“It sends shivers down my spine.” Why the words ‘the final solution’ have upset so many.

 

Senator Fraser Anning stands for a lot of things which – as very broad principles – we can get behind; he advocates for drought-stricken farmers. He believes in considered immigration policies. But that’s putting it nicely.

The Queenslander, a member of the Katter’s Australia party, used his maiden speech in Parliament last night to state his purpose; and he made it clear that his purpose was to alienate as many people as he could.

The speech was essentially a rant against Muslims, and a call for the return of the White Australia Policy, which restricted non-European immigration from 1901 until it began to be dismantled in the late 1960s.

But last night, Anning wanted history to be repeated.

“We as a nation are entitled to insist that those who are allowed to come here predominantly reflect the historic European-Christian composition of Australian society,” he told the Upper House.

“Ethnocultural diversity … has been allowed to rise to dangerous levels in many suburbs. In direct response, self-segregation, including white flight from poorer inner-urban areas, has become the norm.”

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Anning’s solution? Migration to be curbed, and a ban on Muslim people becoming residents, because the Muslim community has “consistently shown itself to be the least able to assimilate and integrate.”

He continued, “While all Muslims are not terrorists, certainly all terrorists these days are Muslims, so why would anyone want to bring more of them here?”

And then, most damningly, Anning used the same words – “the final solution” – that Adolf Hitler used in Nazi Germany, to explain his motivation for the Holocaust of World War II, where millions of Jewish people were slaughtered.

“The final solution to the immigration problem of course is a popular vote.”

Deliberately using the words of a racist mass-murderer was bound to get attention, and the speech made national headlines accordingly. But in doing so, Anning has deeply insulted not only the Muslim community, but the Jewish one, too.

Federal Energy Minister Josh Frydenberg spoke to the Today Show in response this morning, because his mother is a Holocaust survivor.

“Extremely ignorant words, insensitive words, hurtful, divisive and unacceptable,” is how he described Anning’s behaviour.

“Senator Anning should not only retract his comments from last night, he should also immediately visit a Holocaust museum and hear first-hand from survivours how raw the pain is.”

Noting that millions of Jewish people were murdered during the Holocaust, including children, Frydenberg added,

“Fraser Anning is a father, and he can’t utter those words without understanding the consequences.”

Mr. Norman Seligman, the CEO of the Sydney Jewish Museum, also explained to Mamamia the devastating effect of the words on the Jewish community.

“Not only were the words themselves racist, the reference to ‘the final solution’ was particularly offensive,” he said.

“The original intent of those words was to get the Jews out of Germany, and they ended up being used as a justification for the Holocaust. The pain and suffering of the millions who died and survived was completely trivialised by Anning’s words.”

Mr. Seligman also invited Anning to visit him at the museum, so he can truly understand how deeply hurtful the use of the phrase was.

Mamamia‘s own Commercial Editor, Adam Bub, explained why Anning’s choice of words was particularly hurtful to him.

“It’s triggering to hear the words ‘Final Solution’ being used in 2018 in Australian parliament. It sends shivers down my spine,” he said.

“When I learned about the Holocaust as a young Jewish person, the ‘Final Solution’ was a term that only meant one thing: Hitler’s systematic plan for the genocide of an entire race. Whether Anning intended to use that term or not – and in the context of what he was talking about, I’m worried that he absolutely intended it – there is no place for it in modern multicultural Australia.”

This morning, Anning stood by his speech, denying a Holocaust link to his words, and claiming that a plebiscite for Australians to decide Muslim immigration was the final solution that he meant.

But rather than convincing anyone, he dug his grave further, making a dubious comparison to a bag of lollies.

“If you have a jar of jellybeans and three of them are poisonous, you’re not going to try any of them,” he said on radio.

Muslim author and advocate, Dr. Susan Carland, responded directly to the analogy, observing that “multicoloured things are sweet and delicious,” and calling on people to send Anning jellybeans to help prove her point.

Addressing Parliament this morning, Senator Penny Wong rebutted the maiden speech, and represented more typical Australian values:

“Those Australian values of inclusion, acceptance and respect. A belief in equality. The rejection of racism. The rejection of prejudice. The rejection of division. And instead the support of tolerance and acceptance of respect and equality – let us stand for that. Because that is the best of this country.”

Senator Wong also called for empathy and kindness, especially for the country’s future:

“Think of what must be happening in some of the school yards today. Because those of us who’ve been on the receiving end of racism knows what it feels like.”

Indeed, as always, we must ‘think of the children’ – because they’re the only hope the future of this country has.

 

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