Has religion been used in a civilisational war?

When the buccaneers of the British East India Company gradually increased their control over the Indian sub-continent, from a small trading post to most of the principalities, they chose to adopt the mode of governance and lifestyles of the rulers they deposed. Many reportedly took Indian wives, and sent their tinted children to appropriate schools in Britain. (There, these very wealthy offspring were seemingly described as ‘having a touch of tar.’) That is, the buccaneers seemed to have adapted to India (with substantial benefit) rather than the reverse.

Then the British Government decided to replace the East India Company. Were certain politicians and their officials a little jealous, or were they horrified at their people going ‘native’? Probably the latter, as a claimed cultural superiority usually attaches itself to the militarily superior – a very human attribute.

The claimed innate (ie. genetic) superiority of the ‘white race’ was then extended to an organised despoliation of the cultures of India, especially its millennia-old religion. The denigration and destruction of the cultures of any people who had been invaded successfully or over-run enhances the control sought by the ambitious new arrival. European Christian colonisers did this rather well.

While I prefer to read history in 300-year rolling cycles (a useful statistical approach) – and this period corresponds to the 300-year circuit of planet Saturn – an examination of the intent and effects of European colonialism should desirably cover the totality of the 5 centuries that this human virus had effect.

Post-WW2 European neo-colonialism – including changing ruling regimes and some national or tribal borders – is a less-virulent infestation; and it too will pass when global governance becomes tripartite – and fairly soon. The newest empire, the hegemonic one, based on exceptionalism (on the one hand) and globalisation (on the other), will eventually fade away; planetary movements should have a role to play in this withdrawal. In any event, no empire has lasted more than 300 years (plus or minus a standard deviation of, say, 50). Look at the Roman Empire.

When the British invaded, for settlement, North America, New Zealand and Australia, they destroyed the First Nation Peoples in these territories. In Australia, according to the renowned Dr. Coombs, they demolished a long-established civilisation as well. Leaving aside for the moment the comparable depredations in other parts of the globe by other European buccaneers, in India, the British set out to damage to the longest-lived civilisation of mankind.

These were the prongs of this attack:
• Missionaries began to gather heathen souls to the bosom of Christ by rubbishing their traditional beliefs and practices
• The peoples of the sub-continent were also told that they prayed to a large number of ‘gods’, when the reality is that the so-called gods are deities who are representations of a single universal creator God – who is unknowable, but is omnipresent, omniscient, and omnipotent.
• They were also told that a superior ‘white’ species, the (mythical) Aryans had over-run and civilised the local ‘black’ peoples previously living there. This is false history!
• From about the 18th Century, European scholars claimed that, not only was the white ‘race’ superior to all other ‘races,’ but that no coloured peoples could possibly have contributed to the origins of human civilisation. These inferior races included the Egyptians, the Mesopotamians, and Indians (while the Christian Bible draws heavily on the Sumerians). Dear, oh dear!
• Some European scholars also decided that Hinduism could not go back beyond 1300 BC. This is the earliest possible origin of the Europeans’ religio-cultural ancestors, the peoples of  Samaria and Judea. No faith could apparently be older than that of the Jewish people. Furthermore, all learning was claimed to have originated with the Europeans’ intellectual ancestors, the ‘Greeks’ (viz. Athenians). Yet Athens was said to been established by the Egyptians, with many Athenians studying in Egypt. Pythagoras apparently studied there for 8 years.
• The Indians were also told that Hinduism had been derived from Christianity!

This religious war on India’s civilisation was not successful, despite a reportedly brutal rule by the Kaiser of India, leaving the Indians to sort out their caste and related societal problems after independence.

Contrary to Prof. Huntington’s theory that a war of civilisations is probable in the future, such a war began with the rise of European colonialism; and it continues virulently in the Middle East. What a waste of human lives and spiritual potential.

Do authoritarian religions produce intolerant bullies?

In mid-2017, one of the Australian States is reportedly about to legislate the availability of physician-assisted death, with necessary safeguards to avoid anyone being killed, and preventing an avalanche of deaths rushing down a slippery slope. Up pops someone protesting against this availability.

He does not want this right, but I do. He has no right to speak for me or to represent the whole population. No one has, not even a bioethicist or a theologian representing a church of choice. In fact, over many decades, more than 80% of the Australian populace has sought what was once described as voluntary euthanasia, now defined more specifically as physician-assisted death under the most stringent conditions.

His defence in seeking to interfere with my right is that his God, through the medium of his priesthood, denies such a right – which is based on compassion. Since his God is surely the universal god of all mankind, how could he claim that his priesthood has sole right to interpret God’s wishes? In the absence of revelation, has not his priesthood made an arbitrary judgement – an assumption – on this matter?

