From a reader of our website: My opinion of your group is that it is all crap. Take a look at the Suburbs that have been taken over by Muslims. Do you feel sorry for the genuine Australians that live there and on occasions have been forced to leave?

CLA defends our ‘funny country’ freedoms

From a reader of our website: My opinion of your group is that it is all crap. Take a look at the Suburbs that have been taken over by Muslims. Do you feel sorry for the genuine Australians that live there and on occasions have been forced to leave? It is the only country in the world that would tolerate this. In France Islamic women have been made to remove all head cover when they go in Public. It should also happen here. Take a look at Rockdale and see the Arabic writing on signs in the street. And you people think this is OK do you? Look after true Australians and stop trying to to be heard through the media. (Name withheld at author’s request).

Here is CLA’s response…

Thanks Andrew* for contacting Civil Liberties Australia.

We like to hear people’s views, particularly when they disagree with us…because listening to others with different views is the only way we’ll ever change our own minds. Have you ever changed yours?

Would you mind if I re-wrote the start of your email just a little bit, from the perspective of a descendant of someone living in your Rockdale area, near Botany Bay, when the first Anglo-Saxons with names like yours arrived 200 or so years ago? I assume you are of Anglo-Saxon descent, as your surname indicates?

My opinion of your group is that it is all crap. Take a look at the suburbs that have been taken over by white Anglo-Saxons …Do you feel sorry for the genuine Aboriginal Australians who live there and on occasions have been forced to leave.

Andrew, you can see that it all depends on how far back your memory goes, particulary if you’re an Aboriginal Australian. Why should we stop thinking about who owns what land only since you were born, or maybe your parents or your grandparents were born?

As for me, I can remember clearly when lots of people in Sydney didn’t want “Wogs” (Greeks, ‘Eyeties’, Lebos, whatever) living in “our” suburbs. But now I enjoy Greek food, and Italian very much. Do you?

By the way, the Governor of your state, NSW, is of Lebanese descent: those unwelcomed Lebanese must have learned something since they’ve been here. One of the NSW Ministers is of Armenian descent, another comes from a Greek background. The Premier of NSW, that O’Farrell bloke, is an immigrant – a long time ago from dirt poor Irish stock, but more recently he migrated to NSW from Victoria and the Northern Territory. And the Italians? Well, the NSW Police Commissioner is half-Italian (the other half of him is Irish).

I remember when the Vietnamese boat people came…and we didn’t want them especially because they looked different, particularly around the eyes. But I bet you’ve eaten Vietnamese food in the past year, haven’t you? And that Anh Do bloke, what a great comedian, and actor, and author. Do you know, he’s got a law degree as well? Amazing how well educated some of these migrant people have become.

As for the Chinese, well we haven’t wanted them here for about 150 years, since gold was discovered. We even made rules and wrote our Constitution so that none of those types could get in. Descendants of some of them are now Ministers in the Australian and State Parliaments. Have you been in a Chinese restaurant in the past year? We’re lucky now we have them, because Australian Chinese can help us do business with the new richest country in the world.

As for the Muslim “writings”, I’ll bet there’s lots more Anglo “writings” up on nearby walls and signs in your suburb. That’s the thing about Australia being a free country: other people get to have their say, too. Even us in Civil Liberties Australia, we’re entitled to our opinion, and to express it in public, provided it doesn’t cause riots. We can have our say in the media, just like you can. And the Muslims, Chinese, Italians, them too, they can have their say. Every bugger can.

Funny country where people have freedom of speech, and freedom of assembly, and freedom of choice. They say that’s what our Australian Diggers fought wars for over the past 100 years, those freedoms. Do you have anyone in your family who was a Digger, or is in the military?

Have you heard of any countries recently that haven’t enjoyed those freedoms, like Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Syria. Young people there are desperate, you could even say dying, to try out freedoms and liberties like being able to freely elect their politicians, and to write signs and march in the streets without being shot at or mortared, or hit by tank shells, or bombed.

By the way, I wonder if you’re aware that the law in NSW has just changed. Police and other authorities can now insist a women remove her head covering if removing it is needed for identification reasons. Seems like a reasonable compromise to us. What about you? It would be a shame if we had to stop the mostly-male bike riders wearing helmets if men as well as women had to “remove all head cover” when they go in public. I hope you think men and women should be treated equally.

Do you have any Greek, Italian, Vietnamese or Chinese friends? Do you have any Serb or Croat mates, or Sri Lankan, or Somali, or Afghani? An Aborigine friend? Anyone in your group come from a “different” background? Perhaps you should try to meet some of these people.

