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Saturday, May 4, 2019

Dividend imputations: tax paid twice, paid once, not paid at all.

Dividend imputations: tax paid twice, paid once, not paid at all.

by Ranting Panda


Imagine this. You earn $100,000 a year and pay no tax, so the government says, 'hey, you paid no tax here's an extra $4,000'.

Is this cool? Probably if you're the recipient, but is it fair for people who are paying tax? Is it fair on the economy which needs to fund more important things, like hospitals, schools, law and order, and pensions for retired people with no other source of income.

You know a federal election is in the air when the Liberal National Party rolls out one of their scare campaigns. Their go-to fear compaigns are refugees and taxation. The LNP will claim that under a Labor government, Australia will be swamped by 'illegal' refugees and burdened by heavy taxes. Yes, I know that refugees by definition are not illegal, but this doesn't stop the LNP screeching about it. Similarly, many of Labor's policies are not taxes, but that doesn't stop the LNP lying about them and calling them a tax. Who can forget the 'carbon tax' boondoggle, in which companies paid for their carbon emissions. LNP knew it wasn't a tax because it wasn't under the Tax Act. If you pay a toll for using a toll-road is that a tax? Of course not. Similarly, paying a price for carbon emissions is not a tax. The woman behind this charade was Peta Credlin, Chief of Staff to the feckless Tony Abbott, who went on to become Prime Minister. In 2017, Credlin admitted there was no carbon tax; it was just the LNP playing 'retail politics'.

Fast forward to the 2019 federal election campaign. The LNP is again wallowing in retail politics by accusing Labor of burdening retirees with a ... wait for it ... 'Retiree Tax'. This is an even bigger lie than the carbon tax one, because, unlike the carbon PRICE, this policy will not ask anyone to pay money. In fact, it saves tax-payers money. Pretty cheeky then for the LNP to claim it is a tax.

Let me break down what the Labor Party policy is about. In a nutshell, Labor is going to end tax refunds being paid to non-tax-payers for share dividends. Considering, that conservatives are always bleating about welfare and paying money to people who don't pay tax, you'd think they'd be in favour of this ... but no. They'll be the first to argue against socialism, saying it redistributes money from workers to people who don't deserve it. And yet here we are; conservatives demanding government use other people's money to refund tax that retirees haven't paid. Oh, the irony.

Labor's policy refers to dividend imputations, which work like this. You hold shares in a company and every six months, the company pays you a dividend IF the company makes a profit. IF the company makes a profit, they pay tax on it. Then the dividends are paid to shareholders, who declare this as part of their income which they also pay tax on. Who can spot the glaring issue with this? The company paid tax on the profit and the shareholder paid tax on the dividend paid from the profit, so the profit has been taxed twice. To end this little discrepancy, the Labor government under Prime Minister Bob Hawke and Treasurer Paul Keating in 1987, introduced dividend imputations, in which the dividend included an imputation equivalent to the tax already paid. Shareholders then declare the imputation on their tax return, which reduces their taxable income. With me?

But what happens if the tax you owe is less than the dividend imputation? Well, the balance is called an excess dividend imputation and under the Hawke/Keating model, this meant that there was no tax off-set or refund.

In 2001, the Liberal government under Prime Minister John Howard and Treasurer Peter Costello, changed the rules to allow for a cash refund for these excess dividend imputations. This particularly affected retirees receiving superannuation payments which are tax free for people over 60. Australia's tax free threshold is currently $18,200 per annum. If you have a taxable income less than this, then you pay no tax. As a result, many retirees with self-funded superannuation (which is tax free), therefore have a taxable income less than $18,200, so have no tax liability and are therefore entitled to 100% of their imputation credits. So, say a dividend has a 40% imputation on it, and the shareholder had taxable income below the tax-free threshold, they would get the entire 40% paid back to them. Not a bad little earn, huh? Oh, you just received a $10,000 dividend while paying no tax, cool, here's an extra $4,000 to go with it.

(Keep in mind that the World Bank declared Howard to be the most profligate Prime Minister for the last 40 years, because of wasteful spending sprees like this one that cost billions of dollars while adding no value to Australia's economy or infrasture).

If you need this displayed graphically, check out the following video. Note, that stills from the video are provided at the end of this article.





Can anyone see the glaring rort available in the current system?

A retiree with no income, but a bucketload of money in a superannuation account, can effectively have a very small or nil tax liability, so receives a cash refund on the excess dividend imputations. This effectively means the excess imputation has gone straight from the company's profit to the shareholder, without any tax being retained by the government. If the government doesn't receive the tax, then they can't do more important stuff, like fund hospitals and schools.

How big a problem is this? It is $6 billion worth of a problem. $6 billion is more than what the government spends on public schools and child care.

Labor's policy is to end this in a fair way by allowing the dividend imputations to reduce the shareholders tax liability and ending the cash payment if someone is paying no tax. That is the bottom line. Yet, the LNP is marketing this is a 'Retiree Tax' to scare the daylights out of people who are actually being disadvantaged by the LNP's current system and who would benefit from Labor's policy.

Labor has written into their policy a Pensioner Guarantee which will enable pensioners to receive the cash refund. This will protect around 320,000 pensioners from being impacted by this policy, while targeting those wealthier retirees who are not on the pension. Labor's policy will mean that those who receive no pension and who pay little or no tax, will not receive a tax refund if their dividend imputations exceed the tax they paid.

