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They know it is wrong but, if it works, who cares?

Concetta Fierravanti-Wells has written an essay in which she acknowledges that Muslims in Australia face prejudice, and that instilling fear and hatred is an easy, but unhelpful, course of action.

She references Robert Menzies who argued that the cultivation of the spirit of hatred against the Japanese was not a proper instrument of war policy.

“He asked himself the question: Are Australians so lacking in the true spirit of citizenship that they need to be artificially filled with the spirit of hatred?

“Seventy-five years on it is a question that still holds true. Today’s war is much more insidious, with atrocities abounding. Terrorism and the hatred it engenders can strike at the very heart of our society, literally as you walk down the street. This makes instilling fear and engendering hatred just as easy as in 1942.”

Yet this seems to be the very deliberate policy chosen by her party.

In 2011, opposition immigration spokesman, Scott Morrison, urged the shadow cabinet to capitalise on the electorate’s growing concerns about “Muslim immigration”, “Muslims in Australia” and the “inability” of Muslim migrants to integrate, telling the shadow cabinet meeting on December 1 at the Ryde Civic Centre that the Coalition should ramp up its questioning of “multiculturalism”.

Fierravanti-Wells says the various waves of immigrants since the early days of European settlement have all been “targeted” – from the Chinese, Irish and Germans, through the postwar cohort of Italians and Greeks, the Vietnamese and Lebanese in the 1970s and, more recently, Muslim groups – but we should not let their positive contribution to Australia be forgotten due to the actions of “a few rotten apples in our community”.

Perhaps she needs to have a word to Peter Dutton who suggested that the former prime minister Malcolm Fraser should not have let people of “Lebanese-Muslim” background into Australia back in the 70s – citing as evidence a handful of individuals of Lebanese descent who have been charged with terrorism offences.

Dutton also infamously claimed that Victorians are “scared to go out to restaurants” because of “African gang violence”.

But as Fierravanti-Wells wrote, “Rather than fostering hatred, deal with the issues head on… the community must safeguard the wellbeing of its young people.”

Australia needs to understand why young people are vulnerable to anti-social overtures, one problem mentioned by the Senator being the difficulty of finding a job, despite the oft-repeated boast of job creation made by her colleagues who, I suspect, never look beyond the numbers to see just who those jobs are going to or how hard it is to find a job when you have no experience let alone if you look different or have a funny name.

Yet George Christensen, when there was an attack on Merrylands police station, immediately took to facebook writing “I wonder how quickly some idiot is going to inanely say this has nothing to do with Islam or talk about a religion of peace or blame those who oppose radical Islam or even Australia as a whole for marginalising some ‘disaffected youth’.”

Turns out it was an older man with mental health problems but, as Queensland Senator Murray Watt tweeted, Mr Christensen’s mistake was “what happens when you desperately seek ‘evidence’ to confirm your prejudices”.

When racial tensions between Aboriginal and Pacific Islander residents erupted in Queensland, in his usual inept way, Andrew Laming tweeted “Mobs tearing up Logan. Did any of them do a day’s work today, or was it business as usual and welfare on tap?”

After widespread condemnation about his ignorant contribution, Laming lamely and belatedly tweeted the next day, “To clarify: Working together to resolve these riots the priority. Training and a chance for jobs are key.”

After actively pursuing trade and investment, willingly accepting political donations, and offering visas that could be bought if you had enough money to invest, we are now also supposed to be scared of the Chinese.

The Coalition have heralded their intention to, once again, stoke the fear that a Labor government would lead to a flood of “illegal” immigrants.  This is based on a growing number of Labor MPs who are saying a solution must be found for the detainees on Manus and Nauru.

What is Dutton’s plan for these people?  To watch them die, one by one?

Morrison and Dutton have both lied about violent incidents on Manus, wrongly blaming the victims of the violence.  They demonise these people who fled war and persecution because it suits their political purpose.

The government is very quick to use fear, to blame whole sections of the community for the actions of a few, to condemn people for their circumstances, and to react punitively.

They are not so good at identifying the causes of problems and offering support to fix them.

All people who live in Australia should help to make this a better place.  That will not happen if we alienate and isolate each other.  If certain groups are experiencing problems, it is up to the community as a whole to find ways to alleviate them.

Many migrants will need help to settle in.  Many kids will need help to find the right path.  Many people will need support to find employment.  Many of us will struggle with mental health issues.

These are not insurmountable issues in our wealthy country.

But while our politicians continue to deliberately use fear and “othering” as a political tool to further their own ambition, they encourage our suspicions and mistrust rather than empowering our collective endeavour to work together to meet whatever challenges our diverse society faces.

