Razer's Class Warfare

Jan 9, 2018

Razer: Dutton’s ‘African gangs’ rubbish breaks with old-school Howard bigotry

Howard was a man whose bigotry may have been truly driven by policy. Peter Dutton is perhaps a politician driven by bigotry alone, writes Helen Razer.

Helen Razer — Writer and broadcaster

Helen Razer

Writer and broadcaster

I never was entirely sure about prime minister John Howard. I was sure, of course, that the guy would debauch the nation with his every legislative move. True, there was that one sober decision to reduce the number of local deaths by firearm, but so very many squiffy ones in the decade of shore leave that followed.

Oh. Come on. Don’t give me that “strong economic management” rubbish. Spend? Howard splashed the cash around like a drunk divorcee with a brand-new bottle of Lynx. High-earners enjoyed discounts on their super, $4.6 billion was blown in foreign exchange gambles and the turn taken during a commodities boom was not to save for a rainy day, but to drown already wealthy voters in a pool of cheap money. Even my neoclassical-ish pal B. Keane agrees that the history reads poorly.

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35 thoughts on “Razer: Dutton’s ‘African gangs’ rubbish breaks with old-school Howard bigotry

  1. Redgum

    Call this disgusting bastard out every chance that you get-and Bravo for reminding us what a creep Howard was.

  2. magnet

    “African Gangs” another dog whistling tag to add to Rights long list – Yellow Peril,Reds under the beds,Faceless men,Militant Unions,Boat people etc etc etc to name a few.Why would they stop it’s worked in the past and this one backed by Murdoch will no doubt work again.

  3. PeterMac

    It’s trawling for One Nation preferences in a “subtle” manner. My bet is that rather than making the deal and copping huge flak from Labor, Greens and the media, better to be the full on bigot that Hanson supporters love.

    1. Helen Razer

      Yeah. Your analysis is sound. But, I have to say that I think the contemporary tactic has become, per Trump, “just say the stupid and most embarrassing stuff you actually believe.”
      This, believe it or not, is a campaigning strategy. There’s some good stuff (actually written by traditional US conservatives) on the “no BS” approach to campaigning which had been suggested to Pat Buchanan by his campaign manager, but refused. I hate to say that I think it is effective. A load of Americans report that they voted for Trump because they believed him to be “honest”. It didn’t mean they liked what he said always. It just meant they liked the honesty, seen as a rare commodity in politics.
      At the beginning of his campaign, I don’t think Trump was quite the bigot he became. He was a New York liberal, a Dem donor and, despite Hillary’s efforts to distance herself, known socially to the Clintons. But, he began to believe the bigotry, I think. Tbh, a cranky old bloke with too much money and too few books read probably didn’t need to dig too deep before he found the bigot within.
      So, while I do understand your analysis, which would have been mine also pre US election, I think this “candour” and “saying what’s on your mind” thing is an actual thing. And I suspect, although do not know, Dutton is as unpleasant as he appears.

  4. seriously?

    Should have run a “caption the photo” competition too, Helen. Looks like Little Johnnie is well pleased with Mr Potatohead’s recount of shooting someone up a tree.

    1. Norm

      I rather like the photo. I think it captures even Howard thinking wtf, with Dutton in full flight.

      1. Helen Razer

        Agree, Norm. It’s like, “What is this post-Machiavellian speech style?!” This is what makes Howard different from the contemporary Libs. Or, most of them. He preferred subtler racism, more tactically deployed. He doesn’t get these constant sprays. The policy stays the same, of course, but the way it is represented to the people has changed a lot between 2007 and the present. And Malcolm’s Macron style is just not cutting it. In the party room or in the nation.

  5. klewso

    A bigot of political convenience vs a bigot of political connivance?

  6. Dog's Breakfast

    I think it comes back to how you define ‘bigot’, HR.

    I class Howard as the bigot-variety that was born behind a white picket fence, with white neighbours and school mates (as if he had any) and always assumed, like Americans, that this is so clearly the best way to live that all other cultures must be inferior and have nothing to add to this glorious white-bread life.

    On the other hand, Dutton seems more the malicious bigot, defined by a genuine and real hatred of the other, of difference, because he used to be a cop and all the people he arrested were from different cultures and with different skin colour, so what would you know.

    The malicious bigot may be less damaging in the long run. Howard did have enough sense and lack of genuine hatred that he could control his bigotry, maintain power and fleece everyone while giving off the embarrassing avuncular anti-charm that allowed him to stay in power.

    Dutton’s stripes may be just that more pronounced, and he might not have the discipline to hide his inner bastard so well.

    What they do have in common is their utter mediocrity, their total lack of curiosity and imagination, and an unfathomable ambition born of their inability to see how mediocre they are.

    God, we’re in a fix on a national and global scale at the moment.

    1. Helen Razer

      I could have written longer on this, Doggy. But I guess what I meant was that Howard’s more paternalistic bigotry (which may have existed, probably did in the way you characterise it) was used by him as a way to justify and/or mask economic policy. Which is, of course, the core business of government. Dutton, I believe, does not truly understand even equilibrium/neoliberal economic regimes and genuinely thinks that foreigners are taking our jobs etc. Of course, they are. But they work in slave conditions in the Global South.

  7. AR

    The one small comfort is that Dunnuttin is almost certain to lose his seat at the next election – assuming that there is one when a State of Emergency Siege Mentality is declared.

  8. Draco Houston

    I’m pretty sure he’s just a bigot, but mostly because I have a healthy hatred of Queensland Cops.

    Hope you enjoyed your break, welcome back.

    1. Helen Razer

      Also, D. But I suspect also that this “honesty” thing (as I have described elsewhere in comments) is also now a tactic. “Say the stuff you think,” was, by many accounts, an instruction given to Trump. The apparent “honesty” (even though it is sort of a performance of honesty, even though it may also describe a thing that the candidate or politician believes) works. Of course, it works on the leftier side of things, too. See Sanders and Corbyn, Melenchon, even Nicola Sturgeon, a bit.
      But, social democrats or socialists, of course, have the problem of believing in a struggle before themselves. So the “What I Really Reckon” thing doesn’t come so naturally. (A good thing ethically. Not tactically in this emerging reverse dog whistle “no BS” present.)

  9. Kel Dommage

    From memory, didn’t Mr Dutton suggest that African refugees are bludging off the dole while simultaneously taking our Aussie jobs? Or am I misremembering? Wouldn’t want to defame the great man.

  10. Iskandar

    Talk of being prescient. On 11 December last year I submitted a comment to Tony Walker’s article about Turnbull’s Beijing-bashing, calling it a rehashed red scare and yellow peril rolled into one, and commented further that these colours were trotted out because brown and black perils had lost their potency for now. Well bugger me if only a month later Malfeasance and Dudley didn’t come out with the “Black Peril”. I’m now waiting for a “Brown Peril” to be resurrected. Probably something to do with Indonesia, or boatload of asylum seekers.

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