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Sunday, October 19, 2014

Respect: a two-way street

Respect is sadly lacking in Australia. Even the Federal Attorney-General has stated that everyone has the right to be a bigot. Now, I'm all up for Freedom of Speech, but with freedom comes responsibility and underpinning that responsibility is respect.

This lack of respect is publicly expressed by politicians, pastors, radio shock-jocks, newspaper columnists and any bigot with a social media account. Many of whom get offended by anyone taking offense at their offensive comments. They accuse the lefties, bleeding hearts and do-gooders of being weak and sensitive.

Studies have shown that racism is usually the domain of those less intelligent. However, academia hasn't been spared its share of racists. Professor Barry Spurr of the University of Sydney was suspended after his inner racist and inner sexist was unleashed in less than eloquent emails that used some of the most vile and offensive language against women, indigenous people, Asians, Muslims, people who are overweight and those lacking education. He whinged about Australia becoming less white. It was the quintessential expression of bigotry.

Spurr had recently reviewed the national school curriculum at the behest of the Australian Government and recommended that it focus less on indigenous history and more on its white 'Judeo-Christian' history. After the emails were leaked Education Minister Christopher Pyne stood by Barry Spurr and the review. Another politician promoting racism and white supremacy.

Funnily enough, many of those who claim the right to be bigots also whinge about how disrespectful young people are today.

Why shouldn't they be?

They have a right to be disrespectful based on the Attorney-General's logic and the Education Minister's acceptance of a racist review of the school curriculum. Young people see some of the most influential people in Australia, including journalists (or those that masquerade as journos), talk-show hosts, professors, pastors and politicians all bleating about how people should just 'toughen up' and not be offended if called offensive names.

Freedom of speech? Sure. Don't curtail it. It's a great freedom for revealing the racists and bigots. It's a great freedom for revealing the hypocrites who want the right to abuse others but to ban those who are different from expressing their differences. Freedom for some but not all if you listen to the racists, the bigots, the small-minded who can't see outside their own tiny world.

This right to bigotry and hatred is being expressed through attacks on innocent women who happen to wear Islamic head-coverings. These attacks are the physical manifestation of the political rhetoric voiced by politicians and some pastors who bang on about attacks on 'our way of life' and 'our Christian values'.

Hypocrisy of the highest order.

A generation of young people are growing up watching adults behave in disrespectful, gutless and short-sighted ways. Is it any wonder then, that some of those young people adopt similar behaviours towards others, including against those same older people who have taught them disrespect.

If you want to be respected, than start by respecting others. That doesn't mean that you just respect those who are the same colour, political or religious persuasion as you. It means respecting everyone.

If you want respect, then give respect.

It's a two-way street.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Capitalism - a religion of fear, greed and envy

The difference between capitalism and socialism can be summed up as:

  • Capitalism = greed, selfishness & fear of losing one's possessions. It is materialistic. It is survival of the fittest. It is economic Darwinism.
  • Socialism = government sanctioned values of inclusiveness, sharing, caring for the poor and weak.

Capitalism's focus is on private accumulation of wealth and the naive idea that this wealth will trickle down to the society's less fortunate through the generosity of the wealthy. There certainly are some philanthropic capitalists out there, such as Bill Gates and Warren Buffet, but most horde their wealth and attack the most vulnerable who could benefit from a portion of it.

Selfishness is the underpinning value of capitalism which requires the exploitation of people and resources in order to amass wealth. So it's no great surprise that we see the rise of rhetoric in right wing politics regarding 'protecting our values', or put another way, 'protecting individual wealth and the right to exploit workers, the vulnerable and developing nations'.

Considering that most right-wing voters are workers anyway, demonstrates the need for capitalists to use fear-based hyperbole to manipulate the electorate. Capitalists have been selling a dream to workers for years that claims they can also become filthy rich. For most this is just that: a dream. The Great American Dream. In the end it's the poor and middle class who pay for the lifestyles of the rich and famous.

Now we are seeing this dream couched in terms of more sinister propaganda in order to manipulate those most susceptible to and necessary for the capitalist lie to propagate. Capitalism has tied itself to patriotism and Christianity with the the right-wing wrapping themselves in flags and bibles, only caring for those who share their so-called 'patriotic' or 'christian' values. Values that they defend by demonising anyone who is different. In some cases they even verbally and physically assault those who don't meet their 'standards'. The right-wing often resort to outright lies, such as false and inflammatory comments about asylum seeker entitlements, Islam, aborigines, migrants and the poor in order to whip up racism, bigotry and hatred.

