Friday, 11 January 2019

Fanning The Flames.

F.Anning Discontent: Far-Right politicians like Fraser Anning (above right) are highly-skilled at exploiting racially charged narratives, such as Melbourne's "African Gangs" controversy, to broaden the appeal of Conservative Australia’s anti-immigrant crusade.

FRASER ANNING is one of those political figures who populate the periphery of politics in liberal-democratic states. Opportunistic, scornful of political norms, hard to frighten or shame, the Fraser Annings of this world are frighteningly well-adapted to the politics of cultural resentment and fear. Had the Independent Senator for Queensland been born in late-Nineteenth Century Italy or Germany – instead of mid-Twentieth Century Australia – he  would, almost certainly, have been drawn to Benito Mussolini’s Fascisti or Adolf Hitler’s Nazis.

As it is, he has won notoriety as the sometime ally of leading right-wing Australian politicians Pauline Hanson and Bob Katter. It says something about the man that his current status as an “independent” is largely attributable to even these far-from-moderate parliamentarians finding Anning’s views too extreme – even for them. (Hardly surprising when, in his maiden speech to the Australian Senate, Anning talked about a “final solution” to Australia’s “immigration problem”!)

Anning’s latest provocation was to attend (at the Australian taxpayers’ expense) a United Patriots Front (UPF) rally held in the Melbourne seaside suburb of St Kilda. The UPF is at the extreme end of an ongoing campaign by Australian conservatives (up to and including the ruling Liberal Party) to secure more rigorous policing of the so-called “African Gangs” said to be terrorising Melbourne citizens. The African “gangsters” singled out for particular condemnation by the Right are almost all refugees and/or the children of refugees from war-torn South Sudan.

United Patriots Front leader, Blair Cottrell, addresses anti-immigrant rally at St Kilda Beach, Melbourne, 5 January 2019.

The Right’s fixation on Victoria’s tiny Sudanese community is largely explicable in terms of the extraordinary lengths to which the state’s left-leaning government has gone to minimise the impact (or even the existence) of the “African Gang” problem.

Just how strongly the Left felt about the issue was demonstrated by the noisy protest which took place outside the offices and studios of Channel 7 Melbourne in July 2018. The protesters were incensed by Channel 7’s current affairs show, Sunday Night’s, alleged “race-baiting” coverage of the issue.

The item’s promo was certainly provocative:

“Barely a week goes by when they’re not in the news. African gangs running riot, terrorising, wreaking havoc. Police are hesitant to admit there’s even a problem. The latest attack was just days ago, so what can be done?”

The Left’s response played directly into the Australian Right’s deeply embedded narrative of a culturally-deracinated cosmopolitan elite hellbent on dissolving Australia’s European heritage in a multicultural melting-pot. So powerful is this “progressive” elite said to be that it has the power to suppress coverage of anything which runs counter to the multicultural ideal – even when this activity involves “African gangs running riot, terrorising, wreaking havoc”.

Far-Right politicians like Anning are highly-skilled at exploiting this narrative to broaden the appeal of Conservative Australia’s anti-immigrant crusade. Their job is made easier when even the Right’s bette noir, the publicly-owned (and allegedly left-wing) Australian Broadcasting Corporation, acknowledges that “the Sudanese offender rate is six times higher than their population share”.

Last weekend’s UPF St Kilda rally – itself inspired by the Victorian Police’s decision to prevent UPF leader, Blair Cottrell, from recording the activity of Sudanese youths on the beach – provided Anning with a brown-shirted opportunity to promote his anti-immigrant message by doing little more than simply turning-up.

Cottrell and Anning would have known that, from the moment it was announced on social media, the rally would attract large numbers of left-wing “anti-fascists”, journalists and police. Inevitably, the news media would make a bee-line for the right-wing Queensland Senator and, equally inevitably, he would be ready with a sound-bite:

“There was no racist rally,” Anning informed the news media. “There were decent Australian people who demonstrated their dislike for what the Australian government has done which has allowed these people to come into this country and then bash people at random on the beaches, in their homes.”

Inner-city Melburnians were suitably shocked at this eruption of right-wing extremism on their favourite beach. But, in small-town Australia, in the Bush, Anning’s words would have struck a very different note.

In this setting, Anning, scion of a Queensland farming family notorious for its bloody appropriations of Aboriginal land, could be confident of loud choruses of approval. It’s what the Left knows, but cannot understand. That racism is as Australian as Cricket at the MCG. As welcome as a cold tinny on an incendiary afternoon at St Kilda Beach.

This essay was originally published in The Otago Daily Times and The Greymouth Star of Friday, 11 January 2019.


