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Tuesday, May 3, 2016

Australia's Lord of the Flies: fear, mob-rule and the killing of asylum seekers

Australia's Lord of the Flies: fear, mob-rule and the killing of asylum seekers

Dutton's denial and the blaming, shaming and abuse of asylum seekers

Following the second self-immolation by an asylum seeker in a week, Immigration Minister Peter Dutton immediately did what any caring, concerned Christian and political leader would do when someone is seriously injured within their purview: he blamed someone else.

In what would have to be one of the lowest, most cowardly and despicable acts by a politician, Dutton blamed refugee advocates and activists for encouraging asylum seekers to self-harm(1).

Dutton's monumentally contemptible press conference showed that many of us may have underestimated just how low this cold-blooded, power-crazed Fascist will stoop. 

Immigration Minister, Peter Dutton's reprehensible response to self-immolation of asylum seekers
Source: David Pope

Of course, none of us should be surprised.

Recently, I wrote about the similarity between the Stanford Prison Experiment and the behaviour of the Australian government, in which people who are given unlimited power will stop at nothing to humiliate and abuse defenceless people under their control.

But firstly, let's talk religion. Christian? Apparently, Dutton is a Christian. A traditional Christian. You know the sort. Those who traditionally ruled orphanages and institutions with an iron fist. Yes, the same ones who are now the subject of a Royal Commission into institutional Response to Child Abuse. Nothing says Christian like presiding over institutional abuse and victim shaming and blaming.

Back to Dutton's Christian credentials. In 2007, he was awarded a Wilberforce Award by The Australian Christian Values Institute 'for outstanding demonstrations by parliamentarians for protecting life, freedom, family and the foundational Christian values that under-gird these areas'(2). Yes, dutton is doing his best to protect life, freedom, family and foundational Christian values by indefinitely detaining men, women, children and babies, often with families split up into different detention centres.

Dutton has even darkened the door of a Hillsong Conference(3). Apparently, the parable of the Good Samaritan hasn't quite sunk into the the feckless Dutton. I'm sure there is something in the bible about not just being 'hearers of the word, but doers as well'. Oh well, I'm sure he doesn't want to be a do-gooder. Oh wait, doesn't the bible say that Christians are 'saved to DO GOOD works'? Bummer.

This could however, explain Dutton's reprehensible reaction to the numerous suicide attempts, the self-harm and the most recent self-immolations by people who are completely destroyed by the system that Dutton proudly presides over. Dutton's reaction? Blame someone else.

Dutton would appear to be suffering a little condition known as 'cognitive dissonance': the discomfort one feels when one's actions conflict with one's beliefs. So, IF (and it's a pretty big IF), Dutton is a Christian, then his behaviour and the policies of the government he is part of, are clearly contradictory to the teachings of Christ. You know, awkward stuff like:

Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels: For I was an hungred, and ye gave me no meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not.

Awkwarrrrrd ... seems there's a little spot of everlasting fire reserved for Mr Dutton. Speaking of fire, perhaps the self-immolations remind him of his own fate and why he feels it necessary to blame others. Cognitive Dissonance ... it's a bitch.

Or perhaps it is just that he is a heartless prick.

Let's not overthink this.  No, let's.

Many years ago I read a novel by William Golding called 'Lord of the Flies'. It followed the degeneration of some school boys stranded on an uninhabited island from innocent children to murderers. The boys split into two groups and set their own rules. Interestingly, it's the well-educated students who introduce a brutal regime that results in abuse, oppression and murder. Initially the boys become paranoid about a 'beast' inhabiting the island. Hmm ... introduce fear to control the masses. They use a conch shell to rally the troops. Hmm ... the Libs have been pretty good at dog-whistling lately.

One of the boys, Ralph, is their first leader. His off-sider is a boy named Piggy. At first, it's all beer and skittles for Ralph's leadership, but this is threatened by another boy, named Jack.

Another boy Jack, challenged Ralph's leadership by portraying him as a coward, while Jack portrayed himself as the strong leader. Not unlike what we see with the accusations from the Liberal Party that Labor is weak on 'border protection'. To shore up his popularity, Ralph begins bullying the weaker, Piggy; making him the scapegoat. Not unlike Dutton blaming refugee advocates for the self-harm incidents on Nauru and Manus Island. However, Ralph was somewhat more logical than many of the others (unlike Dutton), so when rumour spread of a 'beast' on the island, he challenged the logic behind it.