What is wrong with Labor's policy? Nothing. In fact, it is smart economic practice. While the LNP questions Labor's financial capability, it continues irresponsibly defending the payment of $6 billion to people who are effectively exploiting a tax loophole. The LNP have misleadingly argued that Labor's policy will affect Australia's lowest paid, however, they base this on taxable income. Superannuation payments to people over 60 are not taxed, so of course recipients have low taxable income. The Grattan Institute calculated the taxable incomes of people over 65 by removing their superannuation payments and found that the wealthiest 10% had reported taxable income of less than the $18,200 tax-free threshold. In other words, the wealthiest retirees are paying zero tax while receiving significant funds from superannuation and being paid franking credits because their dividend imputations exceed their tax liability. Talk about double-dipping.


Some people have argued that retirees deserve this money because they paid tax all their lives. This makes no sense. The pension is payable for people if they need it and is available to people who paid tax all their lives, however, cash refunds on excess dividend imputations is taking money out of the hands of everyday Australians to fund the lifestyles of the wealthy. More than 80% of the cash refunds paid go to the wealthiest 20% of retirees. The Parliamentary Budget Office revealed that in 2014/15, more than a quarter of these refunds claimed, went to 33,761 self-funded superannuation funds with balances exceeding $2.4 million.

Why would the LNP continue to support this extortionate abuse of taxpayers' funds?

Why would the LNP attack pensions and welfare, while allowing wealthier people to rip-off Australian tax-payers?

Why would the LNP call Labor's policy a tax, when it is ending a tax rort?

The double-dipping into tax-payer funds by the wealthy must end to ensure a fairer tax system for Australians.




Bibliography

Chris Bowen 2019, A fairer tax system: Dividend imputation reform, viewed 3 May 2019, https://www.chrisbowen.net/issues/labors-dividend-imputation-policy/.

Denniss, R 2015, 'Peter Costello's five most 'profligate' decisions as treasurer cost the budget $56bn a year', 15 April, viewed 3 May 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2015/apr/15/peter-costellos-five-most-profligate-decisions-as-treasurer-cost-the-budget-56bn-a-year.

Di Stefano, M 2017, 'Here's the audio of Peta Credlin admitting the last seven years of politics is based on total crap', The Guardian, 15 February, viewed 3 May 2019, https://www.buzzfeed.com/markdistefano/whats-the-point-of-australian-politics.

Labor 2019, Dividend imputation credits - the truth about Labor's policy on dividend imputation credits, viewed 3 May 2019, https://www.alp.org.au/other/dividend-imputation-credits/.

RMIT ABC Fact Check 2019, 'Will Labor's dividend imputation policy overwhelmingly affect the low paid?', ABC News, 19 March, viewed 4 May 2019, https://www.abc.net.au/news/2019-01-30/fact-check-labors-dividend-imputation-policy/10626204.

SBS News 2017, Carbon tax just brutal politics: Credlin, 12 February, viewed 3 May 2019, https://www.sbs.com.au/news/carbon-tax-just-brutal-politics-credlin.


https://www.abc.net.au/news/2019-01-30/fact-check-labors-dividend-imputation-policy/10626204






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Saturday, April 6, 2019

Pentecostalism – taking Christ out of Christianity

Pentecostalism – taking Christ out of Christianity

By guest blogger, Willz

The first time I heard the word Pentecostal was when my older cousin became one. I was 13 at the time and thought she was nuts. She kept equating the newly invented bar codes with “the mark of the beast”. More out of curiosity than anything, I went to church with her to see what it was all about and as a result, I was quickly lured into the church, boots and all. I was “born again”, baptised in water and then baptised in the holy Spirit, which supposedly gave one the ability to heal people, speak in tongues and prophesy. I studied the bible with a fervour, poring over every detail, determined to become a preacher and help spread the Word ...

I kept hearing Pentecostals talk about them being the only true Christian church, yet the racism and religious bigotry never seemed to bother anyone. Apparently, because we were part of the one true religion, we were always right and everyone else was going to hell.

It was only after spending some time away from the church’s influence that I started looking at their beliefs in a more objective way and started questioning all I had been told. Having to be born again to avoid hell never sat well with me as I wondered why people who had never heard the message deserved to go to hell.

I slowly started drifting away from the church as I came to the realisation that many of their doctrines were not biblical and their self-righteous racism and religious bigotry really started to bother me. One of the heroes of the Pentecostal movement is evangelist Franklin Graham, who recently toured Australia. Many Pentecostals attended his rallies. Franklin Graham has openly supported the racist policies of Donald Trump. Graham’s support for Trump crosses over into idolatry as he treats Trump like the Messiah (Zwartz 2019). Perhaps the best comment about Graham comes from American Baptist leader, Russell Moore, who stated that the problem with Franklin Graham is that “the Religious Right turns out to be the people the Religious Right warned us about” (Zwartz 2019). Without a doubt, Pentecostals, who are part of the Religious Right, represent everything that they claim they stand against. They claim to be a religion of love, yet their hatred of others is overt.



Is it any wonder that Graham and evangelicals in general, are so racist when their particular brand of Christianity is rooted in the racism and hate-crimes of America’s deep south during the 19th century. Graham thanks God for the victories of the white Christians (Redemptionists) of the 19th century, who used violence often unleashed by the Ku Klux Klan, in the fight against “Negro rule” because they claimed it was immoral (Barber II 2016). This hatred, this bigotry still permeates the psyche of evangelical, Pentecostal Christians today and manifests in their behaviour, in their support and idolising of racists and Islamophobes such as Trump, Abbott, Morrison, Hanson, Bernardi and so on.

