Saturday, 28 July 2007

Scary Stuff-the terrorists have won

I have tried not to blog endlessly about the stuff-up and injustice that is was the arrest of Mohammed Haniff. But we cannot keep silent now.
There is much that could be said, but one thing that has gone untouched is our national blindspot, xenophobia (please explain!) It's not racism per se, but fear of foreigners. It is the position to which we have always retreated when we feel threatened.
It is that which changed Hahndorf to Ambleside, and interned people of German descent in World War 1. It is that which has fuelled our mistrust of the Japanese. It is that which countless immigrants have had to weather for two centuries. It is that which was crudely employed to scare the populace when Vietnamese and Cambodian boat people started arriving in the 70s. It was xenophobia which enabled Pauline Hanson to reach the apogee of her political life, and it was the blunt instrument which is partly responsible for the election of the present government.
It is a sign of an immature society.
A society which attributes to the foreigner all sorts of hideous crimes and actions, usually without proper evidence and without due process. Not because there are facts, but because the accused is a foreigner.
It is an instrument of fear and manipulation.
We might say that when we act out of fear, when we do not pay attention to the truth, or when we allow due process to go by the board then we have jettisoned our freedom.
Is this where the terrorists wants us to be? Of course.
As long as we are irrational, unfair and unkind they will have no difficulty manipulating their adherents into believing that we are irrational, unfair and unkind!
I don't want or need to point the finger at who is to blame.
We will all have different versions of that.
But I do think it is about time we took seriously the need and the responsibility to grow up. As people and as a nation.
In this ever-shrinking world we can no longer afford the indulgence of being xenophobic.
If we don't then the terrorists have won.

No comments: