The ‘megalothymic’ right

In a Culture Wars chapter called ‘Us and them: national identity and the question of belonging’, ANU academic Kim Huynh organises his argument around the ideas of ‘megalothymia’, which he says ‘denotes a desire to be recognised as superior and separate’, and ‘isothymia’, which lends itself to ‘multiculturalism and multilateralism’.

Huynh argues that the Howard government shifted us ‘decisively to the megalothymic right’ (I predict this label will not catch on). The dog whistlers in the Howard government ‘seek to split society along ethnic lines between the white “us” and the coloured “them”.’ The groups he specifically notes as being targeted by the Howard government are Muslims, people from the Middle East, and the Sudanese.

As we might expect, there is plenty in this chapter about refugees. Certainly, the Howard government treated unauthorised arrivals harshly, signalling a clear intention to maintain control over who enters Australia. So there can be no disputing that immigration policy assumes that there are some individuals who should be denied entry. But can we read into it an assumption that some groups should not be admitted or singled out for especially tough treatment?
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