In my tortured, enlightening and frequently baffling explorations of the modern conservative mindset on twitter perhaps the very worst example of hypocrisy I’ve encountered is the supposedly compassionate conservative. Consider these examples:
- We’re saving asylum seekers from drowning by stopping the boats
- We’re saving Muslim women from being victimized by banning the burqa
- We’re saving mothers from making a choice they’ll regret by making abortion illegal (or we’re saving babies)
This is all false of course: the same people who shout these things have absolutely no compassion for asylum seekers, muslims or women’s reproductive systems. Quite the opposite in fact – you only need to look at the revulsion expressed against ‘illegals’ or muslims among the right wing. And I don’t see any of them talking about how to support a mother and baby after the baby leaves the protection of his mother’s womb and becomes an actual living, functioning human being exposed to the world.
It’s bothered me for a long time that these people have this supposed shield of morality and compassion to hide behind. (“You don’t want to stop the boats? Oh, you support drowning all these people then? You monster!”). However, I’ve finally cracked what it is that invalidates this supposed compassion (aside from the blindingly obvious fact that these people don’t give a fuck about the people they profess to defend).
It comes down to choice. For better or worse the asylum seeker makes the choice to get on a boat, often because they feel they have no other choice, or the other choice mean torture, death or misery (for them and their families: let’s not forget these appalling, careless mothers who wilfully bring their children on board these death traps). While the burqa is a reprehensible symbol of patriarchal oppression, the fact is that some women still make the choice to wear it as they feel it symbolises and demonstrates their faith. Abortion is never an easy choice to make, but sometimes it’s made in the knowledge that you’re not in a position financially, mentally or otherwise to bring up a child.
The common element here is removing choice. The common element is not having enough, or any, respect for the group you’re purporting to represent. The common element is “I want to control your choices” (usually because “the choices you make threaten the choices I’ve made”).
And if you still think these conservatives are being compassionate, consider the potential consequences:
- An asylum seeker who can no longer get on a boat in the hope of finding safe sanctuary in Australia may have no refuge from whatever persecution they’re trying to escape from. They may choose an even more dangerous path to safety, if such a path even exists. What do you choose? The small chance that nature might dump a storm on you, or the very real chance that someone might throw you in prison for the rest of your life, or murder you in your home.
- A Muslim women who is forced to remove her burqa is now being oppressed by the supposedly tolerant society, quite probably feeling that her right to express her faith has been forcibly removed (imagine ordering Christians to remove their crucifixes, or to surrender their bibles, for example). She’s not being saved from oppression; instead she’s being oppressed.
- The mother/parents who are denied an abortion may find no support in bringing up their child: the child may grow up unloved, unhealthy, neglected because the family have to work double shifts to survive, it may grow into a life of crime.
Worst case scenarios, for sure, but why care about the consequences of someone else’s action if you’re going to care about the consequences of yours?