Grotesque Dutton drums up another pedophilia crisis

Apr 23, 2023
Footprint in dry clay.

Dutton is the right politician for the post-QAnon age: in fact the radical right zeitgeist caught up with him. His decision to drum up (another) pedophilia crisis to stain the referendum on the Voice to parliament is both grotesque and on trend.

In the QAnon conspiracy everyone in power on the progressive side is a pedophile – or pedophile cannibal – running a massive child abduction and persecution ring. As it has diffused into radical right and religious right politics, the accusations have centred on anyone not-heterosexual being a groomer of small children.

It’s a rare politician that believes the QAnon conspiracy, but many have exploited the underlying ideas to co-opt its adherents. It is easy to draw in a wider “conservative” audience to believe in threats posed to children by, say, LGBTQI+ people. Disdain for people who allegedly hurt children is quick to muster.

Threatening people’s children is the most visceral threat that can be made and one likely to promote violence. The ludicrous Blood Libel (that Jewish people sacrificed children) was used to promote violence through the centuries. One would like to say culminating in the Holocaust, but the same tropes are linking Jewish people into the threatening “elites” demonised by the International radical right. The use of the Blood Libel remains in play with the QAnon conspiracy.

The threat to children in general is one of the most powerful that people can use. Harm to children is far more emotional than harm to adults; no retribution is excessive for people who harm children.

This is why, when children were being desperately harmed by our immigration policies, Australia’s contractors mostly executed it on small islands far out of sight. The Coalition government knew that if Australians saw what was truly happening on those distant places, there would be outrage. Instead complicit media was sent to take staged photographs and tell offensive fairy tales about island paradise.

Until arguably tortured children were finally dying of Resignation Syndrome, immigration minister Dutton’s immigration contested (almost) every evacuation case in court. The risk of too many children dying overwhelmed the commitment to reject mercy. Families were split during these terrifying illnesses with the intention to force the family to reunite again on Nauru after the child was “cured.”

When stories of abuse of adult refugees and asylum seekers made it into the press, immigration minister Dutton made vague allegations about the cohort containing pedophiles, rapists and murderers. Clearly any number of people seeking safety from genocide and persecution could be further harmed to keep out any individual cases of apparently identified criminals.

The video clip of Barrie Cassidy pressing Dutton [starts at 3:00] on stories of asylum seekers causing a “disturbance” by tempting a Manus child into their compound is circulating once again on social media. It is clear from Cassidy’s fine interview technique that Dutton’s story bears no relation to the facts supplied by Manus’s police commander. It is also clear that the facts will not be allowed to get in the way of his narrative.

Dutton does not have a good record on First Nation’s children either.

In 2008, he boycotted the apology to the harmed children of the Stolen Generation and their descendants. He has now apologised for this.

Dutton was part of the Abbott Cabinet that “cut more than $500 million in funding to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander services, and another nearly $80 million to Aboriginal and Child Family Centres that supported our vulnerable children and families.”

The harmful Northern Territory intervention, was based on later debunked claims of pedophile rings operating in Indigenous communities. The government of which Dutton was a minister did little to fix the problems that underlay the hyperbolic propaganda that provoked it. The social cost outweighed the few benefits that it brought: the rates of youth suicide and self harm spiked by 500% under it. (Labor governments made small changes but did not overall improve the damaging Intervention.)

We continue taking Indigenous children from their parents rather than working hard to help solve the problems that cause family dysfunction. It is hard to imagine the pain of Indigenous parents in the Intervention, fully aware of the Stolen Generation past, watching their children over-policed and taken away in greater numbers again. This new colonial project aimed to integrate Indigenous Australians into the capitalist project or punish them for wanting self-determination.

Now Dutton has decided to oppose the Voice to parliament, a body supported by 80% of First Nations Australians. Given that it’s a rare policy indeed that has 100% support by a population, that’s a strong showing in its favour.

The Voice aims to bring together the advice of the accumulated groups representing and working with First Nations people around the country so that any policy or program that affects them is designed with them, not in their absence as the destructive Intervention was.

The problems of a community harmed by colonialism, poverty and marginalisation in Alice Springs are the very reason we need a Voice to make sure that the best possible ideas are brought to bear to help the young people in trouble and ease the crises that lead to problems.

It is appalling that Peter Dutton has chosen to drum up another pedophilia scandal, condemned widely by relevant authorities, to discredit the Voice to parliament. The Intervention showed how much more damage such “moral” panics inflict on young Indigenous Australians.

You should be the one to judge his record on protecting children.

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