Unsurprisingly, the plethora of outrage by powerful pundits across our social milieu about Trump’s ban on Muslim immigration from seven Islamic countries only reflects the irrational hatred and disrespect for humane and compassionate values by the millions who voted for him. Let alone the precious freedom of religion and worship.
Herald Sun cartoonist Mark Knight encapsulated this brilliantly today when he wrote with his illustration of a man standing behind an ‘inflated’ Trump holding a newspaper with the headline: Trump announces ban on Muslim refugees, immigrants who comments to another man standing on the other side of Trump: “President Trump isn’t saying anything he wasn’t saying before he was elected….” and the other man replies “So it seems”. Trump says “You’re fired!”
Australian PM Malcolm Turnbull may well not want to comment on another country’s politics, but the politics of outrage, not just by Turnbull, but all those who’ve expressed condemnation for Trump, MUST recognise what is going on in this country as no different to what’s transpired not just in America, but happening across Europe and Britain, too. The rise of Pauline Hansen’s party, One Nation, and other affiliates such as the party Australian Liberty Alliance, Reclaim Australia and the Patriotic Front, all evince exactly the same vitriolic contempt for Muslims, immigration and refugees.
A recent article in a newspaper about the forthcoming March 11 state election in WA revealed prominent Liberals were considering doing a preference deal with One Nation candidates because they feared the party might just win seats from them. Doing a deal to preference them second on how to vote cards might just curb their vote at the ballot box. Horrifyingly, there hasn’t been any mention of this Liberal proposal in any letters I’ve perused in newspapers or any outrage expressed by other Liberals as far as I know.
Moreover, it’s been reported that because One Nation has three senators now in Canberra, Turnbull has to court them to ensure his legislation passes. No one I’ve read has seemingly realised the disturbing implications of what is extant in our own country. Indeed, on a news broadcast I just watched Turnbull commented that what the WA Liberals decided about preferences with One Nation was their business, not a federal party issue. If it’s not as he claimed, what is? Only it seems that he needs One Nation to support his legislation in the Senate. Pragmatic politics transcends the politics of outrage about our own country and in our own country, more expedient to remain silent than risk offending those whose support he relies on for government.
Moral integrity goes missing completely though the government’s attitude on asylum seekers was evidence of this year’s ago. So too the Labor Party with Shorten just a hypocrite for demanding Turnbull speak out about Trump’s ban but all too conveniently acquiescing to the government’s laws on asylum seekers.
Moreover, in another article in The Age, its American correspondent, Paul McGeough, reported on 2015 comments by prominent Republicans who rebuked Trump’s then proposal for a Muslim ban. Mike Pence, then Indiana Governor, tweeted in December 2015: “Calls to ban Muslims from entering the US are offensive and unconstitutional.” Pence is now Trump’s Vice-President and supportive of the ban. Beliefs about what’s constitutional are apparently dispensable irrespective of the statute.
Also, Trump’s new Defence Secretary, James Mattis, a retired Marine Corps General, said a few months after Pence in early 2016 that Trump’s proposal was causing American allies to believe “we have lost faith in reason”. Reason it seems now no longer significant for him. And Paul Ryan, next in line after Pence in the presidential line of succession, said in the same news cycle as Pence in 2015, “Freedom of religion is a fundamental constitutional principle. This is not conservatism. What was proposed yesterday is not what this party stands for. And more importantly, it’s not what this country stands for.”
Like Turnbull, pragmatic expediency wins and while Pence and Ryan now support Trump’s ban, Mattis “stays mum”, but holds a very important portfolio. Moreover, a New York Times poll about Trump’s ban found half supported it though I was unable to find out how many people were polled. But as Mark Knight’s cartoon revealed, there’s no surprise in the poll as these same people voted for him.
I am alarmed at what is going on in this country and concerned that our PM courts One Nation seemingly without any regard for their policies of hate and fear against Muslims, immigration and refugees. But I’m not being cynical when I say I believe Shorten would be no different. It’s a realistic appraisal about Shorten based on his past performances.
The tragedy about politics as it’s practised, not just now but throughout history, is that the lust for power, and staying in power once achieved, dismisses any moral and ethical values as irrelevant. “Power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely” seems more pertinent now than ever across the globe.
Prior to the Second World War, British PM Neville Chamberlain made a pact with Germany’s Hitler, irrespective of the latter’s Nuremburg Laws and his stated hatred of The Jews and his obvious fascist policies about dissent. Making peace with a fascist seemed politic. Little did he appreciate what would ensue as those in America, who ignored Trump and his supporters as impossible victors in the election, were no less naive than Chamberlain. Maybe they need lessons in realpolitik.
In today’s Age was a piece about the need to speak out against Trump and release the anger by writing letters of protest to the American embassy and consulates et al. A maths professor at Monash University tweeted he would no longer do any pro bono peer reviews about American academics. He wrote on Twitter: “I realise that this may have significant effects on my future academic career. However, I would rather have a conscience than a career.” Too many politicians around the world seem to believe the opposite; maybe they never had a conscience in the first place, more intent on gaining power with scant regard for how its obtained, how its applied and maintained.
The last word goes to a female, Iranian born, Australian, Age deputy business editor who wrote today that “I think about the detrimental impact this ban has on the betterment of humankind…Muslims and non-Muslims…must keep pressuring Trump-using all the legal, economic, political and social levers we can- to reverse a ban that threatens us all”.