This response to Osman Faruqi’s article, The folly of appealing to Fortress Dutton, published by Overland yesterday, started as a Facebook post. I’m a bit hesitant to write anything at all, but as my recently-deactivated Twitter profile stated, I’m the holder of unpopular opinions. I might as well stick with it.
Faruqi’s central argument relies on a homogenous interpretation of section 501 of the Migration Act 1958 (the ‘character test’) and incorporates frankly tiresome ‘Australian men rape/commit violence against women too’ rhetoric. Sorry, but anyone capable of reading to Year 9 level knows that the majority of sexual violence in Australia is carried out by people known to the victim; there is nothing new or clever in this.
He contends that Ministerial discretion in applying the character test is a slippery slope; invoking a muddle-headed critique of feminists and progressive campaigners ‘weaponising’ immigration controls’ which takes in Gamergate, honour killings, Chris Gayle and the despicable treatment of Faruqi’s mother, NSW Greens MP Dr Mehreen Faruqi, by immigration officials in the US.
The author, Albert Santos, led a campaign against actor Adam Baldwin’s attendance at the Supanova pop culture exhibition. He takes pride in not seeking to have Baldwin’s visa revoked on character grounds, that ‘grovelling at (Immigration Minister Peter) Dutton’s feet’ is an exercise in cognitive dissonance from progressive campaigners – all sans one detail: Baldwin was not invited here to spout hate to small groups of persuadable men and demonstrate how to demean, verbally and physically intimidate women. If you didn’t want to go to Supernova because Adam Baldwin is an A-Grade misogynistic, anti-feminist, anti-abortion, gun-loving, trans-hating, cyberbullying arsehole, you didn’t have to. A hashtag was launched. A Facebook page. Santos’ online campaign – all to have Baldwin ‘disinvited’. Supanova stood its ground, hypocritically claiming to support diversity and inclusion while promoting Baldwin, but he was kept on a tight leash – his abhorrent political views weren’t given a platform. I have little doubt that if he had, the groups Santos (and Faruqi) disparage would have launched a campaign against him through the immigration department.
Unlike Baldwin, Jeff Allen and Julien Blanc came to Australia with one aim, appealing to one audience: Australian men eager to improve their success as sexual predators through any means necessary. For Faruqi to state, ‘progressive campaigners would be better off protesting, organising rallies and boycotts and running public awareness campaigns designed to educate the community’ is an insult to the thousands of people who suffer, or work with those impacted by male entitlement to women’s bodies, including physical contact or intent of physical contact of a sexual nature that a person does not consent to – recorded crimes under the definition used Australian and New Zealand Standard Offence Classification. Allen and Blanc teach men how to commit crimes for profit. RSD tours have one aim: to put the techniques they promote online into real-life. The deficients watching YouTube in their bedrooms bond together in a room, then hunt women in packs, emboldened by, and with encouragement and approval of a group. There is strong evidence that adopting a mob mentality makes men more dangerous to women. What could be more empowering than being told you are an Alpha male, not a Z Grader; that you can convert women into submitting to you sexually by what is (at the very least) unwanted physical contact? That you too, can ‘bang babes’. And when those ‘babes’ don’t want you? When the Alpha male delusion falls apart? The rage must be infernal.
Faruqi goes on to ‘be clear’ that he is ‘not advocating for the public incitement of violence against women’ and that other remedies, including civil disobedience and criminal law, are available to prevent Jeff Allen from doing so. What he fails to consider is that when Julien Blanc was kicked out of Australia on character grounds, visible disruptive civil action was possible because activists knew where RSD’s seminars were being held. This time, RSD went to extraordinary lengths to hide the locations of their seminars, demanding credit card details, doing background checks & not releasing times/dates – people who signed up had to wait for a text messages to find out where they would be inculcated in the ways of the Alpha male sex god who can *make* woman have sex with them. It made protest almost impossible. It also made it difficult to have him promptly charged with inciting violence. So what were ‘progressive campaigners’ left with in Allen’s case? New Matilda editor, Chris Graham, made public how difficult it was to gain information about Allen’s tour. Faced with the hammer of immigration law, or allowing a man to make money from teaching men how to commit crimes, they chose the blunt object.
Faruqi links the use of section 501 6(d) against Allen (tl;dr – it exists to prevent harassment, intimidation, vilification and inciting discord impacting a section of Australian society) with the 2011 amendment targeting the character of refugees and asylum seekers. Advocating s501 6(d) be ignored because the Minister might use it to target refugees and asylum seekers is specious. The provisions Faruqi (& others) rely on to argue the slippery-slope case are not one and the same. Arguing against the application of s501 6 (d) does not stop the Department or Minister from implementing section 501 6(aa) or s197A; allowing Jeff Allen to conduct some sort of covert proselytising operation to affirm to Australian men that they are indeed, the proper owners of Australian women’s bodies because Peter Dutton can apply different powers to target refugees and asylum seekers is a false equivalence.
Very few people argued against the refusal of David Irving’s visa back in the 1990s. Irving failed the character test because he denies facts about the Holocaust. Irving argued that this is a crime that only exists in Germany. The argument that can be made in the Allen case is that the character test is being used to limit speech; that we should accept this bunch just as we should have allowed Troy Newman to come here to show the Right To Life mob how anti-abortion action is really done, or David Irving to come here and deny evidence of the Holocaust. Implied causality between these high-profile cases and the application of the character test to refugees and asylum seekers is intellectually disengenuous. Campaign for the amendments which specifically target refugees and asylum seekers to be removed; but do not draw a bow between the treatment of asylum seekers and the treatment of white dudes who make money by teaching other dudes how to commit crimes against women.
No, I didn’t sign the petition, by the way. I despise the toxicity of the people who abused others who expressed discomfort with the character test being applied to Allen, but I do question the way this argument is structured. Further, there appears to be little space for consideration of an alternate view which holds that Australian women deserve to be protected under Australian law from people who want to come here and exercise normative social influence on Australian men and incite them to commit crimes.