Scott Morrison. Muslims et al:

Marcus Vernon writes: Re. “Richard Farmer’s chunky bits” (Friday, item 3).  At the end of a long, nasty week, when the angry, irrational Left kept shouting at ordinary Australians that they were too stupid to handle the debate on multiculturalism, there was a glimmer of light in the pages of Crikey on Friday.

Richard Farmer bravely repeated in his column what he had proposed in the same space on Thursday — that the debate was ignoring what ordinary people were thinking in opposition to Muslim immigration and it was time for some detailed research on the issue to quantify the size and scope of that sentiment.

Farmer wrote on Friday:

“…when I went searching for data from proper opinion polls about attitudes to Muslims and their immigration I could not find any, but my own observations and conversations suggest the anti-Muslim sentiment is both strong and growing.”

That such a reasonable, considered and insightful view should come from Farmer, a former senior adviser and confidante to Labor Prime Minister Bob Hawke, should make at least some of the angry Left pause and think.

Thanks also to writer Justin Templer (Friday, comments), who in the comments section on Friday pointed out what I had also noticed about Malcolm Fraser’s prominent column in Crikey; that somehow, Fraser had managed to write over 1000 words without once mentioning the inconvenient words that, whether you like it or not, define the debate — those words are Muslim and Islam. Thank you Justin.

The theory of “dog whistling” in political debate is a moronic concept used by the angry Left to rationalise their own failures and explain why millions of their fellow but unthinking Australians don’t see the world the way they do, or vote like they do. It is a disgusting, insulting way to view your neighbours and workmates. But if it does exist, then Malcolm Fraser, this wannabe conscience of the nation, was guilty of it by omission when he wrote more than 1000 words without mentioning the core issues at hand.

Multiculturalism is supported by most Australians, for a whole range of reasons. But the impact of current-day Islam is a different issue, also for many reasons. It is time the Left recognised the right of ordinary Australians to have these issued debated.

There is a slow burn on this topic among the silent majority. Don’t deny us our democratic right to hear what politicians of all persuasions might want to say on the issue, and then vote as we see fit at the next election.

Jim Hanna writes: Richard Farmer is correct to say that if Scott Morrison raised concerns Australians have about Muslims “he would have been doing no more than telling the truth.” But Mr Farmer ignores a crucial claim in the SMH‘s story — that several of Morrison’s colleagues, including Julie Bishop and Philip Ruddock, strongly disagreed with the “strategy” suggested. If all he did was raise concerns that many Australians have, what could Bishop and Ruddock possibly have been strongly objecting to, if not a plan to exploit that concern?

As Mr Farmer says, it’s a pity Morrison refused to deny the claim and tell us what he actually proposed. One can only assume that Lenore Taylor’s report of what he’d proposed was accurate. That he doesn’t hold those views personally — and I believe him when he says that — just shows breath-taking cynicism.

“It’s not my view,” he seems to be saying, “but let’s pretend it is, so we can win the votes of people who hate Muslims.”

Peter Lloyd writes: Re. “The media pigeonholing Muslims is not helping any cause”  (Friday, item 11). Perhaps an excellent way for Irfan Yusuf and others who are ‘sick of being typecast by religious wackos’ to address this unfair, but persistent, situation would be to not feel the need to tick the census box identifying them as Muslim.  Better still, divorce themselves from medieval fairy tales altogether.

Wherever you see a demand for a Muslim program, you tend to find a rich white conservative professing strong Christian views.  Despite the example of America and the fact that most of these guys are probably just in it for the (apparently) brain-dead, lock-step religious constituency, the media and mainstream politicians are happy to enthusiastically support freaks like the Scientologists, Exclusive Brethren or “Jesus wants you to be a millionaire!” evangelicals. But Muslims, not so much.

But what’s the difference?

It’s time for us to admit that those protesting in the square in Egypt were “our people”, only insofar as they were educated, progressive, rational people.

From Riverview College to the Tora Bora caves, from Eastern Jerusalem to Baulkham Hills and Waterloo we may find the same problem: those whose stubborn superstitious ways had to be overcome before democracy could take hold.

Borders:

David Havyatt writes: Re. “Private equity to blame for REDgroup collapse” (Friday, item 23). While Glenn Dyer is technically correct that the US collapse of Borders is unconnected with the same fate here, they are both consequences of the same failed strategy.

Borders is a classic example of a “category killer”. The only real business objective is to get big fast and close the competition. It is easy early as you close down the little guys, but then it gets harder. But because the strategy is all about growing fast you have a lot of high upfront costs and hence, usually, debt. If you don’t land the killer blow you suddenly find yourself out-performed by the other guys who were previously the lead dogs. After all they also picked up share from the little guys you killed off.

Borders globally hit this wall in 2006.  Borders US survived by selling off some assets including the Australian operation. The owners of A&R made the fateful mistake of picking up the failed assets in a transaction the ACCC should never have decided “not to oppose”.

“Category killers” are anti-competitive, not pro-competitive. The ACCC and the FIRB need to understand that. They should not be welcome on our shores.

Karin Vesk writes: The commentary about Borders has overlooked a key issue — even if it’s not what led to bankruptcy: customer service.

Staff at independent bookstores actually read. And if they’re not up-to-date with the weekend book pages and the literary supplements they’ll offer to search and order in no time. Compare with my last experience at Borders Bondi Junction: no staff on the floor, a high profile new release sold out because only a few copies had been ordered (no news as to if or when it would be in stock again), dance music blasting at jet-engine levels (to the point where my cashier had to request via intercom, several times, that the music be turned down so he could hear).

