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April 14, 2021

Election candidate’s Islamophobia

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I am sorry Matt Hartley, but I will not apologise. No amount of semantics can change the fact that what you write is anti-Islam, focused as it is on finding fault with Islam. Your caveat of ‘I will never criticise a religion’ reminds me of an Afrikaans speaking brother-in-law that I once had whose opinion pieces often commenced with ‘I’m not racist but…’.

You take glee in the depravity of Muhammad and judge events of 14 centuries gone as assuredly as if you were measuring the temperature at which water boils. There is no regard for historical context – only black and white as you carefully pluck historical cherries. For example, you say that Muhammad waged war – but was he not a military leader?

If I were anti-Christian, I could think of no better place to start my campaign than attacking the credentials of Jesus. But how might I then link the foibles of Jesus to the sins of the contemporary Catholic Church? (Please advise.)

That aside, my critique was motivated by the context into which your various rebukes of Islam are delivered. Need I remind you that Australia is under attack by a hard right government who wave the wand of Nationalism to remedy the dire opinion polls? Abbott valiantly wades into the international theatre shaking Australia’s mighty security fist to the deafening chants of ‘Team Australia’.

This is a means by which to attract attention away from the social implications of its neo-liberal economic experiment – a full fronted assault on the remnants of social democracy. It is hoped that a society that believes in the idea of Team Australia will suck it up for the country.

It was in this spirit of utilising nationalism to unite a country divided by harsh economic policies that Abbott’s heroine, Maggy Thatcher, waged war in the Falklands in 1982.

Indeed, Muslims are now such a threat that Abbott is not ruling out deeper engagement in the Middle East. The current battle with the ‘Deash death cult’ has been foolishly characterised by an ex-chief of army as some sort of existential war for civilisation that will last 100 years. Abbott and co need demagogues such as yourself Matt to fan the flames of xenophobia as surely as George W Bush needed it a decade ago.

It is in this context that the Martin Place siege was portrayed as an act of terrorism rather than simply a criminal act by a deranged individual. A crime that killed two hostages – two is also the number of women killed by their partners in an average week in Australia – thus became a massive event.

Matt, your linking of the siege with Islam is analytically sloppy. But it demonstrates nicely my point that you are anti-Islam, which as I indicated last week, ‘would seem to be a pretty thin policy platform’.

So, in lieu of wishing you electoral luck, some advice. Given the (surprising) confirmation that you are not endorsed by Pauline Hanson, surely fighting inappropriate developments such as West Byron (as you do) would be a more politically astute focus then waging moral battles against a much maligned ‘other’.

Dave Lisle, Mullumbimby 


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Entertainment in the Byron Shire and beyond for the week beginning 14 April, 2021

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