Monday, August 24, 2020

Illegal Immagrints

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'Our minds locked in over plight of detainees'

By Hugh Mackay

The column 'Our minds locked in over plight of detainees' by Hugh Mackay uses many stylistic devices to convince the readers to agree with his opinions on the issue of detainees. Manipulating the structure, language, imagery and tone of the article are the primary methods used by Mackay which cause the readers to reconsider their views about asylum seekers.

Hugh Mackay addresses the controversial issue of detainees in Australia. He writes about the public's mindsets as well as the Government's stance on the detainees. The article is written in an opinionative and controversial way as Mackay brings to light his point of view. It becomes obvious that Mackay is opposed to the Government's treatment of detainees as he endeavours to persuade the public to take his stance and put pressure on the government. He comments 'still, we must presume the government is not evil'. He subtly makes his point of view clear as he describes all points of view and mindsets before focussing on his own. This crafty manner reflects Mackay's journalistic expertise in putting forth an argument. This is achieved by beginning by writing in the second person and altering the mode towards the end of the article to omniscient. Mackay attempts to cause discussion amongst the community because people have their own opinions before reading the article. His article may have been successful in convincing people to change their opinions, however many people probably kept their mindsets, as suggested in the beginning of the article.

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Mackay has planned this article thoroughly, as it has a well set out structure. The article is structured in such a way that as the reader reads on, they are more likely to be persuaded to change their opinion. There are six identifiable sections in this article and it begins by posing rhetorical questions about people's mindsets. The first three sections all focus on the public's mindsets and the situation of the detainees in general. It grasps the reader's attention and as a result, the reader is compelled to continue reading. Sections four, five and six highlight Mackay's point of view and attitudes towards the Government. Each section advances in a manner which firstly enforces the readers views and secondly gives facts and Mackay's opinions in a well orchestrated attempt to persuade the readers that his point of view is correct.

The first section of the article is a very brief paragraph, consisting of two sentences. The abruptness and rhetorical nature of the first sentence captures the reader's attention which causes them to continue on. It is followed by a sentence which questions the readers opinions. It is here that Mackay's writing offers the suggestion that he is going to attempt to persuade the readers to alter even slightly their opinions by writing ' it's the devils own job to get us to change - partly because a change feels like a backdown ... reinforce our existing point of views.' The pace is fast as Mackay grasps the reader's attention by suggesting that their views may questionable. The generalisation of this section contributes to Mackay convincing his readers that they already have a set opinion on refugees. The evidence of this generalisation can be seen in the first section where Mackay writes in the third person, effectively causing the reader to agree with what he is suggesting.

The second and third sections summarise the public's points of view. Initially it focusses on those who 'believe the Woomera detainees are a mob of reckless trouble makers, queue-jumpers, potential terrorists or, at best "illegals."' Mackay then goes on to accuse those who hold the previously discussed beliefs that they 'wanted to believe that refugees were the kind of people who would throw their children overboard from a sinking boat... because it kept your prejudice afloat.' A considerable amount of punctuation is used in this section which helps to accentuate Mackay's tone. He italicises the word 'wanted' which indicates that he is being sympathetic with the reader and understands their beliefs because that's how mindsets work sometimes. By gaining the confidence of the readers whose mindsets fall into the described category, Mackay is then able to lure them to consider other possibilities, convincingly. The sentences are of average length but contain a lot of emotion. Another significant feature of this section is that the mode of writing changes from third person in the first paragraph to second person in the second paragraph. As a result of this, the tone becomes more personal, as though Mackay is talking to the reader one to one. The third paragraph uses the same techniques as the second section, however, it is here that the Government is mentioned for the first time 'You'll regard ... Canberra's response a hard-hearted and morally indefensible.' This gives the impression that he will be talking about the Government later in the article. This section is written with slightly less accusation directed at those who hold these views than the previous section. A possible reason for this is that Mackay holds the same beliefs as these people.

Section four is similar to paragraph one, in both topic and technique. Mackay uses imagery which, again, causes the reader's attention to turn to their views on the topic. He comments on people's reactions when a metaphorical punch is thrown at '[their] very fondly held beliefs'. The pace slows in this paragraph and is achieved by a lengthening of the sentences. Instead of making accusations, Mackay makes suggestions or comments 'when we attack our opponents' views, they are not simply unmoved but our arguments, they become even more entrenched in their resistance'. Mackay hopes that this change will provoke thought from the reader about how they consider all controversial issues of which there are two definite sides or opinions. This in turn causes the readers to consider the reasons for their mindset on the issue of refugees. This paragraph is the last one which contains generalisations. From this point in the column, Mackay uses specific peoples names and goes on to write in a more factual tone.

Section five is the most important section of the article as it is where Mackay's point of view becomes obvious. Mackay comments that 'Howard and Ruddock thrive on attacks on their policy. Still we must presume the government is not evil.' The tone in this paragraph is serious and stresses his hostility towards the Government. This is a hostility that he built up in the last 1/ of the article in order to persuade the reader to share his opinions. Emotive words such as 'evil', 'harshness', 'diminishes', 'inhumane' and 'justify' are used to emphasise his views of the government. The last sentence of this section is very important. Mackay writes it in an attempt to evoke some guilt in the reader. It is a sentence which questions our common values as well as the morals of Australia as a society. This sentence is effective because Australians are very patriotic and any hint of criticism towards our country is usually not taken well as it is not the way we like the world to think of us as people. Mackay states 'the acid test of the decency of any society is the way it deals with the disadvantaged, the dropouts, the criminals, yes, the "aliens".' This is the section where Mackay may convince readers to reconsider their views.

The final section sums up Mackay's argument. The sentences are of average length, the pace slows and the tone softens again. Several rhetorical questions are asked to provoke thought about the current situation and possible actions which need to be taken to gain a positive outcome. The final sentence relates back to the first sentence of the article. 'Still, when mindsets are powerful enough, we can convince ourselves that we haven't changed our minds even while our actions suggest otherwise.' This assists in convincing the public that they already have an opinion on the topic. By convincing the readers that they have an opinion, Mackay then attempts to persuade them to take his point of view.

Throghout the article Mackay was able to evoke emotion and cause discussion from the public which undoubtedly resulted in some readers altering their mindsets on asylum seekers. The stylistic devices he used, including structure, imagery, language and tone, were used relatively successfully throughout the article. The reader's attention was captured with the opening sentence and was retained throughout the article with punchy, thought provoking sencences. Mackay was, therefore successful in achieving his goal of causing discussion in the community, putting pressure on the government and altering some reader's mindsets.

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