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Pauline Hansonís long farewell

By Alice Aslan - posted Monday, 17 May 2010


Pauline Hanson, always a controversial figure, has recently drawn media attention to herself once again with her racist outburst - just before her departure from Australia. But it would have been too great an expectation for a fierce and outspoken woman like her to leave her ancestral land for good “quietly” and without making a scene.

Hanson, who is selling her Brisbane home to move to England, told a journalist that she wouldn’t sell her house to an Asian who has lived in Asia, but wouldn’t mind selling it to an Australian of Asian origin. And when the journalist, in an attempt to raise the stakes, asked if she would sell it to a Muslim buyer, Hanson not surprisingly said “no” with a self-righteous claim that Muslims are incompatible with Australian culture and way of life and would cause problems in the future.

Hanson, who held an open house and showed a television crew around her home, turned this opportunity into a farewell party. Just before embarking on her self-imposed exile in England, she once more showed she hasn’t lost her edge, and is as uncompromising and tough as ever when it comes to migrants. And her racist attitude is up-to-date: she is aware that singling out Aboriginal Australians and Asians for her discriminatory rhetoric is no longer sensational enough, therefore now embraces a more contemporary “racism” against Muslims.

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With this scandalous media appearance Hanson has also achieved a great nation-wide publicity for her house, which is priced over $2 million: in these tough economic times that is unimaginable for the average home buyer or seller. Now almost all Australians know that Hanson is selling her house, and many have already viewed the numerous pictures of her home on the internet.

The scandal-hungry media, which manipulated Hanson and also co-operated with her to spark this latest controversy by helping her pour out her heart one last time, were the other beneficiaries of the polemic and got rewarded with the opportunity to serve another piece of enticing news to their audience.

It is obvious that Pauline Hanson is deeply imbued with bitterness. Her bitterness, first of all, comes from her own personal failure in politics, and second, from her disappointment with the multicultural state of Australia which, in her opinion, has gone out of control.

In fact, Hanson has always engaged in “the politics of bitterness”. She briefly shined as a star with her One Nation Party in the late 1990s in an environment of social and economic insecurity that was brought about by the rapid spread of neo-liberal policies.

And in her heyday Hanson exploited the bitterness of, in particular, working-class and lower-middle class Australians who had to deal with increasing job insecurity in a society redefined by a ruthless free-market economy. She misplaced the socioeconomic anxieties and fears of those Aussies on to Aboriginal Australians and Asians. And she claimed that the government had only looked after minority interests, and consequently ordinary Anglo-Aussies were exposed to “reverse discrimination”.

Hanson also asserted that average Australians were actually opposed to migration and multiculturalism but could not voice their opinion without being branded “racist” by supporters of political correctness. Consequently she volunteered to become their voice.

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Nobody can deny that Hanson is courageous. She is a dragon woman with a fighting spirit who cares neither about the Anglo politeness nor political correctness. Although the typical Anglo politeness requires one not to tell what one really thinks and even to say “yes” when, in fact, one means “no” in order not to offend others, not to get into trouble and not to burn bridges, Hanson is always straightforward and ready to burn all her bridges.

And in complete contempt of the political correctness that discourages others from using inflammatory language so as not to cause discrimination against certain others, she always indulges in openly racist rhetoric. But her courage is destructive like every other courage that is not shaped and limited by ethics.

Maybe it is a human weakness to blame all the social ills on those who are different from the mainstream society in times of political conflict and economic crisis. Jean Paul Sartre, one of the greatest ever philosophers, for instance, tells in his book Portrait of the Anti-Semite that people in France, especially those with little chance of upward mobility, made the Jews the collective scapegoat for their personal misfortunes and those of their society during World War II.

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About the Author

Alice Aslan is a Turkish-Australian anthropologist, writer and activist based in Sydney. She is passionate about the arts, ideas and justice. She is the author of "Islamophobia in Australia". She can be contacted at alice.aslan@gmail.com

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