You've found Father McKenzie. But are you really looking for Eleanor Rigby?

Monday, November 19, 2007

Neither Christian, nor democratic, nor much of a party

"Ye shall have one manner of law, as well for the stranger, as for one of your own country..." - Leviticus 24:22
Couldn't quite believe my ears last night, around 9.30 and then around 10 PM. Watching Red Eye on TV, savoring Cillian Murphy's enjoyably hooded-eyed, creepy persona, but thinking "Hmm. He's curiously whitebread for a Hollywood terrorist/ assassin villain. Not even Russian Mafiya or European neo-Nazi links, let alone... you know what."

But you-know-what was not lacking from my TV diet last night, because at the aforementioned times were screened election advertisements spoken and authorized by Paul Green, the Christian Democratic Party's lead Senate candidate for New South Wales, listing the party's policies, with Article I being "a halt to Islamic immigration and a ten-year moratorium".

Nice work, CDP. In theory, this week should have been a good one for the ChrisDems, with Fred Nile at last getting his chance to publicly grieve over the senseless deaths of unborn babies without being vilified as a [W]oman-hater. But this silly idea has thrown away their moral advantage, for three big reasons.

[1] Administrative problem with "a moratorium on Islamic immigration": How do you enforce it? Do you lock would-be migrants in a room with closed-circuit TV and see if you can catch them praying towards Mecca? Do you make them spit on a Quran as part of the visa application process? Or do you cap the quota of visas from any country with green and Arabic lettering on its flag, or that's a member of "The Organization of the [sic] Islamic Conference"?

[2] Constitutional problem with "a moratorium on Islamic immigration": The Federal Government, which exclusively controls immigration, is constitutionally barred from discriminating on the basis of religion. That's in Section 116 of our strong Constitution, Fred and co (right after the clause that says how the Queen is descended from King David and is therefore God's anointed). Yes, the Feds do have pretty much unlimited legislative power to discriminate on the basis of race - but they have no power to discriminate on the basis of religion. (If you were going to Constitutionally permit one but not the other, religious discrimination is less completely irrational - "prohibiting the free exercise of any race" is a logical contradiction, since race is wholly involuntary while religion is only largely involuntary - but Australian voters, in their wisdom, voting in 1900 and 1967, chose the opposite combo: live with it.)

[3] Practical problem with "a moratorium on Islamic immigration": It does nothing about Muslim criminals or terrorists who were born in Australia. Deportation is the easy way out: it requires less proof from the government (despite Justice Spender's stirling efforts to impose some rationality on the Haneef debacle) because - in theory - it's "non-punitive". But deportation won't work on naturalized citizens, or radical fundamentalist Muslims who are native-born - as were most of the 2005 London bombers. Sorry, government, you actually need to get off your backside and start prosecuting the guilty individuals, as individuals.

Floating (no pun intended) this proposal barely a month after the untimely death of one of Australia's most valued and productive Muslim migrants, Mustapha "Crazy John" Ilhan, is tasteless.

[Disclosure: one of my siblings has an Indonesian Muslim spouse. So no, I'm not well-disposed to knee-jerk proposals that would make their visa applications harder. Allow for my bias as you will. I still think this is a dumb proposal].


Australian Atheist said...

I'm not sure s116 does prevent the federal government restricting immigration on the basis of religion. It only refers to a religious test for public office.

It is true that racial discrimination is completely irrational and therefore worse the religious discrimination.

But religion is not largely involuntary. It is completely voluntary. Except in countries that punish apostasy , people have complete freedom as to what religion they follow, if at all. The exact opposite is the case with race.

CPA said...

Don't know much about Australian constitutional issues, but that's a good response to similar proposals in the US.