Just a side-note on recent events

Well, what fun we’re having! Here in Australia we have learned just what dealing with Donald J Trump will look like: Donald Trump slams ‘dumb’ refugee deal with Australia after ‘worst’ phone callDonald Trump defends comments made following call with Malcolm Turnbull, says he ‘loves Australia’.

The deal to take refugees from Manus Island and Nauru became a flashpoint in US-Australia relations yesterday when US media published details of a call between Mr Trump and Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, in which the US leader harangued Mr Turnbull, slamming the deal as the “worst ever” and accusing Australia of wanting to export “the next Boston bombers”.

Mr Trump followed that up with a tweet in which he railed against the “dumb deal”.

But overnight Mr Trump slightly moderated his language, telling a Washington function that: “I have a lot of respect for Australia, I love Australia as a country — but we have a problem”.

And he urged people not to “worry” about the “tough” phone calls he was having with world leaders.

“A lot of countries are taking advantage of us. Terribly taking advantage of us,” he said.

“We had one instance in Australia … for whatever reason (then-president Barack) Obama said that they were going to take probably well over a thousand illegal immigrants who were in prisons and they were going to bring them and take them into this country, and I said why,” he said at a National Prayer Breakfast.

The agreement actually covers people on Manus Island and Nauru found to be genuine refugees.

“I just wanted to ask a question of you — why? 1,250… it could be 2,000 it could be more than that,” Mr Trump said, referring to the number of refugees covered by the agreement.

“I said ‘why, why are we doing this. What is the purpose?’ So we will see what happens.

Worth visiting: Q&A: what is the Australian refugee deal and why has it angered Trump?

The deal relates to 1,250 refugees held in Australia’s offshore detention camps on Nauru and Manus Island, including many from Sri Lanka, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Iran and Iraq. The refugees, some of whom are stateless, have spent years languishing in the offshore detention camps, which the United Nations has repeatedly criticised as cruel and illegal. The refugees are unable to go home, but cannot come to Australia – even when their right to protection as refugees is confirmed – because they travelled to Australia by boat. The vast majority of those in Australia’s offshore detention regime have been confirmed to have a valid claim to refugee status, meaning they are legally owed Australia’s protection. On Nauru, 983 of the 1,200 refugee status determinations were positive, while 217 were negative. On Manus Island, 78% of 859 the people finally assessed were found to be refugees, while 190 have been found not to have a claim for protection. The deal was also to include hundreds of refugees previously held on Manus or Nauru, who were in Australia receiving medical care, provided they had been found to be refugees.

Someone from Bangladesh whom I met here in Wollongong has on Facebook drawn attention to this item in the notorious Breitbart News:

Polls taken in 2016 show the American public strongly backs Donald Trump’s dramatic immigration policy change, which says the United States will revive the traditional practice of excluding migrants hostile to Americans’ civic society and constitutional traditions.

That’s the dramatic policy change — not Trump’s other curbs on Muslim refugee inflow — which has caused a dramatic wave of TV-magnified protests by left-wing, Islamic and Latino groups. 

Trump is doing what American voters prefer…

Trump’s support for American culture is the centerpiece of his Friday order on immigration, but the policy’s importance has been overlooked by the TV-magnified protests…

This pro-American policy is a huge threat to many advocacy groups, such as the orthodox Islamist groups now pushing to increase the inflow of Muslims into Americans society, the Latino advocacy groups who want more Latino voters, and the elitist Democratic Party, which expects to win national power by collecting votes from diverse immigrant voters.

But Trump’s huge shift to pro-American immigration policy was welcomed by opponents of political Islam, including best-selling author Robert Spencer, an expert on Islam. The new policy, he wrote:

indicates that they know exactly what they’re doing. This isn’t something they put together in a week; this is evidence of their entire thinking on Islam and the defence of the west. They’re going to treat Islam as a hostile political ideology. That is what has been needed for decades. It is the reversal of the “Islam is a religion of peace” doctrine set in place by Bush on September 17, 2001.

