As mentioned before, a person who lives in Australia emails me regularly (at least a couple of times a week) ranting about Muslims. Most of what follows was written in 2016. At the end I have updated it in response to his emails of the past few weeks. He is clearly having an unhappy, insecure life. Some part of me feels sorry for him. But my pity for him is dimmed when he advocates:
- banning all Muslims from Australia
- supporting Pauline Hanson and Donald Trump
- putting all Muslims in Concentration Camps
- strafing Muslim boat people (for the millennials, strafing means machine gunning)
And he quotes Adolf Hitler to advance some of his poisonous views.
I have said a number of times that our detention system, which involves locking up innocent men, women and children for years in harsh, hostile conditions, is not consistent with core Australian values. A couple of weeks ago he wrote to me saying “I am yet to hear you articulate what you mean by “core Australian values”.”
This morning he wrote to me again, saying:
“I am still waiting for you to articulate what you mean by “core Australian values“. I assume fire bombing children is not one of these?”
You are right: core Australian values do not include fire-bombing children, or bombing children at all, so we should not have taken part in invading Iraq.
Mistreating children is probably not consistent with core Australian values, so deliberately harming children by locking them up on Nauru is probably wrong. And putting aside some of the nastiest episodes of white settlement in Australia, deliberate mistreatment of innocent people is probably not consistent with core Australian values, so locking up innocent boat people for years “as a deterrent to others” is probably not consistent with core Australian values.
And I would add that concentration camps and strafing people in boats (both of which measures you have advocated) are definitely not consistent with core Australian values.
In my view, the nearest we get to a core Australian value is the ideal of a fair go for everyone. And (if I am feeling optimistic) I would say that core Australian values include the Golden principle. It is one of the few, practically universal, philosophical precepts, captured in the Christian teaching: Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. In its original Biblical expression it says: “Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets.”.
Described in the West as the Golden Rule, it is found in many religious and secular philosophies. It is found in Brahmanism: “This is the sum of Dharma [duty]: Do nothing to others which would cause you pain if done to you”. In Buddhism: “…a state that is not pleasing or delightful to me, how could I inflict that upon another?”. In Confucianism: “Do not do to others what you do not want them to do to you”. In Islam: “None of you [truly] believes until he wishes for his brother what he wishes for himself”. And in Taoism: “Regard your neighbour’s gain as your own gain, and your neighbour’s loss as your own loss”.
The same principle has been advocated by secular philosophers, including Epictetus, Plato, Socrates, Seneca and Immanuel Kant.
And also close to being a core Australian value is the Love Thy Neighbour principle. I know you’re keen on that one, because you included it in an email to me. It is mentioned in Leviticus 19, but Matthew gave it a useful twist which you may have overlooked. You refer to Matthew 5.14.
It is worth reading Matthew 5.43-44:
“43 ¶ Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy.
44 But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you”
Although you quote the first part of Matthew 5.43, it seems that you add a qualification which the Christian bible would reject. It seems you would say “Love thy neighbour (unless he is a Muslim)”. That directly contradicts the very scripture you cite.
It seems that the “Love thy Neighbour” principle is central to Christian teaching (Matthew repeats it at 19.19 and at 22.39; Mark propounds it at 12.31 and says it is one of the two most important commandments (his word). But in urging mistreatment of innocent (Muslim) people you betray that value. How strange that you invoke a central Christian principle but urge people to traduce it. I gather you are not a Christian.
But if you are a Christian, it might be worth asking yourself whether hypocrisy sits comfortably with anything you would identify as a core Australian value.
I imagine he will go to church next Sunday and pray for the souls of people he likes, and for the damnation of people he doesn’t like. With Christians like him, who needs atheists?
And here’s more from him, just recently:
“Concentration Camps looking more attractive by the day” … he then cites an article in an English newspaper which reports that President Trump believes that torture works. The article includes the following:
“President Donald Trump has declared that he believes torture works as his administration readies a sweeping review of how the United States conducts the war on terror. It includes possible resumption of banned interrogation methods and reopening CIA-run “black site” prisons outside the United States. In an interview with ABC News, Mr Trump said he would wage war against Islamic State militants with the singular goal of keeping the US safe. …”
The person who writes to me then comments: “Yes. The Donald is following in the foot steps of Billy Hughes.
The nature of warfare has changed and so must the tactics to defeat the enemy where the
enemy has already landed.”
It is an alarming fact that our society is harbouring people like this man. In my opinion, he is more dangerous than an Islamic militant.