When John Howard made the statement:
”Most famously, in 1996 Howard wanted Australians to be comfortable in their own skins. When pressed aggressively by Four Corners reporter Liz Jackson about his ambitions for Australia in the year 2000, Howard simply said he wanted Australians to be “comfortable and relaxed” about their past, present and future. As for himself, Howard said he was proud to be seen as “an average Australian bloke”.“ (Terry Barnes, “John Howard: the greatest PM of our time”, The Drum).
… Howard transferred the responsibility of the State to show civil respect and leadership onto the rag-tag shoulders of every bigot and racist hooligan with an axe to grind and a vulnerable victim to grind it upon. He had, in effect handed that section of the constitution that pledges protection and the shielding hand of civil respect, to the mob. Not the act of a Statesman, but rather that of a despot. For if the State is willing to relinquish the responsibility for civil obedience and respect onto what was even then a racist minority, then it is not a State of civil union, but rather; a failed State.
Mark well the warnings of Titus Livius:
“ … Here it is to be noted that many times actions that appear merciful, and which cannot be reasonably condemned, may become cruel, and very dangerous to a Republic if not corrected at the proper time. And to discuss this matter in more detail, I say that a Republic cannot exist without citizens of repute, nor govern itself well in any way. On the other hand, the reputation of such citizens is the cause of tyranny in Republics. And in order to regulate this thing, it [the Republic] needs to be so organized, that the reputation of citizens be based on the benefits it gives to the nation and not on any harm to it and its liberty. And, therefore, the methods with which they assume reputation ought to be examined, and these, in effect, are two, either public or private. The public methods are when one acquires reputation by counselling well and acting well for the common benefit. The way to such honours ought to be opened to every citizen, and rewards proposed for their good counsels and good works, so that they may obtain honours and be satisfied: and when such reputation is obtained through these pure and simple ways, it will never be dangerous: but when it is obtained through a private way (which is the other method mentioned) it is most dangerous and wholly harmful…” (Machiavelli; Discourses).
The current trend toward violent and vicious attacks upon vulnerable groups and individuals is, I accuse, precisely because of Howard’s and the current LNP administration giving too much voice and freedom of action to the far-right and fascist movements in Australia. Howard cunningly let slip those dogs of war to divide the community. The Murdoch press responded and upped the ante with its unrelenting howl of confected outrage against every single person that challenged their stereotype, that they could vilify or make victim or claim as an act of aggression against their blameless “Alt-right” movement.
The speechless mass-shootings we see on a regular basis in the USA reflect an act of insane desperation by some of those very people in that State given too much freedom to be “comfortable in their own skin”. We all know or at least realise by the time we reach adult-hood that one is compelled or expected to act in a civil manner to one’s fellow citizens or place at risk the social contract of our own respect. We learn these things in the playground of primary school, where we make a group of friends or when we play in a sport team in our teenage years … We learn to yield to the folly of deliberately hurting others while we frequent the taverns and clubs of our twenties, so that by the time we reach maturity, like the age when John Howard made the above comment, we ought to be more astute as to how freely we counsel our own children … Yes … truly, we ought to advise them that they ought to feel comfortable in their own skin. But! … and this is the part that the devious fool Howard left out: but we must respect those others of our society who, while their “skin colour” is of a different complexion and their “skin culture” may be of a different, more complex matrix, it is the duty of any citizen of the nation to allow space for all others to “feel comfortable” next to each other’s “skin”.
But Howard didn’t want this to happen. HIS intent was not to unite the nation under one social contract. There was instead intent and then deed to divide and rule with vicious impunity by the one ”skin” the one creed, the one political ideology … an ideology of Rule by fear. Rule by force. Rule by fascist intent! By his own words, we can see it is obviously NOT directed to those Indigenous or ethnic groups whose past was vandalised, whose present is tenuous and whose future is a thing of doubtful hope … No! … those he was wishing such comfort upon were those of his own matrix … his own prejudices. His words were not merciful, not reasonable, not all-encompassing … those were the words of an ache for white supremacy, Anglo-centric, Christian-centric conservative governance with no place for radical dissent.
He, personally failed, being found out to be a devious, lying little rodent, but his creatures follow on, chivvied and guided by the Murdoch media and its imitators. There will have to be a Parliamentary Inquiry and perhaps a rolling tribunal to bring those media players before a panel to be judged for their actions against their fellow citizens. Let it be known as ”The Citizens Tribunal” … and there they will make their case and woe betide those who come up wanting!