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Thursday, December 28, 2017

Abortion caution - patriarchy, pro-birthers and poverty

Abortion caution - patriarchy, pro-birthers and poverty


There are two issues that are guaranteed to mobilise the moralistic masses out of their social justice torpor: homosexuality and abortion. Recently, Australia saw these self-appointed guardians of morality taking time out from their bible studies and prayer groups where social justice is a dirty word, so they could attack marriage equality and bully LGBTIQ+ people while attacking anti-bullying programs such as Safe Schools. It's a pity these guardians of morality don't get as upset about the human rights abuses meted out by the Australian government as they do about people having the choice to marry whom they chose.

But abortion. The other moralistic meat. It is fodder to the self-righteousness of the pro-lifers ... or, more accurately, anti-abortionists ... because their idea of pro-life ends with birth as you will soon see. These anti-abortionists clapped and cheered and waved their flags when President Donald Trump stated he was going to cease funding health care providers around the world, if they gave advice about or provided abortions, even though evidence indicates an increase in backyard abortions when these programs are de-funded(1) and abortion is outlawed(2).

Many of the anti-abortion brigade are Christians who will quote the bible as evidence of why abortion is bad. These are mainly scriptures about being formed in the womb, such as Psalm 139:13, 'For you created my in most being, you knit me together in my mother's womb', and Psalm 22:10, 'From birth I was cast on you; from my mother's womb you have been my God'. This scriptures are used by some Christians to argue that human life starts at conception, however, none of them address abortion - either in prohibiting it or in addressing the causes of abortion.

Anti-abortion Christians, often miss some critical scriptures; some to do with the horrid treatment of babies in the bible and some to do with reducing unwanted pregnancies and abortion. Firstly, the bible has some terrible examples of the treatment of children and babies. For instance, 1 Samuel 15:3 is one of many scriptures that advocates killing every man, woman and child.

Psalm 137:9 really sets the scene by declaring, 'happy is the one who seizes your infants and dashes them against rocks'. I can't remember Dr James Dobson ever recommending this as an effective child-rearing technique, so hopefully no-one takes this scripture literally. As an interesting aside, that verse is in the same psalm that gave us the awesome Boney M song from the 1970s, Rivers of Babylon ... but I digress.

Numbers 5:11-31 prescribes abortion for unfaithful wives, or for wives whose husbands are jealous and merely suspect the wife of infidelity (even if the wife has committed no wrongdoing).(3) Verses 30 & 31 state 'when the spirit of jealousy comes upon a man, and he becomes jealous of his wife; then he shall stand the woman before the Lord, and the priest shall execute all this law upon her. Then the man shall be free from iniquity, but that woman shall bear her guilt'. Note, these verses are printed in full at the bottom of this article. SO according to this scripture, if a man is jealous it is all the woman's fault (regardless of whether he has cause or not) and he can force her to have an abortion just because he is jealous - or at least drink poison that will mess up her ability to have kids if she isn't pregnant. She drinks the poison and if she cheated and is pregnant, she will have an abortion. What if she is pregnant to her husband and hasn't cheated? Are we to expect the magic potion can tell the difference? The abortion will happen anyway. The victims here are the wife and the fetus. The man gets away scot free for being unable to keep a lid on his jealousy. Sticking with songs of the 1970s, it's fortunate that John Lennon wasn't an advocate of this scripture ... he even wrote a song about being a Jealous Guy. Poor old Yoko could have found herself in a world of pain.

Numbers 5:11-31 applies to the woman's alleged infidelity. But what of the man's infidelity? This isn't a one off. Centuries later, Jesus rescues a woman who was about to be stoned for adultery. As it takes at least two to tango, where was the man with whom the woman allegedly committed this indiscretion? The society of the day was particularly paternalistic and gave women fewer rights than men. Perhaps referencing the values of such a patriarchal society is not the best thing when discussing a woman's choice to decide whether or not to have an abortion.

And then there's Hosea 13:16 which takes abortion, raises it to murder and then knocks it completely out of the park with 'Their infants shall be dashed in pieces, And their women with child ripped open'. This was a result of the hapless Samaria disobeying God. This disobedience thing comes at a high cost. Hosea 9:16, 'were they to bear children, I would kill the darlings of their womb'. Hmm ... forced abortion ... abortion is murder according to the anti-abortionists.

If one wishes to be anti-abortion, then clearly the bible is not the hallmark to use for defending the fetus.

Given the extremely patriarchal society described in the bible, it should not be used to justify legislation that affects a woman's right to chose what happens to her body. Women should have the right to chose whether or not they get an abortion. Not the church, not the self-appointed guardians of morality who will picket an abortion clinic while thanking God for a conservative government with the fortitude to torture and abuse asylum seekers fleeing persecution and war.

It is understandable that some people find abortion abhorrent and wish to stop it, after all, the fetus represents the potential for a life. But with backyard abortion rates increasing when abortion is banned, the so-called pro-life lobby needs to re-calibrate their position and look to the drivers of abortion if they truly want to stop it.

One of the main drivers of abortion is poverty, which affects the ability for people to afford contraception, thus increasing unwanted pregnancies, as well as the difficulty in meeting the cost of raising children; all of which contribute to an increased rate of abortion for poorer people(4). It's interesting that many of the pro-life brigade are also opposed to welfare, increasing the minimum wage and penalty rates, Obamacare (or universal healthcare) and cheered on Trump's cuts to funding of programs across the globe that provided contraception and advice on safe abortions: all things that reduce the incidence of unwanted pregnancy, abortion and backyard abortions, thus resulting in fewer terminations and saving the lives of countless women. In fact, most of the pro-lifers aren't interested in the child once it's born. Instead of calling themselves 'pro-life', they should call themselves 'pro-birth', because that is where their concern ends.

Anti-abortionists are more concerned with arguing when life begins than in protecting life once it's born.

Anti-abortionists focus on banning abortion even though the evidence shows this is ineffective. Banning it is quick and easy, but drives it underground and makes the anti-abortionists feel like they are doing something. As long as they can't see it, anti-abortionists are happy. Out of sight, out of mind. So they're not really anti-abortion, they are anti-legal-abortion. If they really wanted to do something they would address the causes of abortion, not sweep it under the carpet. Addressing the causes is more difficult than simply banning it.

It's interesting that so many 'pro-lifers' reference the bible to support their anti-abortion stance, but ignore the scriptures that would actually reduce unwanted pregnancies and abortions. No, not the scriptures about remaining celibate! You know the scriptures. They're the ones that tell us to care for the poor, the widow, the orphan. Yet the moment that the government puts forward programs to do just that, these uber-religious types start looking for a socialist to crucify ... something like they did with Jesus a couple of millenia ago.

It's ironic that the only scriptures of the bible that will help reduce poverty and homelessness, and therefore reduce unwanted pregnancies and abortion, are the scriptures most often ignored by anti-abortion Christians.





References

1. World Health Organization, Eran Bendavid, Patrick Avila, Grant Miller, United States aid policy and induced abortion in Sub-Sahara Africa, 27 September 2011, http://www.who.int/bulletin/volumes/89/12/11-091660/en/. Accessed 28 December 2017.

2. The American Prospect, Nathalie Baptiste, This is What Happens When Abortion is Outlawed, 17 June 2015, http://prospect.org/article/what-happens-when-abortion-outlawed. Accessed 28 December 2017.

3. Bergant, D. and Karris, R., (1992). The Collegeville Bible Commentary: Old and New Testament Set. Liturgical Press, p. 156.

4. Guttmacher Institute, Heather D. Boonstra, Abortion in the Lives of Women Struggling Financially: Why Insurance Coverage Matters, 14 July 2016, https://www.guttmacher.org/gpr/2016/07/abortion-lives-women-struggling-financially-why-insurance-coverage-matters. Accessed 28 December 2017.



Numbers 5:11-31 (New International Version)


11 Then the Lord said to Moses, 12 “Speak to the Israelites and say to them: ‘If a man’s wife goes astray and is unfaithful to him 13 so that another man has sexual relations with her, and this is hidden from her husband and her impurity is undetected (since there is no witness against her and she has not been caught in the act), 14 and if feelings of jealousy come over her husband and he suspects his wife and she is impure—or if he is jealous and suspects her even though she is not impure— 15 then he is to take his wife to the priest. He must also take an offering of a tenth of an ephah[c] of barley flour on her behalf. He must not pour olive oil on it or put incense on it, because it is a grain offering for jealousy, a reminder-offering to draw attention to wrongdoing.

