Friday, April 27, 2018

Letters to the Editor

Editor March 21, 2012


Dear Editor,
In response to your printing the viral email letter to Julia Gillard and Tony Abbot from Jenny Bell. It contains a lot of emotional rhetoric backed up with no evidence.  This letter is basically a platform for expressing hurtful and hateful racist views – a dangerous mix to be publishing in a town like Shepparton with a growing immigrant community.
Lets start with the idea of the ‘haves’ and ‘have nots’ argument.  Yes, the rich are getting richer, but the poor are not getting any poorer. Despite all this talk about a deterioration of living standards, compared to ten years ago, even people in a lower socio economic status now have iphones, internet access and massive TVs. A deterioration in living standards is an easy and
emotional line to throw around but it is not actually true.
Hospitals have always been underfunded.  This is not a new argument and neither is it particularly wrong.  We could do with a bit more funding at our hospitals but it probably would never be enough.  A publicly funded system is just that – for the public. If you take a step back and look, you would see that on the whole, Australian hospitals are fantastic. Don’t like it?  Get private health insurance and stop whinging.
Who is calling off Christmas?  Again a very emotive one that shoots right through the heart of white Australia. When has any single teeny tiny element of your Christmas experience had to be changed because of Muslims?  Do you still visit the Myer windows?  Do you still eat too much plum pudding?  Do you still spend more money than you have on gifts that your family may not like? Christmas is never going to be fazed out.  Sure, we are trying to take some of the religious inferences out of many public institutions. Not everyone is Christian and not everyone wants to identify with Christianity in their taxpayer funded institutions such as schools.  This is not because of Muslims.  This is because Australian infrastructure is for everyone, not just Christians.
We do not have radical clerics demanding Sharia law.  The Muslim council of Australia takes a very responsible attitude to electing its leaders and clerics and does so in consultation with the parts of the Australian government. We are not going to have Sharia law – the muslim population is a tiny minority in Australia.
Do you really think that the police are fearing for their lives?  These guys and girls have guns and a lot of training.  They probably don’t go to specific areas as often as people would like because they are busy – not too scared.  Sure, children of migrants sometimes form gangs.  It is usually because their parents are absent because they are working two or three jobs to create a better life for their children. Give them half a generation and they’ll sort themselves out and the gangs will go away.   Migrant children are not the only ones with absent parents in Australia and white gangs are just as common. There have always been areas of towns where white middle class people would be safer not to walk on their own at night – even 150 years ago!
The vast majority of migrant children are softly spoken, studious kids who work hard at school and try to get into university.  In fact, they generally work so hard that they do better than the white kids.  This upsets people and they run around crying that there is “white flight” from the schools and complain that white kids don’t get a fair chance at selective schools.  You can’t have it both ways – are they very bad or are they very good?  Or are things just not that black and white?
Our detention centres are a disgrace and the way we treat people seeking asylum is abhorrent.  Two amazing documentaries on ABC and SBS last year, one called “Go back to where you came from” showed a journey of white Australians retracing the steps of refugees who had arrived in our country.  It was a moving account and the people involved couldn’t help but be transformed by the things they experienced.  The Four Corners report on ABC showed just what a dire situation the detention centres are in and how they are essentially taking desperate people from drastic situations around the world (that you and I can’t even begin to imagine) and putting them in a far more hopeless environment for an unspeakably long period of time.  It showed that they were suicide and mental illness factories.  Even the hardest of hearts would have shed a tear at the hopelessness. What kind of person moves heaven and earth to get themselves and their families out of a perilous situation, pinning their hope on a wealthy country like Australia being able to help them, to then be put in such an awful never ending detention situation where they would choose to take their own life?  Lets not keep them in detention.  Imagine the money we would save on rehabilitation of mental illness.
If you really want to worry about our lifestyles changing and things deteriorating, then how about we focus on things that are a lot more tangible and backed by evidence, rather than throwing around emotive lines that are not based on any factual context. Because change is coming, it is going to happen in my children’s lifetime and it is going to do more than wreck Christmas.  Climate Change is real and it is happening.  No amount of idiots on the radio or newspaper denying it are going to stop it.  The evidence is there and it is concrete.  A carbon tax falls so vastly short of what this government should be doing to take action on this – that is where my disappointment with it lies.  But if it gets the ball rolling then who cares if it costs us a few dollars.  It is a drop in our rapidly rising oceans.
I doubt this will make it to anywhere near as many email inboxes as Mrs Jenny Bell from SA as it is far too factual and not emotive enough.  But that is why these viewpoints are still around today – sensationalism sells! Why spoil a good story with facts.
Alison Sim 
(Originally from Shepparton)