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25 July, 2013

An Immoral Moraliser

On his own website, Mr. Julian Burnside QC—a famed “human rights activist”—sledges Mr. Scott Morrison, the Shadow Minister for Immigration:
Morrison knows that it is not an offence against any law to come to Australia and seek protection.
Morrison knows that calling boat people “illegals” conveys the implication that they are a danger to the community.
Morrison knows that it is easy to win popularity by protecting the public from danger.
Mr. Burnside knows (or ought to know) that it is in fact an offence—it is illegal—for a non-citizen to enter Australia without proper authorisation; and he knows (or ought to know) the pertinent legislation from the Migration Act 1958, § 228B.*
Mr. Burnside knows that calling non-citizens who are seeking unlawful entry into Australia “asylum-seekers” or “boat people” conveys the implication that they deserve our sympathy and support and that none of them, even one who might have been a member of a jihadist militia, constitutes a danger to the community.
Mr. Burnside knows that it is easy to win popularity by telling people who want to appear noble and morally superior, without actually doing anything righteous, that their inutile, complacent moralising, though based on emotive and incoherent, flawed reasoning, is commendable.

Mr. Burnside knows (or ought to know) that lying in order to make a moral case is immoral.

Mourning Preventable Drownings

When lamenting deaths
at sea, the pious Burnside
is happy to bask

in the warming glow
of public compassion; he wears
a hypocrite’s mask.

 Protecting the public

describes the irrational
fear of a stranger

but it’s by no means
irrational to warn of
a likely danger

from people who shriek
that they wish to destroy us.
Perhaps we could ask:

isn’t protecting
its people a government’s
most important task?