16 “‘The priest shall bring her and have her stand before the Lord. 17 Then he shall take some holy water in a clay jar and put some dust from the tabernacle floor into the water. 18 After the priest has had the woman stand before the Lord, he shall loosen her hair and place in her hands the reminder-offering, the grain offering for jealousy, while he himself holds the bitter water that brings a curse. 19 Then the priest shall put the woman under oath and say to her, “If no other man has had sexual relations with you and you have not gone astray and become impure while married to your husband, may this bitter water that brings a curse not harm you. 20 But if you have gone astray while married to your husband and you have made yourself impure by having sexual relations with a man other than your husband”— 21 here the priest is to put the woman under this curse—“may the Lord cause you to become a curse[d] among your people when he makes your womb miscarry and your abdomen swell. 22 May this water that brings a curse enter your body so that your abdomen swells or your womb miscarries.”

“‘Then the woman is to say, “Amen. So be it.”

23 “‘The priest is to write these curses on a scroll and then wash them off into the bitter water. 24 He shall make the woman drink the bitter water that brings a curse, and this water that brings a curse and causes bitter suffering will enter her. 25 The priest is to take from her hands the grain offering for jealousy, wave it before the Lord and bring it to the altar. 26 The priest is then to take a handful of the grain offering as a memorial[e] offering and burn it on the altar; after that, he is to have the woman drink the water. 27 If she has made herself impure and been unfaithful to her husband, this will be the result: When she is made to drink the water that brings a curse and causes bitter suffering, it will enter her, her abdomen will swell and her womb will miscarry, and she will become a curse. 28 If, however, the woman has not made herself impure, but is clean, she will be cleared of guilt and will be able to have children.

29 “‘This, then, is the law of jealousy when a woman goes astray and makes herself impure while married to her husband, 30 or when feelings of jealousy come over a man because he suspects his wife. The priest is to have her stand before the Lord and is to apply this entire law to her. 31 The husband will be innocent of any wrongdoing, but the woman will bear the consequences of her sin.’”

Political Correctness - the go-to bugaboo of the perpetually offended

Political Correctness - the go-to bugaboo of the perpetually offended


Australia's conservative parties, including the reigning Liberal and National party coalition, as well as right-wing fringe dwellers, Pauline Hanson's One Nation and Cory Bernardi's Australian Conservatives, use fear to great effect in attracting people to them. Their chief bugaboos include Unions, Socialists, Islam, refugees, Safe Schools (ironically, an anti-bullying program), and the ill-defined-but-great-as-an-all-round-bad-guy 'Political Correctness'.

What is this evil and insidious beast known as 'Political Correctness'? Well, it is whatever the fear-adled right-wing say that it is; usually it's anything that they disagree with. In reality, this thing called political correctness is about treating people with respect and being sensitive to their situation or concerns. For example, once upon a time, people who were unable to speak, were called dumb. Some would even carry a sign around their necks stating that the wearer was dumb, or if they were particularly beset, the sign might state that they were deaf, dumb and blind. The politically correct term these days for people who can't speak, is 'mute', for blind it is 'vision impaired' and for deaf it is 'hearing impaired'. Similarly, people were once labelled as cripple or retarded, then they were called handicapped, now they are known as 'having a disability', or even as being 'able challenged'. Back in the day, jobs were often labelled with gender-specific titles, such as policeman, fireman or chairman. Now they are known as police officer, firefighter or chairperson. Homosexuals are known as gay or lesbian, or even LGBTIQ+, which recognises the variations in sexuality. Sex change is now known as gender reassignment. This be the evil beast of political correctness. End of the world, right? Sadly, too many right-wingers see it as such.

The right-wing claim that political correctness is an assault on freedom of speech and that it is a facade that hides the true meaning. Some will even say it is part of a larger conspiracy, for instance, to mask a 'gay agenda' to exterminate gender, make us all gay and end procreation as we know it by sprinkling gay fairy dust over our children. So the right-wing wish to call things as they see it, without some namby-pamby politically correct epithet. Unfortunately, the idea of being sensitive to other people is not a strong suit for the right-wing - when it suits them.

The right-wing trundle out political correctness in a self-righteous, smug way as though they are not riddled with such platitudes. They'll even bust out age-old invectives to prove their pride in being politically incorrect. However, the right-wing is riddled with its own version of political correctness. They will use terms that match their own political or world-view. For example, a white person who shoots up a school or concert is referred to as an 'armed assailant' or a 'gunman', but if a Muslim does it, they are labelled as an 'Islamic terrorist' without waiting for the motive to be determined. The leader of a country friendly to western nations, would be known as President or Prime Minister, however if the country's politics are contrary to western politics, the leader will often be referred to as a dictator or tyrant.

Recently, US President Donald Trump banned seven words from use by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in 2018 budget documents. The offensive words are 'vulnerable', 'entitlement', 'diversity', 'transgender', 'fetus', 'evidence-based' and 'science-based'(1). After all, we can't have a scientific organisation reporting on evidence-based programs in case it offends the perpetually outraged right-wing and disproves their flaky hold on the science of the natural world.

And god help anyone who dares to say 'happy holidays' at Christmas time. Some on the right-wing boycotted Cadbury's at Easter time because of the false reporting that Cadbury's had banned the word Easter from their Easter eggs. While some of Cadbury's products had removed the word 'Easter', or not prominently displayed it, some of this was on products sold all year around or which Cadbury felt was obvious that they were Easter eggs. Additionally, many of their products still had 'Easter' plastered all over them.(2).

These days there are a lot of food products that allow for various dietary sensitivities, whether those be physical allergies (e.g. peanuts), physical sensitivities (e.g. gluten) or religious observances (e.g. halal and kosher). The right-wing had no concern with peanuts, gluten or kosher. However, when food companies started catering to Muslims by having products halal-certified, there was wailing and gnashing of teeth from the right-wing. There were petitions and boycotts against products such as Vegemite. The Islamophobes linked halal-certification to terrorism even though the Australian Crime Commission stated there was no evidence of direct links between halal-certification and terrorism(3), a finding which was confirmed by a parliamentary inquiry(4). But let not truth stop the right-wing from stirring up fear and hate in the community.

The way these right-wing fear-mongers and hate-preachers tell it, terrorism is the domain of Islam. Other non-Muslim groups who have used terrorism in their political aims are often referred to by the right-wing as separatists or rebels. This includes groups such as Basque 'separatists', Sandinista 'rebels', Tamil Tigers, right-wing military 'juntas' in Central and South America. And then there's the christian Phalangist Party in Lebanon who, under direction of Israel, unleashed the massacre of thousands of innocent civilians, including children and babies, in the Palestinian refugee camps of Sabra and Shatila in 1982. But that's ok because, you know ... Israel: God's chosen ... genocide doesn't count when God has tapped you on the shoulder ... and yet the rabid right will have the hide to accuse Palestinians of killing in the name of God, when it is clear that Israel is killing in the name of God to ethnically cleanse the 'Promised Land' of those pesky Palestinians who have lived there for thousands of years.

But as the old saying goes, 'one man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter'. While a simplistic interpretation of terrorism, the saying does succinctly summarise the role that perspective has in terrorist activity. Scottish politician George Gallaway made a number of pertinent observations on this when he stated, 'One man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter. You are totally wrong in saying that in most people’s eyes Hezbollah are terrorists. In most people’s eyes Israel is a terrorist state. It’s the fact that you cannot comprehend that fact that leads to bias that runs through all of your reporting and every question that you’ve asked me in this interview!'. Galloway also stated, 'We want to make reparation to the Palestinian people for the crimes of Balfour which were committed in the building behind me, when one person, on behalf of one country, promised a second people the lands of a third people - the Palestinians. We are determined that we should stop the privatization of basic services of the British people. We are determined to defend the liberty of the British people which is being taken away day by day under the name of anti-terrorism. Ancient freedoms, which we had for hundreds of years, are being taken away from us under the name of the war on terror, when the real big terrorists are the governments of Britain and the United States. They are the real rogue states breaking international law, invading other people's countries, killing their children in the name of anti-terrorism, when in fact, all they're achieving is to make more terrorists in the world, not less, to make the world more dangerous, rather than less. These are our priorities'.

Another of Galloway's poignant criticisms of the west's role in terrorism, 'Stop invading Muslims lands! How can you expect Muslims to love you when you are forcefully occupying their lands and murdering their people?'.

Most terrorism has little to do with religion and more to do with land and power, for instance, the illegal theft and occupation of Palestine by Israel. It's easy for the right-wing to blame Islam while failing to look in the mirror at their own actions. Most of the leaders of western invasions and wars are christian, and many right-wing christian groups cheer on western military actions, as well as Israel's war-crimes in Palestine. For those who like to make terrorism about religion and who revel in xenophobia, Islamophobia, homophobia, Ellen G. White has a great comment, 'Christ tears away the wall of partition, the self-love, the dividing prejudice of nationality, and teaches a love for all the human family'.

