The recent shift in the discourse about Chinese-Australians and representations of them as Communist Party stooges is potentially more dangerous than previous orientalist caricatures.
This is not the beginning of the normalisation of Hanson and One Nation: it’s the end.
As political systems across the Western world are threatened by a resurgent nationalist populism, what can we learn about this movement from the late Christopher Hitchens?
A ‘good caricature, like every work of art,’ said the Italian Baroque painter, Annibale Carracci, ‘is more true to life than reality.’ This is why, I think, Bill Leak’s cartoons are so often failures. Like several pundits that take up column inches at the Australian these days, his views are so out of touch with the majority of the population that they can – in moments of ideologically charged rage – seem almost deranged. For your run-of-mill red-baiting-climate-change-denying-antifeminist columnist, this isn’t such a problem. But for a cartoonist, it’s unforgiveable.
There’s no surer gauge of the depth and breadth of someone’s stupidity than the potency of his racism. The science on this has been settled for some time; we are all, if traced back far enough, evolved from bacteria. But, paradoxically, the equivocalness of this has a tendency to prevent any serious examination of racism. Liberals (small-l, that is) often condemn anything and everything that could be construed as being racist, without honestly confronting their own prejudices. Conservatives, on the other hand, often cry ‘political correctness gone mad,’ without acknowledging how hollow and meaningless such a retort is and, seemingly, ambivalent to claims of offence from minorities.