Politics in trenches

In response to Pauline Hanson’s maiden speech, all nine Greens senators walked out of the senate in a move that Greens Leader Richard Di Natale described as “reaching out decent Australians” by speaking out against racism. However this action by the Greens, much like Pauline’s speech itself, has caused controversy.

The speech, and the response to it, summarises the problems between the left and the right. While the statements made by Pauline range from ridiculous, defamatory, untrue, and likely to incite hatred, the action by the Greens did not do anything to remedy that issue. If anything, it may have had the opposite
effect. It may have proven in the eyes of Hanson supporters that the Greens are ‘latté sipping, elitist socialists’, out of touch with the increasingly disillusioned working class. This has led to far right groups making ridiculous claims of bigotry that are seemingly unable to tell the difference between historical and systematic oppression based on identifiers that cannot be altered or chosen by individuals, and are expressed by people simply wishing to oppose opinions that other people choose to have.

I was *inspired* by a Junkee Video of with a overtly hipster-ish bearded tattooed guy talking about how getting news through social media has led many people to be in “echo chambers”. In order to save myself from my friends socially progressive/liberal/centrist-to-left opinions (over the last few months) I have forced myself to do the following:
1. Follow The Australian on Facebook
2. Actually read these articles… past the headlines
3. Read the comments… and occasionally actually comment.
Like most Facebook comment threads, the ones in response to The Australian are all fairly feral, illiterate and horrifying and likely to make you think horrible things, like “Socrates was right democracy is a terrible idea”. Yet other than an increase in misanthropy, it’s been an experience. And viewing both sides has led me to this conclusion: The right love to troll. The left adore calling out.

While there is certainly scope for real criticism on many issues, the foot soldiers of the right never takes that opportunity. Instead, it opts for ridiculing the issues, creating straw men and making intellectually deficit claims. They fail at every level to understand what they are discussing – they know that they hate ‘political correctness’ but have no real understanding of what that means, or the actual purpose of what that is.

The left, on the other hand, have strangely similar problems. While much like how there is space for criticism on issues, there’s certainly a legitimacy in calling out problematic actions or statements. Yet the foot soldiers of the left too often call out individuals, rather than actions and opinions. “What that person says is illegitimate because they (the person who said it) are/racist/sexist/queerphobic, etc.”

Politics is personal, and on both the left and the right, individuals feel hurt and disregarded. They also feel genuinely terrified. Whether or not we think that these feelings are legitimate, both sides *feel* oppressed, and in some cases they are. The feeling on both sides is that the other side is not willing to educate themselves about their issues or struggles, and not willing to take measures to reconcile. This is also true.
Preaching to the converted does not solve any issues. It only digs our political graves.

Tags : Australian PoliticsGreensPauline Hanson
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