Meanwhile . . .

7 01 2009

This is the kind of story they didn’t want you to hear about during the Howard years:

One is a successful artist who works in robotics and the other is a former kung fu champion on the verge of a promising film career.

But just a few short years ago, Adam Janali and Hussain Sadiqi were refugees locked in immigration detention centres as part of the former Howard government’s tough line on boat people and people smuggling.

Compelled to speak out after reports about the latest wave of asylum seekers which Mr Janali claims “inflame hatred through creating an image of wealthy queue jumpers”, the Afghan men said refugees went on to become hard-working and contributing citizens.

Mr Janali, 31, of North Perth, spent three years in detention after using a network of people smugglers to get out of Afghanistan because of Taliban persecution.

In 2001, the Taliban shot his brother (who had lost a leg in a landmine blast) because he was “of no use to anyone”, so Mr Janali’s parents paid people smugglers to send him “anywhere”. He has not heard from his parents since.

He came to Australia via Iran and Indonesia and said he taught himself to draw and paint while detained in a bid to “keep sane”. He held his first exhibition in 2006, two years after his release. Before coming to Australia he had no English and a solely religious and philosophical education, but now worked both as an artist and a robotics expert in the mining industry.

Now married to a local woman, Mr Janali said he felt Australia was his country too and was concerned about the “exaggerations” surrounding the experiences of the latest wave of refugees, who would also become contributing citizens if given the chance. (The West Australian)

I know Mr Janali, and his wife is a friend who emailed me this story. And I congratulate him and his friend Mr Sadiqi on being able to share their stories.

UPDATE (OF SORTS): Here is an interview with Adam Janali from 2006.

Now this is magical thinking I can respect!

7 12 2007

Indigenous Australians pay their respects to the former member for Bennelong. (Via Oz Atheist)

Howard vs. Aboriginal Australians

Lying for Howard

21 11 2007

In the previous post I alerted you to the existence (well, once upon a time) of the giant sea scorpion. In this post I present you with the giant Australian rightwing cockroach, which–alas–is not extinct, but alive and well in the Liberal Party. (Actually, that’s a slur on giant cockroaches. Sorry, guys.)
From the ABC:

The Liberal Party has expelled two members and notified the Electoral Commission of an incident involving election campaign workers distributing material it says is false and offensive.

The party says around five people were handing out the flyers last night in the seat of Lindsay in Sydney’s west, when they were caught in the act by Labor Party members.

The ABC understands one of the people involved in the distribution of the offending material is Garry Clark, the husband of the retiring member, Jackie Kelly.

The flyer purports to be from the Islamic Federation of Australia, a group which does not exist, advocating a vote for Labor.

The Liberal Party’s state director Graham Jaeschke says the material was unauthorised and made without the knowledge of the Party’s head office.

“This is unacceptable behaviour. We’ve acted very quickly to fix this issue,” he said.

“We’ve referred it on to the Australian Electoral Commission and we’ll let the Australian Electoral Commission do their job.”

Mr Jaeschke says the party does not condone the behaviour.

“It was undertaken without any authorisation or knowledge of the Liberal Party,” he said.

Party behind in the polls a week out from the election? Here’s what you do:

  1. Invent an organisation with “Islamic” in the title, knowing how likely this adjective is to set off big flashing red warning lights in too many xenophobic outer-suburban Sydney brains.
  2. Print a flyer, purporting to be a publication of said phony “Islamic” organisation, advocating a vote for your opponent
  3. Reap the electoral rewards.

Oh, I know what you’re going to say. You’re going to tell me to give the Liberal Party credit for expelling the racist arseclowns behind this stunt. Well, I’m not going to. Because if the Liberal Party can attract into its fold individuals who consider this kind of behaviour conscionable, then that speaks volumes about what the modern Liberal Party has become.

See also: The Age

The Liberal Party’s secret weapon

5 10 2007

Given that the Liberal Party likes its racism subtle and just-below-the-surface–right where it can be plausibly denied–Legohead can’t be happy with this Adelaide Advertiser headline:

Africans drink and fight: Andrews


Or this.

Double ouch.

The Chaser does Pauline Hanson

Shutting the door on darkies: it’s what Jesus would do.

4 10 2007
Image via the Jim Crow Museum

When he isn’t bearing false witness on his CV, right-wing Catholic Federal Immigration Minister Kevin Andrews is declaring no more room at the inn for Sudanese refugees–you know, those people who are fleeing from a situation in which they run the constant risk of being raped or murdered by Janjaweed and Sudanese government forces–because he thinks they “have been slow to integrate with the wider community.” The evidence for this claim–evidence that African refugees are less able to “integrate” (whatever that means anyway) into the Australian community than refugees from the Middle East or Asia–is for Cabinet’s eyes only, so you’ll just have to trust him. The Victorian police say he’s spouting nonsense: “young African men accounted for less than 1per cent of the state’s crime statistics and did not present a major difficulty for law enforcement,” according to the Police Commissioner. But they’re just “in denial,” retorts Kev, who claims “anecdotal evidence suggests otherwise.” Anecdotal evidence, you see, trumps statistical evidence. Textbook magical thinking. Kev missed his calling in life: instead of falsely claiming to co-author other people’s books, he could be making a fortune writing his own books on Christian apologetics.

As even the folks at the Government Gazette are forced to conclude . . . Dog: meet whistle.

More at Mikey‘s.
Andrews on Mohammed Haneef

Today’s Religion Report: Falwell the racist

23 05 2007

Today’s Religion Report (Radio National) features an interview with John Shelby Spong on the late Jerry Falwell‘s roots as a racist and segregationist in Lynchburg, Virginia.

So of course FOX’s Sean Hannity and guest Ralph Reed were justified in calling Christopher Hitchens a big meanie for not joining the rest of conservative America in paying due tribute to the recently departed bigoted hatemonger.

I’ll be teaching when the show is broadcast in Perth, so I’ll have to download the podcast later.

UPDATE: Falwell’s even inspired Christian terrorism (only we’re probably not allowed to call it that, since the perpetrators are–you know–Christian):

Even in death, the Rev. Jerry Falwell rouses the most volatile of emotions.
A small group of protesters gathered near the funeral services to criticize the man who mobilized Christian evangelicals and made them a major force in American politics — often by playing on social prejudices.
A group of students from Falwell’s Liberty University staged a counterprotest.
And Campbell County authorities arrested a Liberty University student for having
several homemade bombs in his car.
The student, 19-year-old Mark D. Uhl of Amissville, Va., reportedly told authorities that he was making the bombs to stop protesters from disrupting the funeral service. The devices were made of a combination of gasoline and detergent, a law enforcement official told ABC News’ Pierre Thomas. They were “slow burn,” according to the official, and would not have been very destructive.

But Rachael Kohn told me that people in prayer singing “Praise Jesus” wouldn’t do this kind of thing.

Via Dispatches from the Culture Wars.

A question for Julie Bishop and Kevin Donnelly

10 05 2007

I just marked one of my students down for using the word “Abo” in a class debate on the films Rabbit-Proof Fence and Australian Rules. Does that make me a Maoist, anti-American, left-wing, Trojan Horse brainwashing thug?


My student

P.S. My justification for penalising the student was that the use of such a pejorative term was inappropriate in the context of a formal debate, and that it might distract or alienate the audience–something that public speakers (and debate participants in particular) should generally try to avoid.