Sunday, July 12, 2009

Piers Akerman, boat people, kicking the can and a shameless lack of shame

When a scandalous and fraudulent header greets you on a Sunday morning, you sigh. You know it has to be Piers Akerman. Here it is:

Now when I consulted sundry online dictionaries, here was the definition of open door that popped up:

1. Unhindered opportunity; free access.
2. Admission to all on equal terms.
3. A policy whereby a nation trades with all other nations on equal terms.

So the header could only be described as mendacious, misleading, deceptive and fraudulent. So could the rest of the story, which is a typical bit of dog whistling scare mongering by Akerman about the arrival of boat people. Akerman does his best to establish that the Rudd government has launched an open door policy - which is a wondrous trick given that they haven't abolished the Christmas Island facility, where they lock up children out of eyesight - but of course Akerman isn't interested in a rational debate.

Instead his target audience is the extreme right anti-immigration component of his readership. Which is why his concluding remark is both profoundly pious and profoundly hypocritical. After moaning yet again about the golden glories of the Howard years - when will the right get over the fact that Howard is gone, gone, gone - the fat owl of the remove wraps it up with this:

Such flouting of the community will is doubtless going to result in increased numbers embracing unwholesome anti-immigration groups.

Unwholesome anti-immigration groups? What about the number of unwholesome anti-immigration commentariat columnists?

Maybe his readers failed to note the adjective unwholesome. First up comment:

I blame both sides of Politics for all the different nationailities coming into our country.......... our doors have been open since Vietnam ........ and they came out hear to live after the war.......... and all Governments Politicians looked after them....... more so than our guys who came home from Vietnam....and now we have more Muslim religion who try to change us as they dont want to leave their past behind them…
Enough is enough these boat people should come hear the right way or not at all/
as a matter of fact stop migrants for a few years as we are all going through tough times,and also why should Australian tax payers spend tax payers money supporting them.

Oh he knows how to hit a target audience does our Piers. Stop all migrants now! How about a little bonus prejudice? Sure thing:

Most opf the illegals today are from the middle east, and there are believed to be aprox 50,000 more waiting in Indonesia top come here.
Middle East migrants dont do all the crime but they do nearly all the most violent ones.

... Today we are paying for this absurd idea that all cultures are equal. No migrants don’t do all the crime but third world migrants do almost all of the most violent ones. They also run the majority of the drug trade, prostitution, kidnappings, car theft and re-berthing, home invasions, ram raids, standover crimes, muggings, stabbings, murder,welfare fraud and the list goes on. In return what have we got ...Ethnic food
Middle East gangs involved in drug trafficking were responsible for a surge in crime, particularly violent crime, in Australia, retiring Federal Police Commissioner Mick Palmer warned (March 12)."The greater use of hand guns and knives, Mr Palmer said, “is a reflection of behaviour in the countries from where they came”.

In remarkable news today, it was announced that in Britain and the United States, the use of hand guns and knives had been unknown in these countries until recent times, while in Australia a spokesperson deplored the tendency to replace the cut throat razor with knives. If it was good enough for the razor gangs, he noted, a cut throat should be good enough for today's criminals. A spokesperson refused to comment on why baseball bats would only be sold to those who could demonstrate they weren't members of the Balmain branch of the ALP.

On and on Piers ragtag pack of ratbags ranted in an anti-immigrant fervor worthy of the English trying to stop the Irish turning up in Liverpool.

The funniest thing about all this? It was the Vietnam war that saw an influx of Vietnamese into this country. Now in Sydney the Vietnamese community seem to control every second dry cleaning store, and every third faux French bread shop (with lamingtons of course) while the number of Vietnamese restaurants is equalled only by the number of Thai and Indian. Personally I don't mind - I eat better, my clothes are clean, and I don't bother with the bread, which bears only a passing resemblance to the French model (too much sugar and salt, designed for the crude Australian palate).

Now of course under the Howard government, Australia embarked on a couple of great adventures - in Iraq and Afghanistan - with a fairly remote connection to these shores, and brave Australian lads and lasses (so we're told) have been roaming the world, fighting for truth, justice and democracy, and advertising what a great and free and wonderful place Australia is in which to live.

Given the choice of living in an Iraq torn by war for six years (not to mention the many years before), or Afghanistan (when has it not been at war) or Pakistan (disrupted by the war in Afghanistan but with its own very long set of ruling class follies), or for that matter Sri Lanka or the theocratic Iran or Lebanon, bombed by Israel and betrayed by Syria, where might you decide to live if you had even the remotest of chances ...

Do Akerman or his readers have any empathetic understanding of the sheer desperation of people driven to hop into a leaky boat and cross dangerous seas while trusting in corrupt criminals? Do these same readers imagine things will get better as things fall further apart in the world? 

Well actually there was one reader that made a plaintive plea:

Anything to whip up a bit of hysteria eh Piers?
Marginalise/demonise to try and produce what is an altered reality.
I feel sorry for people like yourself who seem to thrive on division and a basic lack of decency in order to function.
The world in Socio-economic turmoil and all you can do is pander to xenophobes! Is it any wonder that a compassionate and caring society seems so far from achieving when we have your outdated propaganda to perpetuate hatred and fear?
You call these PEOPLE illegals? A faceless mob to be fearful of? You should be ashamed of yourself.

To which Akerman replied:

Jamie, why should I be ashamed of reminding readers of the duplicity of the Rudd government?

What a pity Akerman couldn't have ended his story with a heartfelt plea for tolerance and understanding:

Such articles by commentariat columnists will doubtless result in increased numbers embracing unwholesome anti-immigration groups. And I'm terribly pleased about that because I hate Kevin Rudd so much I'd stoop to anything, throw any kind of mud, dig up any kind of shit, no matter the stench, to conquer. Call me a grub, call me vile, but  please send me your poor and homeless, and watch me make hay with them.

But at least he made the honest reply. Shame? I have no sense of shame, and that's why I can go on being shameless until the cows come home, and the immigrant boat people can is so soundly kicked, it'll be flatter than a pancake.

Which raises only one further question in my mind. Why do people still keep buying the Sunday Telegraph? Cash in the paw only eggs them on, while an online click only sends them into a huddle, trying to work out how to charge freeloaders for the pleasure of reading Piers Akerman.

Your choice, but I'd rather spend six months in a leaky boat than pay for Akerman's musings. Bring on the paywall, bring it on now.

When I was a young boy
I wanted to sail around the world
That's the life for me, living on the sea
Spirit of a sailor, circumnavigates the globe
The lust of a pioneer, will acknowledge
No frontier
I remember you by, thunderclap in the sky
Lightning flash, tempers flare,
'round the horn if you dare
I just spent six months in a leaky boat
Lucky just to keep afloat

Aotearoa, rugged individual
Glisten like a pearl
At the bottom of the world
The tyranny of distance
Didn't stop the cavalier
So why should it stop me
I'll conquer and stay free
Ah c'mon all you lads
Let's forget and forgive
There's a world to explore
Tales to tell back on shore
I just spent six months in a leaky boat
Six months in a leaky boat

Ship-wrecked love can be cruel
Don't be fooled by her kind
There's a wind in my sails
Will protect and prevail
I just spent six months in a leaky boat
Nothing to it leaky boat.

(Songwriters: Finn, Neil Mullane; Griggs, Nigel; Crombie, Noel; Finn, Tim; Rayner, Edward)

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