Some political notelets, USA and here

Via Facebook have come these beauties in recent days.

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Good luck with all that, American friends!

Here in Oz we’ve had Mr Potato Head’s remarkable factoid:

“The advice I have is that out of the last 33 people who have been charged with terrorist-related offences in this country, 22 of those people are from second and third generation Lebanese-Muslim background.”

“The reality is Malcolm Fraser did make mistakes in bringing some people in, in the 1970s, and we’re seeing that today.”

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Now that has led to a reaction or three, as all Oz readers already know. But here is a selection.

Jim Belshaw posted on Mr Dutton in light of a quite wonderful episode of Australian Story: Mingoola, Dutton and immigration.

The world has changed. Xenophobia, dislike of or prejudice against people from other countries,.has always existed in Australia, as in most countries. I have argued and would still argue that Australia has been better at managing it that most countries. However, Mr Dutton and others appear to be playing to xenophobia, using it to score immediate political point.

The Australian Prime Minister argues that strong border policies are important (among other reasons) because they provide the base for Australian acceptance of migration. I think that there is some truth in that. I sometimes wonder, and this would not be a popular view, whether or not the White Australia policy was in fact a necessary precondition for the emergence of modern pluralist Australia. However, by playing too fear, Minister Dutton is undercutting the very consensus on which modern Australia has been based, one that the PM seems to accept…

In all this, I think that we have to be prepared to call people out, to make them explain. Minister Dutton should not be allowed to simply assert that Mr Fraser made mistakes and that we are paying a price now and that this somehow justifies current actions. There is probably little point in defending Mr Fraser and his policies. Better that Mr Dutton should be required to explain his position. What does he mean by mistake? How serious is the problem? What would he have done instead? How many children or grandchildren? Are the proportions different from other groups? What has been the cost to the community?

One may disagree with his answers, but if forced to respond then his thinking will be exposed to the clear light of public scrutiny. In a conversation, it is necessary to let the other side answer, to use questions to clarify their views. We may not like the clarification, but we will know and can then respond….

I offer that cool reasonableness as a counter to my approach in this post, and have to say I can agree with it. However, let’s just take the factoid cited above: “of the last 33 people who have been charged with terrorist-related offences in this country, 22 of those people are from second and third generation Lebanese-Muslim background.” Now hear this: “Some 203,139 Australians claim Lebanese ancestry, either alone or in combination with another ancestry. According to 2011 Estimates 76,459 Lebanese-born people in Australia, with 72% of all people with Lebanese ancestry living in Sydney… In Australia, 55% of Lebanese are Christian, while a large minority (37%) are Muslim.” So, you do the maths: 37% of 203,139 is what? What was that terrifying number again, Mr Dutton? 22? Twenty-two? Charged with, note….

See also Racism No Way and Lebanese-Australian families.

Now I am not blind to the fact there are issues with some spectacularly criminal Lebanese background individuals and families in Sydney and that the alienation that breeds political radicalism needs to be addressed. But it seems a bit rich to blame this either on Malcolm Fraser’s “mistakes” or on the Lebanese community as a whole.

Related posts: Munching halal and Japanese bikers again!, With the Japanese bikers in the halal restaurant…, Munching against the fear of “the other”…, Halal on Saturday, and revamped venue, Bringing it home, Mindless reaction trumped by decency?

Update: Hat tip Julie Elizabeth McCrossin. Read Lebanese-Australians speak out over Peter Dutton’s comments: ‘That’s not us’.

…Talal Yassine, OAM, is the managing director of Crescent Wealth, an Australian-based Islamic Super and Investments firm offering socially responsible investing. He is also a philanthropist who has a vision to assist refugees by providing university scholarships.

Mr Yassine is the son of Lebanese Muslims Ali and Fatma Yassine, from the north of Lebanon.

They emigrated to Australia in 1977 when he was five years old.

His seven siblings are all working professionals in the fields of medicine, law, education, and property development.

Between them they boast 30 degrees from universities including Harvard, UNSW and the University of Sydney.

Mr Yassine is also the director of Crescent Foundation, which funds community sporting, financial literacy, and education initiatives.

He said his community felt targeted.

“Minister Dutton’s comments, which tar the entire Lebanese community with the same brush, have been exceptionally unhelpful at best,” he said.

“At worst, a shameful and overt dog whistling attempt, calculated to unfairly target a vulnerable minority group for political again.”

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