I appeared on ABCTV News 24’s The Drum last night (video here) talking refugees and the mass killings in Norway.
I argued that the Australian government’s refugee swap deal with Malaysia was nothing more than an attempted political fix to allow Julia Gillard to say she’s stopped the boats. But the human rights conditions in Malaysia are notorious and how will Australia really be able to monitor the hundreds of asylum seekers living in the community there?
More importantly, why has Malaysia become the latest example of a colonised land, Australia, dumping our problems in another country? There’s no reason we can’t process the relatively small number of refugees here coming to our shores in a timely and humane way. But that wouldn’t be “tough” enough to please the baying wolves.
After the massacre in Norway, and the clear racist rantings of the killer, I said it was vital that we understood that positions once on the fringes are now in the mainstream; attacks on Islam and multiculturalism, praise of ethically-pure Israel and a perceived moral and cultural battle for the soul of Europe and the West. Muslims are the enemy, demonised constantly as the problem for a happy society.
The killer Anders Behring Breivik imagined a Christian fundamentalist future and his imagery and thoughts were reminiscent of many prominent right-wing commentators today. Such views have seeped into the American political mainstream, too.
I argued that increasing numbers of citizens globally were feeling isolated economically, spurred to blame the “elites” for this alienation (though the media putting this point is clearly part of the elite itself) and we had a responsibility to better explain why multiculturalism and racial diversity was the best medicine for improved democracy.