This Om’bak post is in response to a number of status updates that have been popping up in my Facebook feed and on Twitter after the Four Corners program “A Bloody Business” about the mistreatment of cattle in Indonesia and Australia’s complicity in this mistreatment.
For those reading about this for the first time, The Economist has a pretty good overview of what has been the reaction in Australia after the program aired on Monday.
Paradoxically, some Australians have placed themselves morally above those calling for the ban of live cattle exports, claiming that such calls are hypocritical and xenophobic. Yet these are the same people, I assume, that ordinarily wouldn’t condone the mistreatment of animals.
Lambasting people as xenophobic for being outraged by what they saw on Four Corners footage is not helpful. While some responses from Australians have been xenophobic, only those individual responses should be attacked as thus. My understanding is that the media portrayal has predominantly focused on Australia’s involvement — through the training of abattoir workers, supply of equipment, and knowledge of mistreatment. Believing that the mistreatment of animals in Indonesia, or anywhere, is wrong and calling for the ban of live cattle exports is not inherently xenophobic.
But the issue isn’t xenophobia anyway. The issue is the grossly inhumane treatment of cattle, which after seeing the footage, I doubt you would want to continue.
Furthermore, some people have attempted to link this issue to Australia’s policy of sending asylum seekers to Malaysia, declaring it hypocritical to care about cows but not about these people.
The mistreatment of asylum seekers is an important issue and sending them to Malaysia is wrong. But attacking people for caring about something because they haven’t cared about other issues before is counterproductive. Shouldn’t we be happy that people are actually caring about something that needs to be changed?
While some may argue it is important to highlight the comparison to get people thinking on the issue of asylum seekers and our government’s policy to ship them to Malaysia, moral aggrandising is an ineffective way of encouraging people to inform themselves of the issue.
To the people who have highlighted this comparison as an example of Australian hypocrisy, I am interested to hear what you have done to fight for injustices being committed against people seeking asylum in Australia.
What is the point of realising an injustice if you don’t do anything about it?