Another target of the right-wing's political correctness sensitivity is Australia's public broadcasters, the ABC and SBS. Both have been criticised for promoting 'left-wing' agendas. The ABC has faced particular attacks on their alleged lack of bias. These attacks are by people who want to silence any opinion that differs to their own. It is clear that many of the people who attack the ABC do not listen to or watch it. The current affairs shows, such as Radio National's AM, PM and Breakfast, give equal voice to politicians from Labor and Liberal, in addition to the Prime Minister, the Deputy PM and the Treasurer, regular interviews are given to Matthias Corman and Christopher Pyne.

But why allow truth and balance to infiltrate the right-wing. The coalition government has appointed conservative reporters and critics of the ABC to influential positions, including former Liberal Party politician Janet Albrechtson appointed to the ABC panel(5). This followed the controversial appointment of Michelle Guthrie as ABC Managing Director. While Guthrie was CEO for Rupert Murdoch's Star TV network, she had attempted to bypass China's media ownership restrictions(6). Since then, Guthrie has restructured and gutted the ABC through axing shows and sacking staff(7).

Without a doubt, the rabid right-wing has its own form of political correctness, launching into paroxysms of manufactured outrage and spraying spittle at anything that doesn't conform to their narrow world view.

While the right-wing argues that the left-wing is shutting down their freedom of speech, it is often the right-wing who aims to ban or shut down left-wing commentators and media that gives voice to the left-wing, or to people who stand up against the human rights abuses perpetrated by the right-wing, such as Australia's inhumane and malicious treatment of asylum seekers and refugees, or even to scientists who present scientific evidence that discredits the right's benighted postulating.

Many on the right will argue that their freedom of speech has been curtailed because of political correctness. Yet again, this is complete rubbish aimed at manufacturing outrage and fear among the gullible. No-one is stopping anyone from having their opinion. The problem with the right-wing is that they see any form of criticism as an attack on their freedom, while not understanding or accepting that freedom of speech means that others can voice dissent. This results in the rabid right-wing trying to shut dissenters down by screeching 'political correctness' whenever they feel their diminutive world-view is being threatened, in a manner reminiscent of the 'repressed peasant' in Monty Python's Holy Grail:

'help, help, I'm being repressed - look at the evil socialist making evidence-based, fact-checked, peer-reviewed, scientific arguments against my everything-phobia ... help, help, I'm being repressed'.

In the United States, the rabid right melted down when NFL quarterback, Colin Kaepernick dared to remain seated during the national anthem, and on later occasions to kneel, because he wouldn't stand to show pride in the flag of a country that continues to oppress and kill black people. Some military veterans showed support for Kaepernick, saying that they fought for his freedom to make this expression. The right however, wanted him sacked, sanctioned, jailed. The anger was palpable. There were boycotts of NFL games and Kaepernick received death threats. Don't cross the perpetually outraged right-wing. Kaepernick's actions did not affect anyone else, he wasn't trying to stop the national anthem being played, but the rabid right certainly tried to stop him.

One of the lies that the right-wing loves to revel in, is the rubbish claim that they are prevented from saying Merry Christmas, and can only say things like Happy Holidays. Even that doyen of bullshit, President Donald Trump, stated that under his rule, people could again say Merry Christmas ... implying that they had been prohibited from saying it before he rode in like a knight in shining armour. However, former president Barack Obama never stopped people saying 'Merry Christmas'(8). This was yet another example of Trump's many lies aimed at manufacturing rage and hate in his gullible followers. There is no war on Christmas, no-one is stopping anyone from celebrating Christmas, but the perpetually outraged rabid right create one and then blame 'political correctness' for it.

One of the mantras used to explain the actions of terrorists, is 'they hate our freedoms'. Which is not the issue, however, it is becoming increasingly obvious that many on the right-wing hate our freedoms. They don't want to see the left-wing express their freedom of speech, or see LGBTIQ+ free to marry those they chose, or Muslims free to worship at the Mosque they wish to or wear the clothes they chose.

The right-wing is constantly squawking about their right to freedom of speech, yet most just want the right to not have their myopic views or fatuous beliefs challenged. Nineteenth century Danish philosopher, Søren Kierkegaard accurately nailed the problem with this approach when he said, 'People demand freedom of speech as a compensation for the freedom of thought which they seldom use'. Little thought is given to much of the arguments put forward by the rabid right.



What is it that the rabid right wishes to say that they can't say now? The only thing that might land them in trouble is racist or hate speech. Is this what they are so angry about? That they want the right to be hateful and racist? It says a lot about their character.

The following pyramid was designed by Ellen Tuzzolo for Safehouse Progressive Alliance for Non-Violence. Even though it was designed for US audiences, much of it is applicable throughout the world. It shows that Covert White Supremacy is socially acceptable, but just because something is accepted socially, doesn't make it right. It is this insidious racism that 'political correctness' aims to address in order to stop the rise of Overt White Supremacy. Similar pyramids could be developed for other targets of bigotry, such as homophobia, transphobia, and Islamophobia.

Original designed by Ellen Tuzzolo for the Safehouse Progressive Alliance for Non-Violence
But why should the left, or scientists, or academics be silenced because of the bigotry, ignorance, blind nationalism, religious intolerance and hurt feelings of those on the right-wing who can't see beyond their bubble of bigotry and bunkum? As Martin Luther King said, 'Our lives begin to end the day we become silent about things that matter'.

Challenging bigotry and ignorance does matter. Calling out and challenging mindless assertions and hate speech does matter. Those who disagree with the claims of the right-wing should not be silenced. They have freedom of speech too.


References

1. The Washington Post, Lena H. Sun and Juliet Eilprin, CDC gets list of forbidden words: Fetus, transgender, diversity, 15 December 2017, https://www.washingtonpost.com/national/health-science/cdc-gets-list-of-forbidden-words-fetus-transgender-diversity/2017/12/15/f503837a-e1cf-11e7-89e8-edec16379010_story.html. Accessed 27 December 2017.

2. Snopes, Dan Evon, Easter Bannies, 24 March 2016, https://www.snopes.com/cadbury-banned-easter/. Accessed 27 December 2017.

3. ABC News, RMIT ABC Fact Check, Fact Check: Does halal certification fund terrorism?, 21 April 2015, http://www.abc.net.au/news/2015-04-14/fact-check-does-halal-certification-fund-terrorism/6383238. Accessed 27 December 2017.

4. Parliament of Australia, Jean Murphy, Halal certification in Australia: a quick guide, 30 August 2016, https://www.aph.gov.au/About_Parliament/Parliamentary_Departments/Parliamentary_Library/pubs/rp/rp1617/Quick_Guides/HalalCert. Accessed 27 December 2017.

5. The Guardian, Amanda Meade, Conservative commentator Janet Albrechtsen appointed to ABC panel, 2 July 2014, https://www.theguardian.com/media/2014/jul/02/conservative-commentator-janet-albrechtsen-appointed-to-abc-panel. Accessed 27 December 2017.

6. The Sydney Morning Herald, Matthew Knott, The tumultous News Corp past of new ABC boss Michelle Guthrie, 17 December 2015, http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/the-tumultuous-news-corp-past-of-new-abc-boss-michelle-guthrie-20151217-glq4xf.html. Accessed 27 December 2017.

7. The Sydney Morning Herald, Debi Enker, The news is sad for ABC viewers under Michelle Guthrie's rule, 12 October 2017. http://www.smh.com.au/entertainment/tv-and-radio/the-news-is-sad-for-abc-viewers-under-michelle-guthries-rule-20171009-gywwmj.html. Accessed 27 December 2017.

8. The Independent, Maya Oppenheim, Trump claims he saved 'Merry Christmas' from assault, despite Obama having said it every year, 25 December 2017,
http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/americas/donald-trump-merry-christmas-assault-twitter-barack-obama-a8127921.html. Accessed 27 December 2017.


Sunday, December 24, 2017

The hypocrite with his mouth destroys his neighbour - the insidious rancor infesting the mind and spirit of Christianity

The hypocrite with his mouth destroys his neighbour - the insidious rancor infesting the mind and spirit of Christianity


Proverbs 11:9 - 'The hypocrite with his mouth destroys his neighbour, But through knowledge the righteous will be delivered'.

Proverbs 11:12 - 'He who is devoid of wisdom despises his neighbour, But a man of understanding holds his peace'.

And right there, these two scriptures describe the hypocrisy and fatuousness of those Christians who are constantly attacking Islam, demonising Muslims and persecuting refugees, with much of their vitriol based on lies, misrepresentations, stereotyping and plain hatred.

Matthew 7:5 challenges these hypocrites with the much-ignored scripture: 'Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye'

While some Christians are demonising all Muslims over the actions of a few terrorists, they cheer on the bombings and invasions of Christian leaders. These Christians also support the genocide and ethnic cleansing of Palestine through Israel's war crimes and illegal occupation because 'the bible tells them to' while they ignore the parts that clearly blow Zionism out of the water. (Refer to 'Challenging Zionism: http://thepandarant.blogspot.com/2017/04/challenging-zionism-illogical-christian.html). In fact, they deny Israel's war-crimes and the very existence of Palestinians. Ethnic cleansing much?

