John Salisbury, on his walk from the Sydney Opera House to Canberra to protest the treatment of Palestinians.
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Why I Won’t Walk to Protest Against Islamic State
By John Salisburyin International Affairs
John Salisbury recently walked more than 300km to protest the treatment of Palestinians by Israel. His view about the West more broadly won’t surprise you.
In October this year I walked from The Sydney Opera House to Parliament House, Canberra in support of Palestinian human rights. It wasn’t easy but I felt compelled to do so. I would not, however, undertake a similar walk protesting against ISIS. Though Tony Abbott might encourage and support me on such a walk, my moral compass will not send me in that direction.
In November, Tony Abbott suggested that the Anglo Saxon, Christian group to which we both belong is a superior culture. He said:
“All cultures are not equal, and frankly, a culture that behaves in decency and tolerance is much to be preferred to one that thinks you can kill in the name of God, and we have got to be prepared to say that.”
Apart from Abbott’s assertion being a repugnant, racist and morally reprehensible suggestion, a closer look at history suggests he is deeply misguided and ill-informed on the history of Christianity.
The Christian religion has been the justification and basis for numerous vastly, violent conflicts. Many men have lost their lives killing in the name of the Christian God, or, by the hands of deeply religious Christian men.
Abbott would do well to read up on some of these before making such ill-informed and bigoted statements.
There was the American Civil War in the 1860s; a Protestant versus Protestant battle with a death toll of 600,000.
And then of course there was the Franco-Prussian War, the Boer War and World War I. All these conflicts were Christian fighting Christian.
There was also the Spanish Civil War where Catholics murdered each other and then there was one of West’s greatest bloodsheds to date, World War II.
A war led by the infamous Adolf Hitler, a man born Catholic who had a deep-seated hatred for anyone from the Jewish religion. This war unleashed a violence the world had never seen before.
When spouting the superiority of Christianity, Abbott justified his assertion by saying there were some events that “Islam never had – a Reformation, an Enlightenment, a well-developed concept of the separation of church and state.”
What Abbott must also not realise, is that one of the most depressing aspects of Hitler’s Holocaust was that it happened despite The Reformation and The Enlightenment in Europe.
The Reformation actually started in Germany with Martin Luther. Realising that the Catholic church of the time was corrupt and in need of theological reform, some men decided to break away and begin their own more moral strand of Christianity. And yet still, despite this reformation many years earlier, Hitler was still able to send thousands of innocent men, women and children to their death in ovens while the good, Christian citizens of Germany fanned the flames and waved at the trains heading to Auschwitz.
All of Hitler’s willing executioners were also Christians. Perhaps Abbott believes that the Muslim religion would be able to benefit from a Reformation or Enlightenment where the Christian religion could not?
And yet, despite all this loss of life and the creation of the United Nations after World War II, still more Christian violence continued. More blood was spilt in the Korean War and the Vietnam War. The only reason the Cold War did not become “hot” was because of mutually assured destruction. The acronym for this (MAD) sums up the situation so chillingly.
And then of course we come to the West’s more recent wars in the Middle East. It is well known that Saddam Hussein was a dreadful character. No-one would refute that. But it is now equally well known that he had nothing to do with 9/11. He was instead just the man who had to bear the responsibility and George W. Bush chose him as the fall guy.
We made an unforgivable mistake invading Iraq and we should admit it. The chaos in Iraq today is largely a result of Western, and therefore Christian, interference.
We should remember also that George W. Bush specifically mentioned his prayers to God and, he claims, God influenced his decision to invade.
Our invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan, plus our blind and unprincipled support of Israel’s brutal 48-year occupation of Palestine, has led some Muslims to think they are under attack.
Thankfully, the number of Muslims who have succumbed to the entreaties of violent jihad and carried out revenge attacks on innocent civilians in Australia is tiny.
Everything we know from history, anthropology, archaeology, biology, physics and geology tells us that we inhabit this planet with everyone else as equals. Nobody is better than anyone else. Nobody is special.
And yet still our leaders instil fear in us and paint our fellow humans from a different religion as evil. Still our media presents us with one-sided, stereotypical views on our brothers and sisters living on other continents.
We created the United Nations after the horrors of World War II, but we are as far from united as we have ever been.
When Abbott suggests that the problem is the Muslim religion itself we should know better. Our Resources Minister, Josh Frydenberg, recently espoused a similar sentiment when he said, “We have to acknowledge that religion is part of this problem. I would say it is a problem with Islam.”
But, just as the Sunnis and Shias claim that “God is great” before they detonate bombs or kill opponents, so too did the Confederate Generals in the American Civil War kneel and pray before battling for the right to keep African-Americans as slaves.
And so too did the Christian Rwandans believe God was on their side when they massacred each other in 1994.
The common thread here is men using religion as a disguise for a more inherent, human flaw. It is not religion that is the problem, but the human desire for power and unbridled greed.
Perhaps we will see more progress, and get further, when men like Abbott start realising that our problems stem from human flaws, rather than a specific religion.
When we stop blaming one group, and start working together, then we really will become united, and work towards preventing horrendous acts of violence and bloodshed like the United Nations was initially invented to thwart.
When I walked those 330 kilometres to Canberra in October, I did so because I sought to protest a global injustice.
Regretfully, the illegal occupation of Palestine by Israel is not an issue taken seriously by most of our political leaders. This occupation does not make the world a safer place.
Indeed, it only strengthens the bully mentality and sense of superiority that the West and Christians have held for so long.
John Salisbury is a 61-year-old self-funded retiree with a life long interest in issues of global injustice. John was born in New Zealand but is a 40-year resident of Melbourne.
