Write on: letters to the editor

Tony Abbott (and maybe Paul Sheehan) have a hidden talent

There was television footage of Tony Abbott at a shopping centre earlier this week. An angry woman complains about Muslims in Australia. His response is that he understands exactly where she is coming from and that there is a need for a strong border protection policy in Australia. The leader of the opposition does not at all acknowledge the Islamophobia of this woman.

Also, according to Tony Abbott recently, Pauline Hanson was just expressing the rage of a lot of people. However, he does not acknowledge her harmful comments. Mr Abbott assures us he does not discriminate.

In the Sydney Morning Herald Paul Sheehan last year asserted that Islamophobia is just a fabrication, despite the fact that there are numerous cases of Muslims in Australia subject to verbal abuse and other forms of discrimination.

In Newcastle, where I live, one Muslim woman I knew left the city a few years ago because of verbal abuse and other forms of discrimination. Even a search of SMH articles over the past 10 years would reveal good stories about discrimination against Muslims and migrants from the Middle East, regardless of whether they are Muslim or not.

Both Paul Sheehan and Tony Abbot are misplaced in their respective careers. I think they would make very gifted talk back radio hosts. What a waste!

Robert Monks, Islington, NSW

Corporatisation of Mardi Gras

It was with a welcome sigh of relief that I read Peter Hackney's article "The Corporatisation of Mardi Gras" in GLW #827.

Finally someone has the courage to problematise the commodification of not only Margi Gras, but all of the gay community.

Our community has been taken over by capitalists, both straight and gay, and appropriated for their profit.

The Sydney gay community is now a class-infected culture only open to those who can afford inner city living, gym memberships, and the latest fashions.

Don't get me wrong: I love Mardi Gras and will continue to attend. Beyond the commodification, there are real people who still care about equality for all of us.

Many academic researches have identified the class-infected nature of western gay communities. Class divisions have caused enormous damage to our community. How many queers are self harming due to their experiences within the community? Homophobia from mainstream society, class discrimination in the gay community.

As for gay media — well, I'd advise all queers to stay clear. They only represent the section of the gay community with the disposable income to purchase their advertiser's overpriced wares.

Please let us all stand up and take our community back from the capitalists. If we continue to ignore this, the gay community will die a slow and painful death.

David Beards, via email

People and pollution

Simon Butler and Ian Angus, in GLW (February 3) under the banner "People are not pollution", express support for "the recognition of the right of human mobility across borders as an essential response to the climate change threat". On this I part company with them.

Such a "right" suggests capitulation to the inevitability of environmental destruction and of our failure to provide support to our poorer neighbours to obviate that threat.

Climate change will need to be met as an international threat to all, rich and poor alike. "Border jumping" isn't the answer except in special cases such as rises in sea levels.

We need also to recognise that people emigrate for a range of reasons: poverty, war, hunger, communal violence, political repression, etc. Surely these issues have as great a political imperative for action as climate change in our present milieu and will continue to be our priorities?

People are unlikely to leave their country of birth unless provoked for these sorts of reasons. While maintaining support for immigrant refugees it appears politically defeatist to see emigration as a solution to a problem.

Finally, what about "the elephant in the room?" Let us recognise that in striving for social justice internationally we must not reject population reduction as a key to an environmentally sustainable planet. The rate of growth of human population over the last 150 years is unsustainable. It is an environmental threat.

This is a "real issue" and socialists have to recognise that "people can be polluting". To suggest that "overpopulation" is simply a symptom of the distributive failures of capitalism is delusional. This issue merits further serious discussion in GLW.

David Bell, Orange, NSW

Heritage significance

Andrew Woodhouse is right: the Gordon Syron Indigenous art collection is of national heritage significance ("The art of injustice", GLW #826).

This is more than an art collection: it is an album of memories that needs to be saved lest we forget the injustices foisted on members of our community for whom justice is dirty word.

NSW premier Kristina Keneally should step in and step over her planning department to renegotiate an equitable long-term lease for this collection.

B & S Savage, Kings Cross, NSW

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