Monday, October 18, 2010

OPINION: Column for the October edition of the Crescent Times ...


Irfan, shut the hell up, you right-wing fascist bull artist!!

Recently a colleague told me that I almost didn’t get my job when I applied for it. I found this rather disturbing and wanted to know the source of the reluctance.

“They googled you,” she said. I wondered why my writing against racism, prejudice and bigotry would land me in trouble with a community organisation. Wouldn’t it be an asset in the community sector to be someone who sticks his neck out and advocates for the marginalised?

“They read you were a former Liberal Party candidate.”

It is true. I was a Liberal Party candidate in 2001. By 2002, I was no longer a member of the Party. I haven’t rejoined. Since 2005, I have lambasted the Party and Australian conservatives generally.

I printed out for my colleague a copy of all the articles I had published which lambasted, ridiculed and attacked the Right (or rather, the wrong) side of Australian politics. It went into over 100 pages. She read it. Her response? “They don’t read all this. They just read
Wikipedia.”

I soon realised that even after all this time, many people will see me as a raving right wing nutcase. There isn’t much I can do about it. When you enter into the public arena, especially when you enter into politics, people will judge you by your
affiliation and by the words and deeds of those who share your affiliation. It sux, I know. But it’s life. Life sux and then you get cross examined by two angels.

I might poke fun at Kevin Andrews’ immigration policies. I might joke about John
Howard’s statements about Asians. I might describe Tony Abbott’s views on foreign policy as infantile. I might attack the Howard government for its disdain for two Australian citizens who languished at the Guantanamo gulag. I might be repeatedly attacked by right-wing pro-Liberal columnists and editorial writers.

But in the eyes of many, Irfan Yusuf is the guy who ran for the Liberals in 2001 which must mean I am anti-migrant, anti-union, anti-welfare, anti-Muslim etc. You name it, I’m anti it.

The same must happen to my friends who feel inclined to join the Labor Party or the Greens. These days if you run for the Greens, many will assume you are plotting to murder their sick granny or want their kids to be forcibly adopted by a couple of dikes on bikes.

As for the ALP, they only believe in ... um ... what do they believe in? Stabbing each other in the back? Mash’Allah, they have becoming Muslims! Julia Gillard for
AFIC President!!

In the last issue of this august publication, someone decided to have a go at a bloke who happens to be a member of the Greens. No doubt the poor brother’s marriage prospects have been affected. Then again, as we all learned from the article, Greens are anti-marriage.

If the article proved anything, it is just how little political sophistication exists in many devout Muslim circles. Heck, I wouldn’t stick my neck out and claim that the Prophet would have been a card-carrying member of the Liberal Party of
Arabia were he alive today. And despite the fact that green was one of his favourite colours, it is a bit much to argue that Bob Brown’s policies are more Islamic (whatever that means) than those of Julia Gillard or Tony Abbott.

At the same time, this is a newspaper read by people who share a common faith, even if they don’t share the same misunderstanding of the faith. And yes, there are some Green values that are arguably more Islamic in the same way that they are more Jewish or Christian or Hindu or Buddhist. Religions are about social justice and
preserving the environment. If someone from the Greens says this, why should this annoy anyone?

Let me end with two more remarks. Firstly, although I am listed as opinion editor, I had nothing to do with the commissioning or editing of either article. These days I have little to do with commissioning or editing any article (other than my own).

Secondly, the headline is a quote from a comment made to me by my fiancé during the
early days of our relationship. She will only allow me to use it here if I disclose that she stands by it to this minute.

Then again, she’s a Labor girl, which probably makes her a Feminist Communist Socialist Maoist Leninist Trotskyist Stalinist.

Talk about political sophistication!

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