This church, whose spokesmen have persistently opposed voluntary euthanasia (as well as certain processes related to the nether-regions of women), is based on a claimed authority, and had exercised strong control (as evident to me during my residence – as an adult – for nearly 70 years in Australia).

Those who belong to this church are entitled to live by the codes of conduct set by its priesthood. The rest of us should not be required to do so.

Thus, no more than 20% of the Australian population can be claimed by their church to oppose the right to voluntary euthanasia or physician-assisted death sought by more than 80% of the population over decades. The 30% of the population who stated in the last Census that they had no religion can surely demand that religious institutions (or their spokespersons) do not interfere in their lives by claiming to speak for a God they deny. These people are atheists, with a right be so.

Australia is officially a secular nation, in spite of the apparent control of national policies by Roman Catholic politicians currently. Hopefully, State Governments will allow compassion as a human right, by challenging any church-determined policies to the contrary. We do need choice, not rule by religious bullies!

On the sea of life, let us all paddle according to our respective rhythms. Do respect my right as I respect yours.

Political vs. religious rights

“… religious persons are still citizens with an equal right to be heard on matters such as abortion and euthanasia as anyone else.” So said a Catholic professor of theology recently. As it only a political statement, it is thereby contestable.

Why are Roman Catholics who oppose these 2 practices, because their Church leaders require them to do so, entitled to deny non-Catholics a right to the practices? “I am not allowed these; so you can’t have them”: Is this how Australian multiculturalism is supposed to work?

Do man-made arbitrary definitions of human life and their ownership (which are not universally accepted and reflected in the dogma of the many religions available, have priority over alternative, equally arbitrary, values and beliefs of other religions, especially those seeking succour from the same God?

Or, would religious Muslims have a right to have a say about Catholic practices which they oppose? That is, could Muslims have a right to require legislation which reflects their edicts rejecting non-Muslim theologically-based practices?

More importantly, why would religious Roman Catholics have a right to interfere in the lives of others, when the values and practices of those others do not in any way impinge upon the freedom and lifestyle of Catholics?

Religious dogma divides a people – for no good reason other than enabling the exercise of authority by a controlling religious institution. Why would religiosity require control? Religion is surely intended to guide humans to God, and not to say whose God is superior, or whose theology takes one to God more quickly or with certainty.

Would it not be a measure of relative religio-political rights were each one of us to be free to follow a belief-path of personal choice, without interference from any one, or interfering with any one’s beliefs?

The available evidence shows that the basis of morality is significantly innate. Observe young children carefully. Throughout most of the world’s population, moral behaviour is also not engendered by a controlling priesthood. Humanity at large shares a culture of co-operation voluntarily. A family of atheists could easily guide their children to a spiritual life without any intervention by a dogma-driven religious institution; and aided by professional school teachers.

It is a truism that there will always be someone, or a group, or an institution, to tell us how to live our lives. We need to tell them to back off, leaving us free to make our own decisions about how we live.

I do believe that we are innately inclined to bond with fellow-humans, in the way we instinctively yearn for communion with the Divine.

I have also argued that the major religions are equal in their potential, in that they all share 2 core beliefs: that there is a Creator of all which exists; and that, as co-created, we humans have a bond with, and responsibility for, one another. While religious dogma may play a role in bonding the members of a faith, they surely should not be used to divide people – as has happened, and continues to happen. Who gains from division?

Read the endorsement for my approach to religions by the late James Murray, formerly the Religious Affairs Editor of ‘The Australian’ in my book ‘The Hidden Footprints of Unity.’ Refer my WordPress blog or amazon.com.

When did citizenship become a right?

