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United by our national scapegoat

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It is unusual when political enemies unite. We should take note of them. The spectacular deportation of Australian Open tennis champion, Novak Djokovic, is one such unusual moment.

Many of those who are implacably against Prime Minister Scott Morrison and his border control policies remarkably stood with him and the Immigration Minister, Alex Hawke, in the deportation decision. The use of the Immigration Minister’s wide-ranging powers met with wide acclaim. Such acclaim was indicative of the public mood which the Prime Minister had sensed days earlier. Sasa Ozmo observed in the UK’s Daily Mail: ‘Let's not forget, just a day prior to Djokovic's arrival, Prime Minister Scott Morrison shrugged off Djokovic's exemption as an issue for the state of Victoria. After the public backlash, Morrison appeared to realise that there was political currency to be earnt.’

What had changed?

The UK columnist and comedian, Simon Evans, points to an answer: ‘The sheer, undigested joy, the unmistakably bilious, pinched, grim satisfaction taken on social media, relishing Djokovic’s woes, have made it clear that sending him home is the very least a lot of people wanted to see. Strung up by his ankle from a decent-sized boab tree would have been more like it….’

Feeling had risen to a mob-like fervour. One is left wondering why?

Yes, Djokovic was not vaccinated against COVID-19 and has made public statements about wanting to control what goes into his body. He made a mistake on his visa application form. He’d also transgressed isolation requirements after contracting the virus in December and didn’t initially admit to it. For the Immigration Minister Alex Hawke, this all amounted to the potential for fostering of ‘anti-vaccination sentiment’, which was the reason Djokovic was deported.

In the midst of a pandemic, the fostering of this sentiment is clearly a justified concern. Moreover, the sensitivity of the public at a time of increasing COVID infections, hospitalisations and deaths is understandable. Many seem upset at an unvaccinated person being allowed to enter the country.

 

"For Morrison, whose poll ratings have recently slid with the spread of COVID, deportation seems to have worked in allaying public concern."

 

Yet, Djokovic provided evidence for the low risk he posed for transmitting the virus as he likely had a good level of immunity to the virus, which the Immigration Minister acknowledged. Moreover, the Immigration Minister ‘assumes’ Djokovic entered Australia consistently with ATAGI documents and that Djokovic believed he had a valid medical exemption. The Federal Court, moreover, initially found in his favour. In the end, the Minister gave a broad reason for deporting Djokovic (fostering ‘anti-vaccination sentiment’), which had little to do with the actual risk he posed.

The heightened public feeling and the Minister’s broad reasons given for deportation suggest dubious dynamics were influencing the outcome. This is not to deny the public health concerns that were and are at issue (and at this point, I’d like to declare that I’m triple vaccinated against COVID!). These concerns, at least in Djokovic’s case, are debatable. But the Minister’s decision cut off such debate by expelling Djokovic from Australia based on exaggerated public feeling.

Why was this public feeling so strong – even disproportionately strong, especially if we look critically at the irrational and slanderous social media and other commentary?

Djokovic’s father has called Djokovic a ‘scapegoat.’ Few others publicly sympathised, with Nick Kyrgios being the only tennis player to voice support. There are likely various reasons for this silence, but it remains indicative of the power of public sentiment. One of the leading theorists of violence, René Girard, has extensively shown that human societies rely on united public sentiment to maintain order and cohesion. This sentiment universally and repeatedly devolves into mob behaviour to resolve tensions and crises. Scapegoating provides a social mechanism to unify human groups with a singular desire motivated by moral outrage.

Girard, who is a former Stanford professor and member of the Académie française, provides four markers or criteria that manifest when a scapegoating occurs:

The first is when a social crisis is evident: in Djokovic’s case, there is a crisis around the effects of the pandemic, particularly with the rise of the Omicron variant, and appropriate measures to control it while respecting individual freedom; in Australia, this crisis has particularly centred on a strong vaccination campaign.

The second, a person is accused of heinous crimes that unifies the group against them: in Djokovic’s case, he is accused of spreading anti-vaccination sentiment by his very presence.

The third, certain traits, such as of vulnerability or notoriety, are associated with the accused and marks them out as different: Djokovic is a well-known public figure who has not been vaccinated against COVID, and is negatively viewed by many for his ‘unsympathetic’ character and tennis playing style.

The fourth, a climax of scapegoating occurs in the form of an exclusion or killing of the accused: Djokovic is expelled from the country.

