. Maiden speeches should hardly be the biggest headache for Mr Cameron. But then a maverick ex-Tory MP who lost her Conservative Party endorsement rises to give her maiden speech. In a shrill voice she declares: 'We are in danger of being swamped by bogans.'

And whoever she is, she might just have a point. Because Pauline Hanson, an MP who made a name for herself whingeing about the privileges of the underprivileged and whinging about Aborigines and immigrants, has announced that she is heading for the land of the biggest whingers of them all. The whingeing bogan will soon be transformed into a whingeing Pom.

Hanson is eligible to hold a British passport because her grandfather migrated to Australia from England. She is proud of her mixed English-Irish heritage. However, if her past form is any indication, Hanson is certainly not too thrilled about having at least 9 per cent Arab/Middle Eastern heritage. Still, we cannot be sure if her ancestors were Christian Muslims or Muslim Christians.

And Hanson is clear about what she's looking for in mother England. 'I've really had enough. I want peace in my life. I want contentment, and that's what I'm aiming for.' England is, of course, a place full of monocultural peace and contentment. You don't see uncontrolled immigration or nasty Muslim (as opposed to Christian Muslim) terrorists running riot there.

If you don't believe me, just ask Hanson's rough equivalent in the UK, the allegedly conservative blogger and columnist Melanie Phillips. In her 2006 book Londonistan: How Britain Is Creating A Terror State Within, Phillips selects chapter headings that show just how wonderful things are up there:

Chapter 1 — The Growth of Londonistan
Chapter 3 — The Security Debacle

Chapter 4 — Multicultural Paralysis
Chapter 8 — On Their Knees before Terror
Chapter 9 — The Appeasement of Clerical Fascism

Back in 2002, Phillips wrote these telling words:

'Britain is now receiving around 200,000 migrants a year from outside the EU, of whom around 100,000 are asylum seekers (of whom only 10,000 are currently removed), 60,000 are dependants of those already here and the rest (on a low estimate) are illegal immigrants. If this trend continues, there will be at a conservative estimate an extra two million people every decade — almost another Birmingham every five years.'

Which makes you wonder why Ms Hanson would want to consider opening a fish and chip shop in Londonistan.

Hanson may not remain in Australia in body, but her spirit will stay with us for decades to come. Our politics, media and public discourse have been infected by Hansonite thinking. I saw this myself in action in the November 2001 Federal Election. At the time, I was the endorsed Liberal candidate in the safe Labor seat of Reid. I was required to run all media and public comment past the Campaign HQ in East Sydney.

Someone introduced me to a man who lived in John Howard's seat of Bennelong and whose two nieces had drowned with 350 other asylum seekers in the SIEV-X incident. I wanted to say something about it in public and contacted Campaign HQ. The reply came — do not talk about the issue or face disendorsement.

'Listen, I know how much you hate Pauline Hanson. You've got to understand that we have a deliberate strategy here. We want to destroy Hanson by sounding like her and attracting her voter base away from her. It's part of a deliberate strategy, and it's temporary.'

It was supposed to be temporary. But over seven years have gone by and we are still happily demonising those we deem to be different enough to be a threat to our collective cultural ego.

But is this just the fault of Hanson and those who opportunistically use her reasoning to get elected or stay in power? Why has the politics of marginalisation been allowed to become and remain mainstream? Why don't we have a consistent thread of resistance to racism running in our political and popular culture?

Why are we rightly intolerant of certain kinds of intolerance toward Jews and yet tolerant of virtually identical kinds of intolerance directed at other groups? Why are the prejudicial themes used against Catholics in Australia for more than a century now used by some allegedly devout Catholics against other groups?

Could someone please explain?

Irfan YusufIrfan Yusuf is a Sydney lawyer.

