Let's Not Tolerate The Haters


I am, despite being a staunch conservative, not a fan of the Senate, the House of Party Hacks. Party officials and MP staffers are bequeathed plump spots on senate tickets in recognition for not stuffing up so hideously that the media noticed. I’m hard pressed to spot a single senator that I’d trust with sharp scissors.

But while most of them are merely mediocre in their quasi-harmless crankery and kookery, few cultivate their inner bonsai of malevolent mendaciloquence like South Australia’s Cory Bernardi.

Here’s a man who can segue seamlessly from Cadel Evans winning the Tour de France to hedging bets about Anders Breivik’s political and religious beliefs.

Juxtaposing two irreconcilable emotions appears to be Bernardi’s rhetorical modus operandi. He lulls us into a false sense of security before turning the tables and shocking our senses. In another post, he tells a heart-warming tale about how his friends asked him to become their child’s godparent. As you drift gently along, Bernardi bamboozles you with this:

"Whatever ones [sic]personal belief in matters of faith, one cannot separate the life of Christ and its importance to western culture. Our society is built on the Judeo-Christian tradition that serves as the bedrock of our civilisation.

"However there are concerted forces that work to undermine these enduring values by constantly seeking ways to reduce their importance in the public eye. Through insisting upon an equivalence of culture, decrying the Christian faith as a force for good and promoting moral relativity, the anti-Christian forces pursue their agenda in the public sphere.

"In doing so, they have weakened the essential bonds that bind us together as a society. It is evidenced by an increasing array of anti-social behaviour which can be linked to the gradual abandonment of our traditional values."

Whoa! Where did that come from? Fortunately, there’s no need for you to sit on your roof with a shotgun and six pack of beers: Bernardi happily exposes some of these "concerted forces" in another post.

"Outside of the threat of radicalised violence, we are also wise to be concerned about the long-term price of the ‘Sharia by stealth’ movement.

"This is the process by which community concessions are demanded to allow the less confronting aspects of Sharia or fundamentalist interpretations of Islam to operate within our neighbourhoods."

According to the senator, there is "the very real threat of Islamic extremism […] already at work within our communities, intent on destabilising our nation and undermining our values" and we should fight this threat by "learning from the mistakes of other nations".

Thus this week’s announcement that Bernardi had offered his support to Islamophobic Dutch politician, Geert Wilders, should he wish to visit Australia. It’s the next logical step in Bernardi’s fanatical War Against Islam: import guns for hire.

Bernardi has been on a long crusade against Islam. Earlier this year, he tried to reassure us all that he wasn’t against Muslims, just their religion and cultural identity. Wilders spins a similar line cranked to eleven, declaring Islam to be "the ideology of a retarded culture".

So as a straight, white, conservative male, may I have the honour and distinction of being one of the first to declare that Wilders should be denied a visa to Australia? The Government should protect Australian citizens from the molestation of visiting hate-mongers, and Bernardi proves that we have enough home grown ones already. Sure, the hippies and bleeding hearts like Senator Bernardi might point to Wilders’ right to the freedom of speech, but I don’t care.

In many places around the world, dastardly governments use censorship as part of a concerted campaign to oppress their citizens. For those who dare to struggle back, reclaiming a freedom to expression of thought and belief is a noble and dignified cause.

Australia is not one of those places. Australia is nothing like any of those places. Australia is not even a military coup away from being one of those places. The Government can barely communicate its own views, let alone suppress ours. And yet we hear so frequently about our freedom of speech and how it is the most important right of all. As I wrote back in April, journalists shriek hysteria when there’s the remotest restriction on their right to write rubbish because it strikes at the heart of their business model, not because they’re overcome with philosophical quandaries about the nature of democracy.

Bernardi and Wilders are stereotypical of our modern Right to Free Speech Worrier. They’re male. They’re in positions of power. And they’re paid an exorbitant amount for doing not terribly much.

But the defining characteristic is their self indulgence: their rights are more important than your rights. You don’t have a right to have your religion respected, because Cory Bernardi has the right to free speech. You don’t have a right to enjoy our great country unmolested, because Cory Bernardi has the right to free speech. And you certainly don’t have the right to feel welcome or even invited to celebrate your rich cultural heritage in Australia, because Cory Bernardi has the right to express whatever half-baked, pig-ignorant, and mendacious idea comes into his overtaxed mind.

But we’re stuck with him. We’re not stuck with Wilders. We are merely a tap of the "visa refused" button away from excising a threat to our social cohesion.

I wouldn’t be departing from conservative precedent. Back in the early 2000s, conservative Howard minister, Philip Ruddock, frustrated the plans of crackpot Holocaust denier, David Irving, from coming to Australia. And rightly so. Why should Jewish Australians have to tolerate the ignorant bleating of an attention-seeking goon? Further, how am I better off in a society which happily grants visas to buffoons who seek to target a section of our community for derision? David Irving threatened the "essential bonds that bind us together as a society", and now Wilders — at the invitation of one of our own senators — is coming to threaten them as well.

It is frankly indecent and obscene that Senator Bernardi would collude with a foreign politician in an attack on hardworking Australian families. The Liberal Party should question whether this is the sort of person it believes should be parachuted into safe Senate seats. The Coalition, as the custodian of the conservative tradition in Australia, should call on the Government to deny Wilders a visa on the grounds that he is coming here to incite hatred against Australian families and their way of life.

Launched in 2004, New Matilda is one of Australia's oldest online independent publications. It's focus is on investigative journalism and analysis, with occasional smart arsery thrown in for reasons of sanity. New Matilda is owned and edited by Walkley Award and Human Rights Award winning journalist Chris Graham.