Like Lindy Chamberlain and Cardinal George Pell, the media and popular judgement of Djokovic’s public statements, actions and demeanour have been mixed together to produce a ‘bad guy’ who has become a ‘fall guy’. This does not mean that the Commonwealth’s vaccination strategy or that its border policies are unjustified, but that they relied on an exaggerated and disproportionate public feeling, which was then politically mobilised.

Djokovic has become a convenient distraction to address and release public concern and fear. This concern is at a particular (and justifiable) height because of the spread of the Omicron variant and the federal cabinet’s decision to allow the variant to spread. For Morrison whose poll ratings have recently slid with the spread of COVID, deportation seems to have worked in allaying public concern. Djokovic’s case came just at the wrong time for him – and perhaps just the right time for those concerned about the spread of the virus and for politicians concerned with the consequent loss of political support. Djokovic provided a convenient scapegoat.

Girard has another insight that explains this shift: Western societies are affected by an awareness of scapegoats and victims, which the bible originally provided. While that insight can be overlooked in the heat of the moment, societies like Australia can’t help being affected by the qualms of conscience: Though he may be in the wrong, did we really treat Djokovic fairly? Did we let our mob-like fervour get the better of us?

 

Joel HodgeJoel Hodge is a lecturer in theology at the Australian Catholic University and a Jesuit novice. 

Main image: Novak Djokovic detained In Melbourne. (Diego Fedele / Stringer)

Topic tags: Joel Hodge, Novak Djokovic, scapegoat, AusPol, René Girard

 

 

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Existing comments

We did let our mob-like fervour get the better of us. Even as we are in a national crisis due to a virus which is unrelenting this should not cloud our judgment about a tennis player whose pursuit of x number of grand slams borders on the extreme. How many times have we applauded his feats on the tennis court and analysed his every brilliant win? Now he has proven his weakness the only remedy is to throw him out of the country. We are living up to our standard of heartlessness when our borders (and perceptions) are threatened.


Pam | 20 January 2022  

A fine article indeed that gives much food for thought, and hopefully will generate more reflection on the worth of Girard's insights to help us in this day and age to interpret human life. The concept of scapegoat can be equally applied to the asylum seekers in the Melbourne Hotel, and indeed, asylum seekers in general. As in Djokovic's case, there has been wide and deep use of the situation for political gain. Each of the criteria for the scapegoat identified by Joel Hodge are evident in the asylum seeker saga. The long-stand crisis of fear of foreigners in Australia, manipulated in this case regarding who comes here and how; the misplaced accusation of "illegal" which wrongly suggests that laws have been broken; the depiction of "boat people" particularly as suspicious Muslim queue jumpers, and then the violence of years of detention, even of proven refugees.

René Girard's extensive work provides our world with valuable tools to help us understand why we do what we do. Scapegoating is an age-old human way of coping, and each of us is very capable of it. The recognition of the phenomenon is a result of the Gospel, and the fact that we can see it is testimony to a gradual leap in human consciousness.


Susan Connelly | 20 January 2022  

I'm not sure Djokovic is a scapegoat so much as a victim of utilitarian punishment. As the original judge said, what more could the tennis super star have done? To compare Djokovic to the victims of serious and wrongful criminal convictions such as Lindy Chamberlain and George Pell is way off the mark with respect. Spreading anti-vax sentiment with heinous crime is off the mark and off the chart. And making Djokovic the bad guy or the fall guy is just plain wrong. The error is that of the government - and judges are the judicial arm of government. Australia is once mere seen as an international pariah, this time for our dazed and confused immigration detention policy. These days we regard slavery as always wrong and a blight on humanity. Indefinite detention of refugees in the Melbourne Park Hotel will one day be judged as no less heinous than slavery. Australia will again be found on the wrong side of human rights history. No surprise to me that Djokovic is likely to sue Australia for damages of $6 million leaving taxpayers to pick up the tab.


Peter Breen | 20 January 2022  

"Though he may be in the wrong, did we really treat Djokovic fairly?"
He was in the wrong - in SO many ways - and it was right to deport him. But he was not treated fairly, because he should not have been allowed in. Having got here he could not have been allowed to stay without giving the impression that there's one rule for us and another for them. If news reports are to be believed the problem can be sheeted home to Tennis Australia which ignored advice from health authorities and issued a self-serving exemption from the need to be vaccinated. "Did we let our mob-like fervour get the better of us?" No. Djokovic had it coming. His demonstrable contempt for the common good is on a par with Lance Armstrong and Boris Johnson. Australians were right to vent their contempt for him. But if he gets vaccinated he will be welcomed at the AO in 2023, with, in true Aussie style, no hard feelings. It's his call.