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The road to a police state: how ‘anti-terrorism’ is destroying democracy
Theory & History
via Vashti Kenway
In 1956, science fiction author Philip K. Dick wrote the short story “Minority Report”. In it, a shadowy government agency known as “pre-crime” arrests people in anticipation of crimes they suspect individuals will commit in the future. What appears as a dystopian fictional nightmare in 1956 has become a reality in Australia 60 years later.
One of the major legal transformations associated with the introduction of the various anti-terror acts in the 15 years since 9/11 has been the normalisation of the idea that you can be charged with a crime that you have yet to commit.
The Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO) has the right to seek warrants that allow the detention of someone suspected or someone related to someone suspectedof considering a terror offence. This person can be detained in custody with no right to confidential legal counsel and no right to see the evidence brought against them.
Furthermore, the Terrorism Act 2002 makes it a crime to “provide or receive training, to possess a ‘thing’, or to collect or make a document, if (in each case) that conduct was connected with preparation for, the engagement of a person in, or assistance in a terrorist act”.
In 2010, these laws resulted in the conviction of three men for “preparing to prepare” an attack on the Holsworthy Army Base. One of the men visited the barracks and another had a phone conversation with a sheikh, seeking religious counsel about the moral virtues of possibly committing an act.
The sheikh eventually answered in the negative and advised the men against any action. Even the Victorian Supreme Court judge responsible for sentencing the men, justice King, admitted that “the conspiracy was not that much further along than just sitting and thinking about it”. She nevertheless sentenced them to 18 years’ jail. For thought crime.
What’s more shocking is that, legally, these “preparatory” offences are committed if the person either “knows or is reckless as to the fact that they relate to a terrorist act”. Being “reckless” can mean a whole range of things. It can mean that you say or write something that may inadvertently encourage someone else to engage in terrorist activity.
For instance, Division 102 of the Criminal Code imposes a maximum penalty of life imprisonment “where a person provides or collects funds and is reckless as to whether those funds will be used to facilitate or engage in a terrorist act”. This means that someone who donates money to a charity that turns out to have some putative involvement in terrorism could be imprisoned for life.
The definition of terrorism is suitably broad for a ruling class looking to criminalise a wide range of anti-government activity. Section 101.1 of the Criminal Code defines terrorism as “conduct engaged in or threats made for the purpose of advancing a political, religious or ideological cause”. The conduct or threat must be designed to coerce a government or population by intimidation. It must involve “harm” – broadly defined.
Added to this is “urging violence”. For example, it is an offence punishable by seven years’ imprisonment to “urge the overthrow of the constitution or government by force or violence, or to urge interference in parliamentary elections”.
Such definitions are disturbing. Again, “interfering in parliamentary elections” could involve encouraging voters to cast donkey votes or rip up ballot papers. Left wing newspapers regularly run pieces on the necessity of overthrowing many and various governments. The fact that such laws have been penned indicates how far we have come.
Under such legislation the United States Declaration of Independence, with its claim that “it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish [the Government], and to institute new one”, could be deemed a terrorist document.
Crime by association
A law introduced in 2014 that prohibits the advocacy of terrorism extends this issue of incitement into even more alarming territory. An organisation can be listed as terrorist if it “directly praises the doing of a terrorist act in circumstances where there is a substantial risk that such praise might have the effect of leading a person … to engage in a terrorist act”.
If these laws had been enacted in the past they would have meant that the author of an article supporting the actions of Nelson Mandela in his struggle against apartheid in South Africa would become liable if someone might have read that article and acted upon it in a manner deemed terrorist by the state.
Today, the organisation of any author who is accused of “praising terror” can be listed. Being a member or even associated with a member of a listed terrorist organisation can incur up to 10 years in prison.
The mutability of what constitutes a “terrorist organisation” was revealed in the trial of 13 Muslim men in Melbourne in 2005-09. These young men were arrested after more than a year of intense surveillance of conversations between them and a radical Islamic preacher, Abdul Nacer Benbrika.
An extraordinary 27,000 hours of police surveillance revealed nothing more criminal than discussions about the morality or immorality of revenge actions against Australians for the government’s crimes in Afghanistan and Iraq. No specific or concrete terror actions were planned, and they were never charged with planning a terrorist attack.
Nevertheless, the state charged them with membership of an unspecified, unlisted, unnamed terrorist organisation. The attorney-general declared it so – and a few more men who had had some association with Benbrika were charged with “supporting or providing funds” to a terrorist organisation.
Greg Barns, one of the defence lawyers in the Barwon 13 trial, pointed out the absurdity of the situation: “An organisation can be a terrorist organisation even if it has no terrorist act in mind”. Such realities call to mind Alice in Wonderland. “‘When I use a word’, Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, ‘it means just what I choose it to mean – neither more nor less’.”
Punished for being Muslim
The Barwon 13 trial also brought to light a number of other disturbing aspects of the anti-terror legislation. One of the most shocking revealed the prejudice against giving terror suspects bail.
This meant that from 2005 until 2008, when the judge handed down a decision, the defendants were held in the maximum security Barwon prison. Here, some as young as 19 were kept shackled in isolation for up to 18 hours a day. During their trial, they were strip searched every day and transported back and forth on the hour-long journey with their arms shackled to their waist and their ankles tied together.
Four of the 13 were found not guilty of any charges but were held in Guantanamo Bay-like conditions for, one can only suspect, being Muslim and associating with other Muslims. Four of the 13 were convicted on such spurious grounds that Michael Pearce from Liberty Victoria told reporters that they were victims of one of the “most sustained assaults on civil liberties in 50 years”. “Their treatment is an affront to the most basic principle of the rule of law”, he said.
