Monday, July 12, 2010

Reffophobia and apologia on the left- or why it's ok to be angry

There's a lot of work going into examining the motives of those attacking Ms Gillard, particularly in respect of whether some may be motivated by misogyny, or ignorance, or some other explanation.

Sure, examine away. That's legitimate. So too is questioning what is behind people who claim to care about refugees leaping stridently to her defence.

There probably are some gender bigots among those hammering her. I hammered Rudd on the same issue.

There are probably also some racists, and a far larger contingent of awkward hand wringers and ill-read ignorant-types (who really do find some elements of truth in all those references to people smugglers, queues, overcrowding et al), among those springing to her defence. The stats suggest there must be a bit of crossover, as much as we're a marginal dictatorship the asylum message has clearly touched otherwise generous and not-at-all xenophobic people across the country.

In these discussions it's been said that anger is a clue to some unreasonable or irrational motive. Sounds as gendered as 'blood under her nails' to me. Women get angry, men get use their fingernails in combat, but we know which gender each image is more usually paired with.

I'm angry, what of it? You see desperate people rotting in boats and camps while the politics of race flairs out and you don't get angry, well, don't start on some other progressive issue then. Go be calm under the wonderful status quo. And don't get angry about some other issue that for you is important, if it doesn't involve people as vulnerable as the ones I'm upset over. I often vent about thinks that upset me here, sometimes it's in the realm of anger. But I don't go around feeling anger every other day. This issue, those words said, these policies, make me angry.

There's an argument Gillard's getting special treatment. There may be some merit in this. I tend to think it's more related to a mix of timing and policy- she came in now, and was compelled to address ugly policy issues, and some of us are particularly upset at how she did that. But timing aside, looking at the Lawrences, the Kirners, the Kernots, the nasty little comments that have been directed at Gillard over her familial status, there's no doubt there are some big double-standards out there. So bring on the analysis. Bring on, for the likes of myself, the self-reflection. Perhaps we've vented too quickly at Gillard, as opposed to Labor in general. She's been appalling; but equally so has the party machine, and so was Rudd c2010, so let's keep some perspective and work on our even-handedness.

I liked her until recently. I promise to try to like her again. If her policies improve.

So, there's something there to work with.

And there's some pretty gross human rights abuses going on, now, on Gillard's watch. Some stupid policy fumbling, some making the ignorant, the bigoted and yes, the at-times outright racist, feel loved and understood. There's one of the most repellant speeches given since the middle of the Howard term.

And there are people who call all forms of bigotry. And those who seem more angry, sorry -earnestly upset, about the fact that Gillard is not being given an appropriate honeymoon.

Is it legit to be annoyed, or even angry, if it appears she's getting unfair treatment due to her gender. Damn straight.

Does it say something about people if they can't comprehend or empathise with the very strong emotions some of us feel about refugees, race, that whole awkward Cronulla *thing*? Maybe, in some cases, it does.

Maybe just as 'blood under her fingernails' is gendered, so too 'I hear you bogans and I heart your right to be ignorant' is dripping with this country's deep, nasty narrative of fear and race.

Am I suggesting perhaps at least 1 in 3 of those who are not getting it might not hold the same level of concern (to put it nicely, ever so nicely) about refugees, race, that whole awkward Cronulla *thing* that those of us who are more angry, hold?


But - and read this before you take the slightest bit of umbrage or in any way misunderstand me- as a wise and decent person once said to me:

If it's not about you, then it's not about you.

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