The final straw for me was when I sat through a sermon on prosperity which claimed that god would reward his faithful Pentecostals with boundless riches if they prayed hard enough, gave enough to the church and isolated themselves from “worldly people” (i.e. non-Pentecostals). Apparently those in developing countries are not as deserving even though they pray harder and often have greater faith and reliance on god. Go figure!

After marrying a divorced non-Christian lady, I was cut off from my family who were Pentecostals. They said I would not be part of the family until I left my new wife and came back to the church. Thirty years on and they’re still waiting, hopefully they didn’t hold their breaths. Now I was away from the church’s influence I started to see for myself what a sad group of self-serving racist, religious bigots they were. Infidelities by Pentecostal preachers were starting to come out in the press and I quickly realised it was a case of “do as I say not what I do”.

Having time to read the bible and reflect on its contents without anyone trying to twist it for me, I quickly realised that many of their core beliefs had no basis in scripture. Speaking in tongues is nothing more than incoherent rambling also known as glossolalia, described by linguists as “the fluid vocalizing of speech-like syllables that lack any readily comprehended meaning”. It sounds like unintelligible gibberish but is supposedly a sign of being “baptized in the holy spirit”. Healing is another of their favourite doctrines, but I never saw anyone actually cured of anything even when multiple people laid hands on and prayed for them.

I could go on about how messed up their beliefs are, but even a cursory glance at their history and beliefs on google will have you shaking your head in disbelief. As their movement becomes more openly racist and Islamophobic their hypocrisy needs to be challenged. If there was any doubt about how far removed they are from the teachings of Jesus, their support of a white supremacist, Islamophobic bigoted president that has broken all ten of the commandments several times over. Yet, they claim Trump is a man of god! Are they serious?

Emboldened by Christian preachers openly supporting a white supremacist president, white supremacist Nazis have been attacking Muslim communities, injuring and killing innocent Muslims. Recently there was the murder of 50 innocent people attending Mosques in Christchurch by a white supremacist. While most people expressed sadness and outrage, some right wing politicians tried blaming the massacre on Islamic Immigration and as disgusting as that is, it was a position supported by Pentecostal preachers who treat Islam as an evil cult. They argue that they hate Islam but love Muslims, which makes as much sense as claiming they are loving Christians. They are just hypocritical xians who’ve taken the Christ out of Christianity.

Do not be deceived, Pentecostals and evangelical churches are not Christian. They do not follow Jesus’s example of charity and humility. They follow their own twisted version of scripture by preaching, hatred intolerance and greed. They have nothing in common with true Christians at all. They supported the illegal invasion of Iraq and then complain about people wanting to emigrate from war-torn countries because they are Muslim.

It should be obvious to even the most casual observer that these are the people who we should fear, and not Muslims. Their open hatred for Muslims and anyone who isn’t a white Christian is empowering violent Nazis to commit acts of terrorism like the one in Christchurch. They have blood on their hands and have shown no sympathy for the victims at all.

The bible warns against “wolves in sheep’s clothing” they are the wolves and Muslims are the sheep.



References

Barber II, WJ 2016, ‘The racist history of Southern white evangelicalism and the rise of Donald Trump’, The Washington Post, 23 November, viewed 5 April 2019, https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/acts-of-faith/wp/2016/11/23/the-racist-roots-of-white-evangelicalism-and-the-rise-of-donald-trump/.

Zwartz, B 2019, ‘Franklin Graham walks in his father’s footsteps – and Trump’s shadow’, The Sydney Morning Herald, 9 February, viewed 5 April 2019, https://www.smh.com.au/national/franklin-graham-walks-in-his-father-s-footsteps-and-trump-s-shadow-20190204-p50vj0.html.

Saturday, March 23, 2019

Weaponising the flag, Islamophobia & white supremacy

Weaponising the flag, Islamophobia & white supremacy



Back in the 1990s, Prime Minister John Howard hit on a winning formula that ensured election success, guaranteeing he would be Australia's longest serving prime minister. The formula: weaponise xenophobia by wrapping it in Christianity and the Australian flag! Since then, the LNP has weaponised fear of refugees, Muslims, Asians, indigenous people, welfare, socialism ... kind of sounds like they've been reading Mein Kampf. Weaponised? They have used it to justify an illegal invasion in Iraq based on lies about weapons of mass destruction. This killed hundreds of thousands of innocent people and gave rise to ISIS. The LNP has used their weaponisation of xenophobia to justify the indefinite and illegal detention and torture of innocent people on remote islands.

Following the tragic massacre in Christchurch, where 50 innocent Muslims were gunned down by an Australian white-supremacist, many people pointed out just how weaponised hate-speech had become under the LNP and their fringe nutcase politicians, such as Fraser (Mr 19 votes) Anning, Pauline Hanson's One Nation and Cory Bernardi's whatever his party is called.

On 21 March 2019, Prime Minister Scott Morrison was interviewed on Network 10's The Project by Waleed Aly, amidst accusations that Morrison had suggested to the Liberal Party in a shadow cabinet meeting in 2011, that the party should use Islamophobic fears in the community to their political advantage. In other words, stoke fear and hatred of Muslims and appear like they are the only party who can protect Australia from Islam. Perennial deadshit racist, Pauline Hanson of the One Neuron Party, declared Islam to be a virus that needs to be vaccinated against. This is where Australian politics is at.

Morrison denied for years that he had ever mentioned Islamophobia in that shadow cabinet meeting, despite two people who were there confirming that he did suggest taking advantage of Islamophobia. In the interview with Waleed Aly, Morrison finally admitted that he had mentioned Islamophobia in the meeting, but only to ask the party to lower the temperature on it. Now, if this was true, then surely we would have seen fewer attacks on Muslims by LNP members. Instead, they ramped up the vitriole against refugees and Muslims.

