Of Jacqui Lambie’s recent Facebook jingoism, there is little that remains to be said. This owes less to a richness of published analysis than it does to the fact that there is not very much at all to say about the Senator’s Palinesque turn. The woman made a dick of herself. It’s not a complex text.
All reasonable people, and some unreasonable ones too, agree that the call to “ban the burqa” was an act of alliterative ignorance. Even PUP leader Clive Palmer, himself barely redeemed from a true blue potshot at China, has urged his Senator to dilute her nationalistic home brew.
But the fact that most everyone agrees that Australia is not the kind of place that will ever approve the secular intolerance of the French shall not stand in the way of editorial commissions. The bleeding obvious gets page-views, and so dozens of professional writers and thousands of tolerance hobbyists took to media old and new in an effort to agree conspicuously with each other and state the bleeding obvious.
While Lambie’s stark idiocy om Islam was taken in some rare cases as a basis for more sober reminders, this week has pretty much been one of people telling other people that their take on Lambie was the one that had truly “nailed it”.
A great number of pieces opposed a proposition supported by a trifling minority. While it is true that some Muslim feminists have spoken well about the inoffensiveness of gendered dress, it is also true that my news feeds were choked by a significant volume of shit that sticks less to our understanding of otherness than it does of the liberalism of the author. A critique of Jacqui Lambie is an exercise in personal branding for demi-journalists eager to sell future soft progressive poop to an audience that enjoys the simple pleasure of being reminded that it is correct on easy moral issues.
Of course it is wrong to “ban the burqa”. This is a tedious conversation, and not least because the burqa will never be banned in Australia and not most because obviously only wads of pseudo-human who have had their faculty for ethical thought replaced with clockwork dildos could possibly think that a piece of cloth poses a threat of any kind. It’s been a very bad week for Lambie, who has passed from PUP populist to zealot, and it’s been a very good week for news organisations that can publish a great volume of censure and a small volume of extremist support. Frankly, everybody’s happy save for Lambie, whose internal mechanism for regret is surely overwound, and, of course, for Muslim women, who must be sick as hell of their national function as an Important Symbol of either war or peace.
The peculiar thing about a long-tail era that can produce a great diversity of analysis is that it does serve up the same thing over and again. It is not so much that Lambie has not earned ridicule — she’s an unedited buffoon fascinating only for five minutes as a testament to the slow death of the electorate’s patience for spin. The problem is that this dreadful and dreadfully simple story of a known tool being a tool is everywhere we turn. And it’s written from the same perspective.
Perhaps Blot will check his O’Reilly handbook to see if he can offer up a counterpoint to what he erroneously calls “The Left”. But apart from an occasional moment of shareable hate-reading, this “narrative”, which is really more like a Golden Book for simple children who love to hate a wicked queen at bedtime, is so dominant, one wonders why we bother to have an internet at all. There was a time newspapers published surprising analysis. Now, even unpaid bloggers pile on to this nothing nonsense in an effort to “nail” the grotesquery of Jacqui Lambie.
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Lambie represents Australian public opinion about as accurately as the foot soldiers of Islamic State signify the Muslim world. Which is to say, badly and numbly and not at all. She is an expendable ideologue automated by forces she does not recognise and will likely never understand. She represents nothing more than a reflex, and revulsion for her is the simplest thing in the world. To disapprove of Jacqui (or IS) is every bit as irresistible and socially significant as “liking” a picture of a kitten in a box. Or, indeed, of petting little Hermione.
While Jacqui played the villain for the pantomime of digital “opinion”, actress Emma Watson was our princess. The diverse, fascinating internet offered predictable approval of a wan UN speech by a dull liberal that had at its core an urging that a better attitude could save the world.
In one of the international news stories of the Western week, the young goodwill ambassador was uniformly lauded for suggesting that the way to end gender inequality was by talking about it. This is a bit like saying that the way to prevent the harmful effects of anthropogenic climate change is by having a conference every few years where world leaders agree to talk about it in another few years. Which, of course, they do. And the planet is still warming and has no plans to stop. And it won’t without radical intervention, just as economic and social discrimination will not stop thanks to the efforts of an awareness program with a terrible name like HeForShe.
Watson’s speech was nothing more than the worst kind of UN injunction, which tells us that it is the morality of individuals that is to blame for inequality and not, after all, structures stubbornly sustained by economic practice. But it was hailed everywhere as Important. Just as Lambie was hailed as Significant. And frankly, they’re both about as potent as a kitten in a box.
But boxed kittens are great digital capital. They give us the opportunity to agree and like and share. It’s been another week of cuddly liberalism where we are all united by the delusion that the digital landscape offers us real diversity and where the stunted political imagination of the age prevents us from thinking our way beyond a solution to injustice more complex than agreeing to be nice.