The current targets of the anti-terror laws are Muslim. Nineteen of the 20 proscribed organisations are Muslim, and of the 46 people charged under the laws, all, with the exception of a couple, identify as Muslim. Not one of these people has been charged with actually committing a terrorist offence. All are offences of association, of planning or planning to plan.
State representatives claim that nipping terrorist actions before they happen is more important than civil liberties. But such claims are bogus when most of the terrorist atrocities they claim to be thwarting were never even in the planning stages.
One young man, Faheem Lodhi, was sentenced to 20 years in prison despite the fact that, according to a lawyer in his trial, he “had not yet reached the stage where the identity of the bomber, the precise area to be bombed or the manner in which the bombing would take place had been worked out”.
As civil liberties lawyer Rob Stary told Katherine Wilson in an interview for Overland: “They talk the talk, and it’s dangerous talk. But I can say whatever I like about who the real Iraq or Palestinian war criminals are, and how they should be brought to justice, and I won’t be imprisoned for it. Not unless I convert to Islam”.
When Muslim kids mouth off, they can be locked up for decades. If anything is likely to prompt feelings of hatred, anger and frustration that lead to the desire to commit terrorist acts, it is this kind of systematic legal persecution.
Islamophobia is the ideological mechanism through which the state has managed to get through such draconian legislation. Concerted public media campaigns vilifying Muslims – representing them as medieval barbarians intent on bringing down Western civilisation – has had its effect. Opposition to the anti-terror laws is minimal – the conflation of Islam with terror has been achieved.
Fifteen years in the making
Prior to 9/11, politically motivated violence was dealt with under criminal law. This all changed after 2001. In March 2002, federal attorney-general Darryl Williams introduced the first package of anti-terrorism legislation to parliament. He said the laws were “exceptional” but that “so too is the evil at which they are directed”.
Hyperbole abounded. Australians were told to be alert to shadowy internal threats and to report any “suspicious” activities they might witness.
From 11 September 2001 to the fall of the Howard government, the federal parliament enacted 48 anti-terror laws. In other words, on average a new anti-terror statue was passed every seven or so weeks under the Liberal government. The Labor Party supported the overwhelming bulk of these laws.
When Labor came to power, the pace of lawmaking slowed but the fundamental approach remained the same: use the terror threat to usher through increasingly draconian laws. Indeed, the Rudd government actively opposed independent reviews into the passing of its own anti-terror legislation.
Abbott came to office with an open and aggressive agenda. He was unabashed in 2014: “Regrettably, for some time to come, Australians will have to endure more security than we are used to and more inconvenience than we would like … the delicate balance between freedom and security may have to shift”. The scales now well and truly have tipped.
Under Abbott and Turnbull, the existing anti-terror legislation has been strengthened and expanded, most dramatically with the introduction of astonishingly extensive data retention laws.
All of this frantic legislative activity has been accompanied by regularly staged anti-terror raids.
The Australian state has far exceeded the UK, the USA and Canada in the number of laws enacted. UNSW professor George Williams argues: “It would be unthinkable, if not constitutionally impossible, in nations such as the US and Canada to restrict freedom of speech in the manner achieved by Australia’s 2005 sedition laws”. US author Ken Roach describes Australia as engaging in “hyper-legislation”.
While initially introduced as “emergency legislation” to deal with imminent terror threats, anti-terror legislation has not only stuck, but has crept into other legislative areas. Laws recognised as exceptional, even by their proponents, are now used against groups and individuals who have nothing to do with the “war on terror”.
Bikie gangs and their members are subject to laws virtually identical to anti-terror legislation. The Rann Labor government in South Australia began the trend, drawing dramatic comparisons between bikies and terrorists. In 2008, Rann said, “Organised crime groups are terrorists within our communities” and described bikies as “an evil within our nation”. The laws passed almost without a whimper of opposition.
In Queensland, bikie gangs have been “declared” in the same way that so-called terrorist organisations have – which means anyone associated with a gang can be arrested and charged. If you are a member of a gang you cannot be seen with one or more “criminal associates”.
Bikies are also subject to something very similar to control orders – one of the most controversial aspects of the anti-terror legislation. They can be placed under house arrest, and have their movement and their oral and electronic communications limited. These restrictions can be decided in a secret court hearing, and the person will discover if they are subject to an order only after their arrest. All states have introduced similar laws.
The depth and breadth of the anti-terror legislation provided the perfect precursor to the use of equally (if not more draconian) laws against construction workers in the Howard government’s Australian Building and Construction Commission (ABCC).
Turnbull is now preparing to fight an election over the reintroduction of the body. The ABCC’s coercive powers mirror ASIO’s. It has the right to hold secret interviews and jail those who don’t cooperate. Habeus corpus is out the window. Construction workers will again have no right to silence and no right to be represented by the lawyer of their choice. The terror bogey was simply the thin end of the wedge.
It is clear over the 15 years of the “war on terror” that many legal rights have disappeared. Basic legal assumptions like innocent until proven guilty, the right to silence, the right to a fair trial and the right to legal counsel no longer exist in expanding areas of the legal system. What’s more, the state’s powers to watch, listen, detain and punish have grown dramatically, and there is no indication that the government wants to pull back.
The US whistleblower Edward Snowden said of similar actions in the USA: “These programs were never about terrorism: they’re about economic spying, social control, and diplomatic manipulation. They’re about power”.
