No surprises here: we have a spineless, self-serving government that will side with Muslim agitprops against the people of Australia.
The Australian has obtained a letter from Ms Bishop to Coalition backbencher Eric Abetz who had called for her to be dumped from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade’s Council for Australian-Arab Relations, advising him that there was no precedent for such a removal.
Ms Abdel-Magied’s, who is also an ABC host, deleted and apologised for a controversial Facebook post in which she said “Lest we forget (Manus, Nauru, Syria, Palestine)”, which sparked outrage and accusations that she had disrespected Anzac Day.
Ms Bishop said after a thorough inquiry including interviews with embassies and other members of the board, she was convinced that no good would be served by her removal and that instead she would be “mentored”.–Share
Lest Abdel-Magied forgets, she created the problem
Wasn’t it Amanda who inflicted the Sudanese cultural enrichment on us?
Yassmin Abdel-Magied’s Lest We Forget tweet was in itself regrettable. It also drew out some commentary that I found surprising.
Ms Abdel-Magied started out with a credibility problem following a Q&A performance during which she made some, to me, inexplicable remarks about women and the Muslim religion.
Under fire for an Anzac Day Facebook post: ABC presenter and youth activist Yassmin Abdel-Magied. Photo: Daniel Boud
That experience might have taught her to be careful. Anyone with a public profile can suffer far more than others when their words are picked up and amplified.
Anzac Day is one of the moments that bring Australians from all walks of life and all political persuasions together. We remember the sacrifice of those who lost their lives and of those who lost loved ones. We reflect on those who came back, through injury or experience, changed people. We remind ourselves of the enormous human cost of war.
Ms Abdel-Magied’s tweet was inevitably going to cause offence and controversy. Many find it difficult to accept that she didn’t understand that at the time. After all, she doesn’t market herself as someone who doesn’t understand Australia. It takes rudimentary social skills to comprehend that in any country their Anzac Day equivalent is not an occasion to mock or misuse for your own purpose, least of all a political one.
Ms Abdel-Magied has a public position and chooses to have a public profile. It’s no surprise therefore that what she puts out in the public domain draws comment from others. She may be a bit sensitive for the public profile she chooses to keep. I was on a panel with her last year and she expressed some aggravation, not a lot, but some, at being constantly asked where she came from. My family name is O’Brien and its origins seem obvious, but my husband’s invites frequent comment. I don’t care. We’re an immigration country and of course we’re interested in each other’s backgrounds.
Ridiculously, some tried to say that people who wanted reform of S18c to allow greater freedom of speech should not criticise Ms Abdel-Magied, because she was simply exercising her right to free speech. Since when did freedom of speech mean freedom from criticism? She of course, has the right to free speech, to say what she likes. So do those who disagree with her. That’s what free speech is about. It certainly doesn’t mean that if you jump in with the first comment, everyone else has to zip their lips and let your remarks go without comment or response.
It means almost the opposite. You can say what you like and so can I … it’s the great conversation of life. It’s not a monologue. No one gets to make social comment as though they are starring in a play in which their wonderful soliloquy should be heard in silence with consequent applause.
Ms Abdel-Magied’s withdrawal and apology only dug her deeper into trouble. When you say “It has been brought to my attention” you are saying that had something not been drawn to your attention, you would have been clueless as to its existence. It’s the equivalent of her saying “I had no idea these remarks would cause offence, no idea that so many Australians feel so strongly about Anzac Day”.
That of course invites speculation as to credulity. If she had no idea at all about the importance of Anzac Day, how did she conclude that the words “Lest we Forget” were sufficiently important to the rest of us? Her tweet, starting with those words tells you the truth.
In any event, running the “I didn’t know” defence leaves you advertising your own ignorance and stupidity.
Further commentary has somewhat pathetically suggested that Ms Abdel-Magied was criticised because she is a female Muslim.
This is a completely ludicrous suggestion. If Tony Jones had closed the pre-Anzac Day Q&A with the words of Ms Abdel-Magied’s tweet, there would have been an outrage. Ditto if Alan Jones, Karl Stefanovic or David Koch had made similar comment. They’re all men and not Muslim, but they would have copped a belting from the public. It might come as a shock to Ms Abdel-Magied but nobody cares more about her being female and Muslim than she does. In fact I suspect that nobody else gives a damn.
The coterie of her defenders using the “you’re only picking on her because she’s female and a Muslim” do her no service. They may mean well. They may be in the category of people who use another’s misfortune to promote their own credentials as nice people (I’m standing up for a Muslim woman so you know I’m a decent person). I think Ms Abdel-Magied can stand up for herself.
The problem with people running that line is that many Australians are just sick of being told that they can’t criticise anyone in a minority. Their complaint here isn’t predominantly one of free speech. It’s one of a fair go.
Someone I regard as an astute observer of Australian political life summed it up this way. “They’re just fed up with a situation where the mainstream cops it all the time but minorities are in a glass case. They just don’t see why you can cause offence and risk getting blown to bits if you do a mocking cartoon of Allah, but you can drop a crucifix in a jar of urine and call it art”.
The way for Ms Abdel-Magied to be treated equally is for just that to happen. Rather than rush to put some glass wall around her, we should say “You’re an Aussie, you stuffed up, you’re going to get a belting, suck it up”. Ms Abdel-Magied is not the subject of derision because some right-wingers have criticised her. She’s the subject of derision amongst everyday day Australians catching the bus to work, queuing for a coffee at the cafe or picking the kids up from school because of what she chose to say. Her problem is all her own work.
Amanda Vanstone is a Fairfax Media columnist and a former Liberal government minister.