While waiting for Beyonce to quiet, I noticed the cashier’s name tag. It included a little section headed “Interest” (because, like, we care) under which was stated “Writing”.

I appreciate that everyone’s (going to be) a star today and that many shops are just nightclubs for narcissist employees but maybe customers would prefer their booksellers to be interested in “reading” say, or even “books” or “selling books”, and as they teach in first-year writing classes: show, don’t tell.

Bill Priestley writes: Recently I went to an excellent Sydney bookshop to which I like to give my custom. I wanted book 1 of the Aeneid edited by Austin. I found a reprint. It was a very good book for what I wanted. It was small. Its price was $150.

Affronted by this price I went to the Book Depository online. Within 10 days the book was delivered to my address, total cost $51. There’s something distinctly peculiar about the post-free prices the Book Depository is able to ask, but so long as they are delivering the goods quickly at low prices I will be buying from them.

Dual citizenship:

Amy Huva writes: Re. Bob Cole (Friday, comments). As a dual Australian and Canadian citizen, I object to your claim that allowing dual citizenships somehow “cheapens” being an Australian citizen. I am proud of both my Canadian and Australian heritage and feel a strong connection with both countries for many different reasons.

As a child growing up in Australia I knew the words to both Advance Australia Fair as well as Oh Canada, and my parents ensured I had a strong relationship with my grandparents living in Canada as well as those in Australia.

I am also aware of how fortunate I am to have dual citizenship, as it allowed me to be treated in hospital here in Canada recently under the Canadian system after I sustained a skiing injury. The benefits of being a dual citizen are something I am very aware of and very grateful for.

Forcing people to disown their previous homelands through rescinding their citizenship if anything cheapens themselves and their identity. People who are dual citizens are people who have a broad range of experiences, skills and outlooks on life. If anything, it’s something we should encourage, as these are the people who would be least likely to have a “F**k off we’re full” bumper sticker, as they are aware of a world wider than their own backyard.

For myself, it means I have a strong working knowledge of both AFL and Ice Hockey, but given that I’m a middle class, white, educated female, possibly I’m not the kind of dual citizen you had in mind? If you force people to choose, they will likely choose the more open minded society. Which in that circumstance, may no longer be Australia.

Labor under fire:

David Edmunds writes: Re. “Labor exposed and under fire on the mining tax — right where it wants to be” (Friday, item 1). I think Bernard Keane is not following his own logic in his piece on Friday.

He makes the point that the mining companies were able to force a prime minister out of office, but then expects the replacement to ignore this reality. He makes the point that the mining companies were supported by some of the media, but does not make the logical point that the media consequently did not oppose the replacement of a prime minister by foreign magnates.

Of course the media is complicit. Logically its first duty should have been to critique the tactics used by the mining companies, particularly the stunningly dishonest campaign. Further, the media is again failing to join the dots in pointing out just how dishonest that campaign was in the light of the current profits. He also fails to point out that Tony Abbott, who after a short interview with Mining Council’s Mitch Hooke immediately capitulated, apparently without needing to actually find out about the tax or it’s rationale.

The banks are irrelevant in this discussion. They are not accessing publicly owned assets in the way the mining companies are, and their return invested capital is not in the same league. Bringing them into the debate simply obfuscates what should be the main point.

The failure in this debate is not that of Ms Gillard who is simply reacting to the political reality, but Mr Abbott who kowtowed to the foreign miners and the complicit media, who behaved much as the US media did over the Iraq war.

Rundle vs. The King’s Speech:

Martyn Smith writes: Re. “Rundle: The King’s Speech a hit and myth in the way it treats Brits” (Friday, item 16). As I read Guy Rundle’s comments on the film, The King’s Speech, I wondered if I had watched another film of the same name.

I left the cinema after watching an enjoyable film about a man with a speech impediment who battled against it with the help of an excellent, “down to earth”, Australian speech therapist. That was what I roughly expected to see and that was what I got.

Guy Rundle seems to have been expecting to see a documentary and to have become quite angry as he watched it, and angrier still as he penned his article. One could feel the outrage coming off the page. He seems to think it is Right-wing propaganda, maybe because it depicts a member of the British royal family, whom Rundle clearly despises, sympathetically. And I can’t see any connection between the Iraq war and the film. I may have missed something but I don’t recall it being mentioned, or the elevation of Churchill to prime minister or very much about politics. I didn’t see any of the sub-texts that Rundle sees.

There is something called artistic licence and the film makers wheeled in Churchill as someone the modern generation have heard of. It is well known that Edward VIII was a pro-German, feckless playboy and that Churchill (as Rundle says an incurable romantic) urged him to hold onto the crown. I don’t think the film portrayed Churchill as a great friend of George VI and suspect Rundle was searching for anything with which to attack it.

The main story was about the king’s speech impediment and the way he tried to cope with it, dork or not. I agree that people in war really fight for family, home and friends, and also for their mates in their unit or their ship, but they also like some top level leadership.

I have a friend, now in his eighties who remembers gathering with his family round their radio to listen to the King’s broadcast at the outset of the war. He says they were moved by it and were almost mouthing the words to help a man whom they knew had a bad stutter. Within a short time my friend left for an extended stint in the Royal Navy.

If any Crikey readers haven’t seen the film I recommend it because I enjoyed it despite the fact that I support a Republic in this country. Be warned though, there are no gun-fights, serial killers or high speed car chases and the only American accent in it belongs to a lady called Simpson.

Peter Fray

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