MOST AUSTRALIANS will not have heard of Katie Hopkins and for this they can be well pleased, for the inveterate British commentator has overstepped the mark with a frenzied, cruel and dishonest portrayal of our country and the policies of the Abbott government. People may or may not agree with policy around the treatment of asylum seekers, but it is not funny, constructive or incisive to foment violence and victimisation against the helpless.
Apologies to readers for my silence these past few days; as I might have mentioned, I had a rather large job to get out of the way and — to be frank — by the time it was done, I was exhausted: and so the absence of articles this week reflects both a complete lack of time to write them as well as the inevitable “crash” once a complicated and significant project was complete.
If I have time (and if there is nothing better to talk about) I may make some mention of Monday’s episode of the ABC’s #QandA programme, which was held at the Melbourne Recital Centre and which I attended; despite a panel that at first glance suggested decent consideration of mainstream issues that actually matter — with veteran broadcaster Derryn Hinch and standout Abbott government minister Andrew Robb in the mix — the programme descended, as usual, into a gabfest mostly centred on pet subjects of the Left, complete with an attempt by some on the panel to paint Robb as thoroughly heartless and prevent him from confirming he’d used official discretion as a minister to allow some children to remain in Australia and overturn deportation orders made in lower (and apolitical) jurisdictions. Best to keep the blowtorch on those Libs; best to ensure everyone knows they’re just a bunch of cruel misery merchants with hearts of stone.
To his credit, Robb was able to get his position — and the truth — on record with to #QandA audience, despite the obfuscation; the fact remains, however, that the only useful purpose this programme serves is to keep an eye on Australia’s Left, what it is saying, about whom it is said, and what its stacked panels attempt to pin on decent individuals whose only “crime” is to represent the mainstream Right.
Even so, the ills of #QandA pale in comparison to idiotic British commentator Katie Hopkins, who has roared onto the radar this week with a thoroughly uninformed and bigoted rant against African asylum seekers in Europe, and admiring depictions of a regime of treatment doled out to asylum seekers by Australia that simply does not exist. (A second article on the subject — also from the Fairfax press — can be accessed here).
It disturbs me that Fairfax, with its deeply ingrained loathing of anything to the right of socialism, has chosen to characterise Hopkins as “conservative” when in truth, she is just an imbecile: until yesterday the thing I best remember her for is a silly diatribe against parents who call their kids things like “Chardonnay,” and the declaration she would never allow her own children to play with such odious specimens from low-grade bogan stock.
Hopkins isn’t a conservative, she’s just a moron: and if she chooses to identify as “a conservative” then in my view she is an embarrassment.
Now it seems she has discovered, in some alternative universe, an “Australia” where state-sanctioned, bigoted violence is not just rampant, but a cause for great adulation; a country whose inhabitants possess “balls of steel, can-do brains, tiny hearts and whacking great gunships” that are utilised to threaten asylum seekers “with violence until they bugger off.”
Referring to African asylum seekers as “cockroaches” (with the unspoken inference that they should be squashed), Hopkins advocates an Australian-style system of turning back asylum seeker boats lest Britain’s towns and cities become “festering sores, plagued by swarms of migrants and asylum seekers, shelling out benefits like Monopoly money.”
And returning to her theme that asylum seekers are like cockroaches, and “built to survive a nuclear bomb,” Hopkins cheerily asserts that Australia’s border control regime features military personnel “throwing cans of Castlemaine” (sic) at asylum seekers in “an Aussie version of Sharia stoning.”
It might be a tiny detail, but so ill-informed is Hopkins that she is unaware that “Castlemaine” isn’t even a commodity anyone would recognise; and whilst XXXX is a variety of beer that is justifiably likened to the bodily movements of cats, it’s a typical marker of a brainless dolt like Hopkins that she can’t even get the minutiae of her venomous attacks right.
Where all of this becomes particularly unhelpful is that in Europe — just like the situation in Australia prior to 2014 — asylum seekers, trafficked by people smugglers and trying to reach the EU, are dying; and as the Fairfax reports correctly note, 1,300 asylum seekers perished at sea in the past fortnight alone in waters off the Italian coast in a ghastly reflection of the countless hundreds who died en route to Australia under failed Gillard-Greens policies: a travesty dismissed by
Communist Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young as “an accident.”
The fact is that on a fraught issue characterised by competing and unpalatable options, no single measure is going to be ideal; and short of unquestioningly releasing asylum seekers into the Australian community — a negligent and dangerous prospect for a whole different set of reasons — the suite of policies that affect their arrival and eventual passage into Australia constitute the best course currently available among a raft of measures that all come with drawbacks.
I don’t propose to get into a wholesale analysis and defence of the Abbott government this morning over its policies on asylum seekers, but I will make the point that for all the blather from the Left about the number of children held in detention under the Abbott government, fully 90% of the kids held when the government took office have been released, with the backlog expected to be cleared later this year; and despite the riots and hunger strikes and other forms of blackmail deployed by some asylum seekers to try to force the government to speed their release into the community, most asylum seekers realise their ambition of residency in Australia as soon as their bona fides can be established.
Australians generally (and the Abbott government in particular) certainly do not subscribe to the racist, flat-earthed view articulated by Hopkins, and any thinking conservative will be insulted and affronted to be lumped in with Hopkins and smeared by the association with such ignorant and uninformed opinions.
Certainly, I’ve never heard this kind of sentiment advocated behind closed doors inside the Liberal Party, and not even (as some on the Left would believe) to the Right of the party, where I nominally sit.
I make three points: one, Hopkins is entitled to her view, but it is an offensive and noxious view at best, and not one that can be attributed to conservative notions of governance with any fairness or accuracy.
Two, some on the Left might snigger and welcome the opportunity to use her words as fodder against the Liberal Party; they would be irresponsible to do so and should be crucified by media outlets like Fairfax if they do, for this kind of drivel has no place in mainstream political discourse in Australia.
And three, if any good can come from Hopkins’ intemperate outbursts at all, it should be to serve potent notice to the likes of the cabal that holds court every week on #QandA — posing misguidedly and with pomposity as it does as the arbiter and protector of moral right in Australia — that words can be deadly, and as a reminder that its vitriol against the Right (for no better reason than a disagreement of views) fade into insignificance against elements that truly do advocate the manner of ills they irresponsibly and erroneously accuse Abbott and his government of in the interests of cheap, petty political expediency.