Opening our doors to more refugees

Henry Ergas offers let’s say a bracing perspective on our increased refugee intake which is to say that we should profile refugees to try to screen out those with odious views – many of whom will be Muslims. It’s quite compelling. Then again doing so opens a Pandora’s box of concerns. I’d feel it was a more compelling issue if we were proposing a much higher intake – as Germany is.

What do others think? If you’re locked out by the Oz’s paywall, for a limited time, I’ve made Henry’s article available on this link.

 

 

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paul frijters
paul frijters
6 years ago

Henry makes some good points, but he gets carried away: I do not think it is useful to think of Islam as innately incapable of tolerance, as he quite explicitly suggests. Not only have there been times and places where Islamic countries were amongst the most liberal and tolerant, but more important for today is that we simply cannot embrace the idea that 1.5 billion people are our bitter and implacable enemies who can never become our friends. The logical conclusion of that stance is simply too awful to accept unless we truly have to, and there is no indication at all at the moment that we are indeed forced to see them as our enemy.

For instance, the 200 millions Indonesians to the North of us are not our enemies, but by and large our valued allies and trading partners, muslim and all. We’d be nuts to declare them our enemies via some official migrant policy.

So until the time that our conflict with a small violent minority becomes much bigger and starts to include large populations, we must hone in on the small minority that we have issues with (at the moment, mainly Sunni-fanatics) and target them and their message, not get carried away with demonizing an entire religion.

Henry’s point that the West is remarkably complacent when it comes to anti-Western propaganda on its own soil rings true, but it is separate from the issue of migration. And it’s tricky in its own right, because the issue of what is ‘anti-Western’ is not clear cut. Is it anti-Western of some on the radical left who believe that Western corporations are destroying the world? How about some on the radical right who believe we are destroying Western civilization by allowing gay marriage? You get chillingly close to a thought-police if you want to define boundaries on what propaganda is allowed in clubs and mosques.

Also, it already is illegal in Australia to incite racial hatred, so if what Henry says about attitudes to Jews amongst Australian muslims is true, then that suggests we don’t actually enforce the law effectively at the moment and should hold communities to account for it, certainly if the racial intolerance includes public propaganda via mosques.

In terms of our policy on migrant assimilation, in principle I think Australia’s current stance is pretty well spot-on: we demand of all migrants that they quickly pick up the language and shift their loyalty towards Australia and core Australian values. And we mainly select those at the gates who have a good chance to get jobs and integrate. Perhaps we can do more to check up on that bargain, but that attitude seems the right balance to me. If we can find 12,000 migrants with valuable skills and who declare themselves prepared to become loyal to us, then I see no basis for keeping them out because of their deity. If any Western country is capable of integrating Arab muslims, I believe its Australia. It really is the thing we are remarkably good at, better than any European country.

I do think we can demand things of newcomers though (as we already do!) and we could think about extending the set of things we demand. I personally for instance think that polygamy is a highly disruptive cultural trait, because you are then left with young men without wives who will do anything, and believe anything, to get access to women. If it were up to me, we should not let in anyone with multiple wives, nor tolerate the practice within Australia, which we unfortunately do seem to do by recognising multiple marriages formed elsewhere.

john Walker
john Walker(@johnrwalker)
6 years ago
Reply to  paul frijters

We are planning to take in 12,000 people. There must be a lot of Syrian refuges that are from Yazidi, christian or similar minority groups before the war they were about 15% of the population. They really cannot go home , they are high priority and surely must number more than 12,000?

Re Islam, it does not really have any ‘structure’ roughly equivalent to say the Catholic, Orthodox or Anglican churches that have fairly strong controls over who can be a priest and what is legit interpretations of the theology . i.e generalizations about what ‘Islam’ is, are potentially misleading.

paul frijters
paul frijters
6 years ago
Reply to  john Walker

we will see how many we actually take. We seem to plan to take in 12,000 over several years, longer than a whole election cycle. Peanuts in the scheme of things. I don’t think that we should take in any more though, as I don’t buy into the notion of white guilt. We don’t owe the rest of the world anything. We might choose to hand out charity, but it is our choice and it should be on our terms.