Guerilla Surgeon said...

"That racism is as Australian as Cricket at the MCG. As welcome as a cold tinny on an incendiary afternoon at St Kilda Beach."

And in New Zealand, often just as welcome – just preceded by a "but". :)

Nick J said...

There's something very Australian about this fellow. I've lived there, constantly visit the place. To see the truth a visit away from the cities into the vastness of a continent is instructive.

Out back race relations still work upon a strict divide, preferably if you are white Aussies the "bungs" are seventh class citizens. The cultural divide is huge but the will to close it is wider. There is no Treaty, few families have "about" blood in the way a large slice of NZ has Maori genes.

Comparing Anning to a European fascist, or alt-Right doesn't ride well with me, he is a real genuine colonial throwback. And outside of the cities he is common as.

aberfoyle said...

Well yes,remember a saying in the seventies,scratch an Aussie,they will bleed South Afrikana!s blood.

The Liberal!s being scorched by their internal leaders continuous shuffling,like this right wing white fright have continued to, not hold back,but push further to their form of hand washed aparthied,using law and order of imported immigrants expulsion for crimes either terrorist or more disconcerting serving a jail term of one year or more.So their opposition mainly like here, the Labor bourgeois,are taking the moral humanitarian high ground in their attacking their opposition.Though this right wing Indi will swing more votes for the Liberals that how many leadership changes.

Anonymous said...

So, you acknowledge that the media is lying about the crime rate of African immigrants?

Shane McDowall said...

In 1986 neoliberal Roger Douglas opened up our doors to every Tom, Dick and Harry and every Tom, Dick and Harry turned up.

Native New Zealanders benefited by getting a broader range of ethnic eateries. But that is the only benefit I can see, and I challenge anyone to name one other.

The problem is nothing will be done about mass migration to New Zealand because the right like the appearance of economic growth and the left are diehard multiculturalists.

Patricia said...

I was in the Australian outback in 1967 when the aborigines were given the vote. I have never forgotten the violent, yes violent, anger expressed by the whites. It was unbelievable. No reasoning was possible. I often wondered whether their views were the same when women were given the vote.

Brendan McNeill said...


I can understand your instinctive dislike for Fraser Anning, yet I wonder if he is simply a product of those Melbourne politicians and community leaders who embrace the progressive multicultural creed, and who are determined to ignore its more obvious failures?

Sudanese immigrants or their children are over represented in various crimes including home invasions, car-jackings and mob violence in Melbourne. Is it fair or reasonable to describe someone who points this out as a ‘brown shirt’? To label those who publicly express concern about these events as ‘far right extremists’?

Is it possible that depositing thousands of Sudanese immigrants into the suburbs of Dandenong, Nobel Park, Springvale and Doveton has the potential to transform them into something that best resembles Sudan more than suburban Australia? Was anyone in these suburbs given the opportunity to vote on whether they wanted this multicultural experiment to take place in their back yard, or was it just imposed upon them?

Yes, Fraser Anning may be stoking ‘fear of the other’ which is not going to be part of the solution. But what is the solution? If a group of immigrants establish a reputation for violent behaviour, having a dislike or fear of them is not entirely irrational or misplaced.

To dismiss residents concerns as racism is an attempt to delegitimise them. That doesn’t seem like a constructive solution either.

John Hurley said...

P58 Kill or be killed

John Hurley said...

Australia once had a white Australia policy. New Zealand was largely the same. Decades later when we vie for "most diverse" and are told "90% want a multicultural society" people like GS and Taika Hows your father can't stop saying "racists as". Why did we bother? The truth is multiculturalism was the left big mistake. The left thing evolutionary psychology is "junk science"

Frank Salter says:
Ethnocentrism is not a White disorder and evidence is emerging that immigrant communities harbour invidious attitude towards Anglo Australians, disparaging their culture and the legitimacy of their central place in national identity.[xxiii]

Young women of Latin and Turkish origin living in Melbourne find it hard to see any Australian culture. Some see a vacuum; others see a bland milieu populated with ‘average-looking’ people. In contrast, they feel that their own migrant cultures are strong. They ‘get through more’. If there is any Australian culture it is, in their opinion, losing ground to migrant cultures.

Larry Mitchell said...

We see Aussies as our brothers and cobbers ... Not!

Australia has. over the last two decades developed an increasingly strident nationalistic jingoism ... and that's not just for their cricket team.

A Big Brother/Little Brother affection by Kiwi's for their antipodean neighbours has been replaced with our realisation that by and large Australians are a bunch of self centred mean spirited bozos.

