Common Sense Dies Here #30
Welcome to Common Sense Dies Here #30, a stern reminder that your patriotism is distasteful, your concerns about immigration parochial, and your views on crime illiberal.
Tony Abbott, a master of all 3, took his unsavoury opinions to the UK this week. Though he had previously warned “Britons against Brexit”, Tone said he’s now “quietly thrilled that the British people have resolved to claim back their country”. I’m not sure that stating something in a speech to a crowd of people is doing it “quietly”. But as I’ve said many times before, T doesn’t really do self awareness. Allegations that he was also talking up his chances of a return as PM while in Blighty suggest he doesn’t really do honesty either. Who am I kidding? I know for a fact he doesn’t do honesty. Without even touching on his sordid past, it’s been blindingly obvious for a while that his whole “I’m just a humble backbencher serving my constituents” act is a sham.
As he continues to covet one leadership position, Tone revealed that he’s taken up another as director of the Ramsay Centre for Western Civilisation. According to him, the organisation’s goal is “to promote a more widespread study and understanding of the Western canon”. While I did briefly wonder whether there was a spelling error there, I’m sure the rest of the world understand the Western cannon just fine from all the times it’s been pointed at their faces. But anyway, I imagine glorification of the Western canon is a more accurate description of the Ramsay Centre’s aims. You see, “study and understanding” implies the possibility of debate and critique, which doesn’t really tie in with Tone and his allies’ view of Western culture as something unimpeachable and inherently superior.
Which brings me back to comments he made a few weeks ago. He described the influx of migrants to Europe as a “peaceful invasion” that is threatening the ability of “European nations, individually and collectively, to keep their character”. If Tone thinks an influx of outsiders is a threat to the supposed collective character of Europe, it follows that he must feel the same away about “Western civilisation”. In reality, the only enduring collective trait of “Western civilisation” is majority white populations. So Tone basically believes that white people are all connected, and at risk of having their inherent superiority diluted by an invasion of inferior brown people. Which is white nationalism essentially, even if he does express it with what Cory Bernardi describes as “nuance” and “delicacy”. This is a former and possible future PM of Australia. It’s something worth remembering when you’re sighing about those “crazy Americans” after the next Donald Trump scandal.
UK PM, Theresa May, must have added to Tone’s “quiet” excitement by signalling the likelihood of a hard Brexit. “We are not leaving the European Union only to give up control of immigration again. And we are not leaving only to return to the jurisdiction of the European court of justice” she said. In a further rejection of calls to ensure Britain retains access to the single market, she told the Conservative Party conference “Just listen to the way a lot of politicians and commentators talk about the public. They find their patriotism distasteful, their concerns about immigration parochial, their views about crime illiberal, their attachment to their job security inconvenient. They find the fact that more than 17 million people voted to leave the European Union simply bewildering”. Fair play, apart from the job security one, that’s a frighteningly accurate description of me. I think people’s desire for job security is perfectly reasonable, but I don’t see how the recession likely to arise from a hard Brexit is gonna help.
Anyway, Theresa seemed a bit bewildered herself, as she also told the conference she’s forging a “new centre ground”. While I would like to think that’s an acknowledgment that British discourse has moved so far to the right that she can now be described as the centre, it seems more like a symptom of a Tone style deficit of self awareness. A personality emergency you could call it. Adding to that impression, she asserted “I want us to be a country where it doesn’t matter where you were born, who your parents are, where you went to school, what your accent sounds like, what god you worship, whether you’re a man or a woman, gay or straight, or black or white”. Sorry mate, but being “tough” on crime and immigration only entrenches inequality and discrimination.