The boys split into the two rival groups with Jack as one leader and Ralph the other. Jack represented all that is evil in mankind when logic and rationality are ignored. While Ralph tried to appeal to logic, Jack embraced the darkness within his soul and criticised any rational thought (now where have we seen that lately, Mr Dutton?). Jack's group doesn't just work the fear to manipulate the boys, they embrace it as a means of satiating their own evil natures. The 'beast' becomes Jack's personal tool for cementing his leadership and control of the other boys.

Jack's group offers sacrifices to the beast and even impales a pig's head on a stick as a means of placating the beast. Anyone who dares criticise them is bullied and abused (oh, this the comparison to modern politics is too easy). Funnily enough, flies are attracted to the decapitated pig's head and said head becomes known as ... wait for it ... the Lord of the Flies.

The mob get whipped into a frenzy by ritual, fear and group-think, and kill one of the boys whom they mistake for the beast. Some of the boys are racked by guilt, others blame the victim. He shouldn't have been sneaking around in the dark where he could be mistaken for the beast, after all. Obviously the boys had projected their fears onto the victim, seen him as the beast and killed him.

Of course, in modern Australian politics, refugees have become the 'beast' that the government uses to scare the populace into submission and to shore up popularity. And it plays into the government's hands whenever refugees do something that doesn't match with 'Australian culture', such as rioting, self-harming or getting raped or murdered. Too bad that refugees are the victims in this situation. The government has done a masterful job of turning vulnerable, hurt people into those who should be feared. The government has turned them into a security issue requiring stringent border protection; parading them as the 'beast' so when they come 'sneaking' in the back door on a leaky boat, they have only themselves to blame as they're attacked, abused, killed.

Immigration Minister, Peter Dutton embracing the darkness

The government has fed the fear that permeates our society and to 'placate' it, has sacrificed the lives of asylum seekers through a brutal regime in which innocent people are tortured, babies imprisoned, children despondent with no hope for the future and people pushed to harm or kill themselves.

Dutton is just the latest politician to be responsible for this savagery. But there are others. Like Lord of the Flies, there is a mob responsible for creating and perpetuating this tragic and despotic regime, including Prime Minister Turnbull, former Immigration Minister Scott Morrison and former Prime Minister Tony Abbott.

Rather than blame those who criticise the brutality and are trying to protect the innocent, Dutton needs to take responsibility for the outcomes that he is delivering through his government's policy.

When Tony Abbott became Prime Minister in 2013, he puerilely stated that 'the adults were in charge'.

Adults? We see these 'adults' blaming others, failing to take responsibility, spreading fear, misinformation and blatant lies, while torturing, abusing and oppressing innocent people whose only 'crime' was asking Australia to protect them from torture, abuse and oppression.

'We did everything adults would do, what went wrong?' - William Golding, Lord of the Flies.

This government has no moral compass.

A government that drives people to self-harm and suicide is as guilty of their injuries and deaths as if they lit the match, tied the noose or pushed them off the roof.

Dutton, 'outstanding' Christian, and the others in his government don't worship the Lord of Lords, they worship the Lord of the Flies through the fear and brutality that resonates with the electorate and manifests in the form of votes.

Where will it end and how many lives will they destroy in their pursuit of power?

23 year old Iranian refugee, Omid, dies after set himself alight on Nauru, 26 April 2016.(4)

21 year old Somali refugee, Hodan, set herself on fire on Nauru, 3 May 2016 (5)

Related article

The Stanford Prison experiment and Australia's brutal immigration detention regime


1. The Guardian, Ben Doherty and Helen Davidson, 'Peter dutton accuses refugee advocates of encouraging suicide on Nauru', 3 May 2016, Accessed 3 May 2016.

2. Australian Christian Values Institute, Wilburforce Awards 2007, Accessed 3 May 2016.

3. Crikey, Tom Cowie, 'The Power Index: religion, Hillsong's Houstons at #5', 25 September 2012, Accessed 3 May 2016.

4. The Guardian, Ben Doherty and Helen Davidson, 'Refugee who set himself alight on Nauru dies in hospital', 29 April 2016, Accessed 3 May 2016.

5. The Guardian, Ben Doherty and Helen Davidson, 'Somali refugee in critical condition after setting herself alight on Nauru', 3 May 2016, Accessed 3 May 2016.

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