In Defence of Yassmin Abdel-Magied

magied mouth IIConservative politicians and commentators calling for the sacking of  Ms Yassmin Abdel-Magied from her remunerated jobs at the ABC and Council for Australian-Arab Relations (CAAR) are doing themselves a disservice and, far worse, assaulting the values of a liberal-democratic nation. They would be better advised to point out the flaws in Ms Abdel-Magied’s arguments and hold her statements up to the ridicule they deserve.

But they should not be calling for her sacking or silencing — not if they simultaneously support the repeal of Section 18c, as no doubt most do.

Before I am accused of being an apologist for Islam or a pseudo-conservative, let me state from the outset that, like many conservatives, I am sceptical of claims by Islamic apologists that the creed in any way resembles a religion of peace and tolerance. Further, I believe the level of Muslim immigration, particularly from the Middle East, needs to be reined in as it poses a significant threat to the culture and values of this nation. But those are arguments best left to another day.

Back to Abdel-Magied: some conservatives are arguing that, as her roles with the ABC and the Council for Australian-Arab Relations (CAAR) are funded by the Australian taxpayer, she should be fired for a Facebook post she shared with the world on Anzac Day. Her critics claim the post – “Lest we forget (Manus, Nauru, Syria, Palestine)” – undermined the meaning of Australia’s most sacrosanct day by  politicising it. Further, they noted that the infamous post hijacked and prostituted the memory of Australian men and women who have served our nation, including many who made the ultimate sacrifice.

Let there be no doubt that I agree with the criticisms of her post, which was both ill-informed and ill-advised — an attack on the national ethos, on Australians’ sense that we are a nation baptised in blood on the beaches at Gallipoli, as it were. It is beyond all doubt our most sacred day.

Like many of Ms Abdel-Magied’s comments on programs like the ABC’s Q&A, her post was risible and invited ridicule. (Remember when she claimed Islam was the “most feminist religion”?)

OK, let’s say that Ms Abdel-Magied craves the limelight, that she seldom shrinks from demonstrating a lack of judgment and understanding of Australian culture. Poor judgment and not understanding one’s audience might be sacking offences for a journalist at any reputable media organisation. But Abdel-Magied’s detractors are not calling for her sacking on those grounds. Those should be a matter for the ABC’s producers, editors and managers. Let’s leave her work performance in their (in)competent Left hands.

Similarly, Ms Abdel-Magied’s future with CAAR should come down to a question of what value she adds, if any, to the Council’s purpose. It would be nice to think Foreign Minister Julie Bishop is currently ploughing through the Council’s mission statement and constitution to determine if gross public stupidity detracts from the CAAR’s stated purpose. And that’s the nub:  Ms Abdel-Magied’s views and the exercise of her right to free speech should be a consideration only if they undermine the purpose of the Council, whatever that might be.

The simple fact is that many of Ms Abdel-Magied’s critics want her sacked for what she said. This is where I part company with them, and any thinking conservative must come with me because those calling for her sacking are treading a very dangerous path.

A cornerstone of liberal democracy, of Australia’s political values, is freedom of speech. Every conservative I know has railed against attempts by the Left and so-called progressives to silence our side on a range of issues, from Muslim immigration to same-sex marriage. It is therefore hypocritical to call for Ms Abdel-Magied’s sacking because they don’t like what she says. Not surprisingly those demanding she be axed are now finding themselves the subject of ridicule in the Fairfax press, the ABC and other bastions of Leftist lockstep thought.

Are we the obverse image of our opponents, similarly eager to apply the gag when we don’t like what we are hearing?

There is a scene from Robert Bolt’s A Man for All Seasons that conservatives would do well to recall:

Roper: So now you’d give the Devil benefit of law!

More: Yes. What would you do? Cut a great road through the law to get after the Devil?

Roper: I’d cut down every law in England to do that!

More: Oh? And when the last law was down, and the Devil turned ’round on you — where would you hide, Roper, the laws all being flat?

This country is planted thick with laws from coast to coast, man’s laws, not God’s, and if you cut them down — and you’re just the man to do it — do you really think you could stand upright in the winds that would blow then?

Yes, I’d give the Devil benefit of law, for my own safety’s sake.

If we can call for Ms Abdel-Magied’s sacking today, the Left could one day call for any of us to be sacked for our conservative views. Actually, the Left does that already. Just ask Piers Akerman, who was bounced from the ABC’s Insiders for daring to utter in public, and in the context of that episode’s particular conversation, widespread rumours about the love life of Julia Gillard.

