09 August 2013

Only a pawn in their game


The nation is laughing at the young woman in this YouTube video – Stephanie Banister, the One Nation candidate in the Queensland Electorate of Rankin. Understandably so – for an aspiring Member of Parliament she is more than somewhat uninformed.

My reaction to the video, however, is to view it more in sorrow than in anger, notwithstanding the fact that the sentiments conveyed therein are repugnant. People like this are dupes; the real enemy are the dog-whistling politicians in leadership positions who play on the ignorance of people like Stephanie Banister in order to advance their own political careers.

My instant reaction to the video was how strongly it resonated with the early 1960s Bob Dylan classic, “Only a Pawn in Their Game”, which is about the 12 June 1963 murder of Medgar Evers, but has a couple of verses about the socio-political circumstances of 1960s Mississippi:

The South politician preaches to the poor white man
"You got more than the blacks, don't complain
You're better than them, you been born with white skin" they explain
And the Negro's name
Is used it is plain
For the politician's gain
As he rises to fame
And the poor white remains
On the caboose of the train
But it ain't him to blame
He's only a pawn in their game.

The deputy sheriffs, the soldiers, the governors get paid
And the marshals and cops get the same
But the poor white man's used in the hands of them all like a tool
He's taught in his school
From the start by the rule
That the laws are with him
To protect his white skin
To keep up his hate
So he never thinks straight
'Bout the shape that he's in
But it ain't him to blame
He's only a pawn in their game.

The specifics are different, but the fear is the same – be careful those outsiders don’t take what little you have. Given half a chance they will compete with you for jobs, housing, social services, places in the local school, and they will lower the tone of the place.

Whether it is describing boat arrivals as “an absolute disaster for the country” (Opposition Leader Tony Abbott) or simply affecting faux concern for the welfare of people risking the passage from Indonesia (all and sundry from both sides of politics), the attitudes informing Stephanie Banister’s comments represent the dark places where far too much public opinion ends up. Too many of the people laughing actually want the same result as she does – “stop the boats”.

1 comment:

Grumpy said...

I'll go along with the 'dog whistling politicians' if you'll accept 'inflammatory media managers and editors with a cynical eye only to their bottom line'.