There was the illegal invasion of Iraq in 2003 by the so-called 'Coalition of the Willing', led by illustrious Christians, President George W. Bush, Prime Minister Tony Blair and perennial international lapdog and US apologist, Australia's own lickspittle-in-chief, Prime Minister John Howard. This war resulted in the deaths of hundreds of thousands of innocent people (far more than despot Saddam Hussein ever killed), and gave rise to ISIS.

Throughout the 20th century, most genocides and wars were caused by Christians. The benchmark was of course set by Adolf Hitler with his genocide of Jews, socialists, gypsies, homosexuals, the sick and infirm, and anyone who was considered a dissident. Germany was a Christian nation and most soldiers serving the Nazi regime were Christian. Other wars which Christians unleashed included the First World War, the Korean War, Vietnam, and of course, the ubiquitous Cold War in which the 'Christian' United States and the atheist Soviet Union went head to head in everybody else's countries except their own. Much of the Cold War was waged through the Middle East and Asia, including Afghanistan, Iraq, Iran, Vietnam and Indonesia. These wars resulted in the deaths and displacement of hundreds of millions of people, with many of them becoming refugees.

Those refugees are then demonised, abused and tortured by the same Christians who supported the wars that caused their displacement. Australia's mistreatment of refugees has been widely condemned by the United Nations, Amnesty International, aid organisations and many in the international community. The UN accused Australia of torturing refugees(1), Amnesty stated that humane solutions existed but Australia chooses to abuse refugees(2), and the New York Times slammed Australia's treatment of refugees as a disgrace(3).

Dutton calls for pro-Christmas uprising while abusing innocent children and adults(4)


Two of Australia's Immigration Ministers who reveled in the vote-winning policies of abusing innocent people, were Peter Dutton and Scott Morrison. While justifying their abusive treatment of innocent and traumatised people, both men defended their Christianity against criticism. Dutton angrily called for a 'pro-Christmas' uprising against political correctness because Australia is a 'Christian society'(4). Meanwhile the sickeningly smug Scott Morrison, always happy to blame Islam for everything bad in society, vowed to defend Christianity against mockery(5). Morrison vowed to stand up to 'mockery and jokes about Christianity'. But conservative Christianity is a joke because of hypocrites such as Morrison, Dutton, former Prime Minister Tony Abbott and arch-conservative Cory Bernardi who have all waged an unrelenting war against Islam based on fear-mongering, hate-speech and the active abuse and torture of people fleeing war and persecution. Sadly, it's not a funny joke, conservative Christianity is a mockery of the Christianity of Christ.

The actions of these so-called Christians in their incessant attacks on Islam, have more in common with terrorists than with Jesus. Just like terrorists, including the world's latest bogeyman Islamic State (ISIS), anti-Muslim Christians cherry-pick the Quran while refusing to acknowledge or understand context. The Quran itself states that the 'whole' is from God, the whole needs to be considered(6). The Quran talks of those who claim they understand the whole of the scripture but instead twist it. Chapter 3 verse 8 says '... those in whose hearts is perversity pursue such thereof as are susceptible of different interpretations, seeking discord and seeking wrong interpretation of it ... they say, ‘We believe in it; the whole is from our Lord.’ — And none heed except those gifted with understanding'.

But why worry about truth or context when you're consumed with hate and have an agenda to destroy everyone who isn't Christian. The small-minded, the hypocrites, those lacking wisdom take Islamic out of context. So if Christians aren't going to keep the Quran or Haddiths in context, then neither should the Bible be kept in context when discussing it with them.

It's ironic that Christians accuse Muslims of having a violent religion when history clearly shows that Christianity is the most violent religion the world has known. For centuries, Christians have led wars and invasions into almost every nation in the world, killing hundreds of millions of people. Whereas most Muslim wars were in defence of invasions by Christians. Where Muslims only fought against those soldiers who fought them and left alone those who didn't fight, Christians were happy to massacre every man, woman and child. Muslims were fighting in accordance with the Quran which instructed them to only fight in self-defence, as stated in Chapter 22 verse 40: 'Permission to fight is given to those against whom war is made, because they have been wronged', and to only fight those who are fighting them, which is made clear right at the start of the Quran, in Chapter 2 verse 194: '... no hostility is allowed except against the aggressors'. This is the meaning of jihad - to fight against those who attack Muslims. It is self-defence. It isn't a waging of genocidal war against non-Muslims in order to conquer the world. For people who claim to follow a religion of truth, many conservative Christians are more than happy to lie about Islam.

The Quran instructs Muslims not to fight with Christians and Jews (which the Quran calls People of the Book) unless the People of the Book are inflicting the wrong as stated in Surah 29:46 'And dispute ye not with the People of the Book, except with means better (than mere disputation), unless it be with those of them who inflict wrong (and injury)'.

Contrasting the Quranic scripture of only engaging active combatants, to some of the Old Testament writings which called for genocide by 'killing every man, woman and child', in other words, kill everyone even if they are not actively fighting. 1 Samuel 15:3 is but one scripture (yes, there is more than one), that calls on this: '... Do not spare them; put to death men and women, children and infants, cattle and sheep, camels and donkeys'. Deuteronomy 2:34: 'At that time we took all his towns and completely destroyed them--men, women and children. We left no survivors'. And it goes on. Deuteronomy 3:6, 20:16-18 (which says to leave nothing alive that breaths). And then there's Numbers 31:17-18, which raises a disturbing issue of rape, sex slavery and pedophilia, 'Now kill all the boys. And kill every woman who has slept with a man, but save for yourselves every girl who has never slept with a man'. Why would they keep the virgins? It wasn't out of mercy. Keep in mind that most girls were married by puberty, so most of those who hadn't slept with a man were female children.

Challenge a conservative Christian on the violence of the Old Testament and they will immediately claim it needs to be understood in context ... which is a luxury that they don't afford Quranic scripture. Funnily enough the Quran has advice for these Christians (who are called People of the Book). Surah 4:171 says, 'O People of the Book! Commit no excesses in your religion: Nor say of Allah aught but the truth'. Yet conservatives commit excesses all the time ... in their waging of war, their abuse of refugees, their attack on Islam ... and then there's prosperity doctrine! But that's another story.

Many conservative Christians are quick to quote the Quran and ignore much of their own bible; a book that defends the poor and the persecuted. Christians can't argue that these scriptures are just Old Testament and therefore don't apply, as the New Testament states in Matthew 5:17, 'Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them'.

Just a reminder of some the scriptures to which conservative Christians give a cold-shoulder:

Leviticus 19:33-34: 'And if a stranger dwells with you in your land, you shall not mistreat him. The stranger who dwells among you shall be to you as one born among you, and you shall love him as yourself; for you were strangers in the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God'.

Deuteronomy 10:18-19: 'He defends the cause of the fatherless and the widow, and loves the foreigner residing among you, giving them food and clothing. And you are to love those who are foreigners, for you yourselves were foreigners in Egypt'.

Malachi 3:5: 'So I will come to put you on trial. I will be quick to testify against sorcerers, adulterers and perjurers, against those who defraud laborers of their wages, who oppress the widows and the fatherless, and deprive the foreigners among you of justice, but do not fear me," says the Lord Almighty'.

Matthew 25:25-36 (the entire parable of the sheep and the goats), including: 'for I was hungry and you gave Me food; I was thirsty and you gave Me drink; I was a stranger and you took Me in; I was naked and you clothed Me; I was sick and you visited Me; I was in prison and you came to Me'.

Matthew 5:1-12 (the Beatitude, or the Sermon on the Mount, which is the Manifesto of Jesus), including: 'Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be filled. Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy'.

Matthew 5:44: 'love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you'.

And just so that Christians can't possibly get lost in the overwhelming volume of scripture, Jesus dumbed it down to six words:

Galations 5:14: 'For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this: “You shall love your neighbour as yourself" '.

You shall love your neighbour as yourself.

Seven words that sum up Christianity, yet many conservative Christians just don't grasp how to live this.

The church has become more concerned with making money than in making peace, it is more concerned with spreading hate than in spreading love, it is more concerned with increasing church numbers than in being a living witness for Jesus - which would mean loving their neighbour AND loving their enemy. In Australia, the recent marriage equality debate saw conservative Christians mobilised like never before to condemn LGBTIQ+ people through the use of lies and fear in the name of defending 'Christian values'. Some of this turned ugly, with violence and vandalism unleashed on pro-marriage equality people(7).  Yet most of these self-righteous Christians have been either deadly silent or vocally supportive of perpetuating the abuse of refugees and demonising of Muslims. One wonders how Christian their values actually are.