For many years, Australian citizenship was available to permanent residents only after a residence of 5 years out of 8. Choosing or accepting the citizenship of another nation led to the loss of Australian citizenship. That is, since citizenship required a commitment to the nation, its institutions, social mores, and cultural values, dual citizenship was not possible.
Then, in a competition for what was erroneously perceived as ethnic votes, one government reduced the waiting period to 3. Soon, the government of the opposing political colour reduced this period to 2! This was not only cheapening the value of citizenship, but also permitted those of a criminal intent to keep their heads down for 2 years before continuing on their chosen path – but as Australian citizens. They could not be deported.
Citizenship could be denied for security reasons; or because of a criminal record. Citizenship could be cancelled were it to be proven that the application for citizenship had contained a lie. Any child born in Australia did not qualify for citizenship when the parents were not permanent residents. That did not prevent some temporary-resident women giving birth in Australia, and claiming a right to stay.
Strangely, there is currently a provision for a temporary-resident child to apply for citizenship after reaching 10 years of age.
Worse still, a conservative government introduced the right to dual citizenship – apparently for political reasons; this effectively made an Australian passport only a document of identity. As well, an Australian citizen is now able to fight for the nation of his ancestors without been seen as a mercenary.
Then, there is no way that nations bound by the Napoleonic Code on citizenship will not apply that code. Under that Code, the descendants of a national person remain citizens of the nation of the parent (or other ancestors), no matter where these descendants now live, and their associated citizenship rights. China is a relevant example for Australians who had migrated from that nation.
Relatively recently, a Prime Minister and a State Premier together ended the prevailing emphasis on retention of ethnic cultures, and some ethnic empowerment, both embodied in multiculturalism policy, in favour of a shared citizenship; and the integration of imported ethnic communities into the national ethos.
Currently, there is a proposal to strengthen national identity through ensuring that citizenship is granted only to those permanent residents who accept Australia’s values, who seek to integrate into the nation culturally, and who will not be a burden on the taxpayer. Obviously, these should have been, and should be, priority requirements for acceptance for residence.
Permanent residence for 4 years to qualify for citizenship, and the denial of citizenship to the children of non-residents, will presumably remain core features of a tighter policy.
Citizenship is not a right. It needs to be earned. As the nation’s borders are strengthened, internal cohesion, through commitment to the nation, and what it stands for, needs to be enhanced.

Back-door entry to Australia

One cannot obviously be a puritan in the administration of humanitarian entry (HE) policy. … …  .  This is also where back door entry policy, the admission of asylum seekers, also comes in.

Equipped with a passport from one’s country of nationality, a return airline ticket, enough money to cover the nominated period of the visit, a visa and other documentation identifying one as a businessman, visitor, student, etc., one can, after arrival, convert to asylum seeker.  The applicant cannot be thrown out as an over-stayer while awaiting a decision.  Then the repeated access to appeal courts, presumably at taxpayer expense, an access not so readily available to, or affordable by, an ordinary Australian citizen!

But, who feeds, accommodates, and pays the medical bills for these asylum seekers while they await this back door entry?  A Singhalese person claiming a fear of persecution in Singhalese Sri Lanka, or a Malaysian Chinese making a similar claim about Chinese-dominated Malaysia, indicate the waste of investigatory resources arising from such asylum claims, and the opportunism of applicants and their very vocal supporters.

The public has little to no information about what happens to those legal arrivals, the ones who arrive by air with an appropriate entry document.  These represent the greater part of these asylum seekers.  Reportedly, most of these applicants are allowed to remain.  On what basis?  Surely all those accepted could not have produced evidence of persecution or discrimination.  Were they also assessed as capable of earning a living in Australia?  Are the rejects only those who have failed security checks?  Who provides the necessary information?  The authorities from whom the applicant claims to be fleeing?  Since there seems to be no shortage of local supporters for these applicants, is this form of entry a variation of family reunion?

  On the other hand, we are flooded with information about unlawful boat arrivals.  Their very vocal Anglo-Australian supporters present them as a form of sacred cow.  For instance, we are not allowed to describe them as illegal arrivals!  Australia is not to be allowed to reject any, in spite of a seemingly unlimited right of access to appeal courts at taxpayer expense.  No reject can be sent home.  Indeed, there was that incredible claim that there should be a separate entry category for rejected asylum seekers!

Asylum seekers should also not be kept in detention where they are provided with full board, education, health and welfare services, we are told.  But we are not told who will house, feed, and medicate them were they to be free to roam all over the country while they await a decision.  Will their supporters accept that responsibility?  Or, is the poor taxpayer expected to provide accommodation in the community (in spite of the thousands of Australian homeless people needing a warm bed), with cash support from Centrelink (the welfare agency) and medical services through Medicare?  Officialdom is apparently already required to provide public housing to those accepted as refugees.  Welfare benefits and Medicare automatically flow from acceptance.  Presumably, family reunion is then available.  Who wouldn’t want to be an asylum seeker!

The Anglo-Australian supporters of the boat arrivals claim that all asylum seekers are genuine refugees (how would they know that?) and that they have all suffered trauma and torture (anyone with any evidence?).  They seek speedy decisions in spite of the reality that almost all arrivals have torn up their identity papers and other documentation which got them to Indonesia.  What does that behaviour suggest?  That there is an intent not to be honest?  Why?  Could some of them be al-Queda or Taliban, or are members of drug or other criminal cartels?  How are our authorities to know?  We are told that detention has caused mental health problems;  but, were those with such problems sent by their families?

