Paul Sheehan would have us believe the refugee debate “is not about race…[i]t is about principle: control the borders”, and calls those who believe otherwise “gullible” (“You call this even-handed? Refugee series is strictly for the gullible”, The Australian, 3/7).This is a misuse of the term: real border control is about military invasions, not a couple of leaky boats.
Even so, there are more important principles than borders. The reason this issue generates so much heat, deliberately inflamed by the conservative commentariat, is clearly that for some people it is about the racial composition of Australia. Such a concern is racist by definition, even if those who hold it reject the label.
As for gullibility: is Mr Sheehan still drinking the magic water?