Even during the interview with Waleed Aly, Morrison continued to make his claim that refugees on Manus Island and Nauru comprised of rapists and murderers. Waleed pressed him for numbers and Morrison said there were around 60 with 'character' concerns. Under further pressure from Waleed, Morrison admitted that not all with 'character' issues were murderers or rapists, but refused to give a number. Just like Trump declaring the refugees on the US southern border to be 'very bad people', Morrison is continuing to maintain this generalised rhetoric to label refugees on Manus and Nauru, who are predominantly Muslim, as murders and rapists. This is dehumanisation, it is racism, it is Islamophobia. In the interview, he stated that under Labor these people would be living in the general community. Fear-mongering at its most raw to position the LNP as the great saviours of Australia. This was during an interview when Morrison tried to claim he did not suggest the LNP should exploit Islamophobia. Morrison's actions speak far louder than his hollow and deceitful words!

This Islamophobia extended to demanding that Australian Muslims apologise for terrorist attacks across the globe. Australia's Grand Mufti was accused many times over the years since that shadow cabinet meeting, of not doing enough to combat terrorism or of expressing appropriate contrition. Following an Islamist terrorist attack in Paris in 2015, Morrison condemned the Grand Mufti for not being contrite enough and for daring to suggest that racism, Islamophobia and unwarranted military interventions in Muslim countries were to blame. Even though the Grand Mufti had been condemning terrorism for years, Morrison and others in the LNP forced him to issue a further statement directly condemning the Paris attacks (Donelly 2015, Jones 2016).

Then in 2018, when a Muslim man stabbed another man to death in Melbourne in an attempted terrorist attack originally aimed at a tram, the Grand Mufti was again called on by Morrison to condemn terrorism (Clench 2018).

Contrast this with the terrorist attack in Christchurch that killed 50 Muslims. No leading Muslims called on leading Christian or Australian figures to condemn it. Of course, many of those leaders did issue some sort of statement condemning the terrorist and offering condolences. Was this enough? Well, let's look at what followed. Morrison continued demonising refugees, he refused to rule out a preference deal with One Nation, he refused to rule out preferencing One Nation or Senator Fraser Anning below Labor and the Greens in the upcoming federal election, even though both have been extremely racist and Islamophobic. Anning in particular, continued his anti-Islam hate-speech after the Christchurch terrorist attack. It's almost like Morrison is trying not to offend his extreme right-wing base. One could be mistaken for thinking it is a type of right-wing political correctness, in which one dare not use the racism word ... or bigotry word or white supremacy words or Nazi word ... for fear of offending racists who don't like being called racists, or bigots who don't like being called bigots, or Nazis who don't like being called Nazis, or Islamophobes who don't like being called out for what they really are.

What did the community do following the Christchurch massacres? Thankfully, many Australians turned out in support of Muslims and attended vigils and rallies across the country condemning racism, Islamophobia, and right-wing extremism.

But there were those who felt it was a good time to misrepresent old stories of Islamist attacks or massacres. One such article regarded ISIS bombing a Catholic church in the Philippines, which was accompanied by the inflammatory comments that it happened a day after the Christchurch attack and was not covered by the media. Unfortunately, it is true that the bombing occurred. However, it happened in January, seven weeks before Christchurch, and received significant media attention (Evon 2019). The bombing is clearly horrendous, so what does it say about those who would exploit it and lie about it to whip up fear and hatred of innocent Muslims also killed by a terrorist?

Further to this, many Christians shared a report from Breitbart and the Christian Post that claimed Muslims had murdered 120 Christians in Nigeria. Again, this was a tragedy that did happen, but why share it now when it happened in mid-2018? Both Breitbart and the Christian Post failed to mention that the week before that attack, Christians had massacred 130 Muslims. Both these questionable journals also conveniently ignored the fact that these massacres had little to do with religion and a lot more to do with farmers and herdsmen (who just happened to be of different ethnic and religious backgrounds) clashing over access to natural resources, such as water (MacGuill 2019).

People are sharing these tragedies to distract from the Christchurch massacre and to dehumanise the victims, to paint them as possibly deserving of being massacred. They are terrorism-apologists, condoning by their words and actions, the terrorist attack in Christchurch. Where is their contrition and condemnation of the Christchurch terrorist attack when they express their sympathy one minute, and the next are sharing old and inaccurate news to dehumanise Muslims. Since the Christchurch massacre, there was an attack on a Mosque in Australia (Garcia 2019)  and a surge in attacks on Muslims in the UK (Dodd 2019).

 Why do people choose now to share months-old Islamist attacks? It's part of the dehumanisation of Muslims by terrorist-apologists raised on normalised language of hate by politicians who weaponise the flag purely for political point-scoring. If these people are so concerned about terrorism, why weren't they campaigning for an end to illegal wars and sponsoring of terrorism, for the protection of the victims of terrorism & persecution? Because they'd rather spread hate and fear than actually do something productive. They'd rather persecute the victims then help them. This is what happens when the government weaponises xenophobia for political power.

New Zealand Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern, showed true and heartfelt leadership by embracing the Muslim community following the Christchurch terrorist attack, and ensuring they knew that they were welcomed and loved and that her deepest sympathies were with them, while she stood bravely and staunchly against the hatred that drove the right-wing terrorist; the very hatred that many of Australia's right-wing politicians have been voicing for years. Ardern is a true leader, while Australia is left with Morrison, an incompetent and racist politician. Comparing Ardern and Morrison is like comparing Barack Obama to Donald Trump, or a highly intelligent PhD candidate to a petulant, six year old child chucking a temper tantrum for wetting his pants. Meanwhile, Ardern has received death threats from Islamophobes (Harvey 2019).