You know what? It could be you who’s missing out on opportunities to expand your mind…and some great food. Muslims, for example, are always inviting people to their mosques to share a meal. Go along, give it a try. You might find they are more like you than different from you.

Bill Rowlings, CEO
Civil Liberties Australia

(Name changed to preserve anonymity).

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6 Comments

  1. Dear Mr Rogerson,

    Bill Rowlings’s response to Andrew’s criticisms struck me as kind, open-minded, interested, and welcoming.

    By contrast, your own comments seem intent on finding anything at all to be uncharitable about.

    Charitability toward those whose views we differ with is surely the foundation of civilised discourse, don’t you think?

    Kind regards,

    John Harvey

    John Harvey
  2. Dear Mr Rowlings

    I was somewhat disappointed with your published response to *Andrew in the recent addition of Clarion.  As a returned servicemen who has laid it on the line for " freedom of speech, and freedom of assembly, and freedom of choice."; who incidentally grew up in Cabramatta and numbers members of several ethnic groups as close personal friends,   I find your remarks puerile and trivialising of complex issues as well as insulting and disparaging of another individual who sought to express a view different to yours.  For someone about whom it has been said " He believes in a fair go for all, regardless of race, class, gender or religion."   your response was belittles both your cause and your reputation.   Would you mind if I rewrote your response…" We like to hear people’s views, but if they differ from ours we will insult, belittle and besmirch them".   

    Your wrote We like to hear people’s views, particularly when they disagree with us…because listening to others with different views is the only way we’ll ever change our own minds. Have you ever changed yours?  And yet there is little evidence of you ever changing position on any issues regardless of the evidence supporting the alternatives.  Perhaps you would like to enlighten us, the great unwashed public, as to your credentials for flexibility and open consideration of all view points and the use of evidence based decisions.

    You wrote

    Would you mind if I re-wrote the start of your email just a little bit, from the perspective of a descendant of someone living in your Rockdale area, near Botany Bay, when the first Anglo-Saxons with names like yours arrived 200 or so years ago? I assume you are of Anglo-Saxon descent, as your surname indicates?

    My opinion of your group is that it is all crap. Take a look at the suburbs that have been taken over by white Anglo-Saxons …Do you feel sorry for the genuine Aboriginal Australians who live there and on occasions have been forced to leave.

    Let us not dwell on the consideration of assumptions… rather yet let us look at the facts.  Had the Anglo Saxons not arrived when they did it is important to remember that La Perouse was only a few days behind and the fate of our indigenous "genuine Aboriginal Australians" may have mirrored that of the natives of New Caledonia, French Polynesia, French Noumea  and other such wonderful French colonial bastions of civil liberties and freedoms.  Or perhaps we should look to the facts that our indigenous "genuine Aboriginal Australians" in the Rockdale area enjoy access to first world health care, education and opportunities.  Or perhaps consider the increase in life expectancy they enjoy over their kindred of 200 years ago.  Then let us look to the widespread social disadvantages they suffer when compared to the current Anglo-Saxon (by the way I am predominantly of Irish descent,  and really object to being lumped in with poms) occupiers of their land and question why you seem to feel that I should feel sorry for them, thus belittling their plight, shifting ownership and engagement away from them, and being just down right condescending.  Your cultural relativism is offensive.

    You wrote

    Andrew, you can see that it all depends on how far back your memory goes, particulary if you’re an Aboriginal Australian. Why should we stop thinking about who owns what land only since you were born, or maybe your parents or your grandparents were born?

    Another assumption, young Andrew represents an unbroken line of oppressors and invaders going back 200 years.  Please provide your evidence for this.  My predecessors arrived less than 120 years ago, were not invaders, did not seek to impose their culture/society/mores/religion on the society they immigrated to.   Rather they suffered discrimination as Catholics and Irish up until the 1960s as you would recall.  Why do you not feel sorry for them?   You are right, it all depends on how far you go back, why do you choose the selective memory you display?

    As for me, I can remember clearly when lots of people in Sydney didn’t want "Wogs" (Greeks, ‘Eyeties’, Lebos, whatever) living in "our" suburbs. But now I enjoy Greek food, and Italian very much. Do you?

