Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Hanson, reconciliation, Islam

Do we think the right to free speech should only be afforded those who agree with and articulate 'our' thoughts and desires? Look, I don't align myself with those of right-wing, conservative politician Pauline Hanson, far from it, but if we seek to shut her down, shame her into defeat, give her less media time, vilify her on the basis that she is uneducated to a level that we would usually desire from our politicians, or that she operated a fish and chip shop (as did her parents in the past) and as such is just an ill informed retail worker, aren't we guilty of being just as intolerant as any group of people who serve to silence minorities because their ideas threaten the mainstream (take for example the Taliban, young men of poor Pakistani families studying the teachings of Islam, who advocated strict sharia law and insisted on dictating the dress and behavior of females within Islam) something Hanson herself is attempting to do through her insistence that Muslim women in Australia should discard their hijabs and burqa's and adopt western clothing, which essentially (at least at a surface level) erases their affiliation with a religion and culture that she finds offensive and threatening to 'our' way of life'. The constant barrage of terrorist attacks by fundamentalist Islamists overseas feeds into the fears that many have about the possible influx of refugees into Australia and the threat they may pose to our culture. Hanson might be reminded that the 'our' in that sentence refers to a population built on multi-culturalism, albeit mainly Christian (63%). By contrast only 1.7% of our population are Muslim. To many, (especially in conservative Queensland) her anti-immigration, anti-Muslim sentiments are well over due and they welcome the fact that her (their) voice will be represented in the senate. We shouldn't be surprised that Hanson (and other groups such as Reclaim Australia) has returned and with her (them) the underlying fears of Australians who feel disenfranchised by current politics and seek to take control over matters that appear to threaten us. We've been down this track before. Through xenophobia, fear and ignorance 'we' demanded that Indigenous Australians relinquish their myths and beliefs, language, dress and culture and assimilate into 'our way of life' without thinking of future consequences

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