It may seem a trite example but for years now in trans tasman sporting contests between Aus/Kiwi teams, Australian officials and referees will never give lil brother an even break. They beat upon us, ask any Warrior supporter.

But it is in matters involving race where the gulf between us is greatest. While Waitangi Treaty fairness has flourished here, Australia is still at the largely symbolic "saying sorry" stage in its treatment of their indigenous people.

Their lip service plays against our structural embedded attempts to materially improve the lot of the Maori.

Disappointing really and a sign of their basic national immaturity and misguided airs of superiority.

Time they grew up and adopted a more responsible leadership role in our region, particularly now with us both facing the emergence of Chinese hegemony "down South".

greywarbler said...

White rapaciousness is how it is seen these days by those owning the truth. The lower classes from one society, don't feel fellowship with the ordinary people of another society when invading or colonising. They have risen in the ranks, and are willing to stand on others' shoulders and take their commons as quickly as was done to them in the Old Country. The wealthy may make some concessions to those whose lands they range over but the stories don't indicate enough to balance the negatives. Religion didn't bring a guarantee of fairness.

greywarbler said...

Larry Mitchell mentioned 'saying sorry' by Australians.

Kevin Rudd had a go in 2008 in February.

This was a recent part of the problem.

10 years later a review and a discussion.

Thought Clarke and Dawe in 2008 sent this up a bit.

Guerilla Surgeon said...

"Sudanese immigrants or their children are over represented in various crimes including home invasions, car-jackings and mob violence in Melbourne."

Funnily enough Brendan, so are Australians, and so are New Zealanders. But Sudanese are also overrepresented in the unemployment statistics, and have a higher proportion of young people – and crimes tend to be committed by young people. So it's not that simple Brendan and while a debate might need to be had about this, as usual your right-wing friends make it all about race. They just using it to stir up ill feeling, and usually avoid mentioning that crime overall is falling in Melbourne. Because that certainly wouldn't fit their narrative would it?

John Hurley said...

Francis Fukuyama is a political scientist at Stanford University. His latest book is “Identity: The Demand for Dignity and the Politics of Resentment,” which came out in September.

Fukuyama: People’s happiness is driven more by relative rather than absolute levels of income and by social recognition. As Adam Smith noted in his “Theory of Moral Sentiments,” the rich man “glories” in his riches while the poor man is invisible to his fellow human beings. Many who voted for populist politicians feel that they have been invisible to elites who are indifferent to their struggles and ready to favor immigrants, minorities and others “less deserving.” This perception is untrue [BS] but nonetheless lies behind much of the anger from members of former majority populations. This is why Brexit voters were willing to risk economic costs as long as they could “get back their country” and why Trump voters are often happy with his confrontational anti-elite rhetoric in the absence of concrete socio-economic gains for themselves.

More broadly, nationalism and politicized religious movements like Islamism are also based on offended dignity. Russia was humiliated by NATO moving east during a period of weakness. China is recovering from its “hundred years of humiliation.” And fighters for the Islamic State believe that they are winning back the dignity of repressed and abused Muslims around the world. All of these movements are obviously willing to sacrifice material interests for the sake of the recovery of group dignity.

Guerilla Surgeon said...

"The truth is multiculturalism was the left big mistake. The left thing evolutionary psychology is "junk science"|

A big mistake? That's a very bold statement to make considering you don't tell us what the aims of multiculturalism were, or provide any evidence to what it was supposed to do or what it's failed to do. And let's face it, as far as immigration goes the right is as much at fault as the left, considering its business people who want their cheap labour, and farmers who think that Filipino farmworkers are "great little workers". They don't want to have to obey the laws of supply and demand and increase wages in times of shortage.
And if evolutionary psychology is "junk science" why is it used on this site interminably by conservatives trying to prove that black/brown people are inferior to white people? Or the people of various cultures and ethnicities aren't meant to mix? There seems to be a certain amount of confusion in your mind here, perhaps you would clarify for us?

John Hurley said...

Mark Lopez wrote a history of Australian multiculturalism. What it showed was that a tiny group of people can act like a brain virus and begin wagging the dog. Today Australia's relationship with NZ has cooled because while Brits and South Africans move to the east Indians and Chinese move to the west.

Kathryn Ryan
What is driving this?
Bernard Salt
There has been a fundamental shift in the Australian demography particularly the last 10 years or so preliminary results from the 2016 census released one month ago show something quite unique. The western half of the country (Western Australia, South Australia and the Northern Territories) had quite a strong Anglo base (we draw our migrants from Anglo countries). The eastern side of the nation (particularly Victoria and New South Wales) are more likely to be Indian and Chinese . So the ethnic base (the source from which we are drawing migrants) has shifted in the last decade or so. I will say also the flow of Kiwis has reversed (the earthquake and a renewed energy with New Zealand). So there seems to be an ethnic basis to t(not a parting of the ways) but a slowing of the bond which had been there literally since resettlement.