There surely are enough non-Muslims amongst the refugees, but we simply cannot make it policy to refuse Muslim refugees. We can demand particular behaviour, but not particular gods.

Islam is a broad church with lots of denominations. Very organised forms (Shiites), very decentralised forms (Alavites). As you say, one generalises at ones peril! Henry must feel quite strongly about it to have written this piece.

john Walker
john Walker(@johnrwalker)
6 years ago
Reply to  paul frijters

Paul Hi
Tony Abbott’s comments the other day were, dumb, there was no need to say ‘we will prefer some faiths, over others. If we focus on the ones who are most at risk the Yazidi , Christians, the Druze , and Islamic sects such as the Sufi, that are regarded as ‘heretics’ by many, they would surely fill the quota without any need for any explicit ‘rules’ about religion as such.

Moz of Yarramulla
Moz of Yarramulla
6 years ago
Reply to  john Walker

> Islam, it does not really have any ‘structure’ roughly equivalent to say the Catholic, Orthodox or Anglican churches

That’s because it’s a religion not a sect. It’s more accurate to say it doesn’t have a structure any more than Christianity does. Good luck getting the Russian Orthodox Church to agree with the Christian Scientists on how to govern Christianity, let alone Christiandom.

john Walker
john Walker(@johnrwalker)
6 years ago

Moz
The liturgy of the Eastern Orthodox church and the traditional Anglican liturgy differ only by a few words. (not familiar with the Russian Orthodox faith but expect it is much the same).

Christan Science , fine as it is, is a end product of the splintering of faith(s) that really took off on the north German plain after Luther and then moved to the US.

paul frijters
paul frijters
6 years ago

“Christan Science , fine as it is, is a end product of the splintering of faith(s) that really took off on the north German plain after Luther and then moved to the US.”

hmmmm. Really? Oxford was founded more than 5 centuries before that splintering. Bologna even earlier. The Renaissance started without Luther. Neither Michaelangelo nor Leonardo needed the splintering of the faith to do their science. Many of the inventions in the age of exploration of the Spanish and the Portuguese had no roots in splintered faiths.

I fear some quack historian has gotten to you, John.

John walker
6 years ago

Paul
Sigh and I paid so much for my homeopathic history course , the Rev Mary Baker Eddy garrentiees it. :-)

John walker
6 years ago

Paul completely off topic , there are two countries,places , in the whole world that have clotted cream as a native delight , one is Cornwall what is the other?

Alan
Alan
6 years ago
Reply to  john Walker

That is true of the Sunni but not the Shi’a. Most Shi’a follow and established hierarchy of clergy that would be completely familiar to a Catholic, Anglican or Orthodox Christian.

By contrast, visitors to Shawnee County, Kansas or Rowan County, Kentucky might note that some Christians who lack an established hierarchy are quite capable of launching their own private theologies on an unsuspecting world.

John walker
6 years ago
Reply to  Alan

Thanks for that. Am definitely no expert on Islam, is that why the Sunnis are regarded as ‘heretics ‘ by some?

Re ‘Kansas’ a few years ago in a small orthodox church , bought a book by a scholar, on how to deal with the: ” American folk religion heresies” .
BTW The Band wrote a great song about that sort of show -bizhttps://m.youtube.com/watch?v=t3So8wWm5W8

Alan
Alan
6 years ago
Reply to  Alan

The Sunni are a huge majority. Until fairly recently relations between Sunni and Shi’a were fairly relaxed but Sunni fundamentalists like ISIL and al Qa’ida tend to regard Shi’a as apostates. That is a completely new development in Islam.

Just as with Christianity, Islamic fundamentalism is largely a product of the 20th century. Obviously the two movements identify different enemies (although homosexuals score high on both enemies lists) but they are actually quite hard to distinguish.

john Walker
john Walker(@johnrwalker)
6 years ago
Reply to  Alan

Thanks.
I have heard that the roots of the Islamic fundamentalist movement go back to the early 19C and also involved internal power issues in the Saudi family, is that correct ?