Australian politics has normalised and weaponised hate speech. It is so bad, that those who stand up for refugees, Islam, and who dare to question the malicious racism espoused by right-wing politicians and media, are considered to be traitors. In a country that fought Nazis in the war, those who now question hate-speech and neo-Nazi ideology are considered traitors. White supremacists think of themselves as patriots. Think about that. Take all the time you need.

When politicians and the media continue attacking Islam, continue demonising minorities, continue spreading fear and hate, and even employing Nazi enthusiasts (Hasham 2019), there's clearly no contrition over the role they've played in the radicalising of the Australian coward who massacred 50 unarmed, peaceful people (including a three year old child) because of the hatred & fear instilled in him by this xenophobic hate-speech.

This matters.

Why?

The Grand Mufti and other Islamic leaders have called out the abuse that Muslims have suffered in Australia, both physically and verbally. Ibrahim Abu Mohamed, Grand Mufti of Australia and New Zealand, has stated that he 'partly blamed the killings on the "hate that some media reflect in its handling of Muslims ... They always portray Muslims as violent terrorist".' (Baker 2019).

Check where these politicians and media deadbeats sit on the hierarchy of white supremacy. They are not in some periphery where they have no influence. Instead, they are well advanced on the path to white supremacy, they are enabling and empowering white supremacists and far-right extremists. As the pyramid shows, Australia is at the upper-end of normalising white supremacy through government policy, rhetoric and media reports falling easily within the 'Discrimination' field. Some people have crossed over into the 'Violence' field by attacking Muslims and Mosques. This should be a concern to most Australians. Instead, far too many will continue sharing inaccurate media reports to spread fear and hate to detract from the mass murder committed in Christchurch.

Source: Olsen (2019)

It should be kept in mind that people can change. In New Zealand, we've seen Ardern, various non-Muslim politicians, media identities and police, wearing hijabs, while Islamic prayers are recited in parliament and people have come together like never before. This is encouraging. In Australia, there are people who have realised that maybe the hate-speech here has also gone too far and they are finally seeing the bigotry behind the policies of federal LNP.





Tom Olsen, a former neo-Nazi, explains that his beliefs were turned around through an act of kindness by a black South African man. Since then, he has worked with police to combat right-wing extremism. He has met hundreds of former white supremacists and each one has a similar story, that they turned from their racist ways when they experienced kindness from those they hated (Olsen 2019).

Those who claim they are not racist or white-supremacist, but are quick to respond to the Christchurch massacre by sharing further hatred of Muslims, need to take a long hard look at their values. They are indicating that the victims deserved to be murdered because they're Muslim. How does that make them any better than the coward who perpetrated the Christchurch massacre? Those who portray Islam as a religion of violence, while themselves calling for violence against Muslims, are no better than the Islamist extremists that they claim to oppose.

If people really want to combat terrorism, then they can start by not blaming innocent people.



Australia's ingrained racism goes back centuries to white settlement which resulted in massacres and genocide of Australia's indigenous population. Through this time, many white Australians have lived in fear of those who are different, fearing a loss of their Caucasian culture. Yet, Australia is the most successful multi-cultural nation in the world, which provides so much opportunity to experience the enjoyment and beauty that every culture has. Rather than denouncing and rejecting multiculturalism, surely, it is to be celebrated and embraced!

References

Baker, N 2019, 'Muslims in Australia say there are lessons to be learnt after the New Zealand mosque attacks', SBS News, 15 March, viewed 22 March 2019, https://www.sbs.com.au/news/demonised-constantly-australian-muslims-slam-politicians-media-in-wake-of-nz-attacks.

Clench, S 2018, ''Making excuses': Scott Morrison doubles down in response to Bourke Street attack', News.com.au, 13 November, viewed 22 March 2019, https://www.news.com.au/national/making-excuses-scott-morrison-doubles-down-in-response-to-bourke-street-attack/news-story/2c49a431ce596ebb112ebc943a53dac1.

Dodd, V 2019, 'Anti-Muslim hate crimes soar in UK after Christchurch shootings', The Guardian, 23 March, viewed 23 March 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/society/2019/mar/22/anti-muslim-hate-crimes-soar-in-uk-after-christchurch-shootings.

Donelly, B 2015, 'Paris attacks: Grand Mufti 'has condemned terrorism all his life'', The Sydney Morning Herald, 17 November, viewed 22 March 2019, https://www.smh.com.au/national/mufti-slammed-over-paris-attacks-comments-20151117-gl0x8e.html.

Evon, D 2019, 'Did Muslim Terrorists Bomb a Church in the Philippines “Yesterday,” Killing 30 Christians?', Snopes, 18 March, viewed 22 March 2019, https://www.snopes.com/fact-check/muslim-terrorists-bomb-philippines/.

Garcia, J 2019, 'Man allegedly rams car into gates, shouts offensive words outside Queensland mosque', Brisbane Times, 17 March, viewed 17 March 2019, https://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/national/queensland/man-rams-car-into-gates-and-shouts-offensive-words-outside-qld-mosque-20190317-p514vu.html

Harvey, M 2019, 'Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has received death threats on social media', New Zealand Herald, 22 March 2019, viewed 22 March 2019, https://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=12215418.