Australia’s behemoth security state is now more powerful than even Philip K. Dick’s paranoid imagination could have dreamed.
Framed, a classic set up, unsourced rumours, gutless, unnamed Liberal heroes, and where are the leftist feminists defending Peta Credlin?
The lefties, they fight for a side, not for a principle.
You know, the principle of unprincipled abuse – or was it just complete blindness?
When it gets to that level, feel free to give the pond a call. We’ll do our feminist best …
Sorry, you might have already guessed, the pond broke a golden rule, and watched a few minutes of the Bolter in a furious condition of indignation, consternation, shock, outrage and horror at the way the Abbott is being set up for a fall.
Anyway, what’s wrong with throwing up a few good ideas for discussion – like suggesting that dinkum Aussies organise a unilateral invasion of Iraq …
You know, just floating a thought bubble, just putting a wacky zany idea out there, just running the idea up a flag pole and seeing if anyone salutes, just seeing if some of the chewing gum sticks to the wall, just throwing it into the cloud so everyone can see it and run it past the taste buds to see if it’s got enough bite.You know, barn and brain storming …
Sorry, don’t worry if it’s actually a dumb as stick idea.
I mean, if you’re afraid of socking the world with your best ideas, why that’s how so many great, inventive ideas get lost.
Naturally the Bolter,saw signs of hope and change in his man, before moving on to denounce click bait stories and the shocking behaviour of Murdochians, who’d troll their mother for a dollar …
Everybody on the panel seemed to agree the reptiles of Oz were the lowest of the low, regularly abusing government and running nonsensical, devious, gutter snipe stories, full of innuendo and rumour and rarely a grain of truth.
Sheesh, they even bagged the Howard government over the wheat scandal … what an appalling thing to do. Everyone knows that was one of the Howard government’s finest hours … just ask Michael Kroger …
What a disgusting paper the lizard Oz is!
And the buggers are still at it, unrepentant.
Coming at Abbott in wave after wave, like hordes of Japanese soldiers in the second world war, armed with weapons provided by pig iron Bob:
Yes, just when did he stop beating his wife …
He’s refused to answer questions about “informal ideas”. As if having a great informal idea was some sort of crime …
And that’s why this country is bereft of bright ideas. Bright generals like Abbott are now too frightened to lead with their very best thinking …
And look, the bloody shameless reptiles have even used footage of the Bolter’s report to illustrate their story.
Have they no shame?
What’s that you say? News Corp produces the Bolter’s report? It’s the only way he can get on the box?
So when the Bolter blathers on about merging the ABC and SBS, and slashing their budgets, he’s actually just another conflicted, self-interested leech or tick on chairman Rupert’s purse?
Well fancy that, lordy lordy, lah di dah …
Time for the pond to deliver its usual sophisticated, elegant insight into the world of the commentariat.
Take it away Bald Archies, and more baldness here and there.
Would the rest of the pack of hounds pick up on the story of Abbott the war monger this tabloid Sunday, or would they go to water?
Was it just one rabid dog in the pack, frothing and foaming at the mouth?
Would the pond have to settle for the tweets too far, the link to Abbott’s war movie hashtag, thoughtfully provided by a reader and available here.
That one’s not far off the mark. The warrior has regularly shown his military style:
Careful, it’s gone off like a bomb:
Sadly, it seems that the rest of the pack have left it to the rabid dog to do the work, but that dog still has a bit of bite, a canny capacity to nip at the heels of the user of weasel words like “formal” and “fanciful”:
Uh huh. Where does that leave the Bolter calling foul?
Well actually it leaves the Bolter in a state of despair, but that despair’s all about another leak.
Look, there on the top right of the page, you can just see the yarn:
The story itself is pretty much what might be expected from Mr. Fairness and his crew – a concern about their own necks, and avoiding looking like they’d broken yet another election promise, compounded with a desire to protect the wealthy, and instead inflict the maximum amount of pain on everyone:
Yes, jolly Joe was in on the caper too.
But the real point of the yarn comes in the third par.
“In another stunning leak from the nation’s most powerful cabinet committee …”
The rats are now working with a giant sieve, and however you look at it, Abbott is toast, dead meat walking …
Which brings the pond back to the Bolter, now in a deep funk.
Oh it’s vicious sabotage alright, betrayers, smearers, exaggerators, traitors, treacherous back stabbers and rat finks.
And worst of all, it’s being done by and with the Murdoch rags … and if big Malaise gets the gig, the fight back from the far right ratbags will be something to behold …
This is, to borrow a phrase, the best of times, and the best of times …
Raptors feuding over turf, and the black knight mortally wounded …
It means today will be a day of relaxation and merriment at the pond, as we now wait on Monday, and that promised trip into the bunker …
Yes, the pond will be taking the tour inside the bunker, just before the fearless leader seizes the moment to pound the drums of paranoia and xenophobia, whipping up fear, anger and hatred by blathering on about national security…
… though if you pause a moment to reflect, it hardly seems necessary.
He’s already achieved his goal:
That story, with links, is at the Graudian here. Naturally the likes of the Bolter are wildly indignant. The Islamic barbarian hordes are gathering at the gates, and we’re all doomed, doomed I tells ya … Luckily, there’s a simple answer.
We need to put the country on a war footing.
Thank the long absent lord there’s a natural leader to hand, a genuine Churchillian, robust and willing to do the hard yards, with a solid team behind him.
