A couple of good pieces in the Weekend Oz

1. Tim Soutphommasane

Soutphommasane Profile Jun 10

According to his site bio, Tim is “Of Chinese and Lao extraction, and a first-generation Australian, Tim was raised in the southwest suburbs of Sydney. He completed a Doctor of Philosophy degree in political theory at the University of Oxford, from where he also holds a Master of Philosophy degree (with distinction). Tim studied at Oxford as Commonwealth and Jowett Senior Scholar at Balliol College. He is a first-class honours graduate of the University of Sydney.” I usually look at his regular column in The Weekend Australian.

Given his own background his comments on the current immigration debate have an added edge.

See The way we disagree will test our democracy.

…Can we have a measured dialogue about asylum-seekers when they provoke so much emotion? Can we have a debate without having people being accused of racist dog-whistling, without having facts distorted by hysteria about rickety boats overwhelming our northern shores?

The challenge of an honest national conversation concerns whether it is possible to have what political philosophers call deliberative democracy.

In a deliberative democracy, political debate can’t be reduced to a battle between interests. Citizens and representatives will exchange views in a spirit of fair play and reciprocity.

Admittedly, this kind of civic life involves an ideal or aspiration. But let’s imagine for a moment that we operate under its conditions. In such a world, the good citizen will enter into political debate with the aim of persuading others of their position, to be sure, but they will also aim to find common ground with their opponents….

2. Peter van Onselen

Again I found much to agree with in Peter’s column Julia at sea, but towaway Tony misses boat.

ONCE you get past the over-blown rhetoric designed to evoke fear and panic in the minds of voters over asylum boat arrivals – I am directing that criticism squarely at the opposition – there are two important as yet unanswered questions.

First, how on earth would Tony Abbott’s proposal to tow boats back out to sea actually work?

Second, if Julia Gillard is so keen to set up a regional processing centre in a country that has signed up to the UN convention on refugees, why does it have to be offshore? Given the sloppy way she approached East Timor and the consequent likelihood that they won’t agree to one being housed in their territory, Australia as the richest nation in the region should do it…

The not very creditable answer to that last point follows. Do read the whole article.

8 thoughts on “A couple of good pieces in the Weekend Oz

  1. I don’t see the problem. It’s not enough people to worry about, unless they were jihadis. They’re not jihadis, are th… Oh, I DO see the problem now. You’re talking about bringing thousands of unassimilating wife beaters to your country.

    Why do you want them?

  2. OK, Kevin. Two main groups are represented in the minority of asylum seekers who try to get here by boat.

    1) Sri Lankans — Muslims are pretty rare in Sri Lanka.

    2) Afghans, especially people from the Hazara community. They are most likely Muslims but very unlikely to be “jihadi wife beaters” as fear of the Taliban (and of course the war situation) is most likely why they left Afghanistan. Now given that our countries are in Afghanistan to “defend the Afghan people” — just about all of whom are Muslims — how does your extreme antipathy to Muslims as a group play out in that context?

    Around 90% of asylum seekers arriving by boat processed in the past fifteen years or so have turned out to be genuine refugees.

    Asylum seekers: Myths and facts.

    Of the boat arrivals, past figures showed between 70 and 97 per cent were later found to be genuine refugees.

    The majority arriving by plane are not found to be refugees.

  3. I say let the Sri Lankans in! Not ex-Tamil Tigers of course. Careful with those Afghanis though.

    I didn’t know we were in Afghanistan to ‘defend the Afghan people’. I thought we were there to put an end to jihad training camps.

    You seem to equate jihadis with muslims. That’s not really accurate. It’d be like equating Germans with Nazis in 1938.

    And lastly, “The majority arriving by plane are not found to be refugees.” Well there goes my plan to get refugee status in Australia. Because there is no way I’m taking a boat to get there.

  4. Ooh, another misunderstanding, Neil! I don’t equate jihadis with muslims. I never have. Just like I would never equate a 1938 German with Nazism. You should know that by now!

    However, I WOULD equate a 1938 devout follower of the doctrines expounded upon in Mein Kampf with a Nazi. Just as I equate devout followers of islam (or the koran, if you wish to be technically strict with analogies) with jihadis today. Both equations are unquestionably correct.

    You know I’m a math guy. I always double-check.

  5. In other words the only ones who worry you are literalists who espouse violence — fortunately a minority among Muslims.

  6. I hope that Kevin’s remark was ironic:

    ‘I didn’t know we were in Afghanistan to ‘defend the Afghan people’. I thought we were there to put an end to jihad training camps’.

    The epicentre of terrorist training has long been in Pakistan (3 of the London bombers did work experience there; money from Saudi Arabia was funnelled to the 9/11 people through Pakistan, courtesy the ISI). For nearly 10 years I’ve been reading stuff from commentators such as Jessica Stern who have drawn attention to the problems posed by Pakistan.

    Both the Paki and Afghanistan governments are playing the USA (and Oz, by implication) off a break, ripping off aid money, making platitudinous statements, exploiting the situation in more ways than can be stated.

    The USA hasn’t a clue how to handle the situation. Nor do we. The only sane way is to get the f*** outta there.

    Gillard is spouting the tired old muck that we heard so often during the Vietnam conflict.
    We could be headed for a dog whistle election yet again, reminding me of 1966 when I first voted. Cocky Caldwell would be smiling in his grave and saying : ‘I told you so’.

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