When trying to convince the public you are not harming children, most would agree it’s best not to defend Hitler.
In what I sincerely hope was a moment of paranoid illiteracy, Department of Immigration and Border Protection secretary Michael Pezzullo has implied the former fascist leader of Germany may not have sought to use detention as a form of dehumanisation.
Pezzullo’s piece, titled “Immigration detention and children: separating fact from fiction” and published on the department website, is supposed to defend the appalling conditions faced by refugees in Australian offshore detention camps. But the third paragraph works against that goal:
“Recent comparisons of immigration detention centres to ‘gulags’; suggestions that detention involves a ‘public numbing and indifference’ similar to that allegedly experienced in Nazi Germany; and persistent suggestions that detention facilities are places of ‘torture’ are highly offensive, unwarranted and plainly wrong – and yet they continue to be made in some quarters.”
That’s right, “allegedly.” The word is used far too often in news and opinion writing to lessen chances of a lawsuit, but it’s hard to believe someone thinks Hitler will take them to court. For starters, you cannot defame the dead. Secondly, if SBS’s abundant World War II documentaries have taught me anything, there is little doubt surrounding Nazi Germany’s dehumanisation program.
It’s no wonder the claims continue when Border Force gives Hitler an out while trying to say it’s not fascist.
On one hand, the “allegedly” could just be modern legal posturing and bad writing. On the other, the Australian Government may legitimately believe the detention of and scaremongering about refugees might not dehumanise them. (Or, more likely, it is fully aware what scaremongering does and is hoping nobody catches on.)
Pezzullo wrote the piece because, “for the reputation of my department and its officers, it is crucial that I set the record straight.” The likely-typo might have done just that.
It’s worth remembering that Germany is today among the most compassionate countries in Europe when it comes to supporting desperate refugees. Australia, however, focuses on a small number of Christian refugees while still clinging to the White Australia Policy.Want more? Stay updated on Twitter and Facebook: