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We’re not quite all in this together: just ask the academics

We are waiting now for the virus to drop its second shoe on us – softly or with thunder. At the same time, despite the $60 billion mistake in the JobKeeper scheme, performers and academics are not being offered anything.

That’s the other thing about the world after coronavirus: maybe, as the universities resume and redefine themselves, they will become what they were always meant to be: largely government-funded centres of research and scholarship that repay the community for what they discover. But for some reason, Scott Morrison has it in for academics, gifted men and women though they may be – and to have it in for any group is contrary to the spirit of the much recited sentiment, “We’re all this together”.

COVID-19 gets political during anti-lockdown protests in May.

COVID-19 gets political during anti-lockdown protests in May. Credit:AAP

Pre-COVID-19, the business world and rightist think tanks had a lot of success in posting political labels on valid emotions and phenomena, which were in themselves beyond politics. Poor old compassion itself (“They’re just a bleeding heart”) became a leftist, latte-sipping tendency to be resisted. The mere mention of human rights was depicted as soft leftism, too. Any conservationist twitch was obviously sandal-wearing Marxism, and a concern for the world’s boat people and the more than 60 million refugees a sign of galloping political unrealism and the aforesaid bleeding heart.

COVID-19, which some in America and a handful of Australians believe to be a political plot, has for the rest of us returned us to the realisation that some events might have political outcomes but are not political in themselves. COVID-19, as it assails the lungs, could not be more indifferent to our voting intentions.

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