Craig Emerson is a former federal Labor minister and parliamentarian who represented the Queensland seat of Rankin from 1998 to 2013. He overcame a tortured childhood to achieve a PhD in economics and worked for the legendary Labor senator Peter Walsh before becoming a key adviser to Bob Hawke, then at his peak as prime minister. He was a constant source of support — a virtual carer — for his old boss in the months before he died.
Ealier this week Emerson tweeted that media had unfairly sensationalised words said by Barnaby Joyce with complete disregard for context and intent. His comment reflected that each statement made should be judged on its merits, not condemned or praised simply based on which tribe the sayer happens to belongs to. That kind of common sense seems to belong to the last century when Emerson entered politics.
It’s particularly rare on Twitter. With swimming pools of hypocrisy, leftists swarmed Emerson’s thread to either congratulate him for being vastly more reasonable than the other tribe or to beat up on him for his unbridled display of civility and reasonableness.
One drip responded, “He’s nothing but a drunk,” to which Emerson replied, “Thank you for your thoughtful contribution to a discussion about the problems of tribalism.”
An anonymous, faceless twit snarled, “How many lives does Barnaby get?” Emerson’s acerbic style returned, “As many as the voters of New England give him. It’s called democracy.”
The reason I want to help educate voters with writing and commentary is because most are too incurious to look beneath media reports and objectively appraise what’s served up, blithely regurgitating reports they’ve read.
When another drip incredulously asked, “Surely you are not defending his most recent brain snap about the voting intentions of the two deceased people,” Emerson answered, “Did you see what he said or did you see media reports of what he said? If the latter, do you believe everything you see or read on the media?”
The acerebral tribalism cake was probably taken though by “Syrah”, who apparently has a face like a small, yappy dog… or it could be her pet. Yes, I just assumed its gender. While her identity is somewhat anonymous as is the case with so many keyboard cowards, she’s evidently an ageist, racist, sexist tribalist. She vomited, “As you’re a white dude, I’m not really surprised. It’s a tad disappointing but reminds me of a [sic] something my Granny used to say, Expect nothing from a pig but a grunt. That’s why nothing changes for all of us who aren’t enjoying the benefits of stale, pale male ism.”
The capacity for correction is not a demonstrated virtue of people who manage to combine so many bigotries, so Dr Craig Emerson simply observed, “I’m not sure calling me a pig and blaming for being white gets us very far.”
It’s a phenomenon of twenty-first century politics fuelled by social media that many people suffering symptoms of narcissism are not just addicted to their anger but a deep contempt for their counterparts – loathing. We’re chemically rewarded by a small hit of dopamine when we feel like we’ve put someone else in their place, and more so when complete strangers affirm us personally by liking our rant.
There’s not much about Emerson’s economic philosophies I find sensible, but on his advice to slow it down, leave emotion out of debate, and look beneath the surface before rushing to partisan judgements, he’s got it completely right.
Dave Pellowe is a speaker, writer and political commentator and blogs at PelloweTalk.com.
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