Can White Journalists Stop Giving Pauline Hanson A Fucking Sympathetic Platform, Please?

What is it with Australian media and its incessant attempts to humanise notorious racist, Pauline Hanson?

Why is it that in the last 48 hours, I have come across three (3) light, fluffy articles either centring something goofy, likeable or sympathetic about her?

First there was this, about Hanson missing her boyfriend. And then, there was this: a cheeky yarn on Hanson’s quirky preferred drink. And now, I’m seeing yet another attempt at making this woman, with a reputation for vile racism and divisive politics, a sympathetic character that is apparently just like everyone else. Yes, I’m talking about Jessica Rowe‘s latest podcast episode.

In case you missed the online storm that followed this ridiculous interview, Rowe (who is an esteemed journalist), interviews Hanson on her podcast, where they discuss… love, children, and “how she keeps going”.

Are we seriously creating inspirational and sympathetic narratives on how Pauline Hanson “keeps going”? Why are we applauding the drive of someone hell-bent on racism? Are we supposed to find her conviction in her shitty beliefs aspirational?

I mean, Rowe could have questioned Hanson’s recent support for the anti-vax protests in Melbourne. She could have called out Hanson for saying “Building Lives Matter”. (Yes, that’s a real thing she said, and I really do wish I was joking).

She could have interrogated Hanson’s long history of anti-Muslim and anti-Asian racism, her bigotry when it comes to gender and sex, her call for an immigration ban, or her claims that people can choose to catch and die from COVID.

And yet, she didn’t. Instead, we were given a story that humanised Hanson as just another Aussie mum. And I am furious.

Why should I sympathise about Pauline Hanson missing her boyfriend, when she has called for the deportation of the Biloela family, who are desperately loved and missed by their rural Queensland community?

Why should I accept notions of Hanson as a nurturing, loving mother, when she previously said trans children should be taken away from their parents? Or when she claimed “these things happen” after a man murdered his wife and three children?

Why should I care about what ‘keeps her going’, when the plight we are talking about actively opposes my basic fucking human rights?

As a South-Asian, Muslim, hijab-wearing woman with immigrant parents, I am so fucking sick of the media’s effort to humanise Pauline Hanson as someone who, despite her evil politics, is actually relatable or likeable.

Because really, whether the creators of these stories realise it or not, what they are doing is telling us that we, the people who are actively marginalised by the politics Pauline Hanson spouts, don’t matter. That our feelings don’t matter, that our presence doesn’t matter, that our representation doesn’t matter. That we aren’t worth defending, or being spoken for.

Prior to today, I actually kind of liked Rowe. Do you know how devastating it is to be a young woman like me in journalism, and see other older, successful, respected white journalists, who were perhaps aspirational for me, end up humanising people who don’t think I should be allowed in this country?

It’s alienating! It’s marginalising! It really fucking hurts! And all of that pain, for what? What do these journalists or publications get out of affording a platform to Pauline Hanson? Is it the clicks? What is the fucking appeal?

Intentionally or not, all these fluff pieces do is contribute to the normalisation of bigotry as something unfortunate but ultimately irrelevant to a person.

Rowe has since apologised for the episode she aired, but personally, this apology is not enough for me.

The idea that the episode even went ahead is peak ‘white feminism’, a particularly toxic brand of behaviour that sees white women have more allegiance with other white women that directly oppose their ideology, than with marginalised women who don’t.

This lack of interrogation, this dismissal of real issues, this pretence that someone’s racism, their literal actions and careers, can be separated from their personality is dangerous and harmful. It minimises the experience of people like me, and forgives the actions of people like Pauline Hanson.

But we, actual marginalised people, we don’t fucking forgive her. And it is no one’s place to do it for us.