Friday, February 24, 2006

This is sectarianism, not secularism

Did anyone in the government accuse Tony Abbot of trying to impose Catholic doctrine on Australian civil law through his attempt to maintain a stranglehold on the abortion drug RU486? It may have been a favoured argument amongst secularists and left-feminists during the debate, but I don't remember any government minister condemning Abbot for such.

This is why I'm pretty cheesed at Peter Costello's latest foray into matters not in his portfolio. A furor is growing amongst Muslim community leaders and multiculturalists over Costello’s comments in a speech last night that those who don’t support the rule of law – civil law – should not take the oath of allegiance and become citizens...

Costello pointedly singled out that old bogey – Muslims who wish to impose, or live by, Sharia law in Australia. His comments were condemned (links to the same ABC article) for fanning ‘Islamaphobia’:
"It's creating more fear and Islamophobia, which just adds to the credibility and the strength of the Liberal government, which has survived for so long because its been able to create fear and suspicion around Muslims," [Director of the Forum on Australia's Islamic Relations (FAIR) Kuranda Seyit] said.
Judging from the media reports of the speech, Costello didn’t make any similar conditions on those who aspire to impose Christian doctrine on Australian civil society – such as by banning of abortion, banning homosexuality and preventing the legal recognition of same sex relationships, and even opposing divorce...

Costello has not put his foot in it, but has deliberately stirred a very filthy pot to shore-up his reputation amongst red-necks, monoculturalists and nationalists in Australia. Perhaps another step in his moves to take power from Howard? But PM Howard, the master of dog-whistling politics, was not to be outdone by Costello – according to the same ABC report:
The Prime Minister John Howard and former One Nation MP Pauline Hanson have supported Mr Costello, but Labor and the Democrats have accused him of diverting attention from the Cole oil-for-food inquiry.
In fact, Hanson was delighted. Which says everything there is about to whom Costello’s comments were aimed at. More dangerously, I think these comments were also aimed at capturing the growing constituency of the (Pentacostal) Assemblies of God driven Families First party.

Costello has cozied up to this church many-a-time. He has plenty of time for speaking and worshiping in their churches. But it strikes me that Costello may find it a little uneasy taking his shoes off and 'walking around in [his] socks' in a mosque...

Costello’s latest intervention into multiculturalism is not a true defence of civil law and secularism. Rather, it smacks of a sectarianism that pits whites against non-white Muslims, and aims to capture conservative Christians' support in further isolating Muslims in Australia. Smug bastard.


At February 24, 2006 8:53 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Clearly a diversion, and not just from AWB or health insurance rises.

They really don’t want us to reflect on 10 years of Coalition rule.

I suggest that we can do both.

Costello said any dual citizen who does not embrace Australian values should have their Australian citizenship revoked.

But what are these values? What do Howard, Costello and the rest of that mob actually think it is that they stand for?

They clearly do not embrace the “liberal” values that have been so absent in 10 years of Liberal Party rule. Nor have they demonstrated any commitment to neo-liberalism, conservatism, or any set of coherent principles at all.

After 10 years of political survival it is all too easy to forget just how weak a leader we have in Howard. His party remains whatever the mob want them to be, using a stooge like
Danna Vale to test the waters and then (when the polls show that it works) inciting the fear and loathing that they need to stay in power.

Their populist administration embraces Australian hysteria, not Australian values.

No point trying to revoke their Australian citizenship, however, as no one in Parliament can have dual citizenship.

"The Reader"

At February 24, 2006 10:20 pm, Blogger Mark Lawrence said...

Good points all. Thank you for sharing them. I initially thought Labor's argument that Costello's intervention was a ploy to detract attention from the AWB scandal (and insurance premiums, you suggest?) was too obviously point-scoring. But on further thought, and reading your comments, I think there's merit to it.

I can't figure out why else Costello, Howard et al should want to whip up this storm, which threatens to break out of its teacup. What mileage can they actually make from this issue when there is no obvious dispute in the first place?

On 'liberal values', I do think that the neo-conservatives in Australia have made an effort to assert their version of Australianess – Liberal Party values in effect.

All that talk of mateship, the glorification of Diggers and the experience of war, including the apropriation of anti-establishment figures like Simpson and his donkey for more pro-establishment ends, and shoring up the perspectives of white Australian in the culture and history wars – all coalesce around some very powerful nationalist ideals and values.

Even if they are ones I reject, they are powerful nonethe-less. The supportive response from talk-back callers to Costello's remarks this morning – on ABC Melbourne no less – is proof of that.

If anything, I think arguments over citizenship, and threats to strip people of it, offer more insight into the debate on 'values' and what it says about us.


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