Don’t worry about munitions and ordnance and kit. That’s all in hand:
BY Turn Left (Alison Parkes) with Penny Carter, first published on Progressives Tea Party, reproduced with permission
Actually, I have no idea whether Tony Abbott is a sociopath or not. I am not a psychiatrist. I am also not going to put up a list of Hare’s traits of a sociopath checklist and then trawl through Tony Abbott’s long history of violence, bullying, intimidation and abuse to find instances of quotes or actions that may correspond with that checklist.
What I will do, is put up Hare’s checklist, and let readers draw their own conclusions, not about whether Tony Abbott is a sociopath, or not… but whether the entire country as a whole needs some time on the leather couch talking about our feelings, our childhoods and our mothers:
• superficial charm
• grandiose sense of self-worth
• need for stimulation
• proneness to boredom
• pathological lying
• manipulative behaviour
• lack of remorse
• shallow affect [superficial emotional responses]
• lack of empathy
• parasitic lifestyle
• poor behavioural control
• lack of realistic long-term goals
• failure to accept responsibility [for their own actions]
• criminal versatility 1
• relying on sociological strategies and tricks to deceive
The problem is not so much that there are sociopaths, they have always existed, and will always exist in our societies. The problem is we keep electing them to govern over us, then bizarrely, expect they will govern inour best interests.
Like a nation of sheep we bought the lies and myths propagated in the Murdoch and Murdoch mini-me (ABC) media about how Tony is a changed person. Not even three months in, and that choice at the ballot box is proving disastrous. The almost cult-like worshiping of the thug who conned his way into the Lodge means our media has to tell us on a daily basis that black is white in order to maintain the illusion that Tony Abbott is the new messiah who will save Australia from the regional peace and AAA prosperity that Labor delivered us.
This is not who we are, there is nothing peculiarly Australian that requires us to vote in a violent, abusive, bullying man to become Prime Minister. Just as there was nothing in the German people in the 1920s and ’30s that meant they were more likely to vote in a fascist government. The only question is why they continued to support the fascist government, when it become blindingly obvious their leader was a dictator.
As Howard Zinn said: “Civil disobedience is not our problem. Our problem is civil obedience. Our problem is that people all over the world have obeyed the dictates of leaders…and millions have been killed because of this obedience… Our problem is that people are obedient all over the world in the face of poverty and starvation and stupidity and war and cruelty. Our problem is that people are obedient while the jails are full of petty thieves… [and] the grand thieves are running the country. That’s our problem.”
(A video of Matt Damon reading that full speech can be found here…)
The lust for power, the easy access to the bottomless ATM known as taxpayers, the ability to get courts and federal police to bend to your will, is a lure so strong that those with evil and malevolent intentions find it difficult to resist. For these people, the ends justifies the means. The ‘ends’ being access to unlimited power, the ‘means’ is throw anyone under the bus that gets in their way. The trouble is, when the elected officials use lies, propaganda and intimidation to get there, they need to reproduce those tactics on a much larger scale to maintain their position of power, then our democracy gets thrown under that bus.
Do we still think our elected leaders act in the best interest of our country? As recent events in the US has shown, the Right Wing Teaparty republicans were prepared to crash the US economy by hitting the debt ceiling because they are ideologically opposed to poor people getting medical care that doesn’t result in bankruptcy. Our current government (it seems) is governing for the benefit of select few – Tony Abbott, George Pell, Gina Rinehart, Rupert Murdoch.
This current governments policies are ideological, and designed to transform our environment to maximise profits for mining magnate Rinehart, transform our economy to benefit a foreign billionaire Murdoch, push the stone-age values of a religious institution, and our work place laws to benefit a handful of foreign corporation and not millions of people who work for their wages.
We, as a nation, have surrendered our freedom, optimism, compassion, generosity, empathy, in exchange for security* and ended up with neither.
* an illusion of security, both budget and border. I say illusion because the crises that Liberals promise to save us from exist only in their own minds and in newspaper headlines, and do not reflect reality. Our budget under Labor was not an ‘emergency’, it was one of the best in the world, our borders are not in crisis because of a couple of boats.
Source: Psychopathy: Antisocial, Criminal, and Violent Behavior
edited by Theodore Millon, Erik Simonsen, Morten Birket-Smith, Roger D. Davis (2003)
I grew up surrounded by the Democratic Labor Party, the ‘Movement’, Jesuit Father Harold Lalor and the Labor split. My parents distributed how-to-vote cards for the DLP. My uncle edited the Richmond News for the federal member for Yarra, Stan Keon, one of the Labor MPs who defected to the Anti-Communist Labor Party. That same uncle worked full-time for the Movement and was later Victorian country organiser for the right wing Clerks Union.
My parents eventually abandoned the DLP because of its extremism, and when Bob Santamaria attacked me in 1986 over my book Mixed Blessings my uncle severed all contact with him. So I don’t look back with nostalgia to either Santamaria or the Movement. I experienced the toxic divisiveness.
Apparently unlike Tony Abbott who, at the January 2007 launch of Santamaria’s Selected Letters said, ‘I was lucky to know B. A. Santamaria for the last 22 years of his life, to have attended diligently to his writing and speaking.’ Santamaria, he says ‘left Australian Catholicism more intellectual and less politically tribal’, by which he presumably means there are now Catholics in Coalition as well as Labor ranks.
Santamaria’s influence on Abbott’s policies has been much discussed lately by The Australian‘s Paul Kelly, Labor’s Maxine McKew, John Warhurst in Eureka Street, Gerard Henderson in the Sydney Morning Herald and Robert Manne in The Monthly. Reference has been made to Abbott’s close relationship to Cardinal George Pell, another self-proclaimed disciple of Santamaria.