What is driving the politics?

Well I do think the demographics are important : our shift in focus towards Asia (with the Chinese and the Indians). I don’t think it is so much a rejection of NZ as a pivot towards Asia. There was a shift away from the UK when Britain joined the EU. In some ways you could argue the same is happening here a shift towards Asia: Asian migration, Asian students, Asian implantation [ ?] infact. Our attention has been taken by South East Asia and as a consequence the politics may flow from that shift in thinking.

The idea of New Zealanders being special is disappearing apace (and was only based on a handshake between Whitlam and Kirk in the 1970s) and was always a matter of goodwill.

“politics pushing in that direction”

Who looses? We were once favoured as cousins. It doesn't matter to the highly skilled (anywhere's).But also you talk to people who went to Bali (Kuta - not in Australia but good example) or Noosa 40 years ago and they were less developed (another world). The Australian Productivity Commission noted that there was little to zero benefit to Australians form immigration it had all been captured by the migrants (and building industry). You wouldn't know that from the pro-migration cacophony in the media.

Brendan McNeill said...

Dear GS

I agree with you, Australians and New Zealanders are over represented in crime statistics. Would that it were otherwise. Yes, youth unemployment is a contributing factor, and perhaps racism is one reason why Sudanese youth experience greater unemployment than their fellow Australians - there are likely to be other reasons however including language difficulties, education and skills deficits.

The real issue however is that multiculturalism doesn’t work. It hasn’t worked anywhere. In Europe leaders who have publicly acknowledged its failure include former French President Nicolas Sarkozy, Former British PM David Cameron, and the present German Chancellor Angela Merkel.

Multiculturalism is a uniquely monocultural utopian creed. It is found only in the west amongst the children of the enlightenment who have come to believe in their own moral superiority. It fails to take into account people’s natural desire to retain those elements of their own unique culture that they value and wish to preserve. Immigrant cultural practices can easily conflict with the values and norms of the host culture. The desire to retain these elements of ones own culture is just as true for the Sundanese immigrants as it is for the Australians who are raising concerns.

Importing Sudanese is not the same as importing Italians. The former come from an alien culture with vastly different practices and traditions, whereas the latter share the same European roots as Australians. One finds it relatively easy to integrate, the other not so much.

The difficulty we face is that it is almost impossible to express these realities in public without being called racist, even though we are talking about culture and not about race or ethnicity. Even though we have confirmation of multiculturalism’s failure from leading European politicans. Consequently we continue to celebrate everyone else’s culture, but not our own which is presently viewed negatively, being patriarchal, colonialist, exploitive etc.

This needs to change if we are going to hand on the very real cultural blessings we have inherited to our grandchildren. I am however not optimistic that we have sufficient reserves of cultural confidence to reassert ourselves.

John Hurley said...

GS Multi-culturalism has failed because it drowns the host culture and attempts to create an involuntary superordinate culture based on insipid "our values" and false national identity. It fails because of the speed at which elites have introduced other cultures, and because developed countries don't need a larger crew.
I recall newcomers (I had an Indian next door)and the first Chinese. We welcomed them to "our neighbourhood". At the first sign of large numbers the anti-racists came out in force and shut down debate.
What is becoming accepted now is that people don't melt into a Utopian melting pot. They bring their identities with them. They also bring their "otherings" and chauvinism.
A majority of whites of every stripe voted for Trump because their identity is a great investment.

aberfoyle said...

N.Z.has its own small band of black shirted brothers,similar to England!s Mosley!s of the thirties,who in their thousands marched through the english streets,with support from some well heeled landed gentry.We to in N.Z,also have a well heeled landed gentry who every year bleet about the indigenous the the n.z. workers unemployed and those also employed on casual labour,to work on their farms or orchard fruit plantations,for the picking season.Most if not all these plantations do not provide a per hour pay minimum wage,but what is known as centuries old exploit known as peace work, pick as much as you can, the owner or contractor decides the weight and pay rate.N.Z.workers,stuff that,not even enough to pay the rent,so the opaque black shirts the land owners farmers and growers,lets import,pay them without questions and after the harvests they going back to their (place),we need some permanent,why,our dairy farmers needed long term workers,who work on our farms isolated and do as they are told,some better my friends say, listen better to commands than our best heading dogs,and never question pay rates.