When the senior media adviser to Australian prime minister Julia Gillard, Tony Hodges, decided to surreptitiously sic a crowd of aboriginal protesters on opposition leader Tony Abbott, he had no idea it would backfire big time. What started as an attempt to embarrass Abbott, who earlier remarked that the aboriginal protest site which opened in Canberra 40 years ago ought to close after all this time, it turned into threat to the media adviser’s own boss. Several hundred protesters converged on the Lobby Restaurant and banged on the glass, leading to what police called a “clear threat” to Gillard’s safety. She was forced to run from the scene, losing a shoe in the process of nearly falling to the ground.
But no action against Abbott was intended by the leaker. The New York Post reported:
It said Hodges informed a “stakeholder” of Abbott’s attendance at an Australia Day function with Gillard, and the information was subsequently passed on to Aboriginal activists.
“During that discussion, the staff member did not in any way suggest or encourage violence or demonstration,” a spokesman for Gillard said.
Hodges probably assumed that the aborigines would take it as an interesting tidbit and file the information away under “things I heard over the phone”. The unidentified stakeholder then called activist Barbara Shaw, who did not know the stakeholder either. As the Sydney Morning Herald reports:
Ms Shaw told Fairfax Media how, just before she addressed the tent embassy crowd, she had a conversation with a woman she did not know.
“She said Tony Abbott is over at the coffee shop making statements to press, about closing down the embassy – the aboriginal tent embassy.”
According to Barbara Shaw, she ‘was the first to hear from (the woman) and then the group first heard from myself.’
Sure, that’s what everybody does. Who doesn’t just pick up a call from people they’ve never heard of or met before and just rush on over to a nearby restaurant in warpaint and brandishing spears? It happens all the time. The rest as they say, is history. Although this fiasco happened in Australia, it illustrates two things. The most obvious is the danger of class warfare by proxy. Somebody could have been hurt in what was an accident waiting to happen. All kinds of things can happen when your “media advisor” broadcasts the location of his Actual in real-time to people whose names he can’t remember.
What is more depressing is how it shows the plantation still operating after all these years. There is something very sad in the spectacle of watching the indigenous inhabitants of the Southern Continent reduced to a rent-a-mob, whistled up at the behest of a media-operations bwana who operates through an intermediary to keep his hands clean. And what would they have gotten, in exchange for doing the political dirty work, besides a wink and a few more bucks of welfare?
Identity politics, taken to its ultimate conclusion, actually does turn people into victims, not of the so-called “oppressor” but of those who purport to ‘care’ for them. We are the 99% percent. We took the wrong courses in school. We ain’t never going to get a job, and what jobs we do qualify for are going to be outsourced to India. And we want more of the same. And so that we can have more of the same we are willing to take calls from people we don’t know. Because we are 99 percent.