In the past two weeks, I have read two 19th century novels – The Black Tulip by Alexander Dumas (father) and Nicholas Nickleby by Charles Dickens. Each is typical of the genre – high melodrama, caricatures more than characters, eye glazing coincidences, and above all good guys and bad guys: the white hats are ultra-white, and the black hats are ultra-black. The villains are the rejects of humanity who rub their hands in glee at the prospect of working evil to punish the white hats for rejecting them. They have mantras and slogans which, like bats, flutter in the twilight but disappear by light of day. The villains of melodrama are not of this world.
Unless you are Peter Dutton. In trying to defend his mean, low, vindictive and retrospective retribution against refugees, Dutton said:
If we arrive at a third country settlement option, and that is if we find a new place for people off Nauru and Manus to go, then we’re not going to have them come back to Australia through the back door on some tourist visa because that would just be the people smugglers rubbing their hands together having found another way to get people back to Australia.
In the sweet name of the Hasid out of Galilee, is this deeply heartless and stupid man serious? Does he want to add insult to the brain to affront to the conscience? Or does he suffer from a form of dementia that leaves him more paranoid than three celebrated terrorists Antoine de Saint Just or Maximilien de Robespierre?
And this in a week where two sulking ex-PMs threw bitchy tantrums, two fringe senators put in to spite the two major parties showed contempt for people they owe money to and distaste for sense and decency, and Cory Bernardi expressed his support for that pig Trump.
It is humbling to recall that when the black shirts turned off the microphone of Dietrich Bonhoeffer in 1933, he was warning the nation of the danger of false leaders.
Poet of the month: Lee Cataldi
On a train
My love grows up between us
like a wall
you take down my defences then
raise your book and disappear again
trucks cars chimneys gardens
inextricably entangled flowers
growing out of broken cylinders
I find myself alone
sinking into a pond
greener and greener
like a stone.