But more important than the influence of particular policies is the ‘type’ of Catholicism Santamaria represented and the subtle, even unconscious influence this might have on Abbott.
Essentially Santamaria embraced a form of theological integralism which sees everything in the world as tainted unless it is ‘integrated’ or brought into the orbit of Catholicism. Integralism assumes that the Church has an unchallengeable, complete and accessible body of doctrine that gives guidance in every possible eventuality — social, political, strategic, economic, familial and personal.
Integralism defines Catholicism in a particularly narrow, aggressive, ‘boots and all’ way, and argues that Catholic action involves influencing and if possible controlling state policy. Thus Catholics are obliged to do all in their power to ensure that all legislation is in keeping with church doctrine.
As Santamaria said in 1948: ‘the most important objective of Christians … [is that they] should be capable of formulating or willing to follow a distinctively Christian policy on every social and public issue.’
But what is a ‘distinctively Christian’ (for ‘Christian’ read ‘Catholic’) policy? For Santamaria this was not a problem. He identified Catholicism with his own vision of faith. He refused to recognise that there were other equally sincere Catholics who had other theological ideas about the relationship of the church to the world and the state, people like Archbishop Justin Simonds, Dr Max Charlesworth, the YCW and the Catholic Worker group, who were influenced by the French philosopher Jacques Maritain and the Belgian Cardinal Joseph Cardijn.
Integralism has much in common with Italian Fascism, Franco’s Spain or Salazar’s Portugal. It is also at odds with the Vatican II Declaration on Religious Freedom: ‘Freedom means that all are to be immune from coercion … in such wise that no one is to be forced to act in a manner contrary to his own beliefs.’
It is a real threat to democracy and to the freedom that Catholics have to make their own decisions on a whole range of issues, particularly political.
Nowadays Santamaria is praised for being an agrarian socialist and anti-capitalist. While this has made him popular with some aging secular leftists, they forget that these movements are romantic, backward-looking, authoritarian and linked with high immigration rates and the mantra ‘populate or perish’ with its racist overtones.
So what does this have to do with Abbott? I think it would be worrying if this kind of integralist Catholicism infected contemporary public life. It has no place in a pluralist, democratic state. It is also the manifestation of the kind of Catholicism that was abandoned by serious, mainstream Catholics five decades ago.
Abbott is wrong to suggest that it has made Australian Catholicism ‘more intellectual’. It is, in fact, a form of doctrinaire conformism that is the death of thoughtful commitment and is the antithesis of a faith seeking to base itself in reason and understanding.
I am not claiming that Abbott consciously follows Santamaria’s integralism. But there is always the danger of osmosis, of absorbing attitudes without realising it. If I were a politician — or an archbishop — I’d want to put considerable distance between myself and the most divisive man in the history of Australian Catholicism.
Author and historian Paul Collins is a former specialist editor — religion for the ABC.
War Pigs – War criminals and those who “accept” their crimes
The last 50 years have seen some fantastic events and seen some huge steps forward for mankind, however it has also seen some of the worst than mankind can produce.
There have been some atrocities over the last half century that defy belief, and some of those responsible for these acts are even still alive today.
Before you delve further down the page I should warn you that there are some graphic images in this post that will upset some people, so please don’t say you were not warned.
In 1998 there would have been hardly a tear shed for the death of Pol Pot, the former dictator and ruthless leader of the Khmer Rouge. Pol Pot is credited with the deaths of up to 3 Million Cambodians which made up around a quarter of Cambodia’s total population.
Those in his camps were used as slaves and most died of disease and malnutrition, however many others were simply executed or some were killed in the most grotesque ways imaginable for the entertainment of the camp guards.
Pol Pot died whilst under house arrest in his bed.
Slobodan Milosevic was another one who got off lucky, dying of a heart attack in his prison whilst awaiting trial on March 11th 2006.
Milosevic was awaiting trial for war crimes that included ethnic cleansing and genocide.
Known as the “Butcher Of The Balkans” he presided over the deaths of more than 200,000 people over 10 years in Croatia, Bosnia and Kosovo.
…and the winner of the older Geert Wilders look alike contest is…. Slobodan Milosevic
In 1994 The Rwandan genocide occurred while the world watched on for approximately 100 days and did little.
The genocide was carried out by the Hutus who massacred somewhere between 500,000 and 1,000,0000 Tutsis in the most brutal of fashions.
In 1998 Jean-Paul Akayesu, a Rwandan politician and mayor of a commune, was sentenced to life imprisonment for 9 counts of genocide and crimes against humanity which included the rape and sexual mutilation of women.
Rwanda’s very own shock-jocks Ferdinand Nahimana and Jean Bosco Barayagwiza were both given life sentences in October 2000 for inciting and encouraging the massacre throughout their broadcasts.
Also serving a life sentence for his part in the genocide is Jean Kambanda who was the Prime Minister of Rwanda during the genocide.
Bodies in a field in Rwanda
We all remember the hunt for former Iraqi Dictator and war criminal Saddam Hussein.
Saddam Hussein used chemical weapons on his own citizens, massacred thousands of Kurds and his own citizens, and after the Gulf War evidence of torture was discovered that appeared to be state sanctioned and carried out by members of Hussein’s Republican Guard.
Saddam Hussein was eventually captured after being pulled out of a hole in the ground in December 2003.
After facing trial for crimes against humanity Saddam Hussein was given the death penalty and was hung on the 30th December 2006
For the people of Iraq who faced years of fear and oppression under Saddam’s rule, his death was a cause for celebration.