Paul Smith | 20 January 2022  

Joel he was a pawn in a game played between Tennis Australia (who lured him here on the promise of an exemption) and Immigration's Alex Hawke who is obviously pork barrelling for re election.
In an age where elections are won and lost on border control and public fear of the consequences of vaccinations and variants, Novak became the meat in the sandwich. Grist for the Liberal mill.
Many people who have been infected with SARS-CoV-2 will probably make antibodies against the virus for most of their lives. So suggest researchers who have identified long-lived antibody-producing cells in the bone marrow of people who have recovered from COVID-191.

The study provides evidence that immunity triggered by SARS-CoV-2 infection will be extraordinarily long-lasting. Adding to the good news, “the implications are that vaccines will have the same durable effect”, says Menno van Zelm, an immunologist at Monash University in Melbourne, Australia. (Nature 26/5/21).
Novak has recovered from Covid twice and in theory at least have far more antibodies than those vaccinated.
So are the medical authorities applying the correct test?
Antibody testing, also known as serology testing, is usually done after full recovery from COVID-19. That could arguably be a better test. In any event since he tested negative on arrival and again in captivity what was the fuss all about? Spreading anti vaccine sentiment is just a political smokescreen and I hope Novak wins his damages claim of $6m in court.


Francis Armstrong | 21 January 2022  

Scapegoating and the politics of fear is all to familiar these past 20 years, with innocent men, women and children targeted for vilification, branded as "illegal" and legislated by the now Prime Minister to indefinite immigration imprisonment simply because their refugee journey crossing our (man drawn) border was by boat.

I couldn't believe the stupidity of detaining a tall poppy, the male tennis legend, in the same lock up as 32 men, 25 of whom are refugees fully adjudicated as meeting the Refugee Convention criteria. The remaining 7, also brought to Australia from offshore hell holes for medical treatment, certainly have compassionate and compelling circumstances which would most likely make a Humanitarian visa appropriate. But alas, the legislation manipulated (ask former Senator Ricky Muir) through Parliament in December 2014 are a (man made) barrier to releasing them, and permanent residence.

It grieves me that flakey media hype mirrors and fosters populist (mob) public opinion, with its pictures and thousands of words about one sportsman and pays no , or only passing attention, to the lives of 32 damaged and broken victims in the same "alternative place of detention" - the human collateral damage of evil policies and practices which shame us all.
Joel, could you tell us why Australians allegedly support the scapegoating of asylum seekers who came by boat, to the point of driving some to suicide, to insanity and irrecoverable ill health, and corrupting their minders to maintain inhumane imprisonment which breaches decency and law. Refugees like the 25 in the Park Hotel Prison cannot be deported, like Djokovic. Will Australia scapegoat them indefinitely?
For God's sake, we have caught glimpses on TV of Mehdi and Adnan and others... we know of their suffering from their own lips and we know there are humane solutions promoted by advocates.How do we make freedom happen for them? And end this travesty of justice. And create a kinder Australia.


Frederika Steen | 21 January 2022  

I really appreciate this article as I couldn’t understand why so many Australians were pleased when Djokovic was deported. To me the actions taken by Alex Hawke appeared grossly out of proportion, especially when some Australian official had granted Djokovic an apparent legal visa. I hardly ever follow social media so was only looking at things logically.


Margot Meredith | 21 January 2022  

Execution never fully realises intention! It's the kind of world/cosmos we live in. With every deficit we rush to measure the unmeasurable, - the chaotic which denotes what happens entropically before we 'gifted' humans can anticipate it. That said, there have always been constructive novelties from the mass of 'negatives' which have brought us to where we are now. I found reading Andrew Hamilton's piece on Rutilio Grande in this issue of Eureka Street worthwhile.


Noel McMaster | 21 January 2022  
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Djokevic apparently beilieved that his tennis game put him above the law. He signed the paperwork, and no amout of passing the buck to some flunkey or other can possibly work, because of the incredible legal precedent it would set.
Refugees are another issue entirely.


Ian MacDougall | 26 January 2022  

With respect, Ian, no amount of iteration deals adequately with Noel's point (while acknowledging your sturdy insistence to reduce it to a legal core) because the question, far bigger than that, entails complex ethical discussion and discernment.

