30 December 2007

The mysteries of the Nile

Any Muslim Australians who feel themselves and their co-religionists to be persecuted minority: rejoice and know that you are soon to be welcomed within the very bosom of Aussie life, if you aren't already. Know that celebrating Eid at Lakemba mosque is about to become the hot-ticket event to beat them all, inundated with TV soap stars, footy players, politicians and other hangers-on.

How can I tell? Simple faith in Aussie moderation? No, a far more potent force. Fred Nile has trained his guns on Muslims, so hitch up your hijabs and wade right in to the great Main Stream of Australian life.

Fred Nile began his political career in an organisation called Right to Life in 1981. Laws against abortion were relaxed in Australia during the 1970s, Nile rallied enough votes from people who thought the old laws - which led to both criminal and bacteriological corruption - were fair enough, and landed himself in the NSW State Parliament.

Result: polls consistently show that three in four Australians support a woman's right to choose. In the US abortion is a fraught political issue because pro and anti forces are well organised, but in Australia it's not even close.

We have a situation where someone like Tony Abbott could spout off at election time about "the epidemic of abortions", yet as Health Minister for many years he has funded thousands of them - and would have kept doing so had Howard been re-elected and kept him in that portfolio. Any attempt Abbott could make to make abortions more difficult to procure would have ended his career. The Liberal Party would not have indulged Abbott on a jag like that and the electorate of Warringah would have turfed him.

To his credit, Abbott did little to draw attention to this issue. Complaints about the publicly-funded phoneline offering alternatives to abortion have come to nothing because nobody uses it. It was Fred Nile who banged on about abortion, forced people to think about the issue and to ultimately decide against whatever Nile was proposing.

When it came time for Fred to get re-elected, he had a new target: homosexuals. Did Darlinghurst and Surry Hills go the way of Sodom and Gomorrah? Did they, um, bollocks. The more Fred Nile drew attention to this issue, the more crowds flocked to the Mardi Gras where it has now become Sydney's answer to the Melbourne Cup (insert your own gags about frocks, or being in the saddle). There is widespread community support for an end to discrimination against gays, and Fred Nile ought to share some of the credit for that.

Now, Fred Nile is targeting the Muslims. Inshallah! Having worked so well for both Pauline Hanson and Karen Chijoff, Nile is pandering to Camdenites who have proven themselves less intelligent, less community-minded and less well educated than the more productive occupants of that area, Mrs Macarthur's ewes.

You can see why, when the Assemblies of God churches wanted a vehicle to get like-minded candidates elected to Parliament, they gave Fred Nile a wide berth.

I hope that Fred Nile find that picking on people is actually inconsistent with the wider message of the man that the Qu'ran calls Isa al-Massih. Still, nobody expects soundly practical political advice from me. There's money and votes to be had, and what constituency is easier to lead by the nose than Christians? Who else places such total faith in high-sounding words and good intentions and can be steered away from inconvenient facts?

It was a shame that Nile produced a report on the Royal North Shore Hospital that produced nothing more than a call for more reports. His credibility in railing against abortion and euthanasia while accepting the failures of systems ostensibly designed to preserve life - and preventing any real oversight or checking implementation of reforms - is zero.

If you want a health system that preserves human life and a legal system that treats your fellow man as you would be treated, then why would you vote for Fred Nile? If you were a blogger concerned about the plight of Muslims, why would you not welcome Fred Nile's brain-farts about al-Camden? Muslims in Egypt have turned the Nile to their advantage for millenia, and there's no reason why their Aussie counterparts can't do the same.

Update 5 Jan: I sent a modified version of this post to the SMH on Wednesday 2 January. It wasn't published - but let's just say that great minds think alike.

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