politics

Mia Freedman: "No, I don't respect Pauline Hanson."

After a weekend when the nation collectively has blue-balls about the lack of an election result and everyone is flapping about wondering what it all means, Pauline Hanson has come screeching back onto the political stage and sucked up all the media oxygen left by the vacuum of any concrete news.

Her news is concrete and it’s hardened my heart: she’s back in parliament ready to preach her unique brand of dangerous and wildly irresponsible ideas that have no basis in fact, science or human decency.

Does she deserve our respect as some defenders have claimed? I don’t believe she does. Respect must be earned and when someone has decades long history of peddling false, inflammatory dogma that stigmatises minority groups and incites hatred, distrust and division in the community, what possible cause do they have to demand anything other than ridicule?

"Does she deserve our respect as some defenders have claimed?" Image via Getty.

It's easy to laugh at Pauline Hanson. She rarely speaks in complete sentences or with correct grammar - that's one of the things her supporters claim to love about her by the way - and she's so obviously out of her depth when quizzed by reporters. She comes across as angry, shrill and inarticulate and yet she gives voice to a vocal group of people who claim they are "victims of political correctness".

Let's be very clear about what that means. These are mostly men - the vast majority of her supporters are middle aged anglo-saxon men, around 80% according to Daily Telegraph political editor, Malcolm Farr - who are angry. They are angry that all the freedoms they used to have as the unchallenged dominant class in Australia have been diminished by other groups they used to be able to push around - figuratively and literally. They don't like it that they can't tell racist, sexist or homophobic jokes anymore. They don't like it that there is a societal understanding that women, people of other religions, races and sexual orientations deserve equal rights. They don't like it.

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They see the gains made by women and minority groups as direct losses for themselves. They genuinely believe that straight white anglo men are under attack and they're tired of having to cede any of their power or re-learn the rules of engagement in society (e.g: you can't tell a racist/sexist/homophobic joke anymore and expect the room to laugh along with you).

"Her ideas sew seeds of doubt and fear and hatred." Image via Channel 7.

Pauline Hanson has listened to these people - along with all the other fear-based, ignorant, misinformed, science-denying fringe groups including anti-vaxxers, climate change deniers, men's rights activists, white supremacists - and she's taking their message to Canberra.

This is terrifying. Because the way people consume news these days is in sound bites and headlines. Nobody has the time or inclination to know much more than that when it comes to politics. So they'll hear Pauline Hanson talk about Australia being 'swamped by Asians Muslims' or that we need a royal commission into climate science (how about one on gravity too?) or that vaccination causes autism and it will sew seeds of doubt and fear and hatred.

Here are just some of the things she has said since the weekend:

On being skeptical about vaccination... 

"I have had so many people who have brought it to my attention, that's why their kids are autistic...We haven't done the research enough, what is causing these kids to have autism, what is having all the cancer in our community, have we had enough answers into the cancer?"

Read the full interview here

On wanting a Royal Commission into Islam... 

"You have our values, culture and way of life, you don't have a full burka... You don't keep putting up mosques. You cannot deny the fact that in these mosques they have been known to preach hate towards us.

"Do you want to see terrorism on the streets here?

"I'm not preaching hate, I'm trying to have a debate and a royal inquiry into it... You're having a go at me, because I stand up for my culture, my country, and way of life."

Listen to the whole speech here

On feeling that Asian people are swamping the country... 

"Every time you go to an auction in Melbourne it is full of Asians and Australians can't even get a foot in the door to buy housing in their own country."

After Kyle Sandilands asked Hanson, "aren’t the Asians Australian as well?” Hanson replied, “Are they? There’s no identification.”

Read the full interview here

On wanting a Royal Commission into climate change science... 

"Climate change has and will continue to be used as a political agenda by politicians and self interest groups or individuals for their own gain. We cannot allow scare mongering by people such as Tim Flannery, who make outlandish statements and are not held accountable. Climate change should not be about making money for a lot of people and giving scientists money."

Read the full One Nation climate policy here

So what's my point? We can't unvote her into the Senate. Sadly. We can't refuse to report her lies, her scare mongering and her bigotry. The media doesn't work that way. The standard you walk past is the standard you accept. She must be challenged on every misinformed statement she makes.
My point is that we need to be aware of the true dangers Pauline Hanson and One Nation pose to our society. It's real.
Watch Pauline Hanson's announcement via Facebook today that she's 'putting the media on notice.' Post continues after video...
Video via Pauline Hanson

The hatred and racism towards people who are Muslim is real. The effects of that will range from women wearing hijab being abused in the street to violence against Muslim people.

The outrageous lies she peddles about vaccination being unsafe or (FACE-PALM) linked to autism will have a direct impact on vaccination rates across the country. Vaccine-preventable diseases will increase. The lives of babies too young to be immunised will be at risk.

Pauline Hanson is not a joke. She is a real and present danger.

And while I would never advocate abuse or threats of violence against her - or anyone for any reason - that doesn't mean she automatically deserves respect. Respect must be earned and all Pauline Hanson has done so far is win some votes.

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