Pauline Hanson appeared on ABC’s Q&A last night, and – obviously – the shit went down. The infamous xenophobe joined the panel alongside Simon Birmingham (Liberal), Sam Dastyari (Labor/HSP gawd), Larissa Waters (Greens) and Nick Xenophon (independent).
It was her super-awkward exchange with Dastyari which has grabbed the headlines today, as the staunchly anti-Islam Hanson discovered for the first time that the Iran-born MP was actually a Muslim.
Never one to appear at ease, Hanson now appeared to be sweating bullets with the knowledge she was sitting so close to her (new-found) enemy. Hanson deflected and avoided answering the question, which proved to be her go-to move for the night.
When Hanson did attempt to make a point, she was pulled up quickly by host Tony Jones. Hanson had attempted to answer a question by linking Muslim immigration to a sudden increase of “terrorism in our streets.” Jones interrupted her with the quickness; “When you say we’ve never had terrorism in this country before, that’s simply not the case. The 1970s, there were multiple bombings by Croatian Catholic extremists. This has happened in Australia before, it’s not the first time. We should at least get that straight.”
Islam and multiculturalism was not surprisingly the topic of the night, as several audience members continued to hit Hanson with questions regarding her fear of the religion. The most pertinent was this man, who attempted to filter Islamophobia through the eyes of his 11-year-old son. Asking Hanson if her opposition to the religion was based on hate, fear or ignorance, Hanson replied “none of the above,” before using the word fear several times as she attempted to elaborate.
The action wasn’t just inside the venue, as protestors kept the beef sizzling in the streets outside. One Nation supporters – one who was seriously holding a White Lives Matter placard – clashed with Hanson opponents, resulting in six arrests.
Twitter, as always, was alive with discussion around the panel show, as cultural commentators, political leaders, and every day viewers all weighed in with their opinion on Hanson's appearance.
After the thousands of Tweets, opinion pieces, new articles and so forth that have come from last night's episode, it was panelist Sam Dastyari who took 60 seconds to perfectly describe Hanson's divisive game plan.
"The politics of fear, hate and division is not the politics that we should be espousing as a nation. Miss Hanson here is not an amateur, she’s not inexperienced. Miss Hanson, you’ve been in politics now for 20 years, and you know exactly what you’re doing, and the language you use, and the power of your language. 20 years ago, it started off with blaming Indigenous Australians. Then it became about “we’re being swamped by Asians,” now it’s about blaming the Muslim community. It is the politics of pitting one section of our community against another section of our community. About simplifying complex problems, and placing the blame on one group at one point in time. It’s the politics of fear and division, and Miss Hanson, you’re incredibly good at it."