The power of words “Australia is fortunate that our near neighbour Indonesia is a splendid example of a democratic nation where government serves the people, where women are respected and protected, where political and religious tolerance flourish, where technology and the market place are put to work for the benefit of all, and where the rule of law prevails.”
Yesterday we offered our prayers for the victims and their loved ones in Beirut and Paris which have each suffered Islamic mass murder in recent days. On Thursday 12 November Islamists murdered 43 people in Beirut and on Friday 13 November Islamists murdered 120 people in Paris. Fourteen times as many people live in France compared with Lebanon, and mass tragedies always hit small countries especially hard, one particularly sad example being the loss of 257 passengers on Air New Zealand Flight 901 which crashed into Mount Erebus in the Antarctic in 1979.
There has been criticism of a comparative lack of compassion for the people of Beirut. Not on this radio program.
In Paris, suicide bombers who had intended to cause a stampede by blowing themselves up inside the Stade de France during a soccer game were intercepted outside the Stadium, thanks to efficient security personnel. The appalling death toll could have been much worse if the Islamic mass murderers had succeeded in that part of their vile plan.
In response to the Paris attack the Australian Prime Minister upheld France as “the home of freedom”, which I described yesterday as rather a big call. We can be sympathetic and compassionate without spouting insincere flattery. The cause of freedom is not the monopoly of one country, but Mr Turnbull has placed himself in a minority among freedom-loving commentators by describing France as the “home of freedom”. Just four examples to the contrary include:
- Napoleon’s attempted conquest of all of Europe and even Russia, and in particular his terrorisation of Spain.
- the Dreyfus affair which laid bare the French affinity with anti-Semitism
- the traditional French hostility to freedom of trade
- the Vichy Government which collaborated with the Nazis even to the extent of deporting to Germany around 76,000 Jews of whom only 2,500 survived the war.
I mention these matters to make the point that we expect our national leaders to use their words carefully and meaningfully.
A small step forward has been made. Following the latest atrocities in Beirut and Paris, the politicians have at least for now ceased referring to Islamic mass murderers as “lone wolves”.
Unfortunately on this occasion the Australian Prime Minister has made a different mistake, trying to patronise President Joko Widodo of Indonesia by asserting that the terrorists were completely at odds with the precepts of Islam. President Widodo knows very well that the growing prosperity of Indonesia is being brought about by thousands of well-educated, well-travelled, humane, patriotic and entrepreneurial individuals.
These good people, the people who with President Widodo are building the New Indonesia, are the ones who are at odds with the precepts of Islam.
Not the terrorists who are following the textbook.
Malcolm Turnbull would have been much wiser to say something along these lines: Australia is fortunate that our near neighbour Indonesia is a splendid example of a democratic nation where government serves the people, where women are respected and protected, where political and religious tolerance flourish, where technology and the market place are put to work for the benefit of all, and where the rule of law prevails. Indonesia has earned our admiration as a powerful bulwark against Islamic terrorism. Mr President, you and your great nation may depend upon Australia’s friendship.
If you agree with me, back me up. If you disagree, prove me wrong.
Grant Goldman editorial. Tuesday 16 November 2015