The overarching thematic question then that Andy Hamilton originally brought to our attention in the same edition of this Jesuit journal went to the gross abuse of power by El Salvadorean murderers and thugs, causing thousands of desperate people to escape.

It also eventuates, as a direct consequence of such terrible events, that our country magnificently stepped up to the plate and granted asylum to many of the victims of this appalling atrocity.

In his own way, but via the prism of Rene Girard's mimetic theory (albeit in a medium supporting an arguably inadequate but highly necessary vehicle for exploration and discussion) Dr Hodge gratifyingly draws attention to the ETHICAL, as opposed to the merely legal, complexity of such things.


Michael Furtado | 10 February 2022  

Djokovic, like every other overseas player, knew the requirements for entering Australia months before the Australian Open was due to be played. He made two false statements (we used to call these lies) on his application for exemption - one concerning the date of his alleged infection with Covid (clearly not severe enough to stop him taking part in a number of public events) and the other claiming not to have travelled internationally in the month prior to his proposed entry into Australia. When found out in this deception, he pleaded innocence and implied that Tennis Australia (TA) advised him on filling in the forms (that was probably true). Effectively, TA wanted him here as a money generating drawcard and was prepared along with Djokovic to thumb noses at Australian law. We cannot afford in this lethal pandemic to allow any sentiment that might induce people to refuse vaccination. The real mistake here is that we haven't deported Tiley back to South Africa where he can thumb his nose at South Africa's laws all day long if he thinks he can make a buck out of it. And please let's stop trying to equate this pathetic side issue over what is a mere game with the plight of refugees - even though there are also amongst them those, who like Djokovic and TA have sought to exploit or thumb their noses at Australian law to their own advantage. And we are so terrible as a people that in spite of this disrespect for law we allow these con men access to our legal system to plead their cases and we pay for that!!! And some think Djokovic is a joke!!!


john frawley | 21 January 2022  

Thanks for your reflection, Joel. It was easy to scapegoat Djokovic and use him as a political football.
"children overboard" - again! - a new Liberal doctrine.


Eric | 21 January 2022  

My simple response to this saga is that Novak was treated unfairly, but he wasn't treated unfairly, He was scapegoated,but he wasn't scapegoated, It's all just politics, but everything is about politics (Novak's politics VS Aust govt politics).
Novak could simply have gotten vaccinated - but he didn't need to be vaccinated (having been infected by Covid)
So there you go! My simple opinion.


AURELIUS | 21 January 2022  
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When you sit on a barb wire fence Aurelius you are bound to get spikes up your quoit.


Francis Armstrong | 24 January 2022  

Girard is a French intellectual. Perhaps, as an Anglo-Saxon not of the academic persuasion, I do not need his level of haute critique to see mob psychology and scapegoating at work. A very intelligent former high level employee of Immigration, when interviewd on the Today show, said, after considering all the facts, he would have let Novak stay. The Court made the correct decision. Australia is still one of the freest nations on earth and I love it, but I am becoming increasingly concerned at our political Sawdust Caesars whittling away these freedoms. We seem to have developed an interlocking tribe of moral dwarves who now dominate our politics, playing to the lowest level of populism. Sir Robert Menzies was never like this. When he lost the referendum - he actually held one - to ban the Communist Party, that was it. He accepted the decision. We are beginning to look like a nation of Les Patersons. I weep. BTW, I am triple vaccinated and think most anti-vaxxers daft. However, I thought we admired colourful eccentrics. We don't? OK, I now know. Dull, creeping conformity is the new radical. I weep again. Poor fella my country indeed.


Edward Fido | 21 January 2022  
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An avid admirer of the quaint Anglo-Saxon avuncularity of your posts, Edward, and in which I was inculturated from an early age, I note the discomfort of the fence upon which you sit, which Francis and others have expressed more forthright and Antipodean 'grunts' about.

The problem, whether Novak lied and the Australian government dithered or not, was that, given the unclear status of his health check, he posed a risk to us all.

Since vast amounts of money were involved if he had won (which, chances are, he would have) that introduces a further ethical factor in respect of the wealth he commands as well as the disappointment of those at the big end of town who would have paid to see him play.

Added to that, the Serbian community, both here as well as at home, by and large regarded his deportation as an act of discrimination against their national hero (while, I suspect, many a Croat would have offered a quiet prayer of thanksgiving at Mass, based mainly on a Balkan version of one-upmanship, rather than on the immense stamina and skill that tennis demands).

