Thursday, November 03, 2011

Sheridan in trouble over use of the term 'illegals' - what are the odds this pamphleteer would be whipping up fear & loathing?

Crikey reports today that "Sheridan flouts Press Council directive on ‘illegal’ asylum seekers". I put my two bob's worth into the fray, repeating sentiments oft articulated on this site:

"Sheridan is amongst a group of commentators on international affairs who dress narrow polemics up as reasoned analysis. This guy is a propagandist from way back.

The asylum seeker issue is fuelled by hysteria and incendiary demonising by his ilk and finds a largely credulous audience with their ready prejudices (like this twit above), ready to disbelieve the legitimate claims of asylum seekers who didn’t stand in a non-existent queue of orderly people waiting for whichever repressive regime they are escaping to allow them to migrate, or a third world stopover suffused with social and economic disadvantage. The silliness of this position overwhelms me at times.

The history of propaganda reveals you can package lies very successfully if they play to irrational fears and prejudices – it is especially difficult to counter when cloaked in the garb of ‘border security’. So the term ‘illegals’ is tailor made for the job!

The Coalition’s constant vilification of Labor for being weak on border protection has now morphed into a hypocritical concern for the rights of refugees. These of course - yes, you guessed it - will be protected on Nauru.

But how can anyone forget the Libs’ response to Tampa and kids overboard? Blame the victims for their own plight, extract as much sensationalism out of the role of people smugglers, put words in the mouth of ADF personnel who cannot answer for themselves, and then whip up public sentiment against refugees. Throw in dollops of confected outrage over your political opponents complete lack of preparedness to face down the ‘threat’ and you have your stock in trade ‘dog whistle’ response to the terrible plight of some of the most vulnerable people on the planet.

Oh, I forgot - then you can set about making weak neighbouring countries complicit in policies that violate human rights! Sadly, the Labor government fell in behind this construct too easily! It now has an opportunity to put things right.

Is it possible that our general decency might be something Australians can be proud of again? A sensible, humane and orderly approach to offshore processing, which involves regional partners to their benefit, could be a crucial element to stymie the smuggling trade, whilst enabling on-shore processing within the community after mandatory health checks are completed in short-term detention.

Arrangements with key community groups to manage welfare, work-for-allowance strategies and language training could be developed to integrate asylum seekers in the larger society soon after their arrival. Regional areas with labour shortfalls could be targeted for short-term settlement in this respect.

The UNHCR & IOM could be brought in as partners in the process to lend their mandated legitimacy to the exercise. Isn’t it time to stop playing the narcissistic school-yard drop-kick with the bullying posture and derogatory language and start behaving like responsible grown-ups?"

What are the odds?