Bigots play the race card

The Pope, George Pell, John Howard – this racist trio think it’s OK to score political points by attacking Muslims.

They are a pack of hypocrites and liars. Pope Benedict XVI claims the Prophet Mohammed brought “evil and inhuman” ideas to the world, spreading his religion “by the sword”.

George Pell, the head of the Catholic Church in Australia, defended the Pope’s comments drawing a link between Islam and violence.

All the while John Howard lurks in the background, spreading lies about Australian Muslims. He says Muslims refuse to integrate or learn English.

He attacks multiculturalism and “political correctness”. We are told Muslims must stop hiding the extremists in their ranks.

The timing of these comments is not a coincidence.

The Australian government has hundreds of troops bogged down in the Middle East and Afghanistan. The US is losing its Long War occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan have become disasters.

Only weeks ago the US’s main ally, Israel, suffered a humiliating defeat at the hands of a determined people’s resistance movement in Lebanon.

Recent reports by US intelligence agencies that these wars have increased the threat of terrorism confirm what most people regard as obvious. Socialists have long argued that the imperial- ism of the Bush administration would make our world more dangerous and unstable.

The last thing our rulers want is to cop the blame for this disaster. Blaming Muslims is a convenient way to avoid taking responsibility and to divide and confuse opposition to their rule.

That’s why Howard is playing the race card again. Ten years after the emergence of Pauline Hanson, he his given confidence to the worst bigots in society.

For example, former Treasury secretary and National Party senator John Stone claims there is now an “Islamic cancer in our body politic”. In the September issue of Quadrant he wrote:| “We should curtail very sharply to the point of virtually halting, the further entry of Muslims within our immigration pro- grams That will be attacked as ‘discriminatory’, and so it is.

“Wee have every right to discriminate against the admission to Australia of people of any culture that we believe will be incompatible with the peace, order and good government of our country…
“If our existing political parties will not address the concerns responsible for that anger, then a new party will surely arise to fill the vacuum.

Call it, notionally, the No More Muslims party” Stone argues that Howard has “al- ready done a good deal” to aid the hard right’s agenda.

Howard’s snide comments a are a green light to racists everywhere. In the media hardly a day goes by without a report attacking Muslims.

Last month, Sydney’s Daily Telegraph attacked housing and welfare provided for Australians forced to flee war-torn Lebanon through no fault of their own. In one article, staff writer Luke McIlveen argued that Rhonda Taylor a poor single mother, was being denied access to priority public housing because of this.

McIlveen wrote that Lebanese Australians were returning to a “a welfare smorgasbord – but for Ms Taylor there is nothing but forms and a string of empty promises that her family will be given a new home”.

This is an example of how the system uses racism to divide working class people and their families.
Our rulers and their apologists in the media whip up lies about a particular ethnic or religious group to divert the anger and bitterness of workers and the poor, like Rhonda Taylor, away from the real culprits – government cutbacks, low wages, and job insecurity.

Howard is playing the race card to stop any effective opposition to his policies at home and abroad. So why has Kim Beazley decided to jump on this racist bandwagon?

When Howard claimed that Muslims needed to accept Australian “values”, Beazley could have attacked his comment as racist lies.

He could have told the truth – that Muslims do not live in ghettos, they are mostly born in Australia, and mostly speak English proficiently.

He could have explained that Muslims are spread across the country, mixing and working with other social groups, encompassing various national backgrounds.

Or that they have nothing to do either with terrorism or with the foreign wars that cause it.

Beazley could have shown some backbone on this issue. Instead, he decided to parrot Howard, arguing that all entrants to Australia should “sign on” to Australia values.

Beazley’s sad attempt to outdo Howard on his own terms is a disgrace and a blight on Labor’s efforts to win next year’s federal election.

In response, we have to say loudly and clearly that Muslims are welcome here. We have a responsibility to debunk the racist myths and re-direct the blame at Howard for backing imperialist wars against our wishes.

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