opinion

Sonia Kruger said what thousands of Australians are thinking and that's what is so scary.

There’s Pauline Hanson and Donald Trump. Andrew Bolt and Cory Bernardi just for starters. A lot of people I know scoff (at best) at them and what they say. I do.

Now there is the most unlikely addition to this growing list of names.

SONIA KRUGER HAS SINCE RESPONDED TO THE CONTROVERSY. WATCH HER RESPONSE HERE.

Sonia Kruger, the bubbly, blonde TV host, who is more used to making pleasant, witty chitchat with TV contestants on The Voice or double entendres on her morning TV show, has called to stop Muslim immigration. All Muslim immigration.

This morning Kruger diverted from her light-hearted schtick and told Lisa Wilkinson and David Campbell that she agrees with an opinion piece written about the correlation between the rate of Muslim immigration and the number of terror attacks by controversial right wing Herald Sun columnist Andrew Bolt.

sonia kruger muslim comments
"I want to feel safe", Sonia said of closing Australian borders to Muslims. Photo: The Today Show

In the wake of the Nice tragedy where 84 people were killed and more than 200 injured, Bolt says since France has the highest Muslim immigration in Europe, it is therefore no surprise it suffers from the most terrorist attacks in Europe.

Kruger said this morning: "Andrew Bolt has a point that there is a correlation between the number of people who are Muslim in a country and the number of terrorist attacks."

Kruger said she had friends who were "peace loving" Muslims but Australians want to feel safe.

"Personally, I would like to see it [Muslim immigration] stop now for Australia because I want to feel safe, as all of our citizens do when they go out to celebrate Australia Day - and I'd like to see freedom of speech."

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It's a huge call for a "well-loved" TV host to make on morning TV between ab thruster ads and Michael Jackson legacy stories. Kruger looked nervous as she spoke and obviously chose her words carefully.

Sonia's co-host disagreed with her statements. Photo: The Today Show

The reaction has been textbook. On the one side: she is a racist, she should never open her mouth again. On the other: let her speak, she is saying what I would like to say but would be criticised if I did.

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We are a country increasingly divided. A world increasingly divided.

We've seen a rise of anti-immigration sentiment across the world. A person who could be the President of the US calls for the building of a "giant wall" to keep immigrants out and says he will stop all new Muslim immigrants from entering the country.

We have One Nation calling to "abolish multiculturalism and the Racial Discrimination Act of 1975 based on the United Nations Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination as it is unconstitutional."

Then we see another terrorist attack. People killed going about their every day business. Doubts are sewn for many.

The reason we are hearing what Hanson and Trump have to say, the reason they are claiming powerful political positions, is that they have support. An increasing amount of support for 'building walls' to keep immigrants out, old fashioned 'family values', the 'failure' of multiculturalism, scientists being wrong about climate change. A lot of fears - fear of the world changing, fear of losing your job, fear of dying, all being a little numbed by pointing the finger at another group of people.

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People like Trump have support. Image via Getty.

As Thomas Frank reported in The Guardian about Trump:

When members of the professional class wish to understand the working-class Other, they traditionally consult experts on the subject. And when these authorities are asked to explain the Trump movement, they always seem to zero in on one main accusation: bigotry. Only racism, they tell us, is capable of powering a movement like Trump’s.

Is it just racism? Are all these people who support Pauline Hanson and Donald Trump out and out racists? Or are they scared, wanting to be listened to, open to another form of comfort, another solution that isn't let's-blame-this- lot-over-there?

I don't for a moment, for a second, agree with Pauline Hanson, Andrew Bolt or Donald Trump. I can't count the number of times I've heard that Hanson is dangerous and should be shut down, given no air-time - blacklisted. But Hanson was voted in by the people.

We need to recognise that people are voting for politicians like Hanson and Trump. To change things we have to open the conversation not close it down.

To change things we need to ask why.

Why are you supporting One Nation? Why are you supporting Donald Trump?

Why are you supporting One Nation? Image via Getty.
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Since the GFC in 2008 jobs are less secure, wages have remained stagnate for the working class and the divide between the rich and the poor has increased dramatically. Inequality is the new normal. There are huge swathes of people who spend a lot of time living in fear that they can't pay their next bill. That they are a payday away from losing their home. They're resentful and angry.

Add the threat of terrorism and you have fear plus an easily identifiable villain.

Dismissing, or not listening to, the societal scaffolding that creates the fear, that then generates bigotry will only grow more discontent and resentment - which simply acts as fertiliser for the guy down the road to turn to blame and hate and people who preach blame and hate.

The world is divided and only becoming more deeply so.

Have you ever changed someone's mind by walking away from the conversation? From yelling in their face?

The end game is not being right, is not being heard, is not shutting down voices when they want to speak.

Call me naive, call me Pollyanna, but the end game is changing minds. It's understanding. We are walking down a dark, dark path and light is the only answer.

So my question is this: Why exactly did Sonia Kruger call for a complete ban on Muslim immigration?

Let's start talking Sonia about Muslim immigration and terrorism, I'd love to tell you a few stories.

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