Meanwhile an aging has-been came from behind and walked-off with the prize!


Michael Furtado | 10 February 2022  

Hard to respect the decision when the reasoning is so illogical. Bit of a stretch to claim that such an unloved elite athlete would sway public opinion about health policy. Wouldn't it be refreshing to find a leader with the courage to make swift, reasonable decisions even when unpopular. Sadly Morrison appears to believe in nothing beyond what market research says will buy votes. I'm ready to give my vote to anyone who shows some conviction, even if I don't agree with them. You can hear the advisers "People don't like Novax, we can score a few votes here by giving them a shot of schadenfreude!" If Girard and the government are right, and we get sucked into uniting (joining the lynch mob) against the common enemy (scapegoat), feeling such a buzz in our moral indignation as we cast him into the wilderness that we are inspired to vote Coalition (nice one ScoMo!), then perhaps we really do get the leaders we deserve.


Luke O'Regan | 21 January 2022  

I was brought up to believe that when one makes a contract, it is morally binding that it be kept, unless that contract is made with deception. However, for years our immigration people have not ascribed this attribute to people entering Australia, they have given people a visa and when the person arrives they have said " nah - we don't like you, our profiling says that you are not going to obey the law and sent them back. No doubt they have protected us from some miscreants, but there have also been innocent people put to needless inconvenience and cost because they seem to fit some unsatisfactory profile.

Djokovic's case is another case of this. Australia has the right to reject a persons entry, but the time to do that is when a person is allocated a visa.

In this case there was wrong on both sides. The Australian system of approval was faulty and Djokovic gave false information. I wouldn't be so concerned if the minister's reasoning had been the provision of false information by Djokovic but surely his attitude to vaccination was well known when he was first considered for a visa, and, as the court said he had every reason to believe that he had been granted entry to Australia.

Given the wrong on both sides the ministers best attitude would have been to explain the faults of both, make changes to the Australian system, and allow Djokovic to stay and play while making it clear to the world that the system has been changed.


John Stafford | 22 January 2022  

Sometimes making the right decision will cause the one affected by that decision to be scapegoated in the public eye. Of itself that risk should not stop the decision maker making the right decision. What if Minister Hawkes had caved into the tennis lobby and allowed Djokovic to stay and play tennis, would he then have been pillaried for ignoring both the health risks and the ‘will of the people’?

Whether by error or intent Djokovic had been discovered in breach of visa requirements that apply to everyone else. It is the Minister’s responsibility at law to enforce those requirements, especially when the public good is potentially threatened by waiving those requirements.

So the right decision is seen to create a scapegoat.

In the quite different case of incarcerated refugees and asylum seekers a very wrong decision, enforced over up to 9 years in some cases, has also created scapegoats, not of a privileged millionaire supported by loud voices, wealth and power, but of the poorest and voiceless- woefully, illegally, harmfully and most shamefully.

By the way, we know that our refugees are scapegoats for our nation fear of those who are different, as Hodge and others of his respondents have noted; but for whom or what is Djokovic a scapegoat?


Francis Donovan | 23 January 2022  

Joel, Thanks for introducing Girard, but your application may not be apposite. Where is the dyadic pattern? What about triangulation? And mediation, both internal and external? What of a crisis?

Djokovic is a scapegoat, but how, in terms proportionate to Christ's (whom Girard cites) does your example compare? Where indeed are the violence and apocalyptic vision in Djokovic's mean treatment?

Acknowledging Morrison's political gain, how precisely is Djokovic a victim? Where, precisely, is the 'mimetic pattern' or ritual in this that features so prominently in Girard's theorising and James Alison's research? What is the 'myth' being created?

Scapegoating is rampant and essential to any Jesuit deconstruction of injustice and the insidious ways in which it insinuates itself into our unseen but deeply collaborative behaviours and practices. Among the many passionate responses that you have earned, Noel McMaster's reference to Andy's article in this edition perfectly reflects the argument you make. Two others point to asylum-seekers, who, unlike Djokovic, have little or no agency, except our humanity, to rely upon for respite and who are victims of a violence far more brutal than his.

