Revisionism in the Land of the Parallel Universe

After listening to or reading what is called the news, have you found yourself questioning your memory and even your sanity? Have you had a strong feeling that what you read or heard this morning is wrong and your recollection was something entirely different. Perhaps an anti-thought like Dr Edward Teller’s anti-matter has popped into your brain from the parallel universe.

I am here to tell you that you are not alone. This phenomenon is shared by me and others. In fact in recent days on hearing the leader of the Australian opposition Tony Abbott speaking about the wonderful Liberal “Pacific Solution” for refugees, memories came flooding back to me from the parallel universe in which I had previously lived.

Tony Abbott spoke of a warm friendly and pacifying solution in which the Howard Government had set up an idyllic holiday camp on Nauru where refugees could recover after fleeing from conflicts involving mass murder and mass rapes. Unfortunately my recollection is rather more dark, sinister and brutal.
My memory insists that many refugees fled from a phony and illegal war in Iraq and another war fought in the wrong country for the wrong reason. In both wars Australia was a cheerful and dutiful participant. A third war was being fought in the old communist state of Yugoslavia and of course many stateless Palestinians violently driven from homes by the Israelis were seeking a new place to live. What all these conflicts had in common was that the principal victims were Muslims.

Like the European Jews who fled from Hitler these Muslim refugees were not welcomed and were treated with suspicion by Western Governments. Ministers from the Howard Government headed by the unconscionable Peter Reith told or rather lied to the Australian people that these awful refugees had thrown their children overboard in order to force their way into Australia. In the wake of September 11, it was also suggested that some might be terrorists carrying bombs. Such was the concern of the Howard Government for the well being of these war victims that when a Norwegian ship rescued a sinking boat full of refugees, Howard sent a group of commandos to commandeer the ship to prevent it returning them to the Australian mainland. I suppose it was his way of making them feel at home.

These refugees were a blessing for a Howard Government struggling in the polls and facing an election. Following the example of World War Two Germany, the Liberals looked around for scapegoat, enemies for the mighty John Howard to protect us from. In this atmosphere the Pacific Solution was born. Howard, Ruddock and Reith had a scapegoat and it was foreign, dark skinned and Muslim, so few votes would be lost in its implementation.
Overnight refugees became “illegal immigrants”. They were “flooding into our country” and they were “clogging up the courts” with their appeals. Unlike the asylum seekers who flew in by plane these “illegal boat people” were “queue jumping” security threats. “They could be carrying bombs”. Most importantly the principle issue was not the safety of these victims of war and instead the focus went on to the wicked “people smugglers” who were both a new scapegoat and a potent salve for the right wing conscience.

So how could the refugees be prevented from telling the true story to the Australian public? They must be separated. How could we prevent them from exercising their human rights in the courts and how could they be prevented from reaching Australia? Both could be achieved by interception offshore and landing them at first on islands that had been declared to be no longer part of Australia for the purpose of the Immigration Act. This was the real reason for offshore processing. It would mean no protection for refugees under Australian law.
These asylum seekers, including women and children, who were threatening our security would be put as far away as possible. The island of Nauru was perfect. This would remove them from public view and the scrutiny of the few journalists who can still tell the truth from a bucket of detritus and importantly, who were capable of writing their own words rather than quoting the spinmeisters.
There you have it: the successful Pacific solution. It worked perfectly after all. John Howard did win the election and a blueprint had been created to win future elections.

Here’s the recipe – lie and deceive resolutely; show your strength by vilifying, silencing and crushing a defenceless minority; divert the populace from the real debate.

As for the refugees, they suffered long term imprisonment and their children were mentally damaged. In the end though almost all of them were recognised as genuine refugees and became Australian citizens. The financial cost and the damage to our national psyche has been immense.
Did this really happen and are you pacified or are you horrified? Do you have these fleeting memories of a different time when you believed your government and the press? Does the truth mean more to you than being comfortably numb?
Welcome to the underworld.