Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Why do we tolerate nastiness toward asylum seekers?

Has anyone noticed an improvement in 2011 in the treatment of refugees? I have'nt. I turned on ABC24 this morning to find the Liberal spokesperson on immigration, Scott Morrison, attacking the Govt. for assisting financially the families of refugees killed on Christmas Island to attend the funerals of their lost relatives. How low can this polity sink? Even Hockey found this a nasty too far. The meanness of spirit behind this base politics continues to disgust me. Sometimes I can barely bring myself to look at and listen to the horror of our treatment of asylum seekers.

I once worked for a government that sold its soul to a devil. Our enthusiastic complicity in an illegal war, our rank hypocrisy in hectoring other countries about human rights, and our systematic violation of the rights of refugees was more than I could stomach; I withdrew gradually my services and then myself from the professional world I had inhabited for nigh twenty years. I found myself in a fog of depression that threatened to destroy my life. Everywhere I looked I saw Islamophobia, sanguineness in the face of abject cruelty to our fellow human beings, bureaucratic solutions to human suffering. People I had loved were sprouting the poisonous stuff of ethnic demonization and the mindless slogans of hate and intolerance.

I set myself on a path of healing but I am constantly set back by the reality of hate politics; the mindless characterisation of people on the basis of religion and/or ethnicity.

I kept thinking of two people I loved, and who had seen me through earlier difficult times, when a good friend was all that stood between me and dangerous depression. One of these great friends was a colleague who died in the Jog Jakarta air disaster; the other was a refugee from Iran who I met at University in India and who migrated to the US. Both of these wonderful human beings were/are great humanists with a zest for life. Oh yes, and they were/are Muslims...

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