Another essay from you, please, on breaking the cycle of violence embedded deeply in redemptive theology. Thanks,



Michael Furtado | 25 January 2022  

And the depressing (if not distressing) thing about this creation and demonising of people into scapegoats for naked political self-aggrandisement , is that it is a dark art form perfected enthusiastically by a Prime Minister who flaunts his Christian faith (albeit very superficially) more than most. The hypocrisy is not lost on my atheist friends and is further proof to them that we Christians are just a bunch of hypocrites.

Being a disciple of Jesus is a little more than waving one's arms around on Sunday morning in church. It is supposed to manifest in who we are and in the way we live out our everyday lives and vocations, including being the PM. But maybe Matt 25:31ff and Luke 10:25ff have been air-brushed out of Scott Morrison's Bible.


Peter Schulz | 25 January 2022  

“Girard, who is a former Stanford professor and member of the Académie française, provides four markers or criteria that manifest when a scapegoating occurs “… etc.

Whichever way you look at it, Djokevik signed a false statement, then tried to pin responsibility on some flunkey. If the Government let him get away with that, it would open the biggest can of legal worms in all history.
Hawke made the right call. So I suggest a fifth bullet point for Girard’s list: Some goats get what they deserve.


Ian MacDougall | 27 January 2022  

‘Baying for blood’ is another way of describing mob psychology. It may have been, since the Fall, that not only have some of the genes of man’s best friend mutated (or degenerated) to enable this behavioural characteristic to occur, but some of man’s genes may also have mutated (or degenerated) to keep company with those of his best friend.

Nevertheless, ‘scapegoatism’, ‘moral outrage’ or whatever else you want to call the sharing of a rage by many being impelled by anger, it can’t be from the Holy Spirit --- unless the angry upwelling is to drive moneychangers out of the temple.

The paradox is that there must be a licit place for the emotion of rage, by virtue of imitation of Christ, who, unlike Moses, did not club anyone with the jawbone of an ass, but only for a situation which fundamentally resembles the situation of the moneychangers. But it is only the coolness of licit reasoning, probably built over many episodes of observation and discernment, that can determine if a situation resembles in its fundamentals that of the moneychangers and when the rage may be released in compliance with subsidiarity.


roy chen yee | 31 January 2022  

There is an aspect of 'scapegoating' that seems, to me, to have been largely ignored in this discussion. Scapegoating, as I understand it, is not just about blaming, condemning, or even 'demonising', but rather it's about shifting the blame, responsibility, and consequential punishment from oneself to someone (or something) else/other. So in the case of Djokovic, it makes no sense to suggest that he has been 'scapegoated' for something for which he might himself have been responsible. If he was indeed 'scapegoated', then he was being blamed, condemned and 'demonised for something that someone else did. And this where I think Peter Schulz focuses on the real matter of concern. There is little doubt in my mind that, whatever Djokovic did or failed to do, the Commonwealth government either deliberately, or more probably through incompetence, really stuffed up the decision-making around his entry, and that Morrison, eager to shift the blame from his own area, tried initially to scapegoat the Victorian government, and then when caught out, shifted to scapegoating someone who was already unpopular with at least part of the population. If this was the only example of Morrison and his Ministers trying to shift blame, then it might not be all that significant, but, as Peter says, it's yet another example of a dark art form perfected enthusiastically by [the] Prime Minister' for blatant 'political self-aggrandisement'.


Ginger Meggs | 03 March 2022  
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I wish Joel re-enters the discussion because Girard has so much more to offer about scapegoating than Ginger and Peter have touched upon. Girard says that scapegoating is built into the Judeo-Christian account (or at least the Fall/Atonement/Redemptive version of it). Its there is the story of Isaac and Abram, in the Parable of the Prodigal Son and, quintessentially, in the Crucifixion account ('His blood be upon us and our children'?). It has led to scapegoating becoming a national and global 'sport', e.g. the demonisation of the Jews, GLBTIQ persons, Communists, Black People, Women, especially those who speak up, Indigenous groups everywhere and all who are the victims of stereotyping and 'hate speech'. Its plainly visible in these columns, including by some who justify it in the above posts. Its not necessarily culture-specific: there are instances of wrongly-accused individuals who are made to take the blame for others' mistakes. Dreyfus? Christ? Individual women and gay people in the Islamic world? And what about scapegoats in the classroom? Children who are bullied? The boss who holds others accountable for his mistakes? Joan of Arc? 'Witches'? The outcastes of India? Posthumously exonerated victims of the death sentence? Sir Roger Casement? Scapegoats All!


Michael Furtado | 15 March 2022  

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