“The people can always be brought to the bidding of their leaders. All you have to do is tell them that they are in danger of being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger.” – Hermann Goering


14 comments

  1. John Boyd

    I sometimes have a problem with the wording of the little questionnaires at the end of the articles….as in the case about the private lives of politicians. I notice that 87% support the idea that their private lives should be open to public scrutiny. I find that response out of line with how I would read the general follower of IAMN. As an example, I don’t care whether Barnaby has a sexual relationship outside his marriage, or with whom; unless it reveals a hypocritical position on policy issues, which it did, and continues to do so; and/or actual illegal or inappropriate behaviour in terms of his improper use of public resources in relation to the affair, which it did. I can only assume that the 87% response was largely influenced by the Joyce affair, but I am surprised at the response.

  2. diannaart

    Fear and hate – handy tools for the lazily arrogant.

    Speaking “out of turn” is enough to be hounded out of her own country as Yassmin Abdel-Magied (Sudanese-Australian, Muslim, female and brown skin) was for her temerity in calling for remembrance of victims of war, on Australia’s day of remembrance:

    “Lest we forget (Manus,Nauru,Syria,Palestine …)

    Apparently this is not on topic and unacceptable on Anzac Day – for reasons that escape me.

    As Kaye Lee states:

    All people who live in Australia should help to make this a better place. That will not happen if we alienate and isolate each other. If certain groups are experiencing problems, it is up to the community as a whole to find ways to alleviate them.

    Signs Australia will be starting to grow up: Yassmin is welcomed home, off-shore detention centres closed, English language classes are provided instead of English testing, the IPA is outed for NOT thinking, the LNP is routed at the next election, Australia’s wealth put to use for Australia.

  3. flogga

    Yes John Boyd … the response sets are frequently lacking any nuance and force responses that are not necessarily reflective of the respondent’s true opinions. Writing poll questions is not easy even for professional market researchers who do it for a living. I think it’s supposed to be just a bit of fun and gives us a flavour of the attitudes of those readers of AIMN who click a response.

  4. LOVO

    Kaye Lee, you most certainly have ‘their’ measure, luv whatcha says, ay!
    The means justify the end in the warped minds of the LNP and cohort’ dog eat dog world.
    YES, they know what’s what, but that’s not the way to power and control of the cheque book.
    ” The modern conservative is engaged in one of man’s oldest exercises in moral philosophy; that is, the search for a superior moral justification for selfishness. ” – John Galbraith
    ” A conservative is a man with two perfectly good legs who, however, has never learned how to walk forward.” – Franklin D. Roosevelt
    Read more at: https://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/franklin_d_roosevelt_107302

  5. Matters Not

    All people are ethnocentric to a greater or lesser extent. That is, all people will judge another culture by reference to the values and standards of one’s own culture. (Not sure how it’s possible to do otherwise.) Given that culture is acquired and not transmitted by birth, such judgements are inevitable.

    The issue then becomes how to deal with the limitations (or advantages) of one’s cultural immersion. Unfortunately, for many, it’s not an issue at all because the values and standards of a particular culture (read mine) are somehow natural and right and further debate and discussion are pointless – because my culture is the one true way and it follows therefore that those who don’t conform are wrong and in serious error.

    An educational program that doesn’t look at this issue has intellectual problems. Howard and Abbott being recent examples or ethnocentricism writ large..

  6. wam

    The japs were portrayed as small dark and dumb with poor eyesight. They made cheap shitty products and they were NOT here.
    They were easy to hate, especially as their cleaning up the british in singapore and the septics in the philipines was lost in the trauma of the prisoners in burma which made it impossible to accept japan by Australians whose cultural values for non-europeans were formed by hating Aborigines, blackbirds and chinese.
    The trauma of death camps and murders in Europe were mitigated by blaming the nazis not the germans and the victims were jews and russians not whites like us.
    So thousands of germans, italians and balts came with little negativity as many of the ities came from the north tall and white counter balancing the meridionali and greeks(been here from the start of the boat people) There were some who reacted against wogs and the stink of garlic but by the late 50s we were eating spaghetti bolognaise and beginning ‘multi’ culture.
    There were dark sub-continent immigration before the white Australia, then through the columbo plan and more when rules were relaxed for ex-british subjects. Generally they were christian anglo-indians or sihks and educated. By the 60s, despite having chinese since the early days, we had rice not as sweets but as mains. ‘Multi’ culture went past the europian wogs, ities , croats and serbs into slopes and ning-nongs.
    So why are they all tolerated but not Aborigines and the muslims?
    Our racism, against Aborigines, is insidious and institutionalised. We did our bit in 1967 and the lemon in 2008.
    Against the muslims is the aggressive nature of the religion(ignoring such elements in christianity), the confusion between culture and religion is exploited by the media for profit and political parties and individuals for political gain.
    Unlike ‘goering speil’the danger is real. The Indonesian family may 13 bombing and the regular terror murders of men women and children in muslim and christian communities. Supports the anti-muslim cycle selling newspapers and air time by the $millions.
    The simple solution cannot be used because it threaten faith and that is the rock of christians.
    Unfortunately until enough women realise that their worshipping a male god through institutions that were establish by men for men.
    Indeed the base religion is so anti-women they airbrush females out of photos showing women who appear in positions of power. Our christians accept that god made women inferior but he allows some exceptions.
    The rabbott declared sophie mirabella such an exception thankfully the electorate disagreed?