Either we believe in the principle of free speech, or we do not. We cannot be pick-and-choose conservatives on this matter or any other.

Of course another (perhaps less noble) reason for us to protect Ms Abdel-Magied’s right to speak her mind is that every time she opens her mouth, Ms Abdel-Magied does tremendous damage to the Left’s cause. Like few others she highlight the true hollowness and absurdity of the progressivist agenda.

Bravo, Ms Abdel-Magied! Bravo! Please keep that big mouth flapping.

Rather than seeing the ABC take Ms Abdel-Magied off the air, I pray the national broadcaster creates another program just for her. Long live free speech and her stream of nonsenses. Her every word is an example and indictment of the Left’s embrace of identity politics and its elevation of idiocy to a virtue.

Alistair Nicholas is a Sydney-based public affairs executive who has served  as a Coalition adviser and an Australian diplomat.

  • Jody

    “Are we the obverse image of our opponents, similarly eager to apply the gag when we don’t like what we are hearing?”

    It’s not as simple as that, though, is it? This woman is protected and on the payroll of the taxpayer in an organization which rarely, if ever, reflects mainstream conservative values. That’s what the critics were arguing, not that she shouldn’t be allowed to speak.

    • lloveday

      We are not privy to the facts that we should be about every taxpayer-funded person (when I was one, long, long ago, it was easily and unremarkably found in the public domain), hence my guess is as good as anyone else’s as to how much she sucks from our taxes. I proffer $150,000pa as a ballpark figure.

      • Bruce MacKinnon

        $30,000 per annum is the most I’d be prepared to pay a village idiot, even though very useful in this context.

  • bemartin39@bigpond.com

    An excellent point, very well made, one, I must confess, hadn’t occurred to me at all but should have.

  • gary@feraltek.com.au

    She was appointed to the Federal ANZAC Centenary Commemoration Youth Working Group to advise on commemoration events to inform youth of the significance and meaning. Who approved her appointment, and on what qualifications? What did she contribute to it?

  • exuberan

    Alistair, One can only punish oneself so much

  • ianl

    I agree completely, Alistair. Yasmin must be allowed free speech, free rein, because censorship is simply pestilent. Trying to censor her fatally weakens the long-term push to rescind 18C.

    Jody above argues that the tax-funded ABC should not allow her this ANZAC nastiness. On the contrary, I encourage the ABC to not just allow it but to increase it, both in frequency and intensity. Such gross stupidity will hasten the subscription-only mode of ABC living, where we all get what we want.

    Yasmin-babe as yet has no emotive inkling of the degrading, horrifying-beyond-sanity hell the ANZACS endured. Most millenials her age do not grasp this, so they assume ANZAC is about glorifying war rather than paying homage to courage under involuntary fire. It is a maturation process, in my view.

    Here is a lesson I learnt rather later in life when in Siberia, Russia for the 1st time, 2007. I’ll admit outright that until then I had not really examined the psychological effect on a culture with a history of being brutally invaded, more than once. Early morning, -30C and I’m outside the hotel waiting for the car to take us to the project site. Just across the road, there is a small ice-covered park with a statue so I walk over to look. It’s a WW2 statue of 3 people, peasant dress, obviously in front line resistance to invading German troops. Two are men, the 3rd a woman. One man is dead on the ground, the 2nd on his knees, mortally wounded. The woman is standing, defiantly thrusting a rifle high in the air, shouting her rage. Soviet propaganda ? Or an appeal to the historical angst of the intermittent threat, the reality, of armed invasion ?

    Aus statues don’t reflect that at all – rather the bloody, sacrificial horror of more distant war.

    What would a Yasmin-babe know of any of this ?

    • ianl

      I should have added – Yasmin has visited and been told of the Middle East horrors. Is she old enough yet to grasp the emotion import ? If so, ANZAC should be a part of her litany, not a butt of her silly sarcasm.

  • Homer Sapien

    The “religion of peace” is the anathema to the West and should not get any traction in our country. Starve the silly poster girl of any oxygen. Mr Trump wrote a book, “No Such Thing As Over Exposure” and we all know where this leads to.

  • Jody

    As one wag posted on “The Australian” in the comments section last week, “This woman should be removed from the ABC to find gainful employment in a haberdashery shop”!!!

  • IainC

    I’m with Alistair Nicholas on this one: I don’t agree that she should be sacked. People like her should be allowed to shout their ignorance from the rooftops as often as possible, so as many people as possible can know of the paucity and bankruptcy of their positions. Paraphrasing Napoleon, if the enemy is busy making a fatal blunder, don’t get in their way.