There is another moral problem.  How could anyone risk the life of a child or one’s womenfolk on one of the asylum seeker boats?  Is it then the case that the journey is not as dangerous as it is said to be?  In a comparable past experience, were the Vietnamese boat people arriving in Thailand and Malaysia as exposed to the sea and piracy as was claimed by their vocal supporters?  How believable is an economic migrant seeking entry by the back door?

 

(The above is an extract from my book ‘Musings at Death’s Door: an ancient bicultural Asian-Australian ponders about Australian society,’ published in 2012. Since then, much has changed. Initially, a more open door to illegal entry led to a large number of arrivals. With a change of government, Australia’s borders became more tightly protected against arrivals by sea. What of legal arrivals claiming asylum?

There are claimants yet to be assessed, reportedly living in Australia. Then, there are those placed overseas. It is indeed a somewhat murky situation. I am not aware of supporters of asylum seekers willing to take them into their homes, finding jobs, and generally looking after them; except to assist them with their applications and review appeals; and to make loud public protests.

The taxpayer cost of supporting accepted asylum seekers seems high. 91% unemployment after 5 years is a very heavy load for those who cannot minimise their tax burden.

Back-door entry obviously needs to be denied; or the nation loses control of its borders. An integrated populace needs to decide who joins them.

    

 

 

Side door entry to Australia (Part 2)

The Labor Party then sought white left-wing  HEs (humanitarian entrants).  So I was informed.  We found them in post-Allende Chile.  However, there soon developed a flood of applicants from all of Central and South America.  Then the Vaticanites enabled East Timorese to receive HE admission, even when they were living in Portugal, their country of nationality!  Our senior bureaucrats and Ministers can indeed be very flexible in their decision making.

All of a sudden, Poles living within Poland could qualify as HEs!  How influential was the Polish Pope?  Then, for a while, ‘White Russians’ came from China as HEsThese had fled the arrival of communism in Russia 60 years before.  An all-white colleague of mine used to claim proudly that he was Chinese; he was born in China of White Russian parents.

There were also Jewish Russians who had been permitted by the Soviet Government to join close family in Israel but who, on arrival in Vienna, sought El Dorado in Western nations.  The Prime Minister of Israel in the 1980s was not happy at having up to 85% of potential citizens deflected elsewhere, mainly by professional recruiters from the USA.

Then, contrary to policy, presumably through Ministerial discretion, a number of Jewish Russian women married to non-Jewish men were permitted entry to Australia.  They had left Israel because they did not like their experiences as second-class citizens of Israel.  There are two other classes below them, as confirmed to me by my good Jewish Australian friend who had spent some time in Israel.  (My friend is not ‘self-hating,’ is knowledgeable, and observes the Jewish traditions.).  One of these Jewish Russian women subsequently worked for me in the Department of Immigration;  she was a worthy immigrant, who also told me a great deal about Israel.

When a global HE policy replaced the Middle Eastern HE policy, the first batch approved overseas were not Baha’is, as expected, but Afghan carpet merchants from Pakistan.  Some of Australia’s visa-issuing embassy staff were very flexible.  At that time, the Baha’i were the only people known to be persecuted in the Middle East.  A little later, we accepted a number of Bahai’is.  As with other HEs, they were placed in a migrant hostel in a city in which resided members of the same community. These had agreed to assist the initial settlement of the new arrivals.  A kind hostel manager had arranged for a local imam to greet the arrivals.  The next day he rang me to ask what he was to do with the halal meat.  This was the measure of the care we gave all new arrivals.

Some Ministerial approvals were also so flexible, that I was threatened by an ethnic Australian sponsor of his relatives overseas when I pointed out that I did not have the authority to approve entry outside policy.  The sponsor himself had benefited from an earlier flexible Ministerial approval.  Eminence in one’s profession can engender uncivil conduct!

For a short period only, the Tamils of Sri Lanka had entry as HEs;  not surprisingly, the majority approved seemed to be disproportionately Christian.  Yet, this was a generous entry policy, as even migrant entry from the Indian sub-continent had been constrained for years by positioning a strong arm against the entry door.  This was achieved by limiting the Australian immigration staff over there.  Two of those who had worked in this region subsequently worked in my team, one after the other.  They were not posted overseas after unwisely protesting to the head of the department about this discriminatory practice.

Eventually, I was directed, but at my initiative, to close down the White Russian and East Timorese policies;  they were not needed.  The other ethno-specific regional HE policies were far too sensitive politically;  our global HE policy did not obviously pay adequate respect to the tribo-cultural sensitivities of the communities affected.