UPDATE II:  Julian Burnside, of course, is not the only public figure who likes to indulge in moral exhibitionism; see “Pope Francis Should Seek Clarity on Moral Responsibility”, by Theodore Dalrymple:
In [a recent] homily, the Pope decried what he called ‘the globalization of indifference’ to the suffering of which the tragedy of the drowned [in the Mediterranean] was a manifestation and a consequence.  Our culture of comfort, he said, has made us indifferent to the sufferings of others; we have forgotten how to cry on their behalf.  […]
With all due respect, I think this is very loose thinking indeed of a kind that the last Pope would not have permitted himself.  […]
By elevating feeling over thought, by making compassion the measure of all things, the Pope was able to evade the complexities of the situation, in effect indulging in one of the characteristic vices of our time, moral exhibitionism, which is the espousal of generous sentiment without the pain of having to think of the costs to other people of the implied (but unstated) morally-appropriate policy.
UPDATE III (30 July):  another conspicuously pious moraliser is Phillip Adams—who supposes that all Iranians, for example, are “brown” and that all non-citizens seeking illegal entry into Australia are seeking asylum; see his “Brutal bigotry sinking boats” wherein, as usual, the sanctimonious collumnist seems to believe that fallacious, barely coherent, alliterative assertions have more force than logical reasoning:
Not all refugees cross borders.  In the US, victims of the dust bowl and Hurricane Katrina – like the millions dispossessed by our interventions in Iraq and the slaughters in Syria – were detritus in their own countries.  Think of the Palestinians.
And the GFC has countless “economic refugees” (a new expression of contempt to add to “illegals” or “queue jumpers”) on the move, seeking somewhere, anywhere, to get a job.  Soon their numbers will be drowned by the tidal movements of climate change refugees, as rising waters submerge Bangladesh and the Pacific islands, and by the dispossession caused by drought.  […]
For decades we’d kept people of the wrong colour out of this country with a pre-emptive form of ethnic cleansing [!] known as White Australia.  In the late 1960s and early 70s we decided we were tolerant – proclaimed that as our national virtue – and scrapped the poisonous policy.  Only to bring it back in our incremental responses to “boatpeople”.  A term that can be applied to every non-indigenous Australian in this democracy of diasporas.  John Howard won his “dark victory” election after Tampa by throwing compassion overboard – helped by Peter Reith slandering asylum-seekers as terrorists and baby-drowners.  Now Tony Abbott wants to repeat electoral history – with shameful rants about a few desperate families being the greatest threat to Australian security since World War II – one requiring a military response with its own “three-star general” heading some gimcrack joint chiefs.  Turn back the boats?  What next?  Sink them?  Only to find Kevin Rudd outbidding him in the auction.  Two leaders who make much of their Christianity are advocating policies that would have Jesus, that brown-skinned Middle Eastern, behind the razor wire.
Since Kim Beazley tossed in the towel over Tampa, Labor’s history on refugees has been disgraceful.  People forget Mark Latham wanted to out-Ruddock Philip Ruddock, as did Julia Gillard.  And now Rudd.  Exaggerating the phoniest crisis in our political history – handing over the governing of this country to shock jocks.  Reds under the bed?  Now it’s a few browns in boats.  Every religious teaching, every ethical precept, every iota of common sense, tells us we’re behaving badly.  Yet where are the protests from church and synagogue?  Where are the leaders willing to risk unpopularity by proclaiming this simple truth?  That our approach to the boatpeople is brutal, bigoted and absolute bullshit
UPDATE IV (30 July):  see also “Phillip Adams on how to be a moral bullsh…er”, by Andrew Bolt:
Adams’ moralising is vain, dishonest, evasive and blind to consequences. He is all posture, no responsibility.  He is the perfect 21st Century bullshitter.
UPDATE V (30 July):  see too Miranda Devine’s “Tragedies at sea are the fault of Kevin Rudd and the bleeding hearts”:
If there’s one group of people in this country who should hang their heads in shame, it is the bleeding hearts who recklessly sabotaged our border security.
I include Kevin Rudd – he is the chief sucker, whose moral vanity caused him to dismantle hard-won Howard-era policies in order to curry favour with compassionistas, whose votes are meaningless but who throw nice dinner parties.
Human rights barrister Julian Burnside is a ringleader.  With his basset hound eyes and matinee idol hair, he was the doctors’ wives’ pinup boy railing against a “xenophobic” electorate.
He was mute as his push for open borders bore fruit under Labor: in unchecked boat arrivals and people drowned at sea.  […]
Burnside applied a barrister’s sophistry to the topic in an interview with Chris Kenny on Sky, Sunday night.  […]
The real problem, he claimed, is not that the government has lost control of our borders and lured people to their deaths.  No, it’s the fault of the Coalition which “made a point of demonising boat people, calling them illegals, which is a lie, calling them queue jumpers, which is a lie...”
“Of course people’s xenophobia will be scratched if they are told to fear these people… Scott Morrison is the prime offender here.”
Well, Burnside got his wish, and the result so far is 1200 people drowned, and more than 45,000 unauthorised boat arrivals since Labor came to office, with a recent exponential increase from 200 to 1200 a week.
UPDATE VI (30 July):  at Catallaxy Files, in response to a question, “What would Jesus do [to assist refugees and alleged asylum-seekers]?”, I posted this comment:
What would Jesus do?  He told a story about Samaritan who saw a naked, half-dead cove on the side of the road and, feeling sorry for the poor bloke, gave him first aid, took him to the nearest motel, and looked after him for the night.  Next day, before the Samaritan continued his journey, he paid his bill, and handed over a few extra notes to the receptionist, saying, “Take care of this geezer, on me; I promise that I’ll pop back later to make sure everything’s ace.  I’ll see you right if you have to spend extra.”
Note that the neighbourly Samaritan did not dump the wounded bloke on a stranger, or on the State, and he didn’t force anyone else to be charitable.  So, I suspect that Jesus would advocate that people be charitable; but he would not—as do those sanctimonious hypocrites Julian Burnside and Phillip Adams, who vociferously pretend to be piously humanitarian while expecting others to do the hard yards—merely insist that others be charitable.
UPDATE VII (31 July):  see “Leftist jargon is village idiocy” by Janet Albrechtsen:
This is what the Left does best.  Find some sweet-sounding words, repackage them as a beguiling catch-cry for a campaign, and you’re on your way.  Soon enough careers and industries are built around a few words – words like “social inclusion” – even though no one knows what the words mean.  But when your currency is emotion, logic takes a back seat. That’s why words matter more for those on the Left.  By contrast, those on the other side of politics focus more on tedious matters such as outcomes and empirical evidence.  […]
As for the Left’s lingua franca about asylum-seekers, the trick is to claim sole moral ownership of the word “compassion.”  If you reject their policies of open borders, onshore processing and no detention centres, then, ergo, you lack compassion.  You are not entitled to use that word.  Worse, you are nasty, fearful, intolerant and, of course, xenophobic.  The Greens and many within the Labor Party are members of this compassion con.  And so are many within our national broadcaster.  Just a few recent examples: earlier this month, after yet more asylum-seekers – including a baby – died at sea, ABC News Radio ran an online survey asking listeners whether they supported (a) a tougher line (b) a more compassionate approach; or (c) the existing policy.  More akin to push polling, note the sly use of “compassion” as if only an easing of border policy can deliver compassionate outcomes.  The results surely disappointed the ABC compassionistas: 70 per cent of respondents wanted tougher measures.
The compassion con has been one of the greatest frauds perpetuated on this nation.  When Barrie Cassidy – host of ABC1’s Insiders – recently interviewed Immigration Minister Tony Burke about the so-called “PNG Solution,” he said “Where is the compassion in the new policy?”
It’s all very well for Burke and his Labor comrades to now tell us there is nothing compassionate about a policy that encourages deaths at sea.  It was not always thus.  Dripping with sincerity in 2007, Burke wrote to the “Buddies Refugee Support Group”: “The Howard government’s use of Nauru as an immigration detention centre is not only a waste of money, it is inhumane.”
In November 2007, Kevin Rudd said of the Manus Island and Nauru detention facilities: “On the humanity of the situation, we will exit those arrangements as quickly as possible.”  In 2001, then AWU secretary, Bill Shorten said the Howard government’s Pacific Solution was “dirty and nasty.”
What’s not compassionate is the straight line that runs from the more than 1100 deaths of asylum-seekers at sea and Rudd’s decision to join the ranks of the posturing moralists when he dismantled the Pacific Solution.
Acting against advice, a trickle of boats soon became a flow.  Six years and eight policy switches later, people-smugglers still dictate our immigration policy and people are dying at sea.
Once again, so-called progressives have been forced to face the facts, but for too long they relied on the “compassion” word to win arguments.  If the Left’s use of sweet sounding words was harmless, we might forgive them as irrelevant Utopian dreamers.  Sadly, the Left’s emotional catch-phrases have led to disastrous consequences – and that’s why exposing their hypocrisy is critical.

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