A centre of delusion
I can’t be the only person baffled by the Howard and Abbott sideshow spruiking a university centre for Western civilisation (Mike Seccombe, “Ramsay cul-de-sac”, June 16–22). I take it that Western values are grounded on things such as scientific rationality, freedom of inquiry, intellectual and moral integrity, and participative democracy. Howard and Abbott built formidable political careers by trashing all these values. Only grandiose self-delusion would allow a pair of climate change deniers to regard themselves as upholding Western intellectual tradition.
– David Clarke, Battery Point, Tas
The Australian National University and Sydney University are well within their rights to refuse the tempting multimillion-dollar cash infusion to promulgate cultural immersion in the Judeo–Christian tradition hosted by the proposed Ramsay Centre. Both already offer humanities degrees that offer broad-based and balanced exposure to philosophy, ethics, human history and the arts. In order to remain credible as a host to critical appraisal and uncensored debate among impressionable youth, a degree conferred by a reputable university must avoid the stain of agenda-driven indoctrination, a prescient threat posed by the Ramsay Centre’s aspiring to a favourable focus on “studies and discussions of Western civilisation”. The ANU and Sydney risked corroding their high regard in Australia and worldwide by lending their imprimatur and patronage to the Ramsay Centre. Sydney University, at least, may have learnt from the fierce public backlash to China’s interference in student affairs to defend that behemoth’s interests, enabled through its decision to accommodate a Confucius Institute onsite. I remain proud of Australian universities’ integrity and insistence on academic autonomy, including a recent decision by ANU vice-chancellor Brian Schmidt to not profit from the offer of housing a Confucius Institute in Canberra.
– Joseph Ting, Carina, Qld
Missing the point
There is, for Howard, Jones, Abbott et al, no irony in their complaint. They are oblivious to nothing at all in regard to “the process of interrogating our society”, for there is no nuance integral to that fundamental idea which might ever present itself to them. They don’t know that they don’t know. For such scholars of the Western tradition, interrogation never opens up any fragility of thought to which irony might allude, only to the apprehension of right values. For these towering intellects, anyone who gets such irony – or apprehends any fragility in thinking – should not merely be sent from the contests, but sent to the fields for re-education, which is the real function of the Ramsay Centre for Western Civilisation and its “curriculum”.
– Terry Godfrey, Heidelberg, Vic
Good Neighbours reference
I’m hoping there’s a Walkley for headlines because “Ramsay cul-de-sac” is a shoe-in. Its brazen yet nonchalant appropriation of what has to be one of the very greatest antipodean contributions to Western civilisation took my breath away.
– Penny Oakes, Pambula Beach, NSW
Australia should decide on ABC
The recent article on Senator Mitch Fifield, the Institute of Public Affairs and the ABC (Mike Seccombe, “Communications shakedown”, June 9–15) opened the doors on the interaction, domination and influence by the IPA on political party policy. The meeting of the federal Liberal Party released their mad dog issue to sell off the ABC, which is a direct lift from the IPA “Manifesto of Good Ideas” that could see the ABC fall into a world of fake news and offshore ownership. The ABC is and has been owned by the people of Australia since 1932. That must not change to ownership by others who we cannot trust or believe. The ABC is a service to all Australians without fear or prejudice that provides us with good advice, information and credibility in times of need. Any attempt to sell the ABC should be by referendum or plebiscite (postal or otherwise) where the people decide, not government or political parties. You can’t sell something you don’t own.
– John Redshaw, Cranebrook, NSW
Asylum seeker’s death on Nauru
Another death offshore. Yet again a shirking of responsibility (Behrouz Boochani, “Untitled”, June 16–22). When will the silent among us end our consent to the unconscionable policy of offshore detention?
– Genevieve Caffery, Greenslopes, Qld
Honour Fariborz Karami
Let us remember the name of Fariborz Karami, the latest to die at the hands of the Australian state, on Nauru. The ABC News has already dropped him. But we have to organise to end this evil empire that the two major Australian parties have created, not just Peter Dutton, although his is the face of incompetence and racism and fear that is the present policy. We never knew Fariborz Karami. We have to honour him by ending this cruelty.
– Stephen Langford, Paddington, NSW
After reading about the “gloved security official” checking the pen Our Dear Leader was to use in the signing would suggest there may have been a fear, not of slow-acting poison, but that the pen may have been mightier than the knife (Hamish McDonald, “Summit’s got to give”, June 16–22).
– Allan Gibson, Cherrybrook, NSW
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This article was first published in the print edition of The Saturday Paper on Jun 23, 2018. Subscribe here.