Andrew Bolt is not happy with what I wrote in response to the suicide of Josefa Rauluni. He says I’m either a ‘liar’ or ‘simply ignorant’.

I wrote that our politicians and corporate media peddled hatred and fear against asylum seekers, which created the conditions that caused Rauluni’s death. I made up a megaphone speech, which was plainly not literal, but could be considered implicit in what at least some of these people say and write. For example, if Tony Abbott promises to stop the boats, what does that say to people who arrived here by boat? It seems, to me, the obvious corollary is that they are not welcome, and Abbott would prefer they hadn’t come here in the first place.

Mr Bolt, on the other hand, suggests that he has ‘never said anything remotely like what’ I implied. Whereas I suggested his implicit message was ‘You are not welcome here’, Mr Bolt thinks he does welcome asylum seekers.

I imagine I am not the only person surprised to hear this.

Mr Bolt also thinks everyone else named would reject the monologue I attributed collectively to them. Even Piers Akerman, who complained that Gillard had left a welcome sign for asylum seekers, would apparently be angry to be told he doesn’t welcome asylum seekers. Or Paul Sheehan, who wanted Tamil asylum seekers sent back to Sri Lanka, apparently did care about what would happen to them if they were returned.

I imagine Mr Bolt’s many fans would also be impressed to learn that, in his rendition:

I believe we have a duty to take in refugees, and to ensure that people held in detention are treated humanely.

I strongly oppose sending asylum seekers back home if they are likely to face any such mortal danger.

This could be a sign of my ignorance, but I haven’t yet found Mr Bolt criticising our treatment of asylum seekers as inhumane. Does he think we currently treat them humanely? Can he point to anything he’s written calling on our government to treat asylum seekers more humanely?

If he does think we have a duty to take in refugees, why is he so troubled by asylum seekers? Why does he want to stop the boats if we have a duty to accept the refugees onboard? I am also surprised to learn that he strongly opposes sending asylum seekers back home if they’re likely to face danger. I had the impression that his views tendentiously sought to deny the validity of refugee claims. For example, he informed readers, ‘Rudd deceived you again when he suggested no boats would contain terrorists, when the Sri Lankan Government itself warned they did’. Does Mr Bolt honestly believe that the Sri Lankan government is a reliable source on whether people are fleeing Sri Lanka?

His refutation of one line in my imaginary monologue was particularly interesting:

“You are different, and you will never be one of us.”
False. I hold as a great prize and inspiration the fact that Australia is an immigrant country… If I thought otherwise I’d call for a ban on immigration from all countries that are “different” – however Brull defines that.

The funny thing is, I felt like I’d been through this before. After Somalis were accused of a terrorist plot, Mr Bolt wrote an article urging we ‘Rethink immigration intakes’:

There’s a million people desperate to get here, so doesn’t it make sense to choose those most likely to fit in?

Yet we keep making the same mistake, particularly in taking in people from war-torn, tribal and backward countries who, as a whole, struggle to make the best of our help.

Take the Muslim Lebanese we took in during the Lebanese civil war. Many did fit in well, but too many others ended up on welfare . . . or worse. In fact, the Lebanese-born are twice as likely as the rest of us to be in jail, and Lebanese dominate several Sydney crime gangs.

It’s not just a Muslim thing, of course. The Vietnamese are three times more likely to be imprisoned – and the rate for Tongans and Samoans is still worse.

He even wrote that ‘we are importing problems we don’t need’ (rhetoric that should be disturbingly familiar to the Jewish community). I wrote about it at the time. On another occasion, Mr Bolt not only suggested we might limit Muslim immigration, but even Muslim proselytisation! Note that he can write this while stressing in another article the need to ‘Defend free speech’. In Mr Bolt’s rendition of crime, he left out that Aboriginal people have an even higher incarceration rate than those listed – higher, in fact, than black people in Apartheid South Africa.

It’s worth noting how all of this might give someone the misimpression about Bolt’s welcoming of immigrants.

On 22 July this year, Bolt blogged about the former head of MI5 saying the British invasion of Iraq turned British Muslims against their own country. Mr Bolt replied: ‘Hmm. Define “their own country”.’ That is, someone could be born in Britain and be a British citizen but because they’re Muslim, it’s not ‘their own country’. What would it take for them – an ‘enemy within’ – to become British in Mr Bolt’s eyes?

Mr Bolt concluded his blog by complaining about my ‘hate-preaching’. I find this mentality puzzling to the point of bewilderment. When Andrew Johns called someone a ‘black cunt’, Mr Bolt responded by mocking those who thought it racist. All I can say is I remember vividly my shock and distress when a stranger drove past and called me a ‘little Jew cunt’ when I was a kid. Suffice to say, I do not consider Mr Bolt an authority on the correct identification of hate-preaching.

In October 2008, Bolt wrote that the concentration of Sydney Jews in the Eastern Suburbs meant that ‘Australia risks becoming not “home” but a host community’. I do not know what he meant by that comment. It seems, to me, suggestive of Jews being parasites. As far as I know, no-one has asked him to explain what he meant.

On 19 October last year, Bolt wrote about a terrorist attack in Iran that killed dozens of people. Bolt said: ‘There’s a poetry here – a terror-sponsoring regime now the target of terrorists itself.’ A poetry in a terrorist attack killing dozens. Imagine if someone had written that September 11 was poetic because of US support for the mujahideen in Afghanistan.

But perhaps I’m missing something. Perhaps Mr Bolt could explain why he considers the murder of Americans horrendous, yet the murder of Iranians poetic.

Michael Brull

Michael Brull is a columnist at New Matilda. He’s written for other publications including Fairfax, the Guardian, Crikey, Tracker and the Indigenous Law Bulletin.

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  1. Yep, great blog Michael. I admire your courage in standing up to Bolt and the excellent research you’ve done to reveal Bolt for what he is – racist and self-serving. I’ve written about it before but I still find it utterly infuriating that Greg Sheridan is now sought for comment on Jon Faine’s program and Piers Ackerman is too often given voice on the ABC.

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