Hasham, N 2019, 'Fraser Anning staffer and alleged Nazi enthusiast employed by Home Affairs', The Sydney Morning Herald, 22 March, viewed 22 March 2019, https://www.smh.com.au/politics/federal/fraser-anning-staffer-and-alleged-nazi-enthusiast-employed-by-home-affairs-20190321-p51698.html.

Jones, C 2016, 'Factcheck Q&A: has the Grand Mufti of Australia condemned terrorist attacks overseas?', The Conversation, 22 July, viewed 22 March 2019, http://theconversation.com/factcheck-qanda-has-the-grand-mufti-of-australia-condemned-terrorist-attacks-overseas-62688.

MacGuill, D 2019, 'Did ‘Muslim Militants’ Kill 120 Christians in Nigeria in February/March 2019?', Snopes, 19 March, viewed 20 March 2019, https://www.snopes.com/fact-check/nigeria-christians-muslims/.

Olsen, T 2019, 'How a simple act of kindness from a stranger ended my career as a neo-Nazi', SBS News, 21 March, viewed 22 March 2019, https://www.sbs.com.au/news/insight/how-a-simple-act-of-kindness-from-a-stranger-ended-my-career-as-a-neo-nazi.







Monday, March 18, 2019

The terrorism empowered by far-right politics, media and religion


The terrorism empowered by far-right politics, media and religion



On 15 March 2019, an Australian far-right, white supremacist massacred 50 innocent Muslims at two mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand. Prior to the massacre, this terrorist released a rambling manifesto that he called 'The Great Replacement'. To be frank, it sounds like the maiden speech of Pauline Hanson or Fraser Anning ... or a poor translation of Mein Kampf. It blamed Muslim migration for the woes of the western world. His manifesto acknowledged US President Donald Trump as a 'symbol of renewed white identity and common purpose'. 

That he was Australian is no surprise. Australia has become known globally for the hate-fuelled, fear-mongering, far-right rhetoric and actions of many of its politicians. Hence his manifesto sounded so similar to the garbage spouted by politicians such as current prime minister Scott Morrison, former prime ministers, Tony Abbott and John Howard, and a raft of front-, back- and cross-benchers, such as Petter Dutton, Pauline Hanson, Fraser Anning, Cory Bernardi, and George Christensen, to name but a few. It's not just rhetoric. Australia has imprisoned innocent asylum seekers and UN-declared refugees indefinitely without charge and tortured them, confining them to remote islands; out of sight, out of mind (Doherty and Hurst 2015). A generation forgotten and abused so conservatives can harvest the votes of xenophobes.

For years, conservative politicians, media and voters have been accusing Islam of being violent, of fomenting terrorism, of treating murder as a religious tenet, of condoning pedophilia and of trying to take over the world. While these right-wingers were apoplectic with rage over their perceptions of violence in Islam, they didn't see the extremism that they were fostering, that they were responsible for. Just like the poor crab being slowly boiled to death, Islamophobes have focused on Islam and not noticed just how radical they were becoming.

Until Christchurch, 15 March 2019! 

That day one of their own unleashed a murderous terrorist attack that killed 50 people and left dozens injured. Many of these Islamophobes expressed horror at the attack and even changed their profile pix to cute little koalas hugging a sad kiwi. How fucking rich is it that these arseholes have previously demanded the banning of Islam, halal, the burqa; they have praised people who have vandalised mosques and thrown pig's heads and blood into sacred areas, that have torn burqas or other head-coverings off women walking in the street, that have mocked Muslims from the floor of parliament, in the street, on TV and in social media. Some of these very same people are now hand-wringing and asking where such hatred could come from. Mind you, not all of them have expressed sympathy. There are some deadshits who think it great that this brain-dead racist would kill so many people. 



Australia's conservative media has long portrayed Islam as evil. The Murdoch rags, such as the Herald Sun and Daily Telegraph, published 2891 anti-Islam articles; almost eight articles per day attacking one religion - Islam (Brull 2018)! The world's media has noticed the radicalisation of Australia where right-wing political parties and media outlets blatantly target Muslims (Taylor and Noack 2019).




Anyone who dares defend Islam or criticise the main-stream media's inaccurate and racist reporting is treated as some lefty, politically-correct snowflake. Yet for all their brazen talk, the right-wing are driven by fear. They are running scared, seeing every Muslim as a terrorist, accusing them of trying to take over the world through halal easter eggs. Sensitive little petals, these conservatives. They issued rape and death threats against Sudanese-Australian engineer, Yassmin Abdel-Mageid for an innocuous tweet about Anzac Day (Zhou 2017). Yassmin eventually left Australia because she did not feel safe here. These right-wing snowflakes believe every lie told to them about Islam, about refugees, and then when one of their own goes on a murderous terrorist attack, rather than self-reflect about the role they played in his radicalisation, they blame the victims. Victim-blaming is pretty typical of the right-wing. As are extremely violent outbursts at the slightest insult, with Nobel-prize winning Paul Krugman detailing that these outbursts are predominantly occurring from the right-wing (Moran 2019).



Queensland Senator, Fraser Anning is most notable for a pathetic media release on the day of the Christchurch terrorist attack, in which he expressed his horror, then immediately blamed Islamic migration for it. In the context of such horror, this amounts to hate-speech. It was designed to justify the actions of the terrorist, not to express remorse or sympathy for the victims. The following day, 17 year old William Connolly casually walked up behind Anning and smashed an egg into the back of his head (Winter 2019). One of Anning's henchmen who wrestled the boy to the ground, was Neil Erikson, a white supremacist who attacked a church last year for daring to defend Muslims and refugees. There is a warrant out for his arrest in New South Wales. Disturbingly, many right-wingers are more upset about the egg being thrown, than they are about the Christchurch massacre or the radicalisation of everyday Australians. 