Moz of Yarramulla
Moz of Yarramulla
6 years ago

Definitely hard to read. I find it offensive in the shallowness of the rhetoric and the blatant cherry-picking of examples. It’s very easy from a distance to label things “religious conflict” while ignoring both the local issues that drive conflict and the acts of “your side”. I’m sure that “this crusade, this war against terrorism” seemed rather overtly Christian to many of its victims to give one example.

We also have an obligation to help the people we’re bombing, I think, and that means accepting Syrian Muslims as refugees. More accurately, Syrians regardless of religion. I’d prefer to focus on why people are refugees, how much we helped make them refugees, and whether they’d be helped by moving to Australia. Viz, focus on their situation rather than factors that are likely irrelevant.

We also need to be very careful not to outlaw Jewish commentary on Palestine when banning any criticism by non-Jews of Jewish actions. At the same time we can’t really afford to name names in laws about religious tolerance, so the current laws might be as good as we can expect. Maybe more even-handed enforcement? Imprison a few of the “terrorists in the occupied territories must be exterminated” with their mates on the “drive the Zionists into the sea” side and keep doing it until they stop saying those things, perhaps?

Leigh
Leigh
6 years ago

Australia bombing ISIS, who have contributed more than their fair share to the Syrian refugee crisis, means Australia is responsible for making people refugees? Nah, it doesn’t.

As to the Yazidis, I recall an interview with a Yazidi woman who said although the Yazidi lived alongside their Muslim neighbours for decades in relative peace, they new better than to trust them and it was no surprise when their Muslim neighbours joined in and often exceeded ISIS in the savagery in which they raped, killed, burnt, pillaged and plundered.

So yeah, I’d strictly confine our intake to non-Muslim groups who are facing genocide and allow the Muslim world to put its own house in order through organisations like the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation.

John Goss
John Goss
6 years ago

Henry Ergas does overgeneralise but I do think type of religion is a pretty good marker of intolerance. Religious groups I would put towards the bottom of the list for acceptance would include Scientologists, Falun Gong, extremist Sunni and Shia, and Orthodox Jews from the USSR region. I would also be careful with Marionite Christians given the problems we have had with the Eddie Obeid’s of this world. I would be quite happy to accept Ahmadiyya, Bahai, Kurdish Muslims, most Indonesian Muslims, most Sufis, most Buddhists, Sikhs, Coptics, most Hindus, most Jews, atheists and agnostics. Religion should not be the only factor we take into account, but I think it should be one factor among many. Need for protection from persecution should be the primary issue we focus on, along with other factors like religion and educational status. Disability or health should not be a factor.

Persse
Persse
6 years ago

Christianity from its establishment in the Byzantine era and to the modern day has perpetrated a torrent of the most cruel and barbaric violence on innocents and opponents. The genocide of the pagans and destruction of temples, and on and on. The favoured cruelty being, of course, incineration alive.
Thankfully, the last victim of the Inquisition was in 1856 and now fades into history leaving just its dishonest and hypocritical rhetoric.
Islam, which started as arabised Christianity, with a strong basis in Syriac traditions, has a vastly better record of peace and accord, hence the diversity of religions in the that have survived. That’s right, the kaleidoscope of religions in the middle east and eastern Ottoman Europe only exist because of Muslim tolerance for alternate creeds.Anyone who says otherwise is simply ignorant.
Ask the Arianist Christians, the Muslims and Jews in Spain and Europe about religious inspired violence and ethnic cleansing.
Mr Ergas comments do not equate to more than offensive drivel.
No one can tell a persons behaviour from their religion or lack of.

John Walker
John Walker
6 years ago

Byzantium was from about 500 AD onwards that is along time after the life of christ.

Alan
Alan
6 years ago
Reply to  John Walker

By some counts Constantine the Great is the first Byzantine emperor. The problem si that Constantine, and all his successors until he death of Constantine XI in 1453, thought of themselves as Romans. No ‘Byzantine’, emperor or otherwise, ever used that term about themselves. Indeed on one famous occasion a papal letter addressed to the ‘Emperor of the Greeks’ instead of the ‘Emperor of the Romans’ was reigned unread.