    • Quilter

      I agree also. I think we need to spend a lot of time laughing at her rather than demanding she be sacked. I do find it galling that my hard earned is taxed to support her but that applies to a lot of stuff these days including the ABC in general, childcare (I paid to raise my own kids, something I recommend as they have turned into decent human beings), submarines for the SA collective to stop the, going broke etc. I have found that laughter is a great disinfectant with the added incentive that lefties really hate being laughed it. I recommend we treat YAM with disdain and giggles. she really would not like being laughed at, takes herself far too seriously for that.

  • Keith Kennelly

    Yasmin’s a great advert for feminism.

    • Jim Campbell

      Clearly Alistair and most commentators are over 50 and believe that a thinking public will, in time, be convinced by this lady’s stupidity that Islamic behaviour and thought is of no consequence and can be ignored. Problem is that most under 50s are poorly schooled, leftish, are of the elite or are politicians and many have similar thoughts and/or can’t tell the difference between right and wrong. Yasmin does have a sizeable slice of the population ready to soak up her ideas. It is another example of Islam’s two steps forward, one step back strategy that will continue to peck away at the heart of this Nation. As such it must be called out stamped out. Problem is our leaders don’t have the guts to do so.

      • Homer Sapien

        Jim,I can see wisdom in your comment.

      • Egil Nordang

        I agree with you, Jim.
        Islam is forever pecking.
        A solid contra peck is very much required.

        • Philby

          Hear Hear

        • ian.macdougall

          “A solid contra peck is very much required.”
          You mean something from an IslamoPROBE?

      • Matt Brazier

        I agree. There is something incredibly dangerous in the logic of actually paying the enemies of our society to actively undermine it. The platform from which falsehoods are launched matters a lot in determining whether they are dismissed or accepted. If the offending woman was running her own campaign then derision might be all she gets, if that. But exactly the same absurdities leveraged off the platform of the ABC will (despite what we might like to think otherwise) gain much more traction. The situation has echoes of the circumstances that led Tony Abbott to remove public funding of legal challenges on behalf of illegal arrivals. The Australian taxpayer should not be funding the promotion of the religion of mass murder in any shape or form.

  • Michael Galak

    Bravo, Alistair Nicholas! Indeed, it won’t do at all for any defender of the freedom of speech to demand its limitations, however insulting, obnoxious and moronic a flow of nonsense could be. Actually, the more the merrier. Let the righteous and morally superior condemn themselves with their own words and actions. There’s a brutally frank description of a situation like this – to urinate against the wind. The consequences are , rather , predictable and , in my view, very welcome.

  • en passant

    I agree she should be allowed to express her disgraceful views, untruths, biases and fact-free fake news lunacies as much as she likes. After all, Facebook will censor her errors , will it not?.
    However, I question why am I paying for this troll to be allowed to do so? You gave the example that Piers Akerman was removed from the publically paid for ‘Insiders’ for the far greater crime of saying something that was true.
    So why should Yasmin not be consigned to the dustbin of FewFacts where those that are willing to pay for her views are allowed to hear them? Why am I paying for her propaganda and stupidity disguised as free speech? It is not a case of what she said, but that she is incompetent – and I am paying her above market rates to support her ignorant incompetence.

    I hope Pauline and ON succeed in defunding the grotesque ABC Morlock Machine to allow those willing to hear its message to pay for the service they want.

    • lloveday

      Are you “paying for this troll to be allowed to do so” from your bolt-hole? Illocutionary question only – I pay, imo, too much Australian tax from my bolt-hole, but what I do pay certainly entitles me to object to paying a tiny portion of her very ill-begotten gains.

  • Salome

    Good point–letting her make a fool of herself, but the point you have sought to make about inconsistency of opponents of 18C seeking to ‘silence’ her is unjust. I’m not seeking to ‘silence’ anybody. I’m just sick to death of having my taxes pay for her. She can mouth off all she wants, but why should we have to pay for it?

  • Philby

    This fool has every right to make offensive remarks as we all do when it comes to her beliefs her political views and her cult beliefs the only difference is we would be dragged through the courts. 18c should be thrown out.
    The most disturbing thing in my mind is the infiltration of our institutions at taxpayer expense by those who reject our culture and laws and have no allegiance to the majority of Australians whereby offensive cultist views are slowly spread through our institutions destroying Australia. Those politicians who allow this are traitors to Australia.