The right wing are fearful of threats to their materialistic lifestyles.

To assuage their conscience, some will donate a pittance of their income or possessions to help the poor. To justify their selfish behaviour many will attend church and find scriptures to demonstrate that God loves a 'cheerful giver' and rewards giving by reigning unfettered wealth on the generous. They have the attitude that the 'tithe will set you free'. It goes to show just how much they are bound by greed and materialism.

The right-wing has hijacked religion with the evolution of political parties such as the Tea Party and Family First, and the professing of Christian values by Presidents and Prime Ministers alike.

Capitalism is not Christianity. It isn't patriotism. It's a belief system full of fear and devoid of love. Remember the bible scripture, 'perfect love drives out fear'. If the right-wing actually showed perfect, unconditional love for others, they wouldn't be so full of fear of others or of losing their precious possessions.

Most right-wing Christians believe God is a capitalist. Yet the Christian God is supposedly one of love not of money. There are two commandments that sum up the entire bible: 'Love the Lord your God with all your heart and soul ... and love your neighbour as yourself'.

Funnily enough, love doesn't glow resplendent in the exploitation of people.

Apparently, 'love your neighbour', doesn't actually mean to have absolute and unadulterated love for everyone. I've heard a right-wing preacher say that we are commanded to love ... but that doesn't mean loving unconditionally ... that we are to love with 'wisdom'.


Love with wisdom?

Maybe if Jesus had shown wisdom and discretion in his love he wouldn't have been crucified. Oh well ... instead he sacrificed himself out of love for those who persecuted him. Jesus forgave those who crucified him. He died for their sins out of love for the entire world ... remember John 3:16 that the right-wing Christians like to decorate themselves with: 'For God so LOVED the WORLD that he gave his only begotten Son, that whoever believes on him will be saved and will not perish'.

I don't see any conditions put on his love for the world. Jesus was sent for the whole world ... out of love for the world, which kind of encompasses everyone.

Right-wing fanatics hijacked religion because it can be so easily used to control and dominate people while providing justification for attacking the free thinker who questions the status quo.

Of course, not all capitalists are Christians, but even the non-Christian right-wing display similar values of greed, exclusion and fear.

The fanatical right-wing judge others by how much of a threat those others are. In fact, even before that, they judge others by their own level of ignorance; criticising and condemning those they don't understand. They become experts in other people's ideologies and religions with their own slanted and often inaccurate viewpoints such as their misunderstanding of Socialism and their complete contempt and misquoting of Islamic scriptures.

Aahh ... the rabid right-wing ... driven by fear, envy, pride, ignorance and a sense of privilege. They feel they are better than others and that it's ok to exploit and persecute people who are different.

People of all demographics need to be included and considered in society. There are those who require greater care than others and it is society's responsibility to care for them, not to persecute or exploit them.

Capitalism benefits the few at the expense of the masses.  It is for this reason that government needs to be Socialist and share wealth in a sustainable manner that ensures all have the ability to live a dignified and productive life while maintaining a strong and viable economy for the benefit of all.

Neither people nor the planet should be exploited or persecuted. Creeds and religions should not be used to justify exploitation and persecution. Capitalism has become the religion of the greedy and selfish while demonising its victims: the persecuted and exploited.

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Burqas don't kill people, people kill people

The rise of the self-proclaimed Islamic State has seen a rise in fear and racist attacks in the West. In Australia there have been numerous attacks on Muslims and mosques. The corresponding number of attacks committed by Muslims has been significantly fewer.

Muslim women in particular have reported being attacked by people screaming abuse, trying to tear away their head-coverings and physically assaulting them. The attackers threaten them with bashing, rape and beheading. Some of the attackers have even threatened to murder their children. Ironically, these attacks are ostensibly because Islamic State has beheaded a number of Westerners.

The small-minded cowards who've perpetrated these attacks have shown a distinct lack of intelligence. Many of these gutless wonder have attacked vulnerable women or snuck into mosques and defaced them.

It's not overly surprising that some elements of society lack the skills to separate true terrorism from the general Muslim community. After all, the Australian government has been feeding xenophobia and racism for years by linking asylum seekers with terrorism (even though asylum seekers are victims, fleeing war, terrorism and persecution), by linking Islam with terrorism (not mentioning the use of terrorism by Western nations in countries such as Afghanistan and Iraq, or the funding of despots responsible for much of the persecution that asylum seekers are fleeing) and by establishing Australian 'values' as some sort of whites-only club, namely Team Australia, that everyone must swear allegiance to.

