Our Acting PM Michael McCormack Doubled-Down On Comparison Between BLM And Capitol Riots
According to McCormack, WWI and WWII were fought for the right to post misinformation online.
UPDATE: In a press conference this afternoon, McCormack continued to defend his comments, arguing that “all lives matter”.
Here’s a snippet via The Guardian: “I’m not going to apologise because I said that violence in any form should not happen, from a protest… I appreciate there are a lot of people out there who are being a bit bleeding heart about this and who are confecting outrage, but they should know those lives matter too. All lives matter.”
After yesterday being criticised for equating last week’s Capitol insurrection in Washington with the Black Lives Matter movement, National Party leader and Australia’s current acting Prime Minister Michael McCormack has doubled down on his comments in an interview on ABC News Breakfast, saying that “any form of violence is condemned.”
On Monday, his first day of stepping into Acting PM duties with Scott Morrison on holiday, McCormack referred to the pro-Trump riots that stormed the Capitol building last Wednesday as “similar to those race riots”, referring to the Black Lives Matter protests.
One was an act of political violence in an attempt to prevent the democratic process, resulting in the death of five people, including a police officer beaten with a fire extinguisher; another was a global movement against police brutality and systemic racism.
And while McCormack cites violence ‘on both sides’, the Black Lives Matter movements have largely been peaceful in the face of heavy policing and military response across the US, while there’s evidence that the insurrectionists planned for far more bloodshed.
The BLM’s protests were against state-endorsed violence and met with state-led violence; the insurrection was in favour of Donald Trump’s completely unverified claim the 2020 election was rigged, and was a forceful attempt to interrupt the confirmation of Joe Biden’s presidency.
Meanwhile, the two groups were treated completely differently by police and armed forces. Compare footage of police knocking down an elderly man peacefully protesting the BLM movement to footage of last Wednesday, where police could be seen helping insurrectionists down the steep steps of the Capitol.
Not only that, but the pending impeachment of Trump would condemn the President as directly responsible for inciting the insurrection, though the FBI warns that impeaching him could also lead to violence across the country. But in the eyes of McCormack, all violence is equally ‘abhorred’, regardless of whether it’s fighting facism or promoting it.
“Any form of violence, any form of protest that ends in death and destruction is abhorred,” he told ABC News Breakfast host Georgie Tunny.
I wrote about this in ATC but this is usually what politicans mean when they say things like “all violence is bad”. Actually, violence is meaningless outside of its context. Context makes meaning. That’s actually really important in understanding it and making a moral judgement.
— Stephanie H Convery (@gingerandhoney) January 11, 2021
Whiteness is all about erasing the obvious and erecting another reality in its place. Case in point: how the violence that sparked the BLM protests in the first place is completely disappeared. https://t.co/ss6TD68v8w
— Alison Croggon (@alisoncroggon) January 11, 2021
When Tunny pushes McCormack to see the differences between the two events, he rejects any difference.
“The United States goes through great change but any form of protest, whether it is a protest over racial rights or what we have seen on Capitol Hill in recent days is condemned and abhorred,” he says.
“It involves violence, it involves destruction of property. It involves deaths of people and any violence of that form is condemned. I understand why these protests happen and let’s face it, in Australia we have gone through two world wars so that people can speak freely, so they can have that democratic right of free speech and we have protests here in Australia.”
“We don’t want to see the level of violence, the level of wilful destruction to property that we have seen elsewhere and, as I say, that level of violence, those sorts of protests that descend into that violence and ultimately the death of people is condemned.”
In the same interview, McCormack was also asked about a variety of social media platforms censoring misinformation, including Trump’s now-widely suspended accounts.
As an example of hypocrisy, he pointed towards Twitter suspending Trump’s account while keeping up a doctored image altered by the Chinese government to make Australian soldiers look like they were committing a war crime (that soldiers were accused of).
“I am not in favour of censorship. I am a former newspaper editor and journalists know that they have the right to free speech,” he said (via The Guardian).
Very weird to hear McCormack talk about how we “fought two world wars for the right to protest”. Australia famously has no enshrined right to assembly. Hard to argue WW1 was about fundamental human rights, and WW2 was against the Nazis… who McCormack is now equating to BLM.
— Osman Faruqi (@oz_f) January 11, 2021
“There is 102,000 names on the war memorial in Canberra etched into that bronze who fought so we could have a democratic country, so we could speak freely and it is every free-born person’s right to uphold that freedom of speech. I do stick by that.”
“When you see a company and let’s face it, it is up to them to make the decision based on their company and what they feel is right, but to take the President’s Twitter feed down, whilst at the same time allowing a soldier, an Aussie digger no less, a doctored image to remain on there of an Australian soldier potentially and looking like he is doing harm to a child — I mean really, that is not right.”
Then, when Tunny asked McCormack whether social media companies have a duty to stamp out misinformation, McCormack says that “facts are sometimes contentious”.
“Facts are sometimes contentious and what you might think is right, somebody else might think is completely untrue,” he says. “That is part of living in a democratic country.”
The comments come after Coalition MPs Craig Kelly and George Christensen continue to share misinformation around COVID-19 on their Facebook pages to great success, having two of the largest pages on the platform of Australian politicians.
Watch a section of McCormack’s interview below. As journalist Ketan Joshi points out, McCormack stands virtually alone as a world leader equating BLM and the insurrection as equally bad. Great stuff, Australia.
Deputy PM @M_McCormackMP has doubled down on his comparison of the assault on the US Capitol with the Black Lives Matter protests.
"It involves violence, it involves destruction of property, it involves deaths of people. And any violence of that form is condemned." pic.twitter.com/QrF4tiGZF7
— News Breakfast (@BreakfastNews) January 11, 2021