Home secretary, Amber Rudd, showed just how committed the Tories are to creating a society in which it doesn’t matter where people were born, announcing a crackdown on immigrant workers “taking jobs British people could do”. Based on the suggestion she may force companies to publicly reveal how many foreign workers they employ, Amber intends to target immigrants legally entitled to work in the UK. Saying that these people are taking jobs British people could do is either an admission that employers are legally allowed to pay people unfair wages, or that the UK government hasn’t done enough to provide and encourage skill training in certain industries. If not one of those 2, then Amber can only be saying that businesses should employ British people that are unwilling or unable to do the jobs in question. Whichever it is, it’s not a good look for the Tories, who have been in power for the last 6 years. There was a tacit acknowledgment of this own goal when education secretary, Justine Greening, assured businesses that any stats collected on foreign workers would remain confidential and only be used to identify skills shortages.
In an even more bewildering own goal, some EU experts from the London School of Economics were informed their advice won’t be sought on Brexit because they’re not British citizens. I genuinely have no idea what they’re trying to achieve with this. Unless it’s the political equivalent of someone who’s about to get in a fight smashing a bottle over their head in the hope it’ll make their opponent think “This fucker’s crazy, if they’re willing to do that to themselves, what are they are gonna do to me?”. If so, it’s definitely an intriguing strategy, but I doubt its effectiveness considering the fight is gonna be 27 on 1.
Sticking with xenophobia and fighting, UKIP MEPs took a break from their fight to remain relevant so they could have a pop at each other. With Diane James resigning from the leadership after only 18 days in the job, the aforementioned MEPs met to discuss what was next. Things got heated, leading Mike Hookem and Steven Wolfe to take things outside. Steve was knocked out, and later lost consciousness again after suffering a seizure. Steve claimed Mike “came at” him and “landed a blow”, while Mike asserted he did nothing of the sort and that Steve knocked himself out. Whatever happened, none of this is really a surprise. UKIPers are a proudly anti-establishment bunch, so now that attacking immigrants and the EU is fully mainstream, they need somewhere else to direct all the mean spirited aggression.
Though Nigel Farage has TAKEN BACK CONTROL of the UKIP leadership on an interim basis, he insists he has no desire to return in the long term. He seems far more interested in focusing his unique brand of blokey malice on getting Donald Trump elected. Nige defended Don’s menacing performance in the second presidential debate, calling him a “a silverback gorilla” and a “ big alpha male”. From what I’ve read, silverback gorillas’ sexual practices seem far less aggressive than Don’s. But maybe this is all an attempt to positively reframe the word in case it’s revealed he’s previously compared black people with gorillas.
On to Australian homophobe’s continued attempts to positively reframe their bigotry. The ironically named Human Rights Law Alliance, formed by the Australian Christian Lobby, are seeking donations for a “fighting fund” to legally defend business people who have “a conscientious objection to participating in a same-sex wedding”. “We would not support anybody who was discriminating against anyone because of who they are, that is, because they’re gay” claimed HRLA managing director, Martyn Iles. Nice try mate, but opposition to marriage equality is inherently based on the idea that same sex couples are less worthy than heterosexual ones.
It’s pretty simple really, the ACL, HRLC, and their allies are opposed to a definition of marriage supported by the majority of society. So when same sex marriage is legalised, if business people with that view want to stand up for their conscience, they can by refusing to serve all weddings, regardless of the participants’ sexual orientation. If they do this, they won’t have to worry about breaching discrimination laws. And instead of donating to the HRLC, fellow reactionaries can spend their money on something fucking worthwhile like the poor. Not that this will happen, of course, they’re all far too invested in depicting themselves as the ones being oppressed. Bloody victim culture, right?
George Brandis is in conflict with solicitor-general, Justin Gleeson, over same sex marriage and other issues. Despite George’s claims to the contrary, Justin says he wasn’t properly consulted on the same sex marriage plebiscite, moves to strip terrorism offenders of their citizenship, and a legally binding directive that forces parliamentarians to gain George’s permission before seeking the SG’s advice. Justin’s allegations led Labor to accuse George of misleading parliament, and call for his resignation. They also attacked him for attempting to sideline the SG, in what both Mark Dreyfus and Penny Wong called a “power grab”.
