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Tag: Scanlon Foundation

Racism, look, it’s over there

Last week Jeff Sparrow was doing the rounds promoting his new book, Trigger Warnings: political correctness and the rise of the right. I used it as an example in the seminar I gave at the University of Amsterdam, on ‘Misplaced Identity’, organized by Sarah Bracke and Paul Mepschen to make my basic point that talking about identity politics as a distraction from antiracism is a distraction from antiracism. Then I came across this post I had in my drafts folder about Sparrow’s writings from 2016 which I never published. I guess his book is a culmination of those articles, so maybe this is a useful time to actually publish the post. But maybe one of the reasons I didn’t post it is because of how boring these ‘critiques’ are.

At the end of my last post I ended by saying that I had something to say about the ways in which liberal and ‘left’ journalists miss the point about not patronising, tokenising, and otherwise coopting migrants and refugees to other agendas and in fact reinforce it. I was thinking mainly of the articles churned out with relative frequency these days by Jeff Sparrow, either for Overland or for The Guardian that all turn around the same tired point, summed up by the following quotes:

 'On asylum seekers, a 'lesser evil' approach still mandates evil. That should be a warning' by Jeff Sparrow, The Guardian 14 December 2014.
‘On asylum seekers, a ‘lesser evil’ approach still mandates evil. That should be a warning’ by Jeff Sparrow, The Guardian 14 December 2014.

Supplemented by:

'What's the end game for Australia's border policy – a world of walled city-states?', Jeff Sparrow, The Guardian, 6 May 2016
‘What’s the end game for Australia’s border policy – a world of walled city-states?’, Jeff Sparrow, The Guardian, 6 May 2016

You can see that I’ve handily archived them in my Scribl library:

Screen Shot 2016-05-24 at 20.38.05In addition to the polls cited by Sparrow, the academic research he may be referring to is that conducted yearly by Andrew Markus for the Scanlon Foundation (which by the way @attentive has nicely diagrammed the murky ‘detention, logistics, urban development, political parties’ links of). These annual reports underplay societal racism by arguing that the issue of asylum is not close to the top of respondents’ agendas and that most of those surveyed are positive about ‘multiculturalism’ and ‘diversity’. The argument plays perfectly into Sparrow’s mantra that popular racism in Australia is not that bad.

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Alana Lentin