For those who suffered at the hands of Pol Pot and Milosevic it must have seemed cruel to see them both escape punishment so easily and die a relatively peaceful death when they themselves had been so inhumane and cruel in their bringing about the deaths of others.
However it is not just these people who need to face investigation for war crimes and crimes against humanity.
One would have had to be hiding in a hole like Saddam Hussein to have missed Kony 2012.
The social media campaign to try and bring about the tracking down, capture and conviction of Joseph Kony, thought to be hiding out in the Congo.
Joseph Kony is the leader of the “Lords Resistance Army” thought to have recruited over 30,000 children for use as soldiers. Child soldiers recruited often kill their family while young girls are captured and used as sex slaves for the young soldiers.
It is not known how many have been killed by Kony and his forces although conservative estimates by the UN put the number at over 100,000. Many of these deaths are amongst the most shocking and cruel deaths imaginable as soldiers compete to see who is the cruellest amongst them.
Joseph Kony is still at large.
We have all seen in news broadcasts over the past few years the atrocities that are ongoing in the civil war in Syria.
Syrian President Bashar Assad has been accused of war crimes with calls for action against his regime coming from all over the globe.
Assads regime has been notorious for war crimes against men women and children including massacres, torture, and evidence of the use of chemical weapons.
Victims of Assad’s regime
The UN expects more than 5 Million refugees to come from Syria by the end of 2014 as a result of Assad’s rule. Estimates on the death toll have varied with the UN saying that it is most certainly over 100,000.
Most of the world has condemned Assad and are keen to bring him to justice and investigate him and his regime for war crimes and crimes against humanity.
Victims of Syrian nerve gas attack
It is something that is beyond doubt that those who commit genocide, ethnic cleansing, and crimes against humanity should be hunted down and severely punished for their crimes.
Another nation where war crimes such as genocide, torture and ethnic cleansing are reported to have been committed is Sri Lanka.
The Sri Lankan civil war dragged on for 26 years and saw the deaths of over 100,000 people, mostly civilians.
One incident towards the end of the war saw 300,000 civilians trapped on a narrow beach, 40,000 of these civilians were gunned down by the Sri Lankan army and many atrocities were alleged to have been committed.
The man in charge of the Sri Lankan military was Defense Secretary Gotabaya Rajapaksa, who is the brother of Sri Lankan President Mahinda Rajapaksa.
British Conservative Prime Minister was also keen to address the violations of human rights and see Sri Lanka investigated for war crimes and crimes against humanity.
Cameron stated during a press conference
“Let me be very clear. If an investigation is not completed by March, then I will use our position on the United Nations human rights council to work with the UN human rights commission and call for a full credible and independent international inquiry.”
It is clear that the British along with many other nations calling for justice for the countless thousands of innocent civilians that were tortured and massacred, men, women and children.
“We accept that sometimes in difficult circumstances, difficult things happen”
I have never heard of a country being given a free pass for genocide and torture before, and those who committed some of the atrocities must be pleased to hear that someone accepts what they have done.
Tony Abbott – Accepts Sri Lankan torture and genocide, but won’t accept Sri Lankan refugees
The photo’s below are of some of the atrocities that Tony Abbott has accepted on our behalf when he uses the word “We”
However Tony Abbott not only accepted their actions, which he says must have been difficult as I’m sure they were for those on the receiving end, but he also thought that giving a couple of gifts was appropriate.
A massacred Sri Lankan family
David Cameron calls for war crimes investigations, Tony Abbott gives away gifts.
So what gift is appropriate to give a nation who used its military to commit massacres and other crimes against humanity?
More military equipment of course.
A woman raped and murdered by Sri Lankan military soldiers
I am writing seeking clarification. I can’t help but notice that you seem to be a little confused about your appraisal of the performance of Prime Minister Tony Abbott.
I’m wondering if you perhaps want to rethink your description of Abbott, the Prime Minister, in the book you have been trying to flog – Remarkable Times – Australian Politics 2010-13: What really happened. I won’t pretend to have read this book. In fact, I found it near impossible to read even an extract, so predictable and so utterly boring and so obviously not about ‘what really happened’. You see, Laurie, between 2010-13, what really happened bore so little resemblance to what you and your fellow political journalist hacks reported as happening, you are the last person I would go to for insights about Australian politics in Australia across any period, let alone the previous three years.
But, without having read it, I think I’m safe to assume your book has a similar theme to all your political reporting between 2010-13, summed up concisely in this extract. Describing Abbott’s first 11 days as Prime Minister, you say his behaviour over these 11 days is evidence of his new approach to government as being “careful and methodical”, where Abbott would “behave in a way that was ‘clear, consistent and coherent’”.
In contrast, you explain the difference between Abbott’s government and the previous Labor government using these words:
“But as far as the public and the media were concerned, it was 11 days of unaccustomed quiet after the Labor years of crisis, chaos and constant politicking. No-one complained. The nation was over politics and welcomes a respite”.
When you say ‘clear, consistent and coherent’, what I hear, as an informed voter, is a political hack using Peta Credlin’s press release to explain, without scrutiny, what Peta Credlin wants Australians to think an Abbott government is going to be like. When you say ‘crisis, chaos and constant politicking’, what I hear, as an informed voter, is a political hack using Peta Credlin’s press release to describe, without fact, the approach of the Labor government. When you say ‘no-one complained’, you’re not talking for me, you’re saying Peta Credlin was without complaint. When you say ‘the nation was over politics and welcomes a respite’, you are again speaking for Peta Credlin and saying what Peta Credlin hoped the nation felt, when in actual fact the only politics the intelligent part of this nation was ‘over’ was your false brand of horserace, completely lacking in policy detail, substance and fact. And this is what I mean when I say you are predictable, you are unreliable, you are presumptuous in speaking for people you know nothing about, and most importantly, you are wrong.