Fraser Anning gave a speech in parliament that called for a final solution against refugees (Murphy and Remeikis 2018), invoking memories of Hitler's final solution that resulted in the genocide of millions of Jews, socialists, dissidents, gypsies and anyone who didn't fit his idea of what a German citizen should look or act like. He also praised the White Australia policy and declared in his maiden speech that Muslims should be banned from migrating to Australia, while European migration should be encouraged. He is a white supremacist. He regularly attends neo-Nazi rallies with the likes of Blair Cottrell, who called for a photo of Hitler and a copy of Mein Kampf to adorn every Australian classroom. You still wondering why the Christchurch terrorist was Australian?

A petition was established calling for Anning to resign (Price 2019). Of course, he is too arrogant to do that, however, it is encouraging that more than one million people signed the petition in 48 hours ... keep in mind that Anning only received 19 votes at the last election: loser.

Fraser Anning's response to the Christchurch terrorism event on 15 March 2019
Australia's conservative political parties have drifted so far to the right, that they are in the realms of Nazism. They encourage white-supremacy through fear of the other, through propagating xenophobic messages that whip people into a frenzy.

This is driven by the mistaken belief that Australia is being taken over by Muslims. The Christchurch terrorist reflected about a takeover of western nations by Muslims. Pauline Hanson and other right-wing politicians have ruminated on the same thing. Is this really a threat? According to the Pew Research Centre, just 3% of the world's Muslims live in developed regions, such as Europe, North America, Australia, New Zealand and Japan (Pew Research Centre 2011). This body of research identified that migration from Muslim majority countries has declined sharply over the last 25 years. In the mid-90s, Muslim-majority countries were losing population at a rate of 160 per 100,000 per annum (0.16%). By 2010, this had declined to 42 per 100,000 per annum (0.04%). The report identified that there would be further declines in migration from developing nations that have a Muslim-majority population as economic conditions improve. Migration in western nations is likely to increase by 180 per 100,000 per annum (0.18%). This is hardly a take-over. For Australia, Muslim growth was around 0.12% in 1990. Over the years this has been declining, and is predicted to only be (0.07%) by 2030. So why do they believe there is a Muslim takeover? In 2010, the Muslim population in Australia numbered 399,000, which is about 1.6% of the population. By 2030, it will likely be 714,000 based on net birth-rates and migration, while Australia's population is forecast to have grown to 30 million, so Muslims will account for 2.4% of the population. This is less than 1% growth in Muslim population in 20 years. Australia's population growth is currently forecast at 1.6% (Australian Bureau of Statistics 2018). Muslim population growth in Australia will be less than Australia's net population growth, so based on that, Muslims will never be a majority in Australia ... not what any critically thinking person would consider an invasion or take-over. 


Many of Australia's far-right politicians who exploit xenophobia and white supremacy also claim to be Christian. Many right-wing Christians are more than happy to attack Islam and take its scriptures out of context. Quote distasteful biblical scriptures and these same Christians will try to provide context. They will say that the Koran promotes violence, yet their own bible calls for the killing of every man, woman and child. They will say that Islam promotes paedophilia, yet the bible says to kill every man, male child and female who has slept with a man, but for the young girls (children) who have not been with a man to be taken into sexual slavery ... then there is the issue of God getting a pre-teenage and betrothed Mary pregnant with Christianity's namesake (Jesus, in case you missed the memo), which raises all sorts of questions about paedophilia, adultery, and consent given her age and the power imbalance. Oh, is there no context? Context is not a luxury that racists allow Muslims to provide.

These Christians will claim the Koran promotes violence and terrorism, yet Christianity has been responsible for most of the wars of the last 1,000, including some of the biggies that most of us are familiar with in recent times, such as World Wars I and II, Korea, Vietnam, Gulf Wars I and II, and Afghanistan. These wars killed hundreds of millions of people during the 20th and 21st centuries, far more than have been killed by Islamic terrorism - yet these Christians will ignore that and continue spreading hate and lies about Islam. 




Actually, the bible bangs on about hate-speech. It tells Christians not to do it! Scriptures like Proverbs 12:18 - 'There is one whose rash words are like sword thrusts, but the tongue of the wise brings healing'. Proverbs 11:9 is one of my favourite, considering that Evangelical Christianity has proven itself redundant with the willingness of many of its leaders to embrace the lies and hate-speech of Donald Trump and the far-right. This scripture declares them to be godless: 'with his mouth the godless man would destroy his neighbour, but by knowledge the righteous are delivered'. All that white supremacists want to do is destroy anyone who is not white, European, Judeo-Christian ... and right-wing Christianity is going along for the ride, as it has done for some time. Nazi Germany is a case in point.

Hitler used Christian-speak to whip Christians into committing horrendous crimes against Jews. Read Mein Kampf and see the similarities between what Hitler said, what today's conservatives speak and what the Christchurch terrorist wrote in his idiotic manifesto.

Christians funded Islamic holy-war in Afghanistan under the Soviets during the 1980s (Cooley 2002), yet Muslims get the blame, while Christians conveniently ignore their role in terrorism. Out of this, we saw the rise of the Taliban, Al Qaeda and eventually ISIS. Christians then ignore and lie about the role that their own had in the rise of global terrorism - instead, they blame Islam. So much for the religion of peace and truth when many Christians are not interested in either peace or truth. Oh yeah, there is also the claim that Christianity is the religion of love, yet many Christians revel in sharing hate against Muslims.

