Home relocation progressing

slowly. Bit by bit.


Bird watching will be one thing to do, it turns out – as you might guess from all that vegetation. Be interesting as spring comes too.

Top posts in the last thirty days

With the end of August coming up, here is what has been hot in this blog so far this month.

  1. Home page 1,048 views
  2. Can we know that global warming is behind Pakistan’s and Russia’s recent catastrophes? 117
  3. Election 2010 again: why you should vote for anyone except Tony Abbott 106
  4. Worth noting 89
  5. Unenthusiastically supporting Julia 81
  6. Know your friends 53
  7. Martin Rees: 2010 Reith Lectures 43
  8. The Rainbow Warrior 37
  9. Following up on yesterday – and one bonus bit of craziness 36
  10. You wouldn’t read about it! 35

The Oz election fallout – week 2

As negotiations recommence we are told we should know the outcome soonish, possibly by the end of this week. Here is a summary of where things stand at the moment.

I have just heard Fran Kelly interviewing Rob Oakeshott on RN Breakfast. I am impressed by his clear-headedness. From what he said it appears some Coalition individuals, especially from the National Party, are trying to bury their own side’s chances with standover tactics and dirty tricks. Oakeshott specifically said these were coming from one side only. This could lead to an own goal.

Last Sunday in August

Sirdan is on the train headed for Perth, so no Sunday lunch today. Instead I travelle td up to Sydney, went to South Sydney Uniting Church, then to Elizabeth Street to collect more stuff, and now back to Wollongong.

The move will be completed when Sirdan returns.

Meantime, just around the corner here in Wollongong:


A view I saw every working day when I was the same age as Mr Rabbit. More on that later.

Know your friends

Does this girl in a hijab offend you? She is part of a group at Sydney Central Station raising money for the Cancer Council’s Daffodil Day.


Not offended? Why not?

Yes, she is clearly as much part of our culturally diverse community as anyone else, isn’t she, and demonstrating in her actions Australian, and no doubt also from her perspective Muslim, values for all to see.

Where is the problem?

I feel much the same about Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf – one of the best friends, in these times, that the USA could hope to have.

In February 2007 I wrote:

Far more profitable to us all, I would suggest, is the model held up by America’s Cordoba Institute, the brainchild of, among others, Feisal Abdul Rauf, Imam of Masjid Al-Farah, a New York mosque twelve blocks from Ground Zero. “A leader in the effort to build religious pluralism and integrate Islam into modern America, he has dedicated his life to building bridges between Muslims and the West.” You may read a PBS interview with him.

Tell me more about that. What is an American Muslim — if there is such a thing as “an American Muslim?”

I think it is very much a work in progress. If you look at what happened to the Muslim-American community over the last, say, 40 years, it is a mosaic; it is a cross-section of the Muslim world.

We look at the Muslim centers, or mosques, starting with the early 1970s as waves of immigration began to occur from the Muslim world. You found, as certain ethnic groups reached critical mass, that mosques sprouted with a very ethnic complexion. So we have a Turkish mosque in Brooklyn, an Albanian mosque. You will find a West African mosque, mainly from French- speaking West Africans from Senegal and Mali [in] the Bronx, for instance.

You have also always had African-American mosques. You have Arab mosques, Hindu, Pakistani mosques, Bangladesh mosques.

However, what we are seeing is that these mosques tend to be maintained in terms of their cultural complexion and their general collective psychology by the continued immigration from the Old World. The second generation, the children of these immigrants, are finding themselves with a different psychological complexion. And I see a development of an American Islamic identity, which is currently a work in progress, which will be kind of the sum total of these influences.

But amongst those who are born in this country, or came very early into this country at a very early age, they grew up with a sense of belonging to the American scene, which their parents did not have. The immigrants tend to come here with a little bit of a guest mentality. But those who are born and raised here feel they are Americans. We have to define ourselves as Americans. And just as I said earlier, when Islam spread to Egypt, and Iran, and India, it restated its theology and its jurisprudence within the cultural context of those societies. It also anticipated that Islam will restate itself within the language constructs, within the social constructs, within the political constructs of American society, as well. …

He was also interviewed in Foreign Policy Magazine in September 2006, following the brouhaha over Pope Benedict’s quotation from that Byzantine Emperor.

Imam Rauf has in fact visited Australia. See Visit by Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf. You may download a PDF of his lecture in Adelaide there.

Support bridge-builders, whoever they are, and spurn the dividers.

I’ve seen nothing lately to make me change my mind.

Christopher Hitchens is not a bridge-builder, whatever else he might be. No doubt predisposed against the Imam because the Imam is a believing theist, Hitchens manages to comprehensively misread or misrepresent what Rauf stands for.

I don’t like anything much about the Cordoba Initiative or the people who run it. The supposed imam of the place, Feisal Abdul Rauf, is on record as saying various shady and creepy things about the original atrocity. Shortly after 9/11, he told 60 Minutes, "I wouldn’t say that the United States deserved what happened, but the United States policies were an accessory to the crime that happened." He added, "In the most direct sense, Osama Bin Laden is made in the USA." More recently, he has declined to identify the racist and totalitarian Hamas party as being guilty of the much less severe designation of terrorist. We are all familiar by now with the peddlers of such distortions and euphemisms and evasions, many of them repeated by half-baked secular and Christian spokesmen. A widespread cultural cringe impels many people to the half-belief that it’s better to accommodate "moderates" like Rauf as a means of diluting the challenge of the real thing. So for the sake of peace and quiet, why not have Comedy Central censor itself or the entire U.S. press refuse to show the Danish cartoons?

Christopher, a lot of people, including me, said things like that after 9/11.  It’s called free speech.

I am very glad there are “half-baked … Christian spokesmen” (and women) like the people at Sojourners. If you want sanity on this whole New York “mosque” affair, Sojourners is a good place to start. See Refracting America Through 9/11 Lens, for example.

… Rauf and Khan have been outspoken opponents of terrorism, and the mission for the Cordoba House, the planned community center in Lower Manhattan, is one of peace and interfaith understanding. Their work should not be chastised as “insensitive,” but rather praised as bold leadership for the healing our country needs. I know them both, and I know that is their hope and dream.

On 9/11, Osama bin Laden hoped to set himself up as the mouthpiece for all Islam to the West. Every time Gingrich, or others, try to get us to see all Islam through the eyes of Al Qaeda’s attack, he helps bin Laden achieve that goal. The whole Muslim world hears our judgment of “guilt by association,” and the United States becomes less safe.

In the wake of the 9/11 attacks, President George W. Bush — speaking at the Islamic Center in Washington — warned that it would be a mistake to associate all Islam with the terrorists…