There had to have been great flexibility in approvals at certain overseas posts.  Why?  Because, surprisingly, many HEs, especially the Poles, subsequently returned home to obtain jobs in keeping with their qualifications (such jobs not readily available in Australia).  Vietnamese HEs who had allegedly fled the takeover by the communists went back to Vietnam as Australians to conduct businesses.  So much for their earlier ‘genuine’ fear of persecution or discrimination!

 

(The above is an extract from my book ‘Musings at Death’s Door: an ancient bicultural Asian-Australian ponders about Australian society.’

Only careful selection of applicants for migrant entry to Australia, by Australian officials assessing their potential for integrating into the nation, can ensure subsequent inter-community cohesion. Acceptance of Australian institutions and social mores and values, and an ability to learn English, were essential pre-requisites. Applicants were also discouraged from introducing their tribal prejudices into Australia. Side-door entry was not as stringent.)

      

 

Side-door entry to Australia (Part 1)

Side door acceptance, being essentially political, permitted so-called humanitarian entrants (HEs).  Where refugees had to be outside their country of nationality and in fear of official persecution (some necessary flexibility here being permissible), with nowhere else to go, the HEs had to fear official discrimination (depending on the eye of the beholder) while also outside their country of nationality, with nowhere else to go.  The ‘nowhere else to go’ qualifier seems to have been ignored by our policy wallahs for quite some time.  As politics determines policy in this arena;  the policy can be quite flexible, ie. shonky.

The Indo-Chinese boat people, selected from refugee camps in the Asian countries of first asylum (Thailand, Malaysia, in the main, but also Singapore, Indonesia, and the Philippines), represented the first significant entry of Asian HEs;  the predominant entrants were, naturally, Vietnamese.  Christians and ‘ethnic Chinese’ may have received some preference in selection.  Family reunion was very generous, the applicant seemingly free to define his relationships.  For instance, a Vietnamese sponsor, after a residence of 3 months in a migrant hostel, claimed his ‘wife’ was actually his sister;  both now wished to sponsor their respective spouses from the camps.

Indeed, for a while, thanks to a sympathetic public servant lacking common sense, Vietnamese HEs were permitted to change their personal particulars.  The only change not sought was gender;  nature can be so unkind!.  I closed down that loophole, with Ministerial approval.  Those of us in the migrant settlement business were impressed with the ability of some of our HEs to find, or even create, loopholes in official entitlements.  For instance, a Vietnamese grandmother with 3 grandchildren managed to extend their public housing from a single flat to 3, on the grounds that they did not get along with one another.  Then, an elderly couple left a flat attached to their son’s home to obtain scarce public housing;  so said their son to me.

For the record, Australia accepted more Indo-Chinese HEs per head of host-people (that is, Australians) than any other country, including the USA and France!  It became clear soon that we had taken in quite a number of criminals, gangsters and economic migrants.  However, apart from those visibly involved in the drug trade, the Indo-Chinese HEs have settled in well.  The success of their children is the evidence.

Soon, as I was told, the Liberal Party wanted white right-wing HEs, just for a changeThese came from Eastern Europe (except Yugoslavia).  Anyone claiming to be a refugee seemed to be accepted.  In one recorded instance, a man claiming to be a refugee went back home to collect his wife, as advised by an Immigration officer!  As with the Indo-Chinese, Australia provided their air fares, housed and fed them in a migrant hostel for 6  months.  They received a regular welfare payment, which enabled them to pay for their board and other expenses.  They were then allocated a flat for 3 months, to ease their entry into private accommodation.

Many of the Indo-Chinese were assisted by small loans to buy furniture, much of it not repaid.  As a couple of Indo-Chinese girls said to an Immigration officer, ‘You Aussies f…ing stupid.  You give money for nothing.’  Little wonder that there was, and still is, such a rush of claims for asylum entry.  Acceptance as a refugee permits a lifetime access to the public teat.

 

(The above are extracts from my book ’Musings at Death’s Door: an ancient bicultural Asian-Australian ponders about Australian society.’

Australia, having rushed into Vietnam to prevent the Vietnamese deciding their own future – because the USA was already there – had to contribute to sorting out the problems faced by the countries of first asylum. These Asian nations were not impressed with the USA’s ‘domino theory,’ as there seemed to be a shortage of communists in the region. Quaintly, both academe and officialdom in Australia reportedly upheld this theory.

This lends support to my claim that we are a voluntary satrapy. As I have stated elsewhere in this book, we do need inclusion within the USA. We are not an Asian nation, but an extension of the West on the edge of Asia.)