If Christians wish to 'defend Christianity', then they should defend it against the insidious rancor that has permeated the minds and spirits of conservative Christianity. Before lashing out at Islam, Palestinians, LGBTIQ+ people, refugees or anyone else, Christians should consider their actions and words in light of the teachings of Christ in loving our neighbour and caring for the poor, the refugee and the persecuted.

One of Christianity's biggest celebrations is Christmas, when a jolly fat man spreads materialistic cheer through consumerism. Santa Clause is a capitalist manifestation of a true Christian named St Nicholas; a man who helped the needy and the sinner. He once helped three sisters who were in poverty by secretly placing three bags of gold coins in their house to prevent them from having to prostitute themselves. He is the patron saint of repentant thieves, pawnbrokers, prostitutes and he defended Christianity against heresy. St Nick would be horrified to see what his legacy as become in the name of capitalist Christianity. One can't help but think that the real St Nick would punch out the Santa Claus. His actions were not based on people being naughty or nice, but being worthy of being loved.

Sadly, far too many Christians, those of the Scott Morrison ilk, are more concerned with fighting for the right to say 'Merry Christmas', then in actually living their lives as Christ commanded.



But let's give God the last word:

Matthew 25:40 - 'Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me'






References

1. The Guardian, Ben Doherty and Daniel Hurst, UN accuses Australia of systematically violating torture convention, 10 March 2015, https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2015/mar/09/un-reports-australias-immigration-detention-breaches-torture-convention. Accessed 24 December 2017.

2. Amnesty International, Four years on: Humane solutions to offshore detention exist but Government chooses abuse, 19 July 2017, https://www.amnesty.org.au/four-years-humane-solutions-offshore-detention-exist-government-chooses-abuse/. Accessed 24 December 2017.

3. New York Times, The Editorial Board, Australia's stranded refugee prisoners, 20 October 2016, https://www.nytimes.com/2016/10/20/opinion/australias-stranded-refugee-prisoners.html. Accessed 24 December 2017.

4. The Sydney Morning Herald, Michael Koziol, Peter Dutton calls for pro-Christmas uprising against 'political correctness gone mad', 16 December 2016, http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/peter-dutton-calls-for-prochristmas-uprising-against-political-correctness-gone-mad-20161214-gtbj63.html. Accessed 24 December 2017.

5. The Guardian, Michael McGowan, Scott Morrison vows to stand up to 'mockery' of Christians, 22 December 2017, https://www.theguardian.com/australia-news/2017/dec/22/scott-morrison-vows-to-stand-up-to-mockery-of-christians. Accessed 24 December 2017.

6. Independent, Qasim Rashid, Anyone who says the Quran advocates terrorism obviously hasn't read its lessons on violence, 10 April 2017, http://www.independent.co.uk/voices/islam-muslim-terrorism-islamist-extremism-quran-teaching-violence-meaning-prophet-muhammed-a7676246.html. Accessed 24 December 2017.

7. BuzzFeed, Lane Sainty, Josh Taylor, 65 Times The Same-Sex Marriage Debate was Definitely Not Respectful, 10 November 2017, https://www.buzzfeed.com/lanesainty/please-make-it-stop1. Accessed 24 December 2017.


Sunday, December 17, 2017

Citizen Panda - a solution for the citizenship crisis

Citizen Panda - a solution for the citizenship crisis

2017 is one of those strange years that will be remembered for many reasons ... some good, some just plain weird. The good things are the legalisation of marriage equality for LGBTIQ+ people, and One Nation barely winning a single seat in the Queensland election. The weird part however, includes double-standards of a government taking million of dollars in donations from wealthy Chinese businessmen and then seeking the scalp of a junior Labor senator for receiving donations from the same wealthy businessmen. But the one that knocked weirdness completely out of the park was the citizenship debacle that embroiled federal politics and threatened to leave Australia without a functioning parliament.

The debacle was caused by the sudden revelation that a truckload of federal politicians were in breach of Section 44(i) of Australian Constitution, which states:

Any person who is under any acknowledgment of allegiance, obedience, or adherence to a foreign power, or is a subject or a citizen or entitled to the rights or privileges of a subject or a citizen of a foreign power ... shall be incapable of being chosen or of sitting as a senator or a member of the House of Representatives.

The following were initially caught up in the scandal(1):

  • Scott Ludlam, Greens Senator, born in New Zealand - resigned
  • Jacquie Lambie, independent senator, born in Australia, has indigenous blood, father born in Scotland - resigned
  • Barnaby Joyce, Deputy Prime Minister, born in Australia, parents from New Zealand - resigned, then re-elected in by-election
  • John Alexander, Liberal Party back-bencher, born in Australia to British parents - resigned, then re-elected in by-election
  • Larissa Waters, Greens Senator, born in Canada to Australian parents - resigned
  • Malcolm Roberts, One Nation Senator, born in India of a Welsh father - resigned
  • Fiona Nash, Nationals Senator and deputy Nationals leader, born in Australia to a Scottish parent - resigned.
  • Nick Xenophon, Nick Xenophon Team senator, born in Australia to parents from Cyprus and Greece - High Court ruled he was not a dual citizen, but resigned prior to the decision to pursue a career in state politics.

As can be seen, many of the politicians were born in Australia, but inherited their citizenship from parents born in overseas countries, otherwise known as citizenship by descent.

After repeated requests by Labor for a full parliamentary audit, the government eventually requested all politicians prove whether or not they were dual citizens, which the government insisted was 'not an audit'. The following were then caught up, with some being deemed to be ok and others either being referred or likely to be referred to the High Court(2)(3):

  • Nola McKim (Liberal, House of Reps - refused to release proof) 
  • Jason Falinski (Liberal, House of Reps - seeking further advice) 
  • David Feeney (Labor, House of Reps - can't find paperwork, likely to be referred to High Court) 
  • Nick McKim (Greens, Senate - eligible) 
  • Louise Pratt (Labor, Senate - eligible)
  • Alex Gallacher (Labor, Senate - eligible)
  • Dean Smith (Liberal, Senate - eligible)
  • Lisa Singh (Labor, Senate - eligible)
  • Katy Gallagher (Labor, Senate - referred to High Court)
  • Skye Kakoschke-Moore (NXT Senate - resigned)
  • Hollie Hughes (Liberal, Senate - ineligible)
  • Justine Keay (Labor, House of Reps - may be referred to High Court)
  • Rebekha Sharkie (NXT, House of Reps - may be referred to High Court)
  • Stephen Parry (Liberal, Senate - resigned)
  • Susan Lamb (Labor, House of Reps - may be referred to High Court)
  • Josh Wilson (Labor, House of Reps - may be referred to High Court). 
  • Cory Bernardi (Australian Conservatives, Senate - may be referred to High Court)
  • Steve Georganas (Labor, House of Reps - may be referred to High Court)
  • Michelle Rowland (Labor, House of Reps - may be referred to High Court)
  • Ann Sudmalis (Liberal, House of Reps - provided letter indicating no right to British citizenship)
  • Tony Zappia (Labor, House of Reps - provided evidence of renounced citizenship)

Ironically, some of these politicians were citizens of Britain, whose head of state is Queen Elizabeth II and to whom they swear allegiance on entering parliament as required by Section 42 of the Constitution(4). The oath reads:

I, A.B., do swear that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Second, Her heirs and successors according to law. So help me God!

The affirmation is almost identical:

I, A.B., do solemnly and sincerely affirm and declare that I will be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth the Second, Her heirs and successors according to law.

So they swear allegiance to the Queen under Section 42 of the Constitution, but cannot be dual citizens of Australia and Britain under Section 44 of the Constitution.

Confused?

Mark Knight, Herald Sun(5)


This crisis may have only arisen this year, but it does beg the question as to how many politicians in previous parliaments were also dual citizens. Considering that Australia is a multi-cultural country that was founded by foreign settlement, it is extremely likely that many politicians have served this nation while being dual citizens - either knowingly or unknowingly.

One way to deal with this is to rigorously enforce Section 44 and for all political hopefuls to prove they have taken all reasonable steps to identify and renounce foreign citizenship. However, given the complexity associated with this, it is realistic to expect there will be future parliaments in which dual citizens will fall through the cracks.

A more robust solution is to modify Section 44 through a referendum.

The Citizen Panda Solution provides two options:

1. Allow dual citizens - they take an oath or affirmation of allegiance anyway. This could also be modified to be allegiance to Australia rather than the Queen. Easy. Keep in mind that state governments are not bound by s44 of the Australian Constitution, so can accommodate dual citizens and still function perfectly well - why can't this apply to the federal parliament.

