15 November 2013

The asylum issue

I try very hard not to be ranty - here, on FB or in my communication with officials - but sometimes the soap box just has to be dusted off. There have been some incredibly shameful incidents in Australia in recent days; incidents sanctioned by government, incidents instigated by government policy. And I am disgusted.

Just a few from this week; JUST ONE WEEK:
Morrison: Offshore Camp Can Handle A Profoundly Disabled Child
Asylum seeker separated from her sick newborn in Brisbane
Job ads describe quandary of caring for unaccompanied children on Nauru

What I'd really like to do is slap a few politicians, teach them a few lessons about compassion and justice and being people focussed (things our daughter learnt before she was 10). In lieu of that, I've started doing something I've never done before - writing to politicians. Again, trying hard not to be a ranter, but that's difficult when I feel, firstly, outraged that this happening in my country, and secondly, so helpless to change anything. There's not a lot else I can do - sitting in middle class, comfortable Australia; enjoying my persecution-free, safe life with all its privileges.

When I read the article about the mother and baby yesterday, I sent an email to Scott Morrison, the guy in charge of the policies, the Minister for Immigration and "Border Control" (that should be 'sea border control', 'cause they don't care if you arrive by plane). (deep breath, deep breath). Today, with the disabled child and the unaccompanied children, I wrote again. I have to do something.

And today, not content with just sending an email to Mr Morrison, I thought I'd share my thoughts with the world, or that very small portion of it that reads my blog.

Email to Mr Morrison, Federal Minister for Immigration and [sea] Border Control

I am astounded. I am beyond dumbfounded. Quite frankly, I am gobsmacked that our politicians - one would presume incredibly smart and intelligent people since they're running the country - can be so woeful ignorant of the consequences of their policies. I'm dismayed that it's not just a Liberal or Labor problem. It appears to be rife throughout both major parties. Doesn't leave a lot of room for hope.
As leaders you, the politicians, 'set the tone'. The leader of any group or organisation sets the tone, determines the way forward, gives life to the vision that the people follow. Winston Churchill both represented and created the stoic British attitude during World War II. Similarly Hitler turned almost an entire nation, plus a few extras, into haters of the 'other'. A leader, for better or worse, sets the tone of the culture of the led.
And our current politicians appear to have no idea what future havoc they are breeding for themselves, for those that follow them into governance, or for the nation. Instead they have taken a narrow minded, short-term view - let's win an election, let's create fear, let's breed racism. And when the next Cronulla hits the news, you'll all stand back, wring hands, and say, "What is happening to our country." And no doubt, you'll all be out there stirring up more fear, more racism - creating a downward spiral of culture decay.
YOU set the tone, YOU determine the culture, YOU choose who or what to vilify and commend.
The government's current policy (and the previous governments' then policies) are creating a culture of fear, racism and xenophobia. No sooner had we started to undo the harm of the White Australia policy, the yellow peril and reds under the bed, than the government reintroduces the same fear, the same narrow mindedness. The 'enemy' may have changed; the attitude remains the same.
The policies of the past 15 years towards asylum seekers (NOT illegal - such an illiterate position) are sickening. They have created and will continue create a nation that is self-absorbed, self-seeking, cruel, and, quite frankly, ugly. These are people who have been through trauma that few, if any, of us can imagine. And instead of offering hope, compassion and justice, we heap more hurt, more indignity, more ugliness into their lives. And in doing so we remove the hope, compassion and justice from our own national culture. The danger to Australia's way of life is not those that come to us from overseas; the danger is the enemy within.
This is not a time to be proud to be Australian. Forget the ugly American. We are fast becoming the ugly Australians.
And the only ones who can change that are you - the politicians, all of you, any of you. Stand up for what is right, as a human being. Otherwise, move over McCarthy, Australia offers you, Morrison. Cruel, cold-hearted, unfeeling, more interested in party politics than people.
Sad. Very sad.

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