The media has been responsible for peddling and expanding on the government's xenophobic mantras, thus feeding further the fear, racism and bigotry that is being manifested violently by some and repeated ad nauseum by others who can't differentiate one action from another.

Studies have found that lower intelligence in childhood often resulted in racist attitudes in adulthood. ( This was because of a lack of cognitive skills and inability to see the 'big picture', which is constructed of individual events not a mass event. Racists lack the ability to separate the actions of a few from the larger group who disagree with it.  A Muslim committing terrorism is not representative of all Muslims. Just like a Christian who rapes a child is not representative of all Christians. Racists can't see the trees for the forest. Something happens and all they see is the forest, they can't drill down and separate the individual from the overall group. It is a lack of intelligence and cognitive ability that underpins racism, bigotry and xenophobia.

A number of these mental giants will argue that religion is not a race, therefore they aren't racist. However, the same behaviours that characterise racism also characterise their anti-Islamic bigotry. If you don't want to be called racist, then don't act like a racist. Speaking of forests, as Forrest Gump said 'stupid is as stupid does'.

These bigots claim they are defending their nation or religion from the insidious actions of Islam, yet it is the behaviour and hate-speech of bigots that is the biggest threat.

Recently, Parliament House in Canberra declared that anyone in a burqa can't sit in the open gallery, but can only sit in an enclosed room that is usually reserved for noisy school children. They would be separated from the chamber by a glass window.  This is a blatant attack on women wearing burqas. How many people wearing burqas have ever been to Parliament House? In addition, everyone who enters Parliament House goes through metal-detection security. A security officer at Parliament House stated that the new rule was implemented so that they could identify whoever yells abuse from the public gallery. I'm going to go out on a limb and suggest that no burqa wearing person has ever yelled abuse from the public gallery. It is blatant fear-mongering bigotry that is behind this rule and it is supported by the actions and rhetoric of the government.

Let's not get into the variations in Islamic head-dress - that would only confuse the racists. Actually, let's do get into the variations. This article from ABC gives a good description of the variations:

The attack on the burqa (as the racists keep banging on about), is partly fuelled by the belief that there could be someone dressed up in a burqa in order to commit a terrorist act. While it is possible that a cross-dressing terrorist might don the burqa, if they are intent on covering their face then what is to stop them dressing up as the Easter bunny, or a storm-trooper or some other fancy-dress that hides their face. If it's a suicide bomber, why would they hide their face at all? Would a suicide bomber care if anyone sees their face if they're about to blow themselves apart?

Some kind-hearted souls state that they oppose the burqa because women 'should be free'. I applaud their concern for the well-being of Muslim women, however, that is a facade and justification for another attack on Islam. Apparently, the freedom of Muslim women doesn't extend to having the freedom to chose what they wear.

Muslims across the globe have been protesting against the actions of Islamic State, and for that matter, the actions of terrorists in general. I don't see too many Christians protesting against the war-crimes, ethnic cleansing and genocide perpetrated by Israel for the last 70 years or so. Israel's crimes in the name of Zionism, and therefore in the name of God, have given rise to much of the anger in the Muslim world. Yet even with this anger, very few of the more than 1.5 billion Muslims across the globe have reacted violently. Considering a quarter of the world is Muslim, we'd soon know if they were all hell-bent on destroying the west. Obviously, they are not.

There's a whole lot of discussion around the burqa. Some politicians are even calling for a ban on it. Even Australia's illustrious prime minister, Tony Abbott, has stated he doesn't like the burqa. If we are to ban the burqa, then ban all religious garb: ban nuns from nun outfits, ban priests from priestly outfits, ban the cute little collar that some protestant ministers wear. Banning the burqa is a ridiculous argument and is fuelled by fear and hatred of Islam. It masks a deeper loathing for the entire Islamic community by small-minded individuals who should know better. Government, church and community leaders should be condemning the deep-seated racism and bigotry being manifested against Muslims. This includes ensuring their own language and actions does not give tacit or blatant support for racist abuse and attacks.

Get something straight: burqas don't kill people, people kill people.

It is time that the government stopped feeding this fear and hatred. Focus on the real problem, focus on terrorism, condemn it, but do not condemn an entire religion because of the actions of a few.