Where to draw the line
It was quite revealing to analyse the empirical evidence in your article “Murdoch media feeds far-right recruitment” by Rick Morton (August 10-16). The disturbing influence of conservative think tanks such as the Institute of Public Affairs and shock jocks shouldn’t be dismissed where their strident freedom-of-speech agenda and culture war games further instigate hate within our society. It saddens me how sophisticated levels of casual racism have permeated the conservative bourgeoisie where some Australians still have resentment towards the success or definition of what multiculturalism means in a modern-day Australia. We take too many things for granted and sadly through our complacency and economic good fortune it has allowed our opportunistic political class to flirt with fascism with dire consequences. If we don’t fight against all forms of discrimination and extremism we will undo all the hard work and sacrifices we’ve all made towards our wonderful country that’s become the envy of the world.
– Pamela Papadopoulos, South Yarra, Vic
Lack of respect
The school bully has morphed from troubled youth to gutless and entitled parent (“Batter of principles”, August 10-16). Jane Caro and others suggested a range of underlying reasons, such as social media, stress and misogyny. I agree, but would like to also suggest it is linked to the rise of consumer entitlement, individualism and the worship of aspiration. Our political leaders engage in abuse and derision instead of quality debate, as banking royal commissioner Kenneth Hayne recently pointed out, and policies reflect self-interest rather than public good. This lack of respect for social values has a trickle-down effect in many sectors – education, health, the financial sector and urban planning to name a few.
– Marie Healy, Hurlstone Park, NSW
Every life has value
How do we as a society value people? That is the overarching question in the abortion debate currently being played out in the New South Wales Parliament. As a person of faith I see every life as precious: mother, father and child (Editorial, “Women’s fights”, August 10-16). How many women have died as a result of seeking an abortion illegally from “backyard” operators? How many women have died as a result of domestic violence while pregnant? For too long the support available to vulnerable women in situations where pregnancy complicates an already incendiary situation has been woefully inadequate. If we are to value lives we must consider the three people involved. Our society must place support for women as a No. 1 priority. Every opportunity for life must be extended to families and couples in this dangerous situation. There are a lot of “musts” to be acted upon. Life is sacred and the unborn child needs every chance to live.
– Pam Connor, Mollymook Beach, NSW
Looking for deeper meaning
Graham Freudenberg’s words spoke across generations, regardless of political ideologies. Dr Andy Marks’ evocative tribute (“Rhetoric of reason”, August 10-16) rightly emphasises Freudenberg’s ability to reflect, and his uncanny ear for setting his words in the correct context. It’s timely to be reminded of his Vietnam speeches, as we suffer the current barrage of exploding thought bubbles on all sides. My generation was part of the Vietnam call-up: I recall the sense of despair that the “rhetoric of reason” was being ignored at the time. I feel a comparable sense of despair today, although now it’s because we don’t even have the rhetoric to give us hope. May Freudenberg’s legacy revive mature reflection leading to more responsible public discussion and commentary.
– Jenifer Nicholls, Armadale, Vic
Not so pious
In his attempt to ridicule Senator Matt Canavan’s recent address to The Sydney Institute, Richard Ackland demonstrated ignorance concerning the Catholic Church in the early 20th century. (Gadfly, “Furphy Brown”, August 10-16). The clerical Pope Pius XI did not have “a lot in common” with the secular Benito Mussolini and the Fascist regime. Ackland cites David Kertzer’s view that much of the ideology of Fascism drew heavily on the Catholic traditions of authoritarianism, intolerance and dislike of the Jews. Mussolini did not need advice about how to be authoritarian and intolerant. Moreover, Pius XI was supportive of Jews. Rabbi David Dalin described Kertzer’s The Popes Against the Jews as both “false and unpersuasive” and Kertzer’s thesis was demolished in Justus George Lawler’s Were the Popes Against the Jews? Pius XI’s 1937 encyclical Mit brennender Sorge was one of the strongest refutations of Nazi totalitarianism published during the 1930s.
– Gerard Henderson, Sydney, NSW
Following Paul Bailey of Winmalee, NSW, on “Paying the job network” and Frank Carroll of Moorooka, Qld, on “No votes from Newstart” (Letters, August 3-9), can I add that a good government runs a deficit to stimulate the economy when it’s sinking, and a surplus to put the brakes on when it’s booming. Since our government is trying to run a surplus when our economy is struggling, does that make our finance minister an economic silly-man?
– David Harvey, Drummoyne, NSW
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This article was first published in the print edition of The Saturday Paper on Aug 17, 2019.
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