Yassin al-Haj Saleh is a celebrated Syrian writer and political dissident who spent sixteen years and fourteen days in jail at the behest of Hafez al-Assad’s regime for being a member of the Communist Party. He, like Tony Abbott, believes there needs to be a ‘religious reformation in Islam’; however, his progressivism couldn’t be more different than Abbott’s reactionary divisiveness.
Speaking to a crowd of like-minded conservatives in New York recently, Tony Abbott made an appeal to them: ‘In today’s world, we need less ideology and more common sense’.
The refrain came amidst a plea to protect the institution of marriage; that’s to say, not allow people of the same sex to marry. Why his position is the common sense one isn’t exactly clear: is it because it’s in keeping with Church law? Or, simply, because it’s in keeping with ‘tradition’?
The vitriol with which much of the liberal mainstream media responded to Tony Abbott’s Margaret Thatcher memorial speech last month confirmed what many rightwingers have been claiming: that the scorn towards the former PM was a result of his conservative social values and that the problem was not his policies, but rather, his inability to sell them.
It’s hard not to admire Reece Harding, who died in Syria fighting for the Kurdish peshmerga against IS. His sense of social justice, idealism and internationalism led him to take up arms against an organisation he seemingly believed lived up to Tony Abbott’s characterisation as a ‘death cult’.
There’s no surer gauge of the depth and breadth of someone’s stupidity than the potency of his racism. The science on this has been settled for some time; we are all, if traced back far enough, evolved from bacteria. But, paradoxically, the equivocalness of this has a tendency to prevent any serious examination of racism. Liberals (small-l, that is) often condemn anything and everything that could be construed as being racist, without honestly confronting their own prejudices. Conservatives, on the other hand, often cry ‘political correctness gone mad,’ without acknowledging how hollow and meaningless such a retort is and, seemingly, ambivalent to claims of offence from minorities.