In Chris Kenny’s view (“Allegations of racism fuels quiet resentments”, The Australian, 12/3) it is permissible for Scott Morrison and Cory Bernardi to make intolerant remarks as long as they apologize afterwards, but when Andrew Wilkie criticizes them for doing so, he inflames the race debate. Kenny even pretends to psychoanalyze Wllkie as being motivated by a need for personal vindication, while sparing his targets the same diagnosis.
There is a simpler explanation. A recent study has 12% of Australians identifying themselves as racist. There are no prizes for guessing which side of politics they mainly support. Morrison and Bernardi both know that a quarter of their constituencies can be stroked by appealing to this ignorance. Their remarks were not merely “uncharitable”, badly timed, or “not sufficiently qualif[ied]”, as Kenny faintly condemns them. Neither man has reached this level of politics without thinking through an elementary issue like race. They knew what they were doing.
Wilkie is doing what the majority of Australians want him to do by calling them on this despicable tactic.