  7. paul walter

    I will not talk of this woman. I avert my eyes even from pics of her lest I turn to stone in an instant..

  8. New England Cocky

    Another super-informative piece thank you Kaye Lee. Too much to comment on all of this information.

    Concetta Fierravanti-Wells (CFW) ignores history;

    1.PM Robert “Pig Iron Bob” Menzies sold redundant Australian warships to Japanese ship brokers before WWII and the products of this ship-breaking were returned as ammunition fired at Australian troops in the field;

    2.Menzies may prognosticate after the fact that hating the Japanese “was not a proper instrument of war policy”, but he was unable to control Japanese hatred of Australian troops and nurses who fought against the imperialist ambitions of the Japanese Emperor and his war cabinet. Ask the ghosts of the nurses machine-gunned on Banka Island, the ragged survivors of starvation and work to death policies of Changi Concentration Camp, the Burma Railway, the Sandakan death march and the Japanese death mines.

    The rest of this wonderful article demonstrates that the present RAbbott, Morriscum ,Dutton, Turdball LNP misgovernment have little interest in progressing the common wealth of the Australian people and are preferably dedicated to facilitating the exploitation of Australian natural resources by foreign and multinational corporations, likely for personal benefit. This trend was shown in NSW where the then LNP Premier Baird sold off the NSW Land Titles Office to a consortium of foreign banks and “retired” from politics into a bank clerk’s job reported as paying $2 million per year. But Baird was only following the example of former NSW NLP Premier Nick Greiner in the 80s after his troubles with four Independents.

  9. New England Cocky

    A mass reply to wonderful reader comments.

    @John Boyd: Meet Barnyard and you will understand the “disappointment” of thinking voters in New England. HIs list of sins and omissions would fill a tome.

    @dianaart: My favourite Muslim, Yasmin. Lest we forget. You set a very high bar for the too many racist Australians who still hold the 18th century notion that “white is right” regardless of the facts.

    @flogga: If poll writing is difficult, then why do pollsters use the same list of respondents for every poll??? Could it be to get the same answer that could be interpreted as the NLP are NOT unpopular? (oh, BTW, yes, I do have statistics training and experience).

    @Matters Not: A thoughtful answer.

    @wam: “White Australia has a Black history” and the role of Justice Isaac Isaacs, a Jewish person, in establishing state sponsored genocide is inconvenient for legal scholars given his later prominence as one of the leading judges of our history.

    The book “Dark Emu” by Bruce Pascoe reviewed the travel logs of early European explorers and their interactions with Aboriginal peoples, and discovers the lies told by later generations to justify the misappropriation of lands and genocide that occurred well into the 20th century in regional Australia.

    Demeaning others for being different and therefore unworthy of having whatever it is that we want of theirs and cannot take for free from them, is a convenient method for justifying ripping them off.

  10. guest

    The Murdoch media: obsessed with “white flight’, the percentage of Muslims in/out of work, and “hatred” of Western Civilisation at the ANU…oh, and cosying up to Pauline Hanson…There seems to be some encouragement of ‘fear and hatred’ in this country – and some of it, but not all, seems to originate from the land of Trump.

  11. diannaart

    @ New England Cocky

    I adore Yassmin – she is straightforward, doesn’t tolerate fools, outspoken, is very smart, vibrant, perceptive, pisses off Mark Latham (always a good thing) ticks so many boxes … looking into my crystal ball … I see a day in the not so distant future, when the Mark Latham’s of the world are totally reliant on the care of Aged-Care workers (all of whom happen to be born female) and seeing gorgeous women of all shades everywhere, especially in parliament.

  12. paul walter

    Yassmin rocks.

  13. helvityni

    Bring Yassmin Back to ABC…

  14. guest

    I see where one bright spark from the Coalition has suggested that ANU be fine for suppressing freedom of speech. Even though the Coalition and supporting propaganda machine have for some time now been suppressing the claim by the ANU that the Ramsay proposal was not satisfactory for them. But the Coalition/propaganda machine tried to claim the ANU ‘hated’ Western Civilisation. Perhaps the Coalition/propaganda machine could be fined for bullying the ANU.

    Well, I am sure I could write a history of Western Civilisation which the Coalition/propaganda machine would reject. Then I could say they ‘hate’ Western Civilisation and were suppressing my right to free speech and were bullying me.

    So much ink wasted on fatuous nonsense. But that is how the Murdoch media operates.

    Look also at a piece or three about the Hewett girls and claims against a handful of leftie hippies – and, look over there! – direct their jaundiced bile against all lefties in order to take pressure off the religious perpetrators. Nice one.They love mud.

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