Ever since Internet blogs allowed comments, there has been a particularly nasty, vile group of people that visit the comments sections of blogs, post inflammatory comments to provoke others and move on when they have derailed the conversation. Usually the rationale for doing this is to disrupt the blog or to get some publicity for themselves. The process is known as trolling. The remedy is ‘don’t feed the trolls’ – ignore them.
It’s probably wasn’t a surprise to many when the offensiveness of new Senator Fraser Anning’s maiden speech in the Senate was reported as being deliberate. The Monthly’s
Paddy Manning laid out the process in his daily email
a couple of days after the speech was made. Briefly the concept behind the speech was to ‘out Hanson Hanson’ thus gaining free publicity and potentially longevity in the political system. In other words, Anning is trolling the Australian public.
Hanson’s particular brand of racism has allowed her to suck at the public teat of election funding for a quarter of a century. As Anning was born in 1949
, his time in public life probably won’t run to 25 years, which is a blessing. Anning only got a seat in the Senate because he was third on the One Nation Senate ticket in Queensland at the last federal election. When the somewhat ‘strange’ Malcolm Roberts was ruled illegible for the Senate seat he occupied (remember he was the one that claimed he renounced his UK Citizenship by email without confirming the correct email address), Anning was nominated to fill the breach. Between the time of his call up to the Senate and his first appearance in Canberra, he ditched his alliance with Hanson’s One Nation and formed a ‘loose’ alliance with Senators Bernardi and Leyonhelm. By the time he read his ‘maiden’ speech, Anning had ditched them and joined Katter’s Australia Party. While Anning might have had some input, the speech was written by Roberts’ ex-speech writer.
Hanson lined up with Turnbull, Shorten and a host of others to condemn the speech by Anning. And it should be condemned as it is factually wrong
according to Fairfax. It was also deliberately provocative, crude, racist and disgusting. The problem with Hanson et al condemning it is that they all have skin in using racism and hatred for political gain. Hanson’s ‘disapproval’ is disingenuous at best as her organisation was the one that put Anning in the Senate. Hanson’s comments were also probably a warning shot to ‘get off her turf’. Turnbull oversees the current inhumane policies towards refugees imposed by the Australian Government and his party’s current ‘elder statesman’ — John Howard — was the first to use the plight of refugees to win an election. Shorten doesn’t make treatment of refugees a point of difference between the ALP and LNP. Keating’s ALP Government introduced the concept of detention while refugees were ‘processed’. Pot – meet kettle. Demonstrating the point, as Paddy Manning wrote:
Within hours of denouncing Anning yesterday, Hanson introduced a bill backing the immigration plebiscite he’d proposed in Tuesday’s speech. Likewise, after decrying racism yesterday, as Andrew Wilkie tweeted, Labor and the Coalition “ganged up in Parliament to strip the rights away from 1,600 asylum seekers who’ve been illegally detained”. Only Wilkie, the Greens’ Adam Bandt and independent Cathy McGowan voted against the government’s legislation to retrospectively validate the excision of Ashmore Reef from Australia’s migration zone. Today Cory Bernardi tabled a 15,000-signature petition from the Halal Action Movement and moved a motion against Australia joining the UN’s Global Compact for Migration. It has to end.
So while the ‘shock and horror’ of Anning’s speech was still fresh in everyone’s minds, various politicians that were ‘outraged’ demonstrated that their words are cheap.
Unfortunately the trolls like Hanson, Anning and others such as Katter, Bernardi and Leyonhelm are seeking personal aggrandisement at your expense. It is far easier to attract followers by picking on a group such as Africans, non-Christians or those from the Middle East that don’t have the public recognition enjoyed by the trolls, blaming the group for some problem such as lack of employment for those from a low social-economic background and falsely claiming cause and effect.
It is base politics for the sake of base politics. From Manning’s article again:
We will not be the most successful multicultural nation in the world for long if this goes on. Something concrete has to happen to stop the downwards slide into open bigotry.
Look at Menzies’ ‘Forgotten People’ speech of 1942
or Chifley’s 1949 ‘Light on the Hill” speech
. While you might not agree with the particular points made in either speech, our politicians in the past could articulate policy that was inclusive, promoting a solution to perceived problems without hatred and finger pointing at those that ‘are different’ for some reason or other. They didn’t need to troll and incite hatred to gain publicity.
Australia is a successful multi-cultural society and like it or not, we are all immigrants to this country or descended from them. Perhaps Anning, Hanson and others who have a problem with multiculturalism should, in the words of a racist bumper sticker, ‘love Australia [as it is] or leave’. Meanwhile, the rest of us need to remember not to feed the trolls. The shame is, we really used to be better than this.
What do you think?