Making sense of Malcolm’s racism

I was thinking about Turnbull. He’s a highly educated man, with I think a degree of cosmopolitanism to him. I thought, I might expect him to be prejudiced against the lower classes, but it may be less likely that he would be prejudiced against people from different lands and cultures. So how to explain his cruelty towards asylum seekers? I thought, well, there’s no reason to think the wealthy or educated (etc) wouldn’t be prejudiced any more or any less than anyone else. I thought of the Young Liberals who were reported singing racist and homophobic songs. Then it occurred to me: Malcolm’s popularity has been plummeting. He stands no hope of winning the next election, and he has no issue on which he can gain traction. Public opinion is well to the left of Liberals (and Labor too for that matter) on climate change. The public trusts Labor on the economy, and certainly is still unhappy about workchoices. Turnbull tried to make a fuss over the email and ute etc thing, which blew up in his face. So where could he go? Same place Howard went: blame the foreigners.

I think this probably follows a long tradition, though I haven’t followed it. Leftists talk about this kind of thing: divide the workers by pitting them against each other. The incredible – but unsurprising – thing is that Labor is trying to outbid the Liberals about how cruel they can be to asylum seekers. It really boggles the mind that Turnbull could actually say that Labor were too soft on refugees. Hopefully, the media can give more play to refugee voices. I think we should ask Labor and Liberals: Do you think we’re too soft, and should be crueller to this little girl?

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