    Do you… do you really?  I grew up in Cabramatta, less than 400m from the enormous migrant hostel.  Cabramatta was (and is) a lively and thriving multicultural centre.  Within 1 kilometre you could find Russian, Hungarian, Vietnamese, Polish, Italian, Yugoslav, and Greek restaurants, specialty stores, small goods stores,  books stores, continental butchers, fruiterers, etc.  Mass was said in nine languages every Sunday in my church.  What you may be unaware of is that Cabramatta was also home to a huge veteran community, where both my mother and father settled using their war service homes loans.  These veterans had also laid it on the line for freedom, have you?   Whole housing estates were built with war service loans and occupied by war veterans.    Growing up I saw first hands these conservative white Anglo-Saxons, born in the 19-teens and 1920s, who grew up through the depression and then went off to war welcome these immigrants and refugees with open arms.  South Vietnamese members were welcomed at the local RSL (although there was a bit of a problem when a North Vietnamese verteran tried to join) as were many other ethnic groups who were our allies.   What I didn’t see was lots of people in Sydney didn’t want "Wogs" (Greeks, ‘Eyeties’, Lebos, whatever) living in "our" suburbs.  If you came substantiate this spurious claim please do so.

    Andrew wrote   "Take a look at the Suburbs that have been taken over by Muslims. Do you feel sorry for the genuine Australians that live there and on occasions have been forced to leave? It is the only country in the world that would tolerate this."

     

    You responded with

    By the way, the Governor of your state, NSW, is of Lebanese descent: those unwelcomed Lebanese must have learned something since they’ve been here. One of the NSW Ministers is of Armenian descent, another comes from a Greek background. The Premier of NSW, that O’Farrell bloke, is an immigrant – a long time ago from dirt poor Irish stock, but more recently he migrated to NSW from Victoria and the Northern Territory. And the Italians? Well, the NSW Police Commissioner is half-Italian (the other half of him is Irish).

    Please explain

    1) Why you believe all Lebanese are Muslims?  – or is your comment irrelevant.   Perhaps someone as educated as yourself would be aware that until relatively recently Lebanon was majority Christian demographically (perhaps you could also explain why that changed in the context of Andrews letter).

    2)  What suburb the Armenians have taken over ?  – or is your comment irrelevant. 

    3)  Why are you disparaging Victorians and Northern Territorians ? –  – or is your comment irrelevant. 

    4)  What do Italians have to do with Muslims ? – or is your comment irrelevant.

    5)  Have any of the Italians, Armenians, Lebanese or Greeks conspired to attack Australian population centres, military bases, icons etc?     – or is your comment irrelevant.

    6)  Have any of the Italians, Armenians, Lebanese or Greeks attempted to have Italian, Armenian, Lebanese or Greek law instituted in place of Australian law?  – or is your comment irrelevant.

    7) What race is Muslim?  – or is your comment irrelevant.

    I remember when the Vietnamese boat people came…and we didn’t want them especially because they looked different, particularly around the eyes. But I bet you’ve eaten Vietnamese food in the past year, haven’t you? And that Anh Do bloke, what a great comedian, and actor, and author. Do you know, he’s got a law degree as well? Amazing how well educated some of these migrant people have become.

    Australia  spent over ten years fighting in Vietnam for many reasons, including to stop the South falling under communist rule, now  my first operational deployment was just over a decade later, so I am not claiming any part in the conflict, but as I have said I grew up in Cabramatta.  Perhaps my recollections of the feelings displayed towards the "boat people" may be a bit more proximate than yours, maybe not,  anyway – I call bullshit.  They were in my school, they were in my class, they were on my footy team (Cabra-Vale Diggers by the way – sponsored by the RSL), they were in my scout troop,  they were my mates.   You may feel justified in the use of the royal "we" – but leave me out of your leftist intellectual agenda and propaganda  debate because I lived it and your bullshitting.

    As for the Chinese, well we haven’t wanted them here for about 150 years, since gold was discovered. We even made rules and wrote our Constitution so that none of those types could get in. Descendants of some of them are now Ministers in the Australian and State Parliaments. Have you been in a Chinese restaurant in the past year? We’re lucky now we have them, because Australian Chinese can help us do business with the new richest country in the world.

    First you invoke cultural relativism then historical relativism.   Again with the "we".  No,  "they", those that were before,  not me and not we.  We changed the Constitution, we changed the laws,  we fought for and won equality and equity.  Why do you argue, again using cultural relativism as a justification despite it being shown to be flawed and so having been for some time, that those who work to undo the hard won equalities and equities we enjoy must be respected. 

    As for the Muslim "writings", I’ll bet there’s lots more Anglo "writings" up on nearby walls and signs in your suburb. That’s the thing about Australia being a free country: other people get to have their say, too. Even us in Civil Liberties Australia, we’re entitled to our opinion, and to express it in public, provided it doesn’t cause riots. We can have our say in the media, just like you can. And the Muslims, Chinese, Italians, them too, they can have their say. Every bugger can.

