For anyone following the White media's fascination with Pauline Hanson, it does not take long to realise that this fascination is well beyond the ordinary. The amount of exposure Hanson personally received after her election was well beyond any attention given to a newly emerging politician. Her political views were presented and represented at every possible opportunity — more so than any other new member of parliament. The rise of the One Nation Party received more attention than the rise of the Democrats or the Greens ever received. What is the secret of this obsession?
I'd like to suggest that there is a good dose of infantile narcissistic fascination here. The White media and the White public are seduced by an infantile projection of themselves. There is more than one psychoanalytic interpretation among many in this hypothesis. To develop my point, however, I'd like to begin by relating an incident from my youth in Beirut.
I was born in a middle-class, Maronite Catholic and culturally conservative environment. I often heard around me racist and derogatory remarks directed against Muslims. Like most Christian families in Beirut, however, my parents and their friends had to deal, by necessity, with Muslim people.
I remember one day a Muslim merchant visiting a neighbour's house on some business. I and the neighbour's son were six or seven years old at the time, and we had already learned enough derogatory remarks about Muslims to last us a lifetime. Unfortunately, we had not learnt the art of recognising the appropriate time and place where such remarks can be made. When the guest picked up my friend and started teasing him in a common adult–child mode of play, my friend instinctively unleashed a number of venomous anti-Muslim remarks, telling him exactly what he has been taught to think of Muslims. Needless to say, his remarks caused severe embarrassment in the ‘salon’. I particularly remember how we were unceremoniously dispatched from the lounge room, with his father sternly telling him, 'Shame on you.'
But this is not the end of the story, for I also distinctly remember what happened after the guest had left: how everyone was laughing and saying how cute my friend has been and 'Ho ho ho! Did you see how the guy's face went red' and 'Good on you, Georges, you show them.'
When I look back at this event, I realise that my friend's unchecked and 'immature' abuse performed the 'Christian tribe' a function. Not having carried out the abuse themselves, the respectable Christian families continued to benefit from the relationship of proximity and 'business as usual' they maintained with the various Muslims with which they had dealings. Nevertheless, they also benefited from the many incidents of open abuse to which the Muslims were constantly subjected, for 'business as usual' also meant keeping the Muslim as the inferior partner — the marginalised and the not-too-comfortable party in this relationship of proximity. This was important for ensuring the Christian middle classes’ position of dominance vis a vis the Muslim middle classes before the civil war — a position they have now lost.
I want to suggest that the respectable side of White Australia today relates to Hanson in the same way my friend's family related to his 'unchecked extremism'. Whether they are in the media, in politics, in academia or in any other workplace (they can be spotted as soon as they talk about having no problem with multiculturalism as long as migrants put the interest of Australia first), behind every White multiculturalist affecting a position of respectability — and a willingness to condemn `Hansonite extremism' in the nation's lounge room — there is another White gleefully grinning 'Good on you, Pauline. You show them' or another amusedly saying: 'She's so naughty', as if saying it to one's own child after he or she has misbehaved.
This is not a mere sentimental issue. It is a self-interested politics of domination. In much the same way as the story above, those respectable White Australians have an interest in someone else perceived as 'irrational and/or immature' doing the exclusion for them. They benefit from both this marginalisation and from the relationship of proximity and dominance with the already marginalised that they are able to maintain thanks to, but also by distinguishing themselves from, the 'extremists'.
For White multiculturalists today, White neo-fascism represents the latest technology of containment and problematisation of Third World-looking migrants. Pauline Hanson has enabled White Australians to unleash a new phase in the dialectic of inclusion and exclusion, aiming to transform the increasingly demanding and 'arrogant' migrants into decent `debatable problematised objects', safely positioned in the liminal spaces of inclusion/exclusion. The relation between the dominant White multiculturalism and White national exclusionism, which has always been a relation of affinity based on a shared fantasy structure, has evolved today into an active relationship of complicity. This is the fundamental basis for what has clearly become the more general Hansonisation of White culture.
In the face of this destructive White tendency, some questions need to be asked: Are Whites still good for Australia? Have they been living in ghettoes for too long? Are they dividing Australia? Do we need to have an assimilation program to help ease them into the multicultural mainstream? Clearly, it's time for Third World-looking Australians to do the 'worrying about the nation' number. And let's face it, there's plenty to worry about.