By Andrew L. Urban.
We were saying things around the dinner table last Friday night and Gillian Triggs could not stop us. We were saying things about Australia sinking beneath the waves of oppressive socio-political authoritarianism, safe spaces ‘n’ all. We marvelled, for example, at the spread of gender fluidity notions that demand – demand! – we address each other as zhie, say.
A gender-neutral pronoun bill is already law in Ontario and New York, which recognizes 31 gender identitie, fines citizens up to $250,000 for the novel crime of “mis-gendering” — referring to people by any words other than their pronouns of choice (including newly constructed words such as zie, hir, ey, em, eir and co).
In many Australian schools, the ‘correct’ behaviour is to ignore biological gender; yet, illogically, children can decide at age 6 which gender they wish to be…
My dinner companion, a fellow Hungarian-born migrant, is as familiar as I with the Stalinist era and its authoritarian party policies, its spies and its rule by fear. Phrases we read and hear today in Australia are clear echoes of the Communist Party bullying that led eventually to the 1956 revolution.
There then as here now, fear – fear of negative consequences to livelihood, to self and family safety was the currency of the regime. The state was not protector but brutal enforcer. Squads of party faithful (read: left wing agitators and activists in 2017 Australia) were free to terrorize citizens; ‘right think’ at school, at university, in the media, at work and in the cafes was essential. Is essential here. Can you conceive of a journalist at the ABC, say, telling his colleagues – out loud – that he’s working on a factual story that defies the ruling orthodoxy on global warming? What chance of his career lasting? The Collective will not be challenged, comrade.
Try having a rational debate about legal and/or illegal migration in the public square, you racist scum.
Ironic, isn’t it, we said as we toasted Triggs’ free speech award with empty glasses, that we fled that regime to end up in sunny Australia wondering whether we shouldn’t leave here for the same reason we left there: seeking freedom. Freedom to criticise the ruling orthodoxy about anything and everything.
The very next morning after our dinner, in Saturday’s Weekend Australian, I read a phrase I never thought I’d hear in Australia, used with intent: ‘re-education’. It was part of a report by Rebecca Urban (no relation) titled “Christians under siege, religious freedom inquiry hears”
“ … an Adelaide university student was suspended last year after offering to pray for a student who was stressed over her workload and later voicing his opinion about homosexuality.
“The student had said that he would treat a gay person kindly ‘but (didn’t) agree with their choice’.
“He was ordered to undergo ‘re-education’ but sought legal advice and the university withdrew the allegations.”
Undergo re-education … as in Mao’s China. As in Stalin’s Soviet Union. Who would do the re-educating? How? What would be the test for success? Let’s find out now because that’s what is in store for Australian deplorables if the bullies have their way.
Urban’s report also revealed that a Melbourne IT specialist “engaged to work on the Safe Schools program was sacked after privately expressing concerns about the contentious initiative during a staff meeting, with his employer later accusing him of ‘creating an unsafe work environment’.
Lee Jones, a Christian who was general manager of a business at the time, had told his boss he would work on the project despite his views but was dismissed regardless, according to a submission to a federal inquiry into the status of religious freedom.”
It’s heartening to hear the voices of many readers commenting in the pages of The Australian, for example, pushing back against this insidious cancer within the left of politics that intends to shout down and shut down opposing opinions. The voice that’s missing, though, is the voice of the Prime Minister. By saying nothing, the Prime Minister effectively mutes the entire Government. By doing nothing he surrenders on behalf of us all.
When the planned visit of Muslim reform supporter Ayaan Hirsi Ali a few weeks ago was greeted with threats of physical disruption and cancelled, the Prime Minister said nothing. Did nothing.
When Marxist activist Roz Ward tried to rip off a Donald Trump branded cap from a man in the street, the Prime Minister said nothing.
When screenings of the film The Red Pill were threatened with physical disruption and were cancelled, the Prime Minister said nothing.
When the voices of critics claiming left wing bias at the ABC are at their loudest, the Prime Minister said nothing – and appointed a friend to Chair the broadcaster, a friend who is wilfully blind to the bias. A part of it, perhaps?
When the Australian Human Rights Commission submitted QUT students and the late cartoonist Bill Leak to mental torture, the Prime Minister said nothing … until it was too late.
When the agitation around S18c of the Racial Discrimination Act first reached him, the Prime Minister dismissed the issue of free speech as of little importance to the Government since there was not a single job in it. (A remark that will haunt him to his grave.) When he should have championed free speech (and free thought) he was silent. His silence was unsurprisingly seen as complicity in the politics of ideologically driven identity politics.
Well, there may not be jobs in freedom of speech – the fight against oppression is voluntary and unpaid. But there are too many jobs in the restrictions of it, starting with the Australian Human Rights Commission and going on with the multitude of corporate positions overseeing gender, race, ethnicity and environmental (thought) controls that are sprouting like weeds.
The question around the dinner table that night was clear: will Australians tolerate this continual sinking into oppression, incrementally, imperceptibly – or will there be some sort of backlash? A revolution? Discuss.
Also published in The Spectator Australia, May 13, 2017