There is a bitter paradox in the Djokovic / vax / Park Hotel / refugees circus. If that sticky net had tricked an athlete with some sort of worldly political conscience and a basic conscience, they would have said, “What? Two years in a room? Right here? Nine years in a detention system? To arrive by boat? From your 15 years? This is gross evil! And then used their fame for doing something about it.
But it is unlikely that any athlete with the courage to do so has found themselves in that growl. Whatever their feelings about the shots, for a grand slam they would take the jab and move on.
Djokovic can still say something, but anyone else who knew about the situation could have shouted it out to the world immediately. If he does not, so ends the brief hope that refugees and activists may have had that this might be a moment to tip this appalling situation into the consciousness of the world.
Many vaguely know that Australia has a harsh system for undocumented migrants, but few understand the grotesque details: its cruelty and whim, its use of time and idleness, and the contemplation of the passing life, as a tactic of torture and terror. .
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The indefinite detention of this guy, with his reasonable physical appearance (although the rotten, maggot-infested food is back) is the torture of the penitentiary, the system designed to bring you to God in an ungodly world. Without it, your life becomes the contemplation of the waste of your life.
The psychological damage inflicted on the refugees at the Park Hotel, and elsewhere in the system, is put in medicalized terms of the day. But it’s really just existential horror, armed to create permanent damage.
It is evil, no more and no less, nothing else. Yes, it’s repressive, harsh, cruel, clumsy, sloppy, strategic – that’s all of it – but at the root it’s evil, the use of livelihood against someone trying to have a life. It is a conscious attack on the very conditions of possibility of what it is to be a human being. And it’s set in the middle of a capital city run by a state government that claims to be fundamentally progressive, and yet won’t boo the goose about it.
How long can this grotesque and atrocious situation last? Thousands of trams pass the Park Hotel every day, as the center of Melbourne’s main tram line is just to the north. Yet this is essentially a state hostage-taking. No condemnation, no punishment, no end – just endless waste of time. Its location normalizes the process and makes us all a little complicit. There is a kind of homeopathic guilt – and, as homeopathy points out, therefore strongly linked.
The temptation, after attending the protests and writing a multitude of articles like this, is to say that the best thing would be to drive a car on the side of the place, something, whatever to interrupt this endless horror show. I am not advocating it, but only because it is clear that the refugees themselves do not lead the struggle in this way. If they wanted, they could assemble downstairs and burn the building down. They would have the right. But they do not go in this direction, and one cannot substitute one’s own anger and one’s own shame for a passive complicity in their imperatives.
The protests must continue, the courageous and undoubtedly exhausted and distressed core complemented by a few more. But he has now come up against the paradox of protest that Gandhi pointed out when he said: “What you do will not make any difference, but you have to do it anyway”.
What could complement it, take things to the next level? One thing that could be out of the hands of the protesters: If Dan Andrews were to mobilize the residual and partial autonomy of the state government and challenge the morality of what is happening on Park Street in a very explicit way, on multiple occasions it would surely bring some sort of crisis. There isn’t a chance (right?), Not only because Labor is complicit in the system, nor in the proximity of the election, but because the government is so full of soft SDA combos. Francoites that they love nothing more than illegal advertising. punctual detention in a town hall.
The only other thing I can think of is for as many freelance writers as possible, with some kind of global connection of The New York Times to “British Tram Fancier” (leave it mine) to do their next pitch for a track over the next few weeks to be something about this situation. Not the whole iniquitous Australian system, but this particular Kafkaesque grotesque that takes place in the heart of one of our cities.
Is it possible that half a dozen of them could land all at once, in the space of a week or two, in the wake of Djokofiasco, and hang enough shit on our sun-scorched country? so that the stench becomes intolerable? Whether the Morrison government responded directly or not, could this be the time it quickly and quietly granted community visas to Park Hotel inmates on two or three releases? Would a new Albanian government have no choice but to carry out immediate release? Or would it all become another flank for the government to exploit?
Our nation has become a cutting-edge laboratory for new techniques of controlled dehumanization, compatible with liberal-democratic governance. The whole world is watching – to see how we do it and copy. Perhaps, in the trailing clouds of a returning Serbian, it offers space to make a match point that I have no idea how tennis works.