Now who is the voice of reason?
It will come as a surprise to some to find “hardliner” Tony Abbott coming to the defence of multiculturalism in Australia. Lest it seem that he is trying to pick a fight with the Federal Treasurer, we should note that his article was published in the Quadrant before Mr Costello’s Sydney Institute speech.
But should we be surprised? Again and again, Catholics have been able to recognise in the experience of today’s Muslim migrants their own past experiences. Whether in the 19th Century when the Protestant establishment looked down on the second class Irish Catholic community, or in the post WWII immigration when Italians and Eastern Europeans brought their very non-Anglo peculiarities to these shores along with their peculiar faith.
Here’s just a bit of what Tony had to say:
“Several centuries after theocracy was rejected in the West, it can be a shock to find calls for sharia law in Australian places of worship. Still, it would be a big mistake to dismiss this as “un-Australian” rather than to begin the kind of engagement that eventually made Christianity less bloody. Indeed, talking to the more hard-line Muslims, rather than ostracising them or shouting them down, could be one of the greatest services Australia can render to the wider world. Why shouldn’t the Muslim version of the Enlightenment and an Islamic doctrine of the separation of church and state be fostered in Australia? Especially as the task is so urgent.
“Keeping faith with Australians of every background and opinion means strictly impartial law enforcement. In a pluralist society, appearing to take sides is a recipe for disaster.”