PM John Howard of Australia is one real hypocrite. He knows that many Australians are fearful of Muslims, especially after the Bali bombings (twice) and the continuous snide demonising of Muslims since 9/11, some of those made by a few Howard ministers.
So he plays regularly to the public gallery to ensure his party enjoys support as the ‘strong, resolute political party that takes-no-shit’ from any Islamist terrorists or unsocial Aussie Muslims. Nothing like a jolly good schooner of fear or dislike of strange looking turbaned bearded Muslims to motivate Aussie public support for the party who ‘appears’ to take a hard line against those alien 'intruders'.
Mind you, Howard is not alone in playing the bigoted card. A couple of Aussie State Premiers and Opposition leaders, especially those in NSW have been like him. Years ago it was the chinky Chinese, today it’s the marauding Muslims.
Howard recently attempted to introduce into the Aus citizenship test some elements of what he called ‘Australia-values’. His policy was seen by many cynical observers as an indirect attack on Middle-East Muslim migrants. Coincidentally (I am being sarcastic here, in case you missed it) Howard made this policy announcement in the turbulent wake of his extremely unpopular Industrial Relations (IR) Law, which has already in some cases victimised workers in favour of some unscrupulous employers.
Political analysts said that Howard’s political invincibility may well be shattered by the IR Law as Aussies don’t like a political party that hasn’t done the right thing by the workers, the typical ‘Aussie battlers’.
So perhaps it’s time for John Howard to re-energise the public into marshalling around the brave White Chief’s banner again. John Howard and his party have a notorious history of sly subtle and sinister bigoted political campaigning.
The Tampa incident and the children overboard scandals were two of the worst examples of John Howard's Liberal Party gutter politics, where fears and dislike of Middle Eastern and Afghanistani refugees were deliberately instigated to promote the Howard government's credentials as a hardline anti-immigration authority (against some specific groups) in contrast to the Labour Party's softer and more humane policies.
It’s not that those politicians are racists, but hey man, it’s just a case of whatever it takes to win the votes.
Now, a wonderful opportunity has just arisen for John Howard to condemn a leading Muslim cleric, Sheikh Taj el-Din Al Hilaly, who apparently had shown sheer idiocy in allegedly comparing scantily dressed women to 'uncovered meat' in a sermon in Australia.
The alleged comment was made last month yet it has been 'dug up' strategically like a convenient nugget at a time, like now, when John Howard is facing severe criticism for refusing to announce a time table to withdraw Aussie troops from Iraq, when even the Yanks are doing so. Everyone knows that Howard is waiting for the little green light from Uncle Sam.
The cleric had apologised immediately when the furore broke out. He unreservedly apologised to any woman offended by his comments, insisting he only intended to protect women's honour. In his statement, Sheikh Hilaly says women in Australia have the freedom and right to dress as they choose
Despite that apology, John Howard was quick as Gordon Flash in condemning Sheik Taj el Din as appalling and reprehensible.
And boy, did Little Johnny lay it on thick with his bollocking of the Sheik despite his opening qualifications that “if the translation of the Sheikh's sermon last month was correct, I condemn the remarks unconditionally”.
Unusually when a politician isn’t sure yet of the veracity of the alleged politically incorrect statements, he could still condemn but generally in one conditional but brief sentence. But this was a good opportunity for Howard to lash out good and proper, beyond the obligatory cautious brief sentence.
Sheik al Hilaly was the man who risked his personal health and indeed life in flying to Iraq to help secure the release of an Aussie hostage, Douglas Wood – see my posyting Sheik al Hilaly - From Australian Villain to Australian Hero?. But tough if John Howard wants to lay it thick with his criticisms of the cleric – WTF, he’s just a convenient 'unpleasant' Muslim, nd Little Johnny needs a bit of public support right now!
But why did I call John Howard a hypocrite?
By contrast, just less than a couple of weeks ago, when an Israeli newspaper, the reputable Ha’aretz reported that the Israeli ambassador to Australia had in an interview made an unbelievable racist statement about Asians (yellow race with slanted eyes) – see my posting Showing True 'Colours'! - John Howard was deafeningly quiet as a bloody mouse.
No sir, I didn’t hear him or any government minister utter one single word of condemnation of the Israeli racist statement, not even with a qualified “if the translation of the ambassador’s statement was true, I condemn the remarks unconditionally”. Only the Opposition spokesman for foreign affairs, Kevin Rudd said the one line qualified condemnation of such racist remarks.
No, Howard didn’t dare nor want to say anything against Israel. He became conveniently deaf and dumb during that period. But Muslims are fair game, not because so much he detests Muslims per se but because he reckons he can get a few extra votes from Australians worried about al Qaeda, Jemaah Islamiyah, Taliban, Hamas, Hezbollah (not that they can tell the difference among those groups with different objectives) and other terrible turbaned people.
As for his Australia-value policy in the citizenship test, I didn’t hear him nor one politician (on both sides of the political fence) say anything about those young 3rd or 4th generation Australians of Italian stock openly and gleefully supporting the Azzura (Italian national soccer team) against the Socceroos, the Aussie national soccer team during the recent World Cup.
Now, wouldn't that a worry for Howard's Australian values? F**k, those so-called Aussie youths should have been shipped back to Italy if they publicly demonstrated their allegiance to Italy over Australia.
Why then Howard was strangely deaf and dumb? Mate, there are lots of Italian Aussie votes!
Similarly so when Melbourne bid for the 1996 Olympic Games, the Greek community of Melbourne (the biggest Greek community in the world outside Athens) openly and defiantly refused to support the Melbourne bid but disloyally went for Athen’s instead. Did any Aussie politician say anything? Silent as a mouse, so as not to chase away the considerable Greek Aussie votes.
So most (with some exceptions) Aussie politicians would keep their mouths shut when the Jews made racist comments (because of their very significant political funding) or when Italian and Greek Aussies campaigned against Aussie teams (because of their very significant votes), but open theirs in double standard fashion when Muslims say the wrong thing (because of the very significant votes from the mainstream Aussie community who fears Muslims).
Yes, Aussie pollies are not unlike UMNO pollies. It's only in the style and subtlety that vary.