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Fake distress signals

By Michael Talbot-Wilson
Created 16/07/2012 - 22:14

As a heartless kind of person (at least, that is what I infer from the reactions of others to the drownings of boat-people, reactions that I don't share, thinking that they are responsible for the consequences of their own conduct) I have been little disturbed by those events.

But, as a matter of simple logic (something I think I'm a bit better at, despite the last sentence), the reactions of the Australian political class to those few deaths, whether or not those reactions are genuine, are in their own way spectacular and instructive.  And edifying.

When a major source of boat people is a country in which a crowd (which, of course, had to be exclusively male) breaks into cheers when a woman is killed by a volley from an AK-47 (how wasteful of ammunition!) because someone accused her of adultery, and when no-one involved (no male, the only possibility) cared that she was not allowed properly to defend herself (and regardless of that, of whether or not she had indeed acted as a free person), and when many Afghans are obviously watching  Australian politics in order to refine their migration plans, the contrast is striking in the extreme between the morality of a secular state and that of a state or at least a community such as that of Afghanistan, very non-secular in the vilest sense.

Not only striking in the abstract, but such as must be striking to those same Afghan observers of Australia.   And so, highly instructive, highly edifying, to that society as a whole.

In that situation the conduct of the RAN and the government in "rescuing" those who transmit phoney distress signals, because lives might be lost though no fault of either, contrasts with another social morality in a way that must be instructive and novel to victims of the latter.

And that contrast, the existence of higher moral values than those commonplace among them, must in due course become widely-known within Afghanistan.

Of course, the people-smuggler low-life will react with contemptuous delight to what they regard as the naivety, stupidity, weakness, of the RAN, and exploit it for all it is worth.  There may be a spectacular increase in boats sending fake distress signals.

Yet it may be that by continuing to adhere to high standards in responding to distress signals at sea Australia will do more to benefit Afghanistan society than she ever did by military intervention.

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