Terror in a phoney war
Thanks to Karen Middleton for “Flesh and drones” (January 27–February 2), and to Greg Hogan for his letter (“Drones create new dilemmas”, February 3–9). Professor John Blaxland says, “We used to carpet-bomb cities”, as if to make collateral damage today acceptable. Bombing cities was done in full-scale war with enemy countries. I was not aware that we are at war with Syria, Afghanistan, Iraq (now), or Pakistan. In war the citizens of Coventry, Dresden and Nagasaki may be collateral damage. How is an innocent child, or old person in the streets of Baghdad, or Aleppo, the Pakistan–Afghan border area, or Helmand province, an enemy? If the “terrorists” kill someone in the streets of London, Sydney or New York it is murder. How, then, is it not murder to kill innocent people in a country that has not declared war on us? If drones had existed in the 1970s, would it have been acceptable to strike at IRA cells in Dublin or Irish villages? The IRA fundraising and arms-supplying Boston Irish would have gone berserk. It would have been even worse if British forces had struck at Boston, or Irish communities in Australia. If that would have been wrong, how can it be right to do it in other countries? Or is it simply that it doesn’t matter because those murdered people are largely black, or coloured, or Muslim? The answer is that we lack the courage to put troops on the ground to ensure as far as possible that we just kill people we can truly identify, and them alone. There is no moral or even legal dilemma here. We and our allies just do it because we can. That is what the terrorists do. I had never heard of Eye in the Sky and got the DVD. Would it have been surprising if the little girl’s father had gone straight to terrorist recruitment, or the two soldiers who fired the missile, if they really had a conscience, had resigned immediately? How can we win the “war on terror” by inflicting even more terror?
– Terry Stanton, Tinonee, NSW
Time for action on Indigenous Australians
I fully understand Tarneen Onus-Williams’s anger and have no problem with the language (Editorial, “Burning anger”, February 3–9). I think her tone would have had more effect if modified a little, but she spoke the truth. However, I would suggest one of the big problems in addressing the issue lies in white society’s inability to accept that we have essentially lived immorally since 1788. That is a hard thing to admit to, but it is a fact. It’s akin to saying our ancestors were pretty awful and we’re no better. It is more than time that we worked positively to address the wrongs. Constitutional recognition, listening to Indigenous people and making more money available to address the inequality of Aboriginals in our society would be a start. First up, let’s admit we’ve not done the right thing by the first people of this land and the likes of Tarneen Onus-Williams should be listened to.
– Joanna van Kool, Crows Nest, NSW
Scott Morrison must apologise
By asking ASIO to delay its assessment processes while the law was being changed to abolish permanent protection visas (Karen Middleton, “ASIO’s refugee warnings repealed”, February 3–9) Scott Morrison demonstrated his failure to grasp the central message proclaimed by Jesus Christ. Instead of treating asylum seekers with respect, he acted as if their wellbeing was of no consequence. If he wants to be forgiven, he needs to apologise to these people and to his God. I don’t have the courage to dwell on how he would understand any God.
Perhaps he should share his recently acquired insight with Peter Dutton: it is not smart to interfere with the workings of ASIO.
– Mark Porter, New Lambton, NSW
For the record
Over two decades, right across the Commonwealth and state public services, senior executives in the mindless grip of the digital delusion have abolished the positions of records managers and librarians, and disposed of their incumbents as surplus to requirements. The ironically named Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet is just the first to have this ruthless policy backfire publicly (Paul Bongiorno, “The left-behind society”, February 3–9). Ironic, too, that the ABC is currently culling its libraries and sound archives and disposing of its librarians.
– Gayle Davies, North Sydney, NSW
Workers need unions
The main reason that wages have been flat in recent years can be linked back to the decline in union membership (Mike Seccombe, “A playbook for the culture wars”, February 3–9). Most employers will not move wages up of their own volition. In a crowded hall or theatre I often reflect that the majority of those present can thank unions for achieving their wages and conditions. The lesson to be learnt is that workers must unite to foster a vibrant union that will work in their interest.
– Jim Banks, Pottsville Beach, NSW
It is a relief to have The Saturday Paper return with some news at last about offshore detention. “Hope in limbo” (January 27–February 2) is written by Imran Mohammad, a Rohingya refugee who has learnt English during detention on Manus Island. He gives a vivid account of the pain he and other detainees suffered when moved into new quarters without welfare workers, education programs or appropriate medical help. Yet, Imran concludes with this astonishing sentence: “It is my hope that 2018 will be the year of healing, peace and safety, and may there be many peaceful and happy years to follow for every citizen on this earth.” How can any Australian leader condone such cruelty to people in our care? And how can they fail to see the contribution people such as Imran Mohammad would make to our country?
– Zeny Giles, New Lambton, NSW
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This article was first published in the print edition of The Saturday Paper on Feb 10, 2018. Subscribe here.