About a year ago, I (along with some others) ran a campaign to have actor and known supporter of hate collective Gamergate Adam Baldwin uninvited from a local pop culture convention. Despite our best efforts, it was unsuccessful; as can be expected, the organisers were more keen on siding with their contracted guest and believing their claims of good behaviour, than to work to the benefit of their patrons’ safety.
However, I was asked regularly then (and also recently) why I never approached the Department of Immigration. The common argument was that I was going for a “soft target” in the convention organisers, and should have gone directly to a government authority to “get results”.
Personally, not only was this always out of the question, but the ease at which some progressives would suggest such an action has always baffled me.
Having someone barred from entry into Australia by the Department of Immigration has become such commonplace that you’d be forgiven for thinking it was a national pastime. Over the past two years, we’ve had the visas of poker player Dan Bilzerian, pick-up artist Julien Blanc, boxer Floyd Mayweather, and rapper Chris Brown either denied or revoked. Additionally, rapper Tyler the Creator cancelled his tour, citing pressures during his visa application.
The running theme is that these are almost always men who have committed or promoted violence against women. Groups like Collective Shout and Destroy The Joint lobby authorities with this point, often using social media to their benefit, until the desired outcome arises. Case in point: today, one of Julien Blanc Real Social Dynamics compatriots, Jeff Allen, just had his visa revoked.
But grovelling at Peter Dutton’s feet to deny visas and protect us from a select few high-profile scumbags is not only a big exercise for progressives in cognitive dissonance — this is the guy who oversees the racist Operation Sovereign Borders — it also sets a horrible precedent.
Pakistan’s treatment of women, as a national community, is less than stellar. The gender divide runs deeper there, with women still placed in severely subordinate roles. Pakistani women also have a higher mortality rate and are more often the victim of honor killings than men.
However, immigration for Pakistani men and women is still incredibly difficult. Pakistani citizens and people of Pakistani heritage often face road blocks and red tape when travelling, from facing extra levels of screening and border patrols to having visas indefinitely delayed. Recently, NSW Greens MLC Mehreen Faruqi faced a barrage of questions about her background when travelling to the USA. Border security even went as far as claiming her passport was falsified, despite her status as a politician.
How easy would it be, then, for someone like Peter Dutton to claim that the same procedures that “protect” Australia from the likes of Blanc, Bilzerian and Brown, are also protecting Australian women from Pakistani men? Or any country with questionable practices towards women, including my own country of birth, Brazil? As the recent Chris Gayle saga has proven, Australia loves a good witch hunt against predatory foreign men. So it would definitely help their bottom line in the polls.
Yes, this is painting a broad stroke, but that’s the problem with immigration policies in general, including more “thorough” measures like character tests: they’re not designed for discretion. They’re designed to be applied quickly and effectively to the benefit of the ruling class — in Australia’s case, white, affluent men and women. And when you are asking a conservative government who has overseen the rape and torture of women in detention to apply another set of rules to those seeking entry into Australia, you are essentially giving them another weapon in their vast arsenal. It also solidifies the conservative argument that we need Dutton and Co. as Australia’s Gatekeepers; that an open border policy doesn’t work, lest an undesirable sneak in.
If we stopped treating Dutton and his comrades like these gatekeepers, and actually placed the onus on us as a community to stop these scum, we might get somewhere. Boycott events and businesses that host them. Write to, call, and message sponsors that support them in any means — even indirectly. Even a traditional protest is effective. It would also place more pressure on all parts of community — businesses, media, and unaffiliated organisations — to exercise more ethical practices. Asking the government to do it for us is a very dangerous backwards step.