But if we can't handle easy, then take Option 2:

2. Don't allow dual citizens and require political hopefuls to take all reasonable steps to identify and renounce other citizenship. All reasonable steps should be dependent on the action of the political hopeful, not on the other country confirming the citizenship has been renounced. The reason for this is that not all countries allow renunciation of citizenship, and other countries take months to process a renunciation or may not acknowledge it at all. The political hopeful should not be kept from their political career because of the lack of action of another nation. The following discretions should apply:

  • for politicians who were born in Australia and are identified as dual citizens, take all reasonable steps to renounce it, however, if their dual citizenship is discovered after they are elected, give them a grace period of say three months to renounce any citizenship. This is because of the possibility of citizenship by descent not being easily ascertainable and genuine errors being made. 
  • require political hopefuls born overseas to prove they have taken all reasonable steps prior to the electoral date to renounce their citizenship. Overseas born politicians generally know they are born overseas which makes it easier for them to know they are citizens of another nation. However, in some circumstances, the three month grace period could apply at the discretion of the High Court, for instance, where a person was born overseas but lived in Australia since they were a child and may have not realised their citizenship was still current.   

If changes such as these are not made to the Constitution, then it is likely that every future parliament will face a similar debacle. Questions around dual citizenship are not easily resolved by simply casting a discerning eye over a few documents. As shown this year, a number of cases have had to be referred to the High Court for a decision. This cannot continue.

To maintain the status quo is to expose Australia to international ridicule, fuelled by the hostile political climate in which cheap points are scored by our illustrious elected officials taking great delight in tearing each other down ... and taking parliament with them.


References

1. ABC News, Elizabeth Byrne, Citizenship Seven: Here's how the High Court ruled on each of the cases, 27 October 2017, http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-10-27/how-did-the-high-court-rule-on-each-of-the-citizenship-cases/9094676. Accessed 17 December 2017.

2. Australian Financial Review, Phillip Coorey, Citizenship crisis: five more MPs facing High Court Referral over dual citizenship, 5 December 2017, http://www.afr.com/news/politics/citizenship-crisis-five-more-mps-facing-high-court-referral-over-dual-citizenship-20171203-gzxwxg. Accessed 17 December 2017.

3. ABC News, Dual citizenship: Which politicians still have questions to answer in this constitutional mess, 5 December 2017, http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-08-19/whos-next-in-the-dual-citizenship-mess/8819510. Accessed 17 December 2017.

4. Parliament of Australia, The Australian Constitution, Commonwealth of Australia Constitution Act, s42 and Schedulehttps://www.legislation.gov.au/Details/C2013Q00005. Accessed 17 December 2017

5. Adelaide Now, Dean Jaensch: Political mess is one more example of the need for reform of the Constitution, 22 August 2017, http://www.adelaidenow.com.au/news/opinion/dean-jaensch-political-mess-is-one-more-example-of-the-need-for-reform-of-the-constitution/news-story/60cf02f393a434ea9c1893d358edcf74. Accessed 17 December 2017.


Greasing the wheels of democracy

Greasing the wheels of democracy


When you're a lame-duck government that has promised so much and delivered so little, what do you do? You look for a diversion to take the attention off your lame-duckness. So following a tried and true formula, Australia's coalition government, headed by lame-duck Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, looked for a political scalp to use as said diversion.

They found it in Senator Sam Dastyari, a junior member of the Labor opposition in the Senate.

Dastyari had received donations from wealthy Chinese businessmen, including one Huang Xiangmo. Dastyari used these donations to pay a personal legal bill. There was also a 15-day funded trip to China, he allegedly warned Mr Huang that his phone may be tapped by ASIO(1), and lobbied Tania Plibersek, a fellow Labor Party senator and foreign affairs spokesperson, to not meet pro-democracy activists who opposed Beijing's interference in Hong Kong, when she visited Hong Kong in 2015(2). Dastyari was caught on tape defending China's policy in the South China Sea, which differed to the Labor Party's position on the matter. He also lobbied the Immigration Department for Mr Huang to be granted Australian citizenship(3).

The government maintained the attacks on Dastyari for more than 12 months and finally, not surprisingly, he resigned from parliament.

While Dastyari may have acted erroneously, he wasn't the only politician receiving money from wealthy donors ... Chinese or otherwise. Mr Huang's Yuhu Investment Trust donated hundreds of thousands of dollars to the Liberal Party and the Labor Party(4). Some of these donations went to senior members of the Liberal Party's cabinet, namely Defence Industries Minister Christopher Pyne, Finance Minister Matthias Corman and Foreign Affairs Minister Julie Bishop, who also doubles as Deputy Leader of the Liberal Party.

Huang Xiangmo with Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Leader of the Opposition, Bill Shorten (4)


The Coalition claims that the donations to them are different to the donations Dastyari received because these donations were only used for election campaigns not to settle private bills(5) ... why would China be so interested in getting certain politicians elected? Using donations to pay a private bill is bad, but undermining the democratic process is good if one follows Liberal Party logic.

The Liberal Party claims that the donations they received from Mr Huang and Yuhu supposedly didn't influence the recipients or party policy. But who would know? Dastyari was a junior Senator, he held no portfolio. For him to influence anyone he had to lobby others which was quite noticeable, as he did with Tanya Plibersek. However, Bishop, Pyne and Corman are ministers, they are the decision makers, they need lobby no-one, making it much easier to hide any influence.

The Chinese-owned Top Education Institute is a top donor of money to the Liberal Party, and has received preferential treatment through a streamlined visa program for Chinese students, and is the only non-university provider whose law degrees are accredited by the Australian government. Interestingly, both Christopher Pyne and Julie Bishop are former Education Ministers. The former Labor government dismissed the streamlined visa program for Top Education Institute. The Liberal Party government granted it, coincidentally after receiving a $45,000 donation from the Institute at around the same time that the Institute paid a personal bill of $1,600 for Dastyari(6).

Surely, people are not naive enough to think that big money flowing into government isn't going to influence government decisions? Business people do not drop hundreds of thousands of dollars on politicians out of the goodness of their hearts.

Another Chinese businessman, Mr Chau Chak Wing (owner of Hong Kong Kingsun Investment Ltd), donated $560,000 to the federal Liberal Party in 2016, $200,000 to the WA Liberal Party in 2015/16, and $100,000 to the NSW Liberals. He also dropped $200,000 on the Labor Party.(7)

Another Chinese businessman, Mr Zi Chun Wang gave $850,000 to the Labor Party. While Labor also received $635,000 from Kingold Investments, which is owned by Chau Chak Wang. A British businessman, Lord Michael Ashcroft donated $250,000 to the Liberal Party(8). In terms of business donations, however, the Liberal Party outstripped Labor by more than 130%(9) in 2015/16:



Of course, it is not just the Chinese who are donating, however it is the Chinese who the Liberal Party has focussed on.

As Dastyari was preparing to resign from politics, Prime Minister Turnbull announced a crackdown on donations from foreign entities and non-citizens, amid warnings from ASIO of attempts by the Chinese government to influence Australian politics(10). So on one hand, the government accuses Dastyari of being influenced by China while denying any such influence within the Liberal Party, and then proposes a bill that specifically acknowledges attempts by China to influence the government while the Liberal Party has been happily accepting Chinese donations.

Political donations by businesses, foreign or domestic, should be banned. There are reasons that businesses donate so much money to political parties. Donations of this nature and magnitude are more commonly known as 'greasing the wheels'.

Business donations undermine the democratic process and instead of enhancing Australian society, actively work against the needs of the many for the interests of the few. The Liberal Party has also tried to ban union donations to the Labor Party. However, union donations are different to business donations. Firstly, Labor was formed out of the Union movement, so there is no great conspiracy or surreptitious relationship between unions and Labor ... as much as the Liberals try to make out that there is. Secondly, Unions are fighting for the rights of workers in the face of increasing interference in politics by businesses who are only interested in increasing their profits while paying workers as little as possible.

Is it any wonder that the Liberal Party has implemented heinous anti-worker laws, such as removing weekend penalty rates, reducing workers rights, low wages growth, and who can forget the destructive industrial relations legislation, Workchoices, under the Howard government which significantly disadvantaged workers and greatly favoured businesses. 10 years on and the Liberals persist with anti-worker policies(11). No wonder they target union donations while gleefully accepting business donations. Yet these short-sighted, profit-driven decisions have come back to bite businesses on their proverbial posteriors as Christmas spending is at its lowest since the Global Financial Crisis ten years ago(12).

While the Liberal Party has tried to maintain the high moral ground while attacking Sam Dastyari, their double standards could not be clearer. It is obvious that they are as tainted as anyone else in accepting donations. To claim that donations have not influenced decisions over the years is to play the electorate for mugs.

Australian democracy has been on sale to the highest bidders for years, greasing the palms of both Liberal and Labor.