The concept of Byzantium was invented by Edward Gibbon and his friends. They thought of themselves as the rightful heirs of Rome and certainly were not going o tolerate that heritage being contested by a decadent crowd of Greek-speaking Christian. History-writing about the Byzantines in the Enlightenment reads like a Star Wars novel, all evil emperors, corrupt courtiers and spectacular ceremonies. Byzantine historiography was dominated by this nonsense until the 20th century.

The Enlightenment historians also invented a great deal of the Black Legend about Christianity so lovingly repeated by an earlier commenter.

Alan
Alan
6 years ago

Ahem *returned unread, not reigned unread…

John Walker
John Walker
6 years ago

Got go love spill chick :-)
And yes uts all about ‘ lables’.

John Walker
John Walker
6 years ago
Reply to  John Walker

Sigh

Persse
Persse
6 years ago

‘Established’ – official state religion. Jesus was an entirely fictional figure so did not establish anything.

Persse
Persse
6 years ago

Sorry for confusing people, my only point was that there is no value in judging people on their religion and no guide to behaviour. Firstly, religion it is entirely based on family affiliation, not on choices. Secondly, it is entirely plastic, a person can be a hundred generations Jewish and wake up tomorrow a Hindu if they so choose. People do not because to do so is a repudiation of their social connections.
There is a reason why it is called the Enlightenment.

Alan
Alan
6 years ago
Reply to  Persse

The Enlightenment promulgated, among other nasty ideas, scientific racism. David Hume for instance, whose work on ‘natural rights’ drove the dispossession of Native Americans and ultimately of indigenous Australians, wrote in 1742:

I am apt to suspect the Negroes, and in general all other species of men to be naturally inferior to the whites. There never was any civilized nation of any other complection than white, nor even any individual eminent in action or speculation.

There is indeed a reason it is called the Enlightenment. The name is self-awarded and tells us only what spectacularly successful propagandists of empire and racial hierarchy can do to promote their own reputation. Hume was widely cited in the Southern US both before and after the Civil War as support for the superiority of Southern Civilisation.

When the Enlightenment could not find appropriate historical examples they simply invented them. The Squire’s Tale in the Canterbury Tales begins:

At Sarai in the land of Tartary,
A king dwelt who made war on Moscovy, 10
In which there perished many a valiant man.
This noble king was known as Cambuscan,
And in his time so greatly was renowned
That in no other land was to be found
So excellent a lord in everything; 15
He lacked for nothing that befits a king.

Cambuscan is one of many ways of writing the name Chingis Khan. Chaucer lived in the century of the Paz Mongolica and wrote about Chingiz Khan as a noble ruler. Voltaire needed an Asiatic tyrant so he could criticise the King of France and almost single-handedly invented Chingis Khan as a monster in L’Orphelin de la Chine.

Not long after Voltaire Western doctors decided, in the best scientific and Enlightened manner, that women who gave birth to children with Down’s Syndrome obviously descended from women who had been raped by the ravening Mongol hordes of that same Cambuscan.

Peter WARWICK
Peter WARWICK
6 years ago
Reply to  Alan

Alan,
this looks like a dissertation for a PhD. Well done !
I am trying to see what it has got to do with the post.

Alan
Alan
6 years ago
Reply to  Peter WARWICK

I would’ve thought re comment was a direct answer to the claims about the Enlightenment by Persse on September 15, 2015 at 6:47 am. But I could be wrong.

Crocodile Chuck
Crocodile Chuck
6 years ago

Ten years ago there was an enormous tsunami in the Indian Ocean and tens of thousands of people were left homeless.

Yet there was no elite stoked international thrust to ‘resettle’ these unfortunates.

Why now? Why can’t the OECD countries provide money to resettle these people in Turkey, or some other country closer to the ME?

As an increasingly enfeebled colonial outpost of the USA [eg, with its so called ‘free trade agreements’; a duped customer of its military contractors; obedient slave to its intell. agencies; pawn of its media co’s with their 125 year copyright terms], we don’t have the fiscal resources to afford our standard of living NOW.

How can we soberly plan to take in thousands of people, for billions of dollars in cost, which we clearly do not have now, let alone the future?