Saturday, March 26, 2005

Asinine Adams At It Again

AFTER much ministerial bungling and bureaucratic buck-passing, Amandatory Detention Vanstone had urgent changes made to her rules and regulations lest there be another Cornelia Rau row. Can’t have blonde, blue-eyed locals, least of all ex-Qantas hosties, caught up in Australia’s razor-wire net, mixed up with those pesky Muslims.

Before I look at the specific fallacies Phillip Adams makes in his opinion column A comparatively brief internment, one could be forgiven for making the following inference given the above statement. That Adams has no problems with Australian citizens being locked up in detention centres for illegal immigrants.

I'd say that this probably isn't Adams' position - after all, I don't want to make the same fallacy he does - False Positioning. Adams paints the picture of detention centres as places which the Australian government uses purely to lock up Muslims (though they might be okay if they're blonde and blue eyed?). This is clearly untrue and would be a reprehensible thing to do – and as such an easily defeated position. Thus Adams has built a 'straw man' of the government's policy so he can easily knock it down. Detention centres are for illegal immigrants. Perhaps he finds it difficult to engage and take on the government's actual policies regarding asylum seekers and illegal immigrants?

…the media and my fellow citizens go stark raving bonkers over the plight, the comparatively brief internment, of one white woman. Her suffering, her torments are regarded as a national scandal whereas the stories told by enraged health workers and refugee advocates about families fleeing the Taliban and Saddam Hussein are brushed aside. They’re old news. Could there be more dramatic evidence of the underlying racism of our response to the people we’ve rounded up for mandatory detention?

(Let's ignore the fact - as Adams conveniently does - that if he ever had his way regarding the Taliban and Saddam Hussein, they would all still be in power.) Apparently people are racist because they were upset that an Australian citizen was detained in a facility for illegal immigrants. The most obvious fallacy by Phil is Personal Abuse. Using the term 'racism' to describe our (all Australians besides Adams?) response to the Cornelia Rau episode is an attempt to malign all those who are in favour of mandatory detention and - given he has no actual evidence of racism - is clearly Personal Abuse. This is Adams' 'pre-emptive strike' against those who would disagree with him. If you were upset over the mistaken custody of Cornelia Rau, but don't object to mandatory detention of illegal immigrants, clearly you must be a racist and all of your arguments must be dismissed out of hand.

Besides the obvious Personal Abuse, Adams' risible reasoning continues. His hypothesis is that people who were upset over Cornelia Rau but not refugees in general, are racist. His argument? She is white and (by implication) the refugees are not (they are Muslim). Of course, he fails to cite any actual, verifiable evidence of this. But even if we are to magnanimously grant him this point, his 'argument' is one of Stacking the Deck - deliberately ignoring counter arguments (and evidence) to his point. The only evidence he cites as indication of the underlying racism of Australians is the above. He conveniently ignores an obvious (substantial) counter argument – Australia's large (and always getting larger) number of immigrants, as well as the unflinching acceptance of multiculturalism by most Australians. Further to this, no matter what one's position is regarding refugees, most would agree it's a bad thing to lock Australians up in detention centres for illegal immigrants (by definition).

In the end, this is merely another LAME (Look At Me Everybody) piece of Sanctimony by Adams.