References

1. The Sydney Morning Herald, Nick McKenzie, James Massola, Richard Baker, Labor senator Sam Dastyari warned wealthy Chinese donor Huang Xiangmo his phone was bugged, 29 November 2017, http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/labor-senator-sam-dastyari-warned-wealthy-chinese-donor-huang-xiangmo-his-phone-was-bugged-20171127-gzu14c.html. Accessed 17 December 2017.

2. ABC News, Quentin McDermott, Sam Dastyari 'tried to pressure' Tanya Plibersek not to meet with Chinese activist, 11 December 2017, http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-12-11/dastyari-tried-to-pressure-plibesek-over-chinese-meeting/9244600. Accessed 17 December 2017.

3. ABC News, Chris Uhlmann and Caitlyn Gribbin, Malcolm Turnbull orders inquiry following revelations ASIO warned parties about Chinese donations, 6 June 2017, http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-06-06/turnbull-orders-inquiry-following-revelation-asio-warned-parties/8592308. Accessed 17 December 2017.

4. ABC News, Anna Henderson and Stephanie Anderson, Sam Dastyari's Chinese donations: What are the accusations and is the criticism warranted?, 6 June 2017, http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-09-05/sam-dastyari-chinese-donations-furore-explained/7816588. Accessed 17 December 2017.

5. ABC News, Louise Yaxley, Huang Xiangmo: Federal Liberals defend dealings with Chinese businessman at centre of Dastyari's downfall, 12 December 2017, http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-12-12/liberals-defend-their-dealings-with-chinese-businessman/9251172. Accessed 17 December 2017.

6. The Courier, Eryk Bagshaw, Top Education: Company at centre of donations furore a beneficiary of streamlined visa program, 10 September 2016, http://www.thecourier.com.au/story/4155559/top-education-company-at-centre-of-donations-furore-a-beneficiary-of-streamlined-visa-program/. Accessed 17 December 2017.

7. ABC News, Rebecca Trigger, Chinese businessman subject of ASIO warning donated $200,000 to WA Liberals, 10 June 2017, http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-06-10/chinese-businessman-asio-warning-chau-chak-wing-wa-liberals/8607372. Accessed 17 December 2017.

8. The Sydney Morning Herald, Heath Aston, Matthew Knott and Inga Ting, Mystery Chinese donor Zi Chun Wang tops political donations with $850,000 gift to Labor, 2 February 2015, http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/mystery-chinese-donor-zi-chun-wang-tops-political-donations-with-850000-gift-to-labor-20150202-133ofe.html. Accessed 17 December 2017.

9. Australian Electoral Commission, 2015-16 annual financial disclosure returns published today, 1 February 2017, http://www.aec.gov.au/media/media-releases/2017/02-01.htm. Accessed 17 December 2017.

10. ABC News, Henry Belot, Malcolm Turnbull announces biggest overhaul of espionage, intelligence laws in decades, 5 December 2017,  http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-12-05/turnbull-announces-foreign-interference-laws/9227514. Accessed 17 December 2017.

11. ABC News, The Drum, Greg Jericho, 10 years on, the spirit of Workchoices still lives, 21 March 2016, http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-03-16/jericho-10-years-on,-the-spirit-of-workchoices-still-lives/7248368. Accessed 17 December 2017.

12. ABC News, Michael Janda, Consumer confidence dip points to unhappy Christmas for retailers, 22 November 2017, http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-11-15/consumer-confidence-points-to-unhappy-christmas-for-retailers/9152452. Accessed 17 December 2017.









Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Reds Under the Bed and the Axis of Leftists

Reds Under the Bed and the Axis of Leftists

It's no great secret that every political party has its 'talking points' for the week. They're easy to spot, because every time a member of that party is interviewed they'll use the same language and make the same points as each other.

One of the enduring talking points for Australia's Liberal and National Party coalition government is to accuse the Labor Party and the Greens of being Marxists, Leftists, socialists, communists ... and ... shock horror ... politically correct ...

Yes, ladies and gentlemen, when someone is being 'politically correct', run ... run like the wind ...

Political correctness is a savage beast that has come to slap a gag across our mouths, make boys dress as girls and have us all apologise to chickens for the hormones we inject in them. Scary.

Now, sadly there are some people who have accused the L/NP of living in the 1950s. What sort of rabid political correctness is this? Just because they believe that coal is the way of the future, and that copper wire is a good substitute for the more expensive fibre-optic cable, is no excuse to accuse of them of being 60 years behind the times.

So to prove that they aren't living in some pollution-riddled paradise with naught but rotary phones to communicate, they resurrect one of the greatest strategies of the mid-twentieth century: Reds Under the Bed.

Just when one thinks the L/NP couldn't get any more 50s, they completely knock it out of the park.

In almost every single interview, L/NP politicians are accusing the Labor Party, the Greens, and other dissenters, of being part of some great left-wing conspiracy. Not content to attack Unions, they have now turned their beady little bigotry on GetUp!, a politically independent activist organisation that dares to campaign for human rights, workers rights, marriage equality, and to challenge racism, bigotry and xenophobia at its roots. Apparently sticking up for the rights of people is part of a neo-Marxist agenda and political correctness gone mad. The government's attack on GetUp! is to claim it is a political 'associated entity', similar to the Unions, and therefore costing its political independence(1).

As an aside, if you wish to contribute to a legal expenses fund for GetUp! to defend itself against this unwarranted attack on its independence, please do so here: https://www.getup.org.au/campaigns/democracy/greatest-threat-to-getup/we-re-under-attack

This followed the biggest attack on the Union movement in 30 years(2), which was aimed at weakening workers' rights and destroying any form of collective power that could represent workers against unscrupulous employers. Instead, the government painted the Unions as being lawless, when employers have been abusing worker rights for years.

The Reds Under the Bed campaign of the 1950s, successfully demonised communism and convinced the gullible that communism was going to take over the world if mighty capitalism didn't conquer it.

The L/NP has resurrected the Reds Under the Bed scare-mongering, with illustrious MPs such as the Finance Minister, Mathias Corman, supported by a number of his colleagues, claiming that Labor leader Bill Shorten's economic agenda would lead Australia down the same path as East Germany and Cuba(3).

The government doesn't let up in its hyperbole, accusing Labor of the 'politics of envy'. Obviously singing from the same song-sheet, this was repeated by Corman(4), Treasurer Scott Morrison(5) and Prime Minister Turnbull, who ramped up the Reds Under the Bed campaign by maximising his bang for buck by accusing Shorten of being the 'most dangerous left-wing leader in generations' AND that 'he is a wholly-owned subsidiary of militant, left-wing unions who have no regard for the rights of others ...' (6). Apparently, wanting to share the wealth is envy, but wanting individuals to accumulate wealth by exploiting workers is not. Unions have no regard for the rights of others? Perhaps these conservative politicians could take a long hard look at themselves in the mirror ... or look at the innumerable businesses who are under-paying staff or denying employee entitlements, when they don't have Unions protecting workers.

Turnbull twisted the idea of equality by claiming that 'Labor's war on inequality is nothing more than a war on aspiration'. Meanwhile, the Liberal Party continues its war on wages. The coalition is using this Reds Under the Bed fear-mongering to dog-whistle the electorate into fearing unions, fearing Labor and worshiping the wealthy as their only means of attaining employment or economic security. Meanwhile, workers' rights continue to erode and wages stagnate(7).

In 2015, then Prime Minister Tony Abbott banned his front-benchers from appearing on Q&A because the show had allowed Zaky Mallah, to appear in the audience and ask a question. Mallah had been acquitted of terrorism charges in 2005, but had pleaded guilty to threatening to kidnap and kill Commonwealth officers. Mallah asked a question in relation to what would have happened had the Minister been deciding his case, rather than the courts. This was at a time when there was debate about having the Minister make the final call, rather than the courts. Abbott then described Q&A as a 'leftie lynch mob'(8). Regardless of the rights or wrongs of Mallah appearing, Abbott yet again had to dog-whistle the gullible with a derogatory comment about the left-wing.

In continuing the Reds Under the Bed dog-whistling, James McGrath, the Assistant Minister to the Prime Minister appeared on the ABC's Q&A on Monday 27 November 2017, where he launched a tirade against GetUp!, The Greens and Labor, claiming that the right-wing of politics was now facing an 'Axis of Leftists'. A claim he repeated a number of times, before culminating in an 'Armageddon of Leftists'(9). Was he trying to equate the left-wing with the Axis of Evil. Queue the scary music.