Many polls show that majorities of Americans are skeptical of immigrants’ impact on American society, worry about imported jihad terrorism, oppose any increase above the current level of million immigrants per year — that is roughly one new immigrant for every four American births — and also oppose the continued inflow of cheap labor and unskilled refugees…

We’ve seen all that before, eh! I checked my post from 2008, linked in the sidebar here, citing Australian lawyer Irfan Yusuf:

Robert Spencer was pissed off, apparently. This is what Irfan Yusuf addresses in his blog: Robert Spencer completely loses it …

What is so contentious about claiming that it’s almost impossible to generalise about 1.2 billion people? Where is the controversy in suggesting that a Muslim in Malaysia probably has more in common with a Singaporean Catholic than a Muslim in Morocco? What is so offensive about suggesting that, culturally speaking, Robert Spencer has more in common with former boxer Muhammad Ali than Indian cricketer Yusuf Pathan?

I’m not sure. But I do know this: If the likes of Robert Spencer are angered by what I write, it means I must be on the right track.

Footnote

This is the 118th post tagged “Islam” on this blog and a new tag on Lines from a Floating Life Apr 06 to Nov 07 leads to 71 more. (That’s about 10% of my posts in all.) Before you make a comment, you might look at those posts, but if you don’t have time for that, perhaps especially read three: the recent one mentioned above; this one from 6 June; and Everyone has an opinion about Islam… from January 2008. That might just save me having the same conversation all over again!

As Isis, an American conservative Republican, says on her excellent post Isis’ Guide to Sensible Islam Posting referred to in that January 2008 entry:

5) Reading Robert Spencer’s latest book or citing “the Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam” does not make you an Islamic scholar.

Neither does reading the Koran. Proper knowledge of the faith requires interaction and instruction from practicing, learned Muslims. Also, expand the reading list to include books from actual Islamic scholars, so you get actual interpretations of Islamic faith from living, breathing Muslims.

While not inclined myself to become a Muslim, I have had interaction with a number of practising, learned Muslims, as well as reading about the subject in books like those mentioned above. You will find some internet resources on my links page and on the blog roll.

June 2008

Do visit Isis’ Guide, linked in that extract. It is as sharp and relevant as ever. Meantime, the comment thread on the Breitbart article makes for absolutely depressing reading, especially given the nexus between all that Breitbart stands for and those closest to Donald J Trump.

Bannon has never been secretive about his desire to use President Trump to bring about his specific vision of America. He told Vanity Fair last summer that Trump was a “blunt instrument for us… I don’t know whether he really gets it or not.”…

Bannon believes in authoritarian politics as preparation for a massive conflict between East and West, whether East means the Middle East or China.

Over the years Bannon has unsuccessfully tried to put pressure on historians like David Kaiser, now at MIT, to say the same thing.

From Time:

“I remember him saying, ‘Well, look, you have the American revolution, and then you have the Civil War, which was bigger than the revolution. And you have the Second World War, which was bigger than the Civil War,’ Kaiser said. ‘He even wanted me to say that on camera, and I was not willing.’

“Howe, too, was struck by what he calls Bannon’s ‘rather severe outlook on what our nation is going through.’ Bannon noted repeatedly on his radio show that ‘we’re at war’ with radical jihadis in places around the world. This is ‘a global existential war’ that likely will become ‘a major shooting war in the Middle East again.’ War with China may also be looming, he has said. This conviction is central to the Breitbart mission, he explained in November 2015: ‘Our big belief, one of our central organising principles at the site, is that we’re at war.’”

Scared yet?

Trump, seated with Flynn and Bannon, speaks by phone with Turnbull in the Oval Office at the White House
President Trump, with National Security Advisor Michael Flynn and senior advisor Steve Bannon, speaks to Malcolm Turnbull

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