But here’s where I think you’ve suddenly come unstuck. The real performance of the Abbott government, only weeks into the job, has proven how wrong you have been. Because reality doesn’t lie.
Perhaps you thought all your Christmases had come at once, when you got the Abbott government you had wished for, and campaigned for all those years. But like a child who is promised a brighter future, and instead ends up with a sack of coal, the Abbott government has actually turned out to be just as incompetent, just as immature, just as dangerous and just as down-right unintelligent as people like me warned people like you it was going to be between 2010-13 and before. So you have found out the hard way ‘what really happened’. But your book is out now, and it’s too late to correct your inaccurate record.
Apparently you seem to be coming to terms with this grave error, with the news this week that you’re unhappy with the Abbott government’s secretive modus operandi. Whereas in your book you say, in an appreciative tone:
“Here was a Prime Minister-elect obviously serious about not feeding the hungry media beast”,
and by beast, I assume you mean people like you who love words like ‘chaos’, ‘crisis’, ‘scandal’ and of course ‘JuLiar’. Yet, only a few weeks later, you somewhat ironically backflip on this appreciation, having been quoted as saying:
“You (Abbott) can’t thumb your nose at the voters’ right to know and you can’t arrogantly say ‘we’ll let the voters be misinformed and we won’t help journalists get it right’. That’s just a disgusting attitude.”
I happen to agree with you, Laurie, that keeping voters uninformed is a pretty disgusting and arrogant attitude. And to this, I will say two things – pot kettle black, and, what the fuck did you expect?
You have kept voters uninformed by completely failing to scrutinise what Abbott was going to do as Prime Minister. You perpetuated the utterly ridiculous notion that Abbott could move from nasty, messy, attack-dog to mature, competent Prime Minister. I’m sorry Laurie, but this concept is idiotic. An incompetent, lazy, rude, mean, un-charismatic, unreliable, unintelligent, misogynistic, unscrupulous, inarticulate thug is always going to be all of these things, whether he lives in the Lodge with his apparently attractive daughters or not. He wasn’t just all of these things when he was Opposition Leader because it suited his agenda at the time. It’s not a coat he can just take off. This is it. This is Tony Abbott. With Peta Credin barking instructions into his earpiece. This is Tony Abbott.
Have you ever considered why Abbott’s office has disappeared into the cone of silence? Have you considered it’s because they’re completely over their heads and don’t actually have any idea what to say about their revolting plans for this country? This is not some grand master plan. This is a grand retreat into nothingness. This is incompetence personified.
You and some of your colleagues don’t like that Abbott’s not telling you stuff. No doubt this has nothing to do with concern for the Australian community and how informed they are, and rather more to do with your difficulty in finding something to talk about, having relied on press releases from Peta Credlin, complete with Abbott’s talking points, and leaks from Rudd for all those years. But guess what Laurie, this is the least of the problems we, the informed public, have with Tony Abbott.
I’m less concerned with what he’s not saying, and more concerned, if concerned is a strong enough a word, with what he is doing. Handing responsibility for massively important decisions about government spending to a business lobbyist. Cutting funding to scientific research. Embarrassing Australia on the global stage. Slashing and burning public sector jobs. Ripping up future-proofing infrastructure by destroying the NBN. Raising the debt ceiling to all time highs with no explanation as to why just weeks after claiming a ‘budget emergency’. Cancelling the Carbon Price for an expensive joke of a Direct Action Policy which is beyond humiliating for the country, right at the same time when the public are finally starting to realise that electricity bills are not more important than the safety of the planet.
Lying about deals he’s made with Indonesia to turn back boats and pretending the very act of him becoming Prime Minister has stopped the boats. Not to mention the real ‘chaos’ and ‘crisis’ which Abbott refuses to address – his and his minister’s fraudulent use of taxpayer funds for expensive travel and accommodation for their own egos and personal entertainment. And you thought Julia Gillard’s dodgy ex-boyfriend from 20 years ago constituted a ‘scandal’ because some nut-job internet troll said so? You still said she had ‘questions to answer’ even after she answered every snide and absurd question you are your malicious colleagues in the National Press Club could conjure up? Seriously Laurie, you have no right to tell anyone ‘what really happened’. You’ve been negligent to the extreme in informing the public what to expect from an Abbott government. Now you’re worried that Abbott’s secretive non-consultative strategy is keeping voters misinformed? I really hope you don’t live in a glass house with a ready collection of stones.
Moving on to ‘what the fuck did you expect’. You seem quite surprised now that Abbott isn’t turning out the way you anticipated. So I say again, what the fuck did you expect? Did you fall for the ‘they are just the same’ tactic, used to refute people like me who said, for years, that Abbott was going to be a disaster again and again and again no matter whether people wanted to hear it or not? Whenever I think of Abbott, and what a setback he is for Australia, I can’t help but hear the words of Paul Keating from this interview in 2010 where he said:
“If Tony Abbott ends up as Prime Minister of Australia, you’ve got to say, God help us, God help us. A truly intellectual nobody. And no policy ambition. You know, I mean, is that all there is?”
As I knew, and as you are quickly learning, Abbott is all there is. And thanks to the lack of scrutiny of him by people like you before the election, Australia is stuck with him. For one term at least. And now you’re saying you’re not happy with Abbott’s performance? Spare a thought for people like me, who saw it coming and are now justified to say over and over again – ‘I told you so’.