Mark Twain is supposed to have said “It is better to remain silent and
be thought a fool than to open one’s mouth and remove all doubt.” Danna
Vale probably should have heeded this advice. After her intervention
two weeks ago on the RU486 debate, which suggested that abortion was a
problem because it placed the Christian majority in Australia at risk,
what was required was a simple unadorned apology, followed by silence.

Instead, she launched into print
in Saturday’s Age with a defence of her remarks. The heading is “My
comments were clumsy”, but this is no apology: it is a restatement and
elaboration of her original point, that higher Muslim birth-rates are a
threat to Australia.

As Vale says, “abortion has an impact on the number of children born in
Australia, and therefore, on the kind of nation we will become in the
future.” But she’s not talking about population decline in general;
there’s nothing about the problem of an aging workforce, for example.
She’s talking about balance, or “demographic divergence” – Muslims
versus the rest.

Her point, she says, “was aimed at mainstream Australia, not members of
the Australian Muslim community. … It is non-Muslim Australians who
are not having enough children”. But “demographic divergence” is a
matter of relativity; if non-Muslims aren’t breeding enough, that’s
just another way of saying Muslims are breeding too much.

Vale insists “I was not speaking racially … I was speaking
demographically”. But her demographics are about difference; you can
call that difference racial, religious or cultural as you please, but
race is the only one that’s inherited at birth. Being Jewish isn’t
strictly a matter of race either, but that doesn’t stop us putting
anti-Semitism and racism in the same boat.

Having delivered herself of this bundle of prejudice, she tells us that
“we need dialogue on these and other important issues with moderate
Australian Muslims.” Somehow I doubt the prospects of a dialogue that
starts with “we think our society’s in danger if you have more children
than we do.”