George attempted to combat the claims he misled parliament by releasing a letter he said proves the only real issue is Justin’s disgruntlement over the new rule. But he ended up embarrassed when it was he revealed he had redacted all the references to Justin’s other concerns. Also, considering George sought separate advice on the plebiscite from a former SG, David Bennett, it’s hard not to see the contentious regulation as an attempt to prevent Justin from giving politically inconvenient advice. So even if it was just about that, Justin would still have point.
Elsewhere, the government continued its fight to avoid doing anything meaningful about malfeasance in the banking industry. The CEOs of ANZ, CBA, NAB, and Westpac fronted up to the House of Representatives Economics Committee. They were all very sorry for customers that have been mistreated, and assured everyone that they are doing everything they can to stop it happening in the future. Yet they failed to properly outline what exactly they are doing to ensure that, and refused to admit there are cultural problems within the industry.
In response, Mal Turnbull announced his plans for “a low cost, speedy tribunal to deal with these types of consumer complaints, customer complaints against banks” . Though Mal claimed this amounts to “real action”, chief executive of the Consumer Action Law Centre, Gerard Brody, said “Tribunals are inevitably legalistic, not accessible, and can be over-run by risks of appeal to the courts. The ombudsman model has proven effective”. So basically, this tribunal will either be worse than the current system, or very similar. Which begs the question, instead of instituting a brand new body, why not just focus on making the current ombudsman process even more effective? I suspect the answer is this way the government looks like they’re doing a lot while actually doing very little.
Rodrigo Duterte’s combative stance has called the US’ intentions into question. Rod told Barack Obama to “go to hell”. “For as long as I am there, do not treat us like a doormat because you’ll be sorry for it. I will not speak with you. I can always go to China” he said. Foreign secretary, Perfecto Yasay, added “Breaking away from the shackling dependency of the Philippines to effectively address both internal and external security threats has become imperative in putting an end to our nation’s subservience to United States’ interests”. And to prove that it wasn’t just rhetoric, defence secretary, Delfin Lorenzana, suspended joint exercises with the US military.
Now, the US has presented the Philippines as the foremost example of the kind of underdog that they’re looking to protect from China’s bullying and violations of international law in the South China Sea. Maintaining this claim will be a lot more difficult now, even if Rod doesn’t cosy up to China. If they wish to maintain their military presence in his country, they may have to coerce him into allowing it. Or if they manage to make a deal, it’s likely they’ll be forced to overlook the fact he is, himself, a bully with no regard for international law. Either way, any illusions that they’re acting on anything other than their own self interest will be obliterated. I’m sure they’ll keep trying to pretend though, such blatant contradictions are the norm when it comes to US foreign policy.
In the US, the target of Rod’s taunts, Barack Obama, celebrated the fact the Paris climate deal will soon come into effect. “This gives us the best possible shot to save the one planet we got. With optimism and faith and hope, we are proving it is possible” Baz said. This is usually where I point out that even if the Paris targets are met, it won’t be enough to keep global warming below 2 degrees Celsius. But events over the last 2 weeks have changed my whole perspective. Sure, the planet is supposed to be the hottest it’s been for the last 115,000 years. Sure, the level of methane emissions have been found to be between 20% and 60% higher than previously thought. And yes, a study from the Global Commission on the Economy and Climate does suggest that around $90 trillion will need to be spent on new infrastructure in order to avoid climate catastrophe. But so what? You’re all missing the bigger picture here.
The destruction caused by Hurricane Matthew further illustrates the devastating effects of dangerously empowered wind. It’s plain to see nature is the real fucking menace here. It’ll kill us all unless we destroy it first. All these social justice weirdos crying for wind power, solar power, tofu power, and whatever else are a threat to Western civilisation. It’s bloody reverse discrimination. So excuse me, I’m off to maliciously fart while pointlessly burning coal soaked in petrol.