The day after the Christchurch massacre, a Christian radio host named Bryan Fischer defended the attack as 'vigilante justice' because 'Islam has to be stopped'. (Stone 2019). Apparently, terrorism is fine as long as it is waged by Christians.

The radicalisation of the Australian terrorist responsible for the Christchurch killings, has been coming for a long time. Far too many Australians have been saying exactly what he said in his manifesto. Hanson rose to power in 1996 on a Mein Kampf-like platform (don't believe me? read the book). Her white supremacist platform was later comandeered by John Howard to win elections on fear-mongering of Muslim refugees. Australian hip-hop band, The Herd aggressively called out Australia's racism & hate-speech in 2003 with their brilliant song, 77%. Sadly, right-wing snowflakes were more offended by the song's strong language than they were by their own government's lies, demonisation, persecution and physical and mental abuse of innocent people. Australia needs to wake up to itself. Islam isn't a threat, right-wing extremism is.  

The Christchurch terrorist's rambling manifesto showed that he was emboldened by Donald Trump and it repeated much of the hate-speech spewing forth from Republicans in the United States Congress (Fuller 2019). It was telling that Trump condemned the terrorist attack, and then immediately condemned migration by using the same rhetoric the terrorist used to demonise migrants (Blumberg and Blumenthal 2019). Immediately, following the attack, Trump tweeted a link to an anti-Islam website (Vidal 2019). This is from a president who thinks neo-Nazis and Klansmen are 'very fine people' (Gray 2017). Trump claims there is no rise in white nationalism (Campbell 2019), even though 98% of terrorist attacks on US soil are by white nationalists(Kivel 2019). Meanwhile, globally, there has been a surge in deadly attacks on Muslims (Al Jazeera 2019a). With such a rise in Islamophobic attacks, one would expect a corresponding increase in reporting of these acts, but no! Islamist terrorism received 357% more coverage than terrorism by non-Muslims; there are an average of 105 headlines per Islamist attack, compared to 15 headlines when the perpetrators are non-Muslim (Chalabi 2018). 

The United States is on a downward spiral into far-right extremism. Three years ago, the US voted AGAINST a United Nations resolution condemning the glorification of Nazism over freedom of speech (CBS News 2016). Seventy-five years ago, the United States battled against Nazis, today it defends them.


The Christchurch terrorist's manifesto railed against Islamic immigration. For years, Australia's conservative politicians have lied about Muslim refugees, equating them with terrorists, even though they are often victims of terrorists. Only a few weeks ago, senior ministers of the government, including Prime Minister Scott Morrison, Home Affairs Minister, Peter Dutton, and the Finance Minister, Matthias Cormann, made the ludicrous claim that refugees (less than 1000 of them) would force Australians off hospital waiting lists; a claim which has been debunked as baseless (Das 2019). It is pure fear-mongering and evidence of the blatant lies the federal LNP has been ramming down the throats of Australians. Morrison has previously claimed there is a benefit in exploiting anti-Islamic sentiments to gain votes (Taylor 2011). No wonder, there is so much hatred of migrants and why someone became radicalised enough to murder 50 Muslims.



The Christchurch terrorist modelled his attack on that by Anders Breivik in Norway (Werleman 2019). In his manifesto, he declared support for other mass murderers, but emphasised his idolising of Breivik. Christian and far-right extremist Breivik, killed 77 socialist students to fulfil his hatred of leftists and migrants. Both elements that Australia's conservative politicians and media are constantly railing against. 

Interesting that the Christchurch terrorist wasn't on any terrorist watchlist and authorities said he was not known to them, even though he'd been planning this for some time and had travelled to North Korea, Pakistan, Bulgaria and Turkey as part of his preparations (O'Grady 2019). If it was a Muslim planning such an attack or travelling to those countries, Australian authorities would have been all over it and he would have been arrested immediately. But hey, white privilege.

Hard-right conservatives are running around upset that people are blaming them for the Christchurch attack. 'We're not all like that'. Oh the irony! They don't show such nuance when attacking Islam. 

Hours after the Christchurch terrorist attack, a Muslim man was assaulted with a hammer and batten in an Islamophobic attack in London (Al Jazeera 2019b). The following day, in a case exemplar of white privilege, a 23 year old moron deliberately drove into the gates of a Mosque near Brisbane, yelling anti-Islamic hate (Garcia 2019). The Queensland Police Commissioner excused him because he was drunk so therefore, it was not a hate-crime! Had a Muslim done that to a Christian church, he'd have been arrested and charged with terrorism. White privilege!

Thankfully, most Australians have expressed horror and revulsion at the attack. The Christchurch terrorist perpetrated the very act that he detests Muslims for. Clearly, not a very intelligent specimen. If anything, it is clear that he is projecting his own hatred, animosity and violence onto people who are actually peaceful and tolerant. He isn't the only one. 

While the Christchurch terrorist is apparently a 'lone-wolf' attacker, he should not be considered in isolation. White supremacy is a global issue that is on the increase (Anderson 2019). When the President of the United States defends Nazis and empowers white supremacist terrorists, there is a significant international problem. These extremists carry on about the danger of immigration, while exporting their terrorism to the world.

What can be done? Stop normalising hate-speech. Stand up against the fear-mongering, demonisation and racist rhetoric of these horrid politicians who pretend to be Christian but instead are driven by hate-filled agendas. Instead of Christians losing their collective shit over halal Easter eggs, how about they invite Muslims to their churches, their homes, into their lives and get to know them as friends and family, not as the enemy. 

Love your neighbour!


References

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