Topic tags: Irfan Yusuf, Pauline Hanson, David Cameron, Gordon Brown, Christian Muslims, Melanie Phillips



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Existing comments

Talking up the stereotype of the `whingeing Pom` is to say the least prejudiced and a rather paradoxical part of this article. Expressed Anti-Englishness is widespread in our beautiful country, frequently spiteful and after a while not very funny.But somehow it is our most accepted intolerance of all.
Eugene | 17 February 2010

Well, Eugene, this is yet another example of how prejudicial thinking has infected our discourse!!
Irfan | 17 February 2010

The answer is, we Australians (strangely - unbelievably?) are not perfect.

Even more remarkably, we Australians are HUMAN!

Therefore (predictably) we Australians show all the characteristics of all other humans when confronted with DIFFERENT humans. A degree of intolerance!

The difference in Australia is, that while the Catholics and Protestants sent verbal missiles and intellectual propaganda at each other, when the chips were down, they worked together for their common good. E.g., during bushfires RC's and the Protestants slaved to save each other's stock, fences, grass/hay and homes!

After that was over, they returned to opposing marriages between their offspring and hurling insults over the school fence.

Jews are different - we Western nations suffer an ongoing collective guilt about the Holocaust.

Citizens from some other nations don't stop at verbal abuse and preferential treatment of their "own". These people come to Australia for sanctuary and economic security from all sorts of atrocities. If Pauline Hanson is the worst thing that can happen to them, then I'm sure they feel their choice of Australia as home was a good choice.
Sandra Blackmore | 17 February 2010

Some of Pauline Hanson's public statements were ignorant, demeaning of the 'marginalised' and infammatory. However, the real mischief was that John Howard failed to use his leadership to correct and condemn her attitudes as dehumanising but rather exploited them for the mean, self-serving purposes of his governmnent.
Caroline Ryan RSM | 17 February 2010

Well, Eugene, this is yet another example of how prejudicial thinking has infected our discourse!!
Irfan | 17 February 2010

" Why has the politics of marginalisation been allowed to become and remain mainstream? " you ask Irfan Yusuf. "Why are we rightly intolerant of certain kinds of intolerance toward Jews and yet tolerant of virtually identical kinds of intolerance directed at other groups? "

Surely Sir, the short answer is because we are a racist nation. Like it or not. Look at how we currently treat Indian students in our country! Ms Pauline Hanson didn't arise in a vacuum and arrive in the Parliament of Australia by a military coup: she was democratically elected! Look also at our record of unconditional support for the racist behaviours of the Zionist State of Israel. Decade after decade after decade. How many of the 197 nations on Planet Earth give the level of support to Israel's behaviour that we do? Five, six or seven is the usual answer when you look at Australia's voting record in, for instance , the United Nations.

We as a nation, broadly speaking are tolerant of racist behaviours in other individuals and other States, because we are racist. There is no gene for racism. Racism arises in a context, in a historical era: not in a vacuum apropos of absolutely nothing.
You ask the question: "Could someone please explain?" You may consider my explanation - that we are a racist nation, composed of racist individuals - simplistic. If such be the case then let me hear a better explanation.
DAVID A HICKS | 17 February 2010

Nice to hear a conservative sticking up for multiculturalism and tolerance. It is, after all, the reality of the world today. Best wishes, Irfan.
Christopher | 17 February 2010

In, was it John Laws or Alan Jones's words ... good riddance to bad rubbish.

However, it simply doesn't solve the problem, as one writer rightly posits, Australia is a racist country. Unfortunately nobody has mentioned the fact that the governments, on both sides have supported suspending the Racial Discrimination Act to apply oppressive laws, prohibitions and restrictions based on race, in the for of the NT Intervention on our Aboriginal brothers and sisters! We will never lift this oppressive racist nature until we address the oppressive racism steadfastly enshrined in policy and law that we mete out to our first Australians, until we recognise legally (by whose law too, should be the question) their rightful ownership of these lands.

