Kate Ashmor for Macnamara

There was this to me enigmatic bit in Cut&Paste today in The Australian.

During Bill Shorten’s press conference yesterday:

Journalist: A couple of days ago, your Senate candidate in the Northern Territory (Wayne Kurnoth) resigned after sharing anti-Semitic posts on social media. If one candidate is responsible and reflective of the entire party, aren’t Labor also in trouble on this?

Shorten: No. There’s a world of difference here. First of all, this fellow, who I haven’t met …

But what about the others? Shorten quizzed about Kurnoth last Friday:

Journalist: Should he be disendorsed?

Shorten: Let me know how you go with Morrison and what his candidate for Macnamara has said about people close to me, all right? So let’s not start giving a lecture here. I’ve said that this bloke is incredibly stupid. Has Morrison said that the candidate for Macnamara is incredibly stupid, which she is?

As it happens, I live in Macnamara (recently Melbourne Ports) and was curious what she had said that was equivalent to some candidate “sharing anti-semitic posts on social media”. So I went and looked, and this is the answer: Liberal candidate apologises for emoji post referring to Chloe Shorten as a pig. This is the full story.

A Liberal candidate has appeared to refer to Chloe Shorten, the wife of Opposition Leader Bill Shorten, as a pig on social media.

In what could be the first emoji gaffe in federal politics, Kate Ashmor, who is running for the Liberals in the ultra-marginal inner-city Melbourne seat of Macnamara, posted the emoji-comment on her personal Facebook.

“My post was related to Bill Shorten and his character and policies, and no one else.”

While not all political wives seek media attention, Chloe Shorten has established herself as a public figure. She has her own websites and social media channels, gives speeches and has released two books including her own cook book. She campaigns on gender equality and ending family violence and is associated with several not-for-profit organisations.

Nevertheless, politicians’ wives are usually considered off-limits for attack in Australian politics and a gender-based attack is especially rare.

The figure of speech previously caused a political storm when Barack Obama said “you can put lipstick on a pig, but it’s still a pig,” at a rally during the 2008 US presidential election.

His political rivals took great offence at it, saying Mr Obama’s comments had been directed toward the then Republican vice-presidential nominee Sarah Palin, who had previously remarked: “You know, the difference between a hockey mom and a pit bull? Lipstick.”

The Republicans ran ads accusing the Democrats of sexism.

I might add that Sarah Palin was comparing herself to a pit bull. She also had an Israeli flag in her office when she was the Governor of Alaska. So there are two bits that are significantly different given the nature of the story. And speaking of anti-semitism, I might just mention this: What if the New York Times Cartoon had depicted … as a dog? by Alan Dershowitz. The dot-dot-dot represents any other ethnic, cultural or even gender that might have been represented which, given my own sensibilities, I would not repeat even though the words appear in the original title. Of course, it is unimaginable they would have shown any such thing. No one but a “hate group” would act in such a way. As Dershowitz says:

What is it, then, about Jews that allowed such a degrading cartoon about one of their leaders? One would think that in light of the history of the Holocaust, which is being commemorated this week, the last group that a mainstream newspaper would demonize by employing a caricature right out of the Nazi playbook, would be the Jews. But no. Only three-quarters of a century after Der Stürmer incentivized the mass murder of Jews by dehumanizing them, we see a revival of such bigoted caricatures.

No Jew in the world is unrelated to someone who was murdered because they were Jewish. It is not a trifle to be brushed aside, unless you are anti-semitic yourself.

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