  • joelane94@hotmail.com

    Yes, let her speak, and often, and not just show us all what an advocate for Hizb-ut-Tarir looks and sounds like, but to what extent the ABC etc. will back her up. Full freedom of expression leads, after all, towards full disclosure.

  • pgang

    I’ll tell you what I am fed up with, and that’s seeing her portrait everywhere.

  • commerce@internode.on.net

    Utter rubbish.
    It has nothing to do with free speech.
    It is a question of competence.
    This shrill shrew -notwithstanding her engineering qualifications – is demonstrably incompetent to hold the public positions bestowed upon her.

  • Turtle of WA

    Don’t be fooled by the left’s failure to understand what free speech is. Abdul-Magied has freedom of speech, as everyone should. This has nothing to do with the ABC promoting her, which it should not.

    I’ve been saying “give the ABC enough rope and it will hang itself” for years. Hasn’t happened yet.

  • Doc S

    My heart agrees with you Alistair but my head says ‘No!’ I see your argument – giv’em enough rope etc. and they sooner or later be hoisted by it. Trouble is ROPies like the Abdel-Magieds of this world are in the rope-makin’ business aren’t they? They got plenty of rope and more besides. And they’ll ALWAYS find a platform – A-Bloody-C or not – to promote their fetid absurdities. The Left apologists have so warmly embraced the patently ridiculous that it already has been accepted largely without challenge, over and over again. Say something often enough – no matter how absurd – and it becomes true in the minds of many. This is what has been happening for decades now across the Western world. Note recent examples like young Yasmeen’s ‘Islam is the most feminist of religions’ or Germaine Greer’s insistence on a recent Q&A that slicing the private parts of young Muslim children was a cultural practise not child abuse – made without so much as a pipsqueak of outrage from many feminists.

    The mental malaise of socialism that allows this to happen is deeply entrenched now thanks to our educational institutions and weak insipid (even brainwashed) political elites. Time to start pushing back against this tripe and nonsense – particularly when it crosses a line. Yasmeen as a prominent member of a government appointed Youth ANZAC committee cannot plead ignorance (as she did) – she knew exactly what she was doing. We should not allow the ABC (at taxpayer’s expense) continue to allow her to use her position to promote her outrageous and absurd opinions. She will no doubt (once the furore has died down) continue to do so and we cannot rely on the hope that it will eventually discredit both her and her deadly cult for the world to see. Sack her and in the least case it’ll make it just that bit harder for the Abdel-Magieds of this world get away with peddling their garbage.

  • gardner.peter.d

    I was wondering if burka, niqab or hajib should be made mandatory for all Muslim women in Western societies, so we know who they are and what they stand for. Better then having them choosing to wear it in order snub western values and defy us to our faces. Let’s turn it round.

  • whitelaughter

    Given that the historical More used the law to kill his enemies, and was killed under his own laws, he’s not a particularly inspiring example for freedom.
    Nor is the Yasmin Abdel Magied issue a matter of free speech; it is a matter of *paid* speech – she is paid taxpayer’s money to spout this drivel. (If she was employed privately, that would be a different matter of course).
    And finally, free speech is going to languish until 18C is used to teach the trendy set why free speech is important. If referring to anyone as a racist, bigot, or any sort of ‘phobe’ is declared hate speech, they’ll get a much overdue lesson in why you shouldn’t crush free speech – and then we can discuss how to protect it in OZ.

  • Bruce MacKinnon

    Reading the history of the wars of Australians and New Zealanders in the Middle East, it is worth mentioning the contempt they held for the local Arabs, particularly the Bedouin. A typical case in point, as an example. A scouting party on horseback in WW1 had copped a hiding at the hands of the Turks. All three were wounded. The Turks treated and bound their wounds, gave them some shelter from the sun, food and water to last a week or so to allow them to be picked up.

    Arab tribesmen found them, took their food, water, clothes and tent, and left them to die naked in the scorching sun. They were found and rescued in time. The Bedouin would snipe from behind rocks, at either side, then run. They specialised in digging up the corpses of the fallen from their graves to steal their clothes, and left the bodies on the ground to rot.

    On the wharves, so much food destined for Gallipoli was stolen by the Lebanese waterside workers, that the only things they would not eat, or sell on the black market, bully beef(not halal) and hard tack biscuits ever got to the Australian troops at the front.

    They respected the Turks even though enemies and it was reciprocated. The Turk had a degree of gallantry and fairness. The Arabs had none.

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