Leadership is a main issue, the fact that people can buy into someone else's racism for a populist vote, actually supports and fosters this racism ... you cannot change racism by colluding with it. We need strong and decent leaders to stand up and shout how wrong this is and a plan to tackle this, not collusion. Until we have this, our dissendent voices will continue to also be silenced and marginalised.
sanna | 17 February 2010

Mr Yusuf, your characterisation of Melanie Phillips as Pauline Hanson's rough equivalent in England is nonsense.

In a recent article on her blog Phillips had this to say about the book Londonistan.

"In my book -- as in everything I write about this subject – I go to considerable lengths to stress that many Muslims in Britain and elsewhere have no truck with, and indeed are amongst the principal victims of, Islamic extremism and terrorism.

"My argument in Londonistan – which is not about London -- is that the British state first turned a blind eye to, and ever since has chosen to appease, Islamist extremism, allowing the radicalisation of British Muslims to gather pace, tolerating the preaching of hatred and doing nothing to stop Islamist subversion through the spread of sharia law. I have repeatedly said that this compromises the safety and security not only of society in general but of those many British Muslims who are desperate for the government to stop the radicalisation and intimidation of their community, and who are horrified by the way in which the British establishment has embraced extremist Islamist bodies and individuals as responsible interlocutors."

Pleasae note how she is concerned with Islamic extremists only. She would welcome Muslims who are prepared to live by the norms and laws of Britain.
Joseph Lanigan | 17 February 2010

Dear me! When is a collection of people a nation? What distinguished it from a nation-state? Back in the 50s when we had debates at school the English teacher always insisted that any good debate depended on both sides argreeing on the meaning of the terms in the topic under debate. Without this agreement both side simply travel down separate railway lines and arrive at completely different destinations.
Statements like "Australia is a racist nation" do not stand up to analysis. It can be disproved if we can find one Australian who is not racist. If the statement is re-worded "Some Australians have racist ideas" it makes more sense or as Sandra Blackmore might say: "We Australians are a mixed bunch and some of our fellows have different ideas about fundamentals such as the equality of all peoples before God." It is so obvious as to be banal. It is when those holding different ideas resort to violence or injustice to enforce them that we should be worried and that is when equality before the law comes in.
But when the lawmakers exploit these differences to obtain power we should be more than worried.
Uncle Pat | 17 February 2010

When I was the President of the USA some of my best friends were racists but I knew that arguing with them would not change them, now being resurrected as an Australian I SEE THE SAME PROBLEMS HERE but it will change itself slowly but surely, a Moslem or a Black person or an Asian will be PM here. I won't see it but I'd vote for Jackie Huggins if she sat for PM NOW!
Jack KENNEDY | 17 February 2010

In defence of Ms Hanson, I suspect that she is somewhat misunderstood in this nation, although perhaps not as much as she misunderstands.

Reading Irfan's article is, for me, something of a revelation. I had not previously realised how grievious Ms Hanson's insults are to some of my fellow Australians. Not only that, but if some of us are insulted by those words, then perhaps we should all recognise the potential for injury that her words represent.

I share Caroline Ryan's relief at the end of John Howard's Prime Ministership; it now seems that Ms Hanson is to depart these shores.

Mr Howard is welcome to follow Ms Hanson, at his earliest convenience.

David Arthur | 17 February 2010

The fact that someone like Hanson exists in 20/21st century Australia says a lot about our world view. We never got over our fears for the Northern Hordes. It's interesting as the only Anglo-celtic island continent close to the Asian hemisphere, we never even tried to blend with almost 2/5 of the world's population. The French called it the 'English disease', some of us call it xenophobia, whatever the description, just as the German people were responsible for the emergence of a Hitler among them, we, too, are responsible for the Hansons among us. More's the pity!
Alex Njoo | 17 February 2010

Please tell me - is it still racism if the person you make that serious charge against has no qualms with Middle Eastern people who they know to be atheists? Or is this question to be filed away in the too hard basket? Most "islamophobias" have more to do with Islamic contempt of western culture and have nothing to do with race. Respect is a two way street.
Dr. F. Grogan | 24 February 2010


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