Now that I have calmed down, I feel I can write this without launching into expletives. It is easy to understand a sociopath like Peter Dutton using the dog-whistle to try to claw back some knuckle-dragging voters from one nation, when his seat of Dickson is seemingly very much under threat, whenever the next general election will be held (maybe this September), and when the Victorian election is not too far away. However, for him to say that Victorians are afraid to go out to restaurants because of ‘African gang violence’, is simply a lie1, as Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull admitted2. However, for Turnbull to effectively reiterate the lie that Sudanese gang violence is a concern in Melbourne, simply shows how desperate he is to hold onto his position as PM. Like many, I was relieved Tony Abbott was dumped as PM, simply because he was extraordinarily inept and inarticulate, and an embarrassment, and seemingly a pathological liar. I thought that Turnbull would at least bring some semblance of evidence-based policy to the government. However, all we got was a more articulate Abbott-like cipher.
Turnbull has now come out and said that “you have to be honest, there are Sudanese gangs in Melbourne; it is an issue… no-one is casting any…reflections about Sudanese migrants, Sudanese in general. I’ve spoken about the enormous achievements of Sudanese migrants to Australia in every respect. But the fact is, there is a gang issue here, and you’re not going to make it go away by pretending it doesn’t exist. At some point you’ve got to be fair dinkum and you’ve got to acknowledge there is a concern. People are concerned about it. It is a community policing issue…for state government, for state leadership” At the time he said this, Turnbull was standing alongside the Victorian opposition leader, Matthew Guy, who was pinged some time ago having a lobster dinner with Tony Madafferi, the alleged head of Melbourne’s mafia3. I suppose it depends on your priorities. Sudanese people tend not to donate to the Liberal Party, so they are a logical target in the game of political football.
After his assertion on the dangers of Sudanese gangs, Turnbull also stated that his government has “zero tolerance for racism”2. Presumably, he means except when by-elections are looming. One can only guess at how much racism will be used should there be a general election.
Now Peter Dutton has disgracefully used the death of a 19-year-old African-Australian woman, Laa Chol to indicate that there is an “major law and order problem” as if to confirm his ‘African gang’ fiction. However, the young woman’s family were adamant she was not connected to any criminal gangs. Her death was apparently the result of an argument, during a party, over who had hired the apartment in which she was found dead4,5. A 17-year-old youth has been taken into custody and questioned by homicide detectives5.
Youth crime is in decline in Victoria and Africans commit only 1% of it, but the facts never get in the way of a conservative’s efforts to drag back racist voters from One Nation. Paul Keating said “I think it’s a Prime Minister’s duty; one of the primary duties of a Prime Minister is to protect the country from prejudice. Howard was happy to let the racism virus out. And it’s like a flu virus, you never get it back. You know, when someone at the top of the system…you see Bob before me, Malcolm Fraser before him, Gough Whitlam, John Gorton – none of us would play around with this issue. None. The only one to do it was a little guy from Bennelong”6. Tony Abbott was a Howard acolyte, and it seems that Turnbull is just as enthusiastic in using Howard’s methods.
One has to be careful about using figures such as that the African youth commit only 1% of youth crime in Victoria as an argument about racial discrimination. As I understand it, they make up only 0.1% of the population.
Yes, I know, but that still doesn’t alter the fact that at 1% it is simply not a serious issue. Nothing like as serious as, say, domestic violence, where across Australia, 9 women have been murdered in DV incidents in July alone.
When the adage that ‘patriotism is the last refuge of the scoundrel’ was coined nearly 250 years ago they weren’t aware of dog whistling – by (mainly) conservative politicians – which has at least drawn level in this country. So the question is: in today’s terms what should we call politicians who engage in dog whistling, false patriotism AND use “national security” as a cover for their xenophobic and allodoxaphobic behaviours? I can think of quite a few appropriate terms but neofascists is probably the kindest and most printable.