One of the reasons Tony Abbott cited for siding with those who think the Enlightenment was, on the whole, not such a good thing has to do with freedom of speech’s ability to annoy people who would be happier if certain things were not only left unsaid but, rather, incapable of being said at all, at least without the risk of incurring expensive and annoying legal fees. This had something to do with the need for “national unity”, although the PM was coy in being less than specific about what we all need to be united against. Perhaps he was worried about being dragged into court under Section 18C. If so, smart man for putting purse-lipped pragmatism ahead of principle, which is the safer policy while 18C remains on the books, where the PM who vowed to dismantle it now intends to leave it unamended.
The general surmise has been that “national unity” and the rather more sporty “Team Australia” — does the team uniform come with a green-and-gold burqa? — would make Muslims eager crusaders (sorry, wrong word; please don’t sue) in the cause of data-retention and a stepped-up campaign against terrorism.
Alas, if Randa Kattan, Arab Council Australia CEO, is any indication, the PM has just been reminded of a venerable truth: you don’t advance a cause by retreating. Here’s what she has to say about her willingness to pull on the jumper and take the field with Team Australia:
“…once again, members of the Arab Australian community are being demonised.
Once again we will become the centre of attention and public commentary – much of it ignorant, ill-informed and hateful.
The resulting climate of Arabphobia will lead us to precisely the kind of racial vilification we have been trying so hard to prevent.
So in welcoming the Prime Minister’s ‘leadership call’ on taking the RDA proposed changes ‘off the table’, I am left shaking my head at the alienation of a community whose support he says he wants.”
You can see the pottage of support the PM has purchased with his betrayal of free speech by following the link below to Ms Kattan’s exercise in victimology.