This article was originally published in Overland on August 5, 2013.
Underlying Bernard Keane’s article – ‘“Let them all come” is “stop the boats” for progressives’ – is a deep sense of indignation about the idea that Australians are racist. The oft-repeated argument is that elitist, disconnected, latte-sippers tut-tut over ‘Bogan’ racism, serving to displace the problem. So far so uninteresting. What this leads to is largely meaningless tit for tats between white people, stultifying crucial debates to be had about refugee policy. The focus is narrowed to disagreements over the purpose of the Left that fail to focus on the issue at hand. Paradoxically, the key thing that Keane admonishes left-liberal handwringers for is deflecting a focus on policy by prioritising unworkable ideals, such as ‘let them all come’. However, articles that themselves do not suggest concrete responses to the (manufactured) ‘refugee crisis’ and merely tell others off for failing to do the same are part of the problem, not part of the solution.