Lest We Forget
by Melody Kemp
One thing about living the peripatetic life is the richness and variety of friends that one makes. While in Indonesia we became very close to some Dutch Americans with whom we stay in contact. She like some New Woman stereotype, an actress and yoga teacher, he an expert in international finance systems. Taking into account the mercantile history of the Netherlands and their role on Indonesia, his is also as fitting an occupation as one could wish for.
Last week I received a message from him. He had forwarded a flyer that is currently gaining some popular ground in the Netherlands.
The old idyll of an inclusive, humane Dutch society, where permissive and progressive attitudes find a place to flower, seems to have died with this web flyer. And who is the one who has summonsed the ghost of Enoch Powell? None other than John Winston H. (I actually can’t bring myself to utter or write his name: it’s too much like naming the devil). It seems our ex Prime Miniature is now a cult hero amongst born again Aryans.
ADDED: It should be noted that there is no evidence that ex-Prime Minister Howard actually said any of these things attributed to him, and some are clearly extracted from other sources. A sentence in Melody's piece that could imply that he did has been deleted.
Readers of Webdiary may be interested to see some of the interchange.
First, my friend in the US:
I have only one problem with Mr. Howard:
He is playing on popular sentiment. His references to "our God," "our flag," are dangerous.
The fact that Australia was founded by "Christians" is irrelevant. These so-called Christians took the land from the aboriginals to begin with. Australia, like the US, is a secular, multi-cultural state, based on mass immigration. It was populated first by, initially, British and Irish criminals (released from UK prisons), and after that by others from all over the world.
The fact that in Australia there is freedom of speech and of religion, however, is highly relevant.
And the fact that they speak English there is a matter of practicality.
I do agree with Howard on this: Sharia is an absolutist belief-system and should indeed be opposed, because it violates other people's right to freedom of speech and of religion, which are fundamental human rights, which modern states are supposed to support and honor.
Mr. Howard's language, however, sounds rather fascistic to me, when he talks about our God, our pledge, our flag, etc. I object to that language here in the US, and in any country. (Nazi Germany was big on this stuff.) No belief system should be pushed in public school class rooms, or favored by the state and its officials. In a modern state, the only thing that should be observed is "the Law." Nobody is above it; everybody deserves to be protected by it.
I will therefore not just pass this along, if you don't mind. Instead, I will check with my Australian friends what they think about this, Howard's latest tirade. Should be interesting.
Next the Flyer. All emphases are theirs:
If anyone is interested I can forward my response.
A new export earner?