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Tuesday, 10 October 2017

Sonia Kruger, Hero Of The People

It's easy to dismiss Sonia Kruger as an idiot, but this would be to ignore the important role she plays in public discourse.

There have been a couple of incidents where her opinions have landed her in trouble - her public support for a Moslem ban in Australia, and, more recently, her bizarre cheerleading for the federal government's push for the states to make all license photos available to a national facial recognition database. One can't help but feel for her, made a focal point for disputes 'bred of an airy word' as she gurns confusedly down the camera while sound engineers struggle frantically to mask the clank and grind of her brain attempting to navigate complexity.

See? Even I'm doing it - it's just too easy. She's blonde, and female, she speaks in a certain tone of voice I'm hardwired to associate with stupidity, and her default expression is one of slightly anxious confusion. For those who consider themselves politically sophisticated, she may as well just be a gigantic bullseye. But just like everyone else, it is beholden upon me to police my initial, knee jerk reactions. It is very important, if I'm to retain what credentials I have as an intellectual, to understand where she's coming from and what, in fact, she actually is.

I'm vague on what it is she actually does, but I am aware that she appears on breakfast television of some sort, which must mean that she is a very popular personality. And by extension, breakfast television must also be popular. This must mean that a significant portion of the electorate is fully engaged by inane chatter, footage of happy people being happy, and political analysis delivered by the same people who sell vacuum cleaners and mops over the phone. So Sonia must be representative of a large portion of the population. The inescapable conclusion is that there is a significant group who actually care about Ashton Kucher's opinions on Christmas, who are avid followers of the Kardashians, and who operate at a level of engagement so low that comments like, "I like it. I do. Bring it on. Big Brother, bring it on," constitute political thought.

This being the case, Kruger must be considered in the light of a champion of the people. Or at least, that section of the people who just can't be bothered thinking about this crap. A section which I am inclined to think is an actual majority. I'm pretty sure this is the section of the population being referred to when right wingnuts refer to 'the silent majority' - the confused, reactionary, but fundamentally decent bulk of lumpenproletariat, rocketed by wealth and geography into the middle class apparently against their will. This is, in actual fact, a voice we do not hear often enough. It is this voice which elected Trump in the US, Pauline Hanson in Queensland, and which quietly seethes as that minority capable of thinking in multisyllables dominates the debate whilst calling them idiots.

I personally think that deriding or shouting down this voice is a bad idea. As much as it might annoy me, the idea that the opinions of the befuddled are valid in and of themselves by virtue of the fact that they exist seems fundamental to the idea of democracy. Which means it's very important to engage - to explain, slowly and carefully and in words of two syllables or less, why they might want to think again.

While this is significantly less fun than pointing out that thinking like Sonia Kruger's would be embarrassing in an early primary classroom, it's probably the high road forward.

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