Asylum seeker debate: it’s not our fault?

An excellent piece in The Age today by Ross Gittins on the psychology of the asylum seeker debate in our country (such as it is):

Gittins suggests there are evolutionary antecedents to our xenophobia. While not excusing intolerant behaviour he suggests it goes a long way to explaining our irrational stances on the subject. And, he’s bold enough to predict that the tide may be turning. I trust he’s right. Well worth a read.



5 Responses to “Asylum seeker debate: it’s not our fault?”

  1. I trust he is right too – about the tide turning. His assessment of the Cultural Intelligence issues (although he doesn’t call them that) is, in my view, rather accurate.

    I was overseas when this article appeared. Thank you for bringing it to my attention.

    • I wish I could be more confident that the tide really is turning. Unfortunately, it all starts with the language and the conversations of our political leaders. We seem to determine what is an an acceptable position to take based on the conversation framework the politicians set. If the pollies are being shortsighted, xenophobic, irrational and mean-spirited the populace appears to take this as a green light to do the same. But reframe the debate so that pollies exercise leadership and speak about the human issues, our moral backbone and our legal and humanitarian obligations and, lo and behold, the conversations in the wider community start to change as well. There’s a whole theory on the importance of the language of politicians. Unfortunately, while the issue remains one of politics, the arguments are debased and we won’t see real leadership. But, that’s no excuse for good people to stop doing the right things. In fact, I think it is even more imperative.


  2. You are right – there is a legal term moral panic – there is a blog somewhere about it which is very interesting. I referred to that in my personal page.

  3. I’ve just been working a DVD on asylum seekers in Darwin and I think Ross is right – you won’t win the ‘logical’ argument but you can try to induce empathy…we can’t fight that.


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