Everything that the Liberal or National Parties oppose is being branded as leftist, Marxist or politically-correct. National Party MP, George Christensen was one of many to brand the anti-bullying program, Safe Schools and Respectful Relationships, as being some sort of neo-Marxist gender theory. Christensen: 'We need to look at other methods that aren't originating in an ideology of queer gender theory, and let's be honest, Marxism'(10)

Former Labor leader, turned rabid right-wing apologist, Mark Latham wrote in his Daily Telegraph column, 'The craziest trend in Australian politics is to teach neo-Marxist genderless programs in our schools through the Orwellian-named Safe Schools and Building Respectful Relationships (BRR) curriculum'(11).  No, Mark, the crazy thing is labelling everything you disagree with as Marxist. Considering Marx espoused an economic theory that put the means of production in the hands of the workers, an anti-gay-bullying program does not qualify as Marxist ... neo or otherwise. There is nothing Orwellian in the naming of BRR as it was about ensuring schools would be safe from homophobic bullying ... such as we see from many of these politicians who attack it.

This is the standard that the Liberal and National Parties are bringing to the table; that the left-wing is full of evil Marxists who would turn Australia into Cuba or East Germany.

It is pure fear-mongering. It is aimed to manipulate the gullible with untruthful claims that turn workers against the very people who are fighting for their wages and rights, while driving them into the hands of those who would deny them those wages and rights.

More insidious and disturbing, is the dog-whistling of Marxism and leftist agendas to be used to justify homophobia, Islamophobia, xenophobia, racism, and straight out bigotry. We saw it during the Marriage Equality survey, where Yes campaigners were portrayed as neo-Marxists, we see it in the attacks on those who defend the rights of asylum seekers and refugees, the attacks on those who campaign for indigenous rights.

An article in the Cairns Post claimed that practically every element of our lives was being attacked by Marxists, including marriage, police, education, gender, religion, and crime. According to the article the only anti-Marxist crusaders in Australian parliament were Cory Bernardi, David Leyonhjelm, Pauline Hanson, the now defunct Malcolm Roberts(12). Each one of these is a disgrace to parliament and an insult to democracy as they attack many of the people who make up the Australian population. Leyonhjelm is currently attempting to have Milo Yiannopoulos address a gathering at Parliament House(13). Yiannopoulos is a well-known racist, xenophobe, misogynist and pedophile-apologist(14). Hanson is well-known for her hateful comments against indigenous people, Asians and Muslims(15). Bernardi is well-known for his hateful and false claims against Islam and Muslims, his raging against homosexuality and linking it to bestiality, and his demonising of asylum seekers(16).  And Roberts? Well, he had a spectacular fall from grace after being found ineligible to sit in parliament because of being a dual citizen. This was welcomed by many, as Roberts expressed his bizarre conspiracy theories on government and climate change.

Sadly, this is where the Liberal and National Parties are taking us. All their dog-whistling and fear-mongering about Marxism is driving people into the waiting arms of extreme right-wing parties such as One Nation. The 2017 Queensland election saw a 13% swing to One Nation, 20% in some areas, and most of that was from disenfranchised Liberal National Party voters. Ironically, One Nation struggled to win a single seat, and the swing to them took the LNP down as well.

While the LNP and One Nation try to blame Labor for this, part of it has to rest with the constant fear-mongering about Marxism which is resulting in people truly believing that extremists such as Hanson and Bernardi are the only way to innoculate society against it.

Masking the attacks on Labor and the Greens as an attack on neo-Marxism is disingenuous and dangerous. The real attack is on the people; on indigenous rights, workers' rights, refugees, Muslims. The scare-mongering is dividing the people against themselves. Workers are hating Unions, non-Muslims are hating Muslims, straight people are hating LGBTIQ people, non-indigenous Australians are demonising indigenous people ... and on it goes. Meanwhile, while the electorate's energy and passion is directed at hating others, the government continues to undermine the rights of us all, including attacking our freedom of speech and expression as we see with the incessant attacks on the ABC, SBS and now GetUp!

The right-wing may be scaring itself stupid with fear of the left and launching into paroxysms of rage with every claim of Marxism (neo or otherwise), yet the biggest threat is the slide towards the ultra-right-wing, where diversity is not tolerated or celebrated.

Margaret Atwood, author of The Handmaid's Tale, a dystopian novel of a theocratic USA, succinctly describes the demonisation of 'others', when she said, 'Heroes need monsters to establish their credentials. You need something scary to overcome'. The L/NP has been demonising others for years. It is the only way they can portray themselves as the heroes, the saviours of modern Australia.

It is this turning of Australians against each other by attacking human rights, that will usher in an end to the freedoms that Australia enjoys, and it is this that Australians should all be standing up against - as one!


References

1. The Sydney Morning Herald, Adam Gartrell, GetUp! readies for court battle over bid to link it to Labor and the Greens, 23 October 2017, http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/activist-group-getup-readies-for-court-battle-against-coalition-investigation-20171021-gz5nyg.html. Accessed 28 November 2017.

2. The Guardian, Patrick Wintour, Biggest crackdown on trade unions for 30 years launched by Conservatives, 15 July 2016, https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2015/jul/15/trade-unions-conservative-offensive-decades-strikes-labour. Accessed 28 November 2017.

3. The Australian, Greg Brown, Bill Shorten 'will turn us into Cuba', 27 August 2017, http://www.theaustralian.com.au/national-affairs/bill-shorten-will-turn-us-into-cuba/news-story/a8545f0f3045b68c6e63ab434803d0d2. Accessed 28 November 2017.

4. News.com.au, staff writer, Finance Minister Mathias Cormann slams Bill Shorten's 'communist' economic policy, 24 August 2017, http://www.news.com.au/national/politics/finance-minister-mathias-cormann-slams-bill-shortens-communist-economic-policy/news-story/d1134a0aa6f3b19ebc4f72f8cca2fcaf. Accessed 28 November 2017.

5. SBS,  Source: AAP, Shorten chasing politics of envy: Treasurer, 24 July 2017, http://www.sbs.com.au/news/article/2017/07/24/shorten-chasing-politics-envytreasurer. Accessed 28 November 2017.

6. The Sydney Morning Herald, Amy Remeikis, Bill Shorten the 'most dangerous left wing leader in generations', says Malcolm Turnbull, 12 August 2017, http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/bill-shorten-the-most-dangerous-left-wing-leader-in-generations-says-malcolm-turnbull-20170812-gxuug0.html. Accessed 28 November 2017.

7. The Sydney Morning Herald, Anna Patty, War on wages: Australians are working harder and going backwards, 5 August 2017, http://www.smh.com.au/business/workplace-relations/war-on-wages-australians-are-working-harder-and-going-backwards-20170803-gxoh9c.html. Accessed 28 November 2017.

8. The Sydney Morning Herald, Matthew Knott, Q&A fallout: Tony Abbott orders frontbench ministers to boycott ABC show, 6 July 2015, http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/qa-fallout-tony-abbott-orders-frontbench-ministers-to-boycott-abc-show-20150705-gi5olb.html. Accessed 28 November 2017.

9. ABC, Q&A, Royal Commission and Election Results, 27 November 2017, http://www.abc.net.au/tv/qanda/txt/s4752801.htm, Accessed 27 November 2017.

10. ABC, Michael Bradley, The problem with evoking Marxism in the Safe Schools debate, 24 March 2016, http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-03-24/bradley-marxism-and-safe-schools/7272764. Accessed 28 November 2017.

11. The Daily Telegraph, Mark Latham, From reason to radicalism: Gender fluidity, 31 May 2016, https://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/news/opinion/from-reason-to-radicalism-gender-fluidity/news-story/832eb330f1e68c0af8ab37521dc402d7. Accessed 28 November 2017.

12. The Cairns Post, Julian Tomlinson, Marxism aims to destroy conventional society ... and it's happening every day, 29 June 2017, http://www.cairnspost.com.au/news/opinion/marxism-aims-to-destroy-conventional-society-and-its-happening-every-day/news-story/368944a48185fd9f208aca6cb8557a48. Accessed 28 November 2017.

13. SBS, Source AAP-SBS, Greens want to ban alt-right figure Milo Yiannopoulos, 28 November 2017, http://www.sbs.com.au/news/article/2017/11/28/greens-want-ban-alt-right-figure-milo-yiannopoulos. Accessed 28 November 2017.

14. Anti-Defamation League, Milo Yiannopoulos: Five Things to Know, https://www.adl.org/education/resources/backgrounders/milo-yiannopoulos-five-things-to-know. Accessed 28 November 2017.

15. Huffpost, Josh Butler, Pauline Hanson Says She's Never Said Anything Racist Ever, 29 March 2017, http://www.huffingtonpost.com.au/2017/03/29/pauline-hanson-says-shes-never-said-anything-racist-ever_a_22016461/. Accessed 28 November 2017.

16. ABC, Ashlynne McGhee, Cory Bernardi: Where does the Senator stand on key issues?, 6 February 2017, http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-02-06/cory-bernardi-profile-who-is-he-and-where-does-he-stand/8244040. Accessed 28 November 2017.