C'est nous qui brisons les barreaux des prisons, pour nos frères, La haine à nos trousses, et la faim qui nous pousse, la misère. Il y a des pays où les gens aux creux des lits font des rêves, Ici, nous, vois-tu, nous on marche et nous on tue nous on crève.

Thursday, 28 June 2007

As expected

Not too long after putting out this post on the Howard/Pearson plan for Aboriginals, one of the biggest fans of the Liberal Party and the News Ltd media (a self-styled conservative crusader calling himself Iain Hall) has decided to 'fisk' me. I won't waste too much space on this, but I might do a little 'bolting' in return. He says:

I have made the claim, which he hotly denies, that he is one of those
leftists that is willing the governments efforts to fail.

Unless you are a mind-reader, such claims are meaningless, the more so since no 'leftists' have indicated that they want the plan to 'fail'. The above comment is a pretty good illustration of those poor souls who conflate legitimate criticism of the plan with a heartless endorsement of child abuse.

My critic says that he agrees with the first couple of paragraphs of the offending post, and only begins to take issue with my characterisation of Howard's/News Ltd's arguments:

You see this is where Hap starts to be hobbled by his own ideology for a
fair and honest commentator would not pin their colours to the mast in such a
blatant way by describing the prime minister as cynical and acting from
political self interest. yet by doing so Hap very neatly demonstrates exactly
what he is trying to disprove in his post.

I was careful not to impute motives to either Howard or Pearson, as I am not a mind-reader either. Clearly, however, supporters of this plan have openly accused its critics of 'blind hatred' of Howard. Given that this sort of thing has no basis in evidence, I think we can fairly dismiss it.

I saw Mal Brough on SBS news last night where he very neatly laid this
Furphy to rest , He made that the point that during his tenure as minister he
has consulted very widely with grass roots people in the communities and that
the action that has been instigated by the government is just the sort of thing
that many of the people have been calling for.

If Brough has 'consulted very widely', why are large numbers of community leaders saying that consultation has been lacking? My previous post linked to evidence of this lack - Hall does not think it necessary to provide any evidence for is statements here. Elsewhere, I made reference to the appalling conditions of child protection services around the country, to which Hall responded:

No one disputes that hitherto the responsibility for child safety has lay
with the stats and the territory government. So if any blame is to be laid at
the feet of government for inaction it is not the fedral government who have to
carry this sorry burden of shame it is the state pollies who should be the
subject of Haps disdain, but hang on are not all of the state governments held
by the Labor party?

Nobody is denying that state governments have been asleep at their post on some of these issues. This does not, however, refute the fact that the NT government asked for Federal assistance a year ago, and was ignored. Unlike the states, the territories may arguably have some claim to be of Federal interest, particularly if they explicitly request assistance.

My post was particularly concerned with how dissent to the plan is being portrayed as a heinous crime, despite good reasons for such dissent, and despite the fact that the dissent has little practical effect in any case. Hall replies:

Is this is a bad thing? There comes a point when action is required and
that time is now.

But this, as any reader can see, is merely a reiteration of the argument that I initially forwarded. Unthinking, uncritical action is needed, and therefore dissent must be shouted down.

Iain also takes issue with my raising the point of land rights, and their proposed removal:

Some one who did not know the details would think that every square inch of
land under native title was going to be resumed by the government. This is
clearly not the case at all. Some suspension of native title over limited areas
of various communities has been deemed necessary so that particular legal issues
will not impede the rebuilding efforts.

Iain doesn't bother to show how they are 'necessary', just that they are. I guess it's case closed, then. It's notable that such measures aren't necessary anywhere else in combating child abuse.

Hap is one of those who are going into battle with the sound of rattling
speculums in his polemic on this issue when the government has repeatedly said
that such medical checks will be done with care, respect, and sensitivity.

'Rattling speculums'? I guess if the government says the medical checks will be done carefully, we should be satisfied with this. No need for a non-government viewpoint here. Iain also avers that 'rabid leftists are saying that children will be taken away.' Again, he does not provide a source for this, and it's not a view that has been well-represented in the mainstream media.

I am sure that the recommendations of the “little children are sacred ”
will be part of the solution but the first, and by any measure the most dramatic
part, of what will be a long process will be the stabilization of the situation
and the re-establishment of law and order.

Actually, as Kieran of The Dead Roo clearly demonstrated, the Government's plan is a rather strange interpretation of the report's recommendations, with no suggestion that this interpretation will be modified at any time. But Iain doesn't stop there:

You see the problem for Hap is that Noel Pearson is right on the money
here. for as much as Hap claims to want to see some real improvement in the lot
of indigenous children the reality is that in his heart of hearts he wants
failure more so that the government that he hates will be forced from

Actually, 'failure' will take several years to fully register with the public, and the present Government are unlikely to be in power for that long. In the meantime, a unique opportunity to take meaningful action, with all of the energy, emotion and resources that this implies, will have been lost, perhaps permanently.

Where was Hap on this issue twelve months ago? Dare I suggest NO where to
be seen?

Not having a blog at that time, Iain correctly asserts that I was not to be seen. Iain continues his rant for several paragraphs, but it seems to me that we can stop here. Nowhere does he provide any evidence for any of his claims about the proposal. Without a hint of irony, he dismisses criticism of Howard's plan as being motivated by a 'conspiracy theory', so that 'leftists' can maintain control of their 'fiefdoms'!

Perhaps the whole thing is a satire, because such responses clearly belong in comedy, not public debate. In any case, Iain illustrates my points nicely - the die-hard ideologues don't want 'debate', instead preferring to smear opponents with claims that they are complicit in child abuse. It is ironic that those calling loudest for 'bipartisanship', and who say these issues are 'beyond politics', are those who illustrate the opposite through their actions. It all reinforces the notion that this proposal is merely a point-scoring exercise for politicians and cultural warriors.