    Funny country where people have freedom of speech, and freedom of assembly, and freedom of choice. They say that’s what our Australian Diggers fought wars for over the past 100 years, those freedoms. Do you have anyone in your family who was a Digger, or is in the military?  Do you?  I would remind you that  "It is the soldier, not the reporter, Who has given us freedom of the press.  It is the soldier, not the poet, Who has given us freedom of speech. It is the soldier, not the organizer, Who has given us the freedom to demonstrate. It is the soldier, Who salutes the flag, Who serves beneath the flag, And whose coffin is draped by the flag, Who allows the protestor to burn the flag. "   As someone who was a soldier for over two decades I resent your comment and call on you to justify it.  

    You wrote Have you heard of any countries recently that haven’t enjoyed those freedoms, like Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Syria. Young people there are desperate, you could even say dying, to try out freedoms and liberties like being able to freely elect their politicians, and to write signs and march in the streets without being shot at or mortared, or hit by tank shells, or bombed.

    Have you heard of any countries like Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Syria, where a women has the choice of being beaten or wearing the veil of her own free will, where Christians are being killed for being Christians, where grave makers over the graves of the soldiers (ours) who you so blithely invoked above, have been desecrated, where women are denied an education, medical care, vocation, and bodily integrity, where female genital mutilation is increasing, where honour killings go unreported and unpunished, where misogyny is the order of the day, where female white reporters are raped, where female adulterers are stoned to death, where female sexual slavery flourishes, where girls are married off to old men before their teens?  Have you heard of any?   

    By the way, I wonder if you’re aware that the law in NSW has just changed. Police and other authorities can now insist a women remove her head covering if removing it is needed for identification reasons. Seems like a reasonable compromise to us. What about you? It would be a shame if we had to stop the mostly-male bike riders wearing helmets if men as well as women had to "remove all head cover" when they go in public. I hope you think men and women should be treated equally.

    Can I wear my motorcycle helmet in the bank – no.  Can I wear my motorcycle helmet in the petrol station – no.   Can I wear my motorcycle helmet in the pub – no.  Can I wear my motorcycle helmet in the bottle shop – no.   Can I wear my motorcycle helmet into a school – no.   Sorry – what was your point ?   I think men and women should be treated equally – you obviously do not.

    Do you have any Greek, Italian, Vietnamese or Chinese friends? Do you have any Serb or Croat mates, or Sri Lankan, or Somali, or Afghani? An Aborigine friend? Anyone in your group come from a "different" background? Perhaps you should try to meet some of these people.

    Why yes… yes I do and gays and disabled; and if any one of them tried to impose their culture, their traditions, their laws on me they would get short shift.   So… what’s your point?  Why are the pushes for Croatian law, Serbian Law, Greek law

    You know what? It could be you who’s missing out on opportunities to expand your mind…and some great food.  Muslims, for example, are always inviting people to their mosques to share a meal. Go along, give it a try. You might find they are more like you than different from you.

    Sorry – please explain – what is Muslim food.  Muslims are in deed always inviting people to their mosques to share a meal – when was the last time you know of them accepting an invitation to share a meal in a church or synagogue.

    You might find they are more like you than different from you.  Perhaps the fact that you subliminally mean bigoted, discriminatory, superior/supremacist has escaped you – but not the thoughtful reader.

    Bill Rowlings, CEO
    Civil Liberties Australia

    Bill I expected better.  Perhaps in future you might try reason, logic and a fully developed argument rather than denigration, ridicule, hyperbole, generalisation, cultural relativism, historical relativism, selective recall, irrelevancy,  and the invocation of the sacrifice of others.   Your response brings credit to neither yourself nor your organisation.

    Paul Rogerson
  3. The aborigines are lucky the english took this country-otherwise the japs would have invaded and there would be NO aborigibes left!
    They should thank us intead of having a chip on their shoulders.

    tosin
  4. France’s anti-head scarf law is in reaction to the hijab-wearing required under some religious extremists’ views which enforce wearing of them – neither are particularly helpful to individual freedom.

    This issue is similar to AU’s mandatory bicycle helmet laws. I wonder how many people complain about people wearing the hijab and at the very same time support the bullying and punishable offence of not wearing a bike helmet?

    stephen
  5. I like the idea of challenging narrow mindedness by listening to other people’s views and thought you had an excellent response to popular concern that a majority of white Australians have. I particularly liked the response to “Do you feel sorry for the genuine Australians that live there and on occasions have been forced to leave?”
    So many people are in fear of being “taken over” while forgetting that the only reason that they can live happily on the land they now possess is because Aboriginal people were dispossessed of it. If they can’t feel sorry the way Aboriginal people were dispossessed and massacred then how can they expect anyone else to feel sorry for them? It’s my first time on this site but I might stick around for a while

    Matt..

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