Monday, July 22, 2013

Sheehan, Rudd and Bonhoeffer ...

One of those honoured above the Great West Door is Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the German theologian, pastor and peace activist. Bonhoeffer is, without doubt, the man I admire most in the history of the twentieth century. He was a man of faith. He was a man of reason. He was a man of letters who was as well read in history and literature as he was in the intensely academic Lutheran theology of the German university tradition. He was never a nationalist, always an internationalist. And above all, he was a man of action who wrote prophetically in 1937 that "when Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die." For Bonhoeffer, whatever the personal cost, there was no moral alternative other than to fight the Nazi state with whatever weapons were at his disposal.  
Three weeks before the end of World War II, Bonhoeffer was hanged by the SS because of his complicity in the plot to assassinate Adolf Hitler. This year marks the centenary of his birth. This essay seeks both to honour Bonhoeffer and to examine what his life, example and writings might have to say to us, 60 years after his death, on the proper relationship between Christianity and politics in the modern world. (here)

Ah, the good old WWBD test ... almost as much fun as WWJD ...

Bonhoeffer had indicated to Bishop Bell even before the Saar plebiscite that if the Saarland were annexed by Germany, there would be a considerable surge of refugees reaching Britain. He was able to make the first preparations for aiding them himself, with Bell's help, before he left London. He found lodgings for refugees, raised money and gave pastoral care himself to many of the new arrivals. Among the people whom Bonhoeffer aided during the first weeks of this migration was Armin T. Wegner, the German author who, as a war reporter, had witnessed the Armenian genocide. Wegner had protested to Hitler against the way the Jews were being treated, and escaped to England after being tortuted by the Nazis. Former Transport Minister Treviranus was also compelled to flee, and his son was conformed by Bonhoeffer at Sydenham Church in London.
The work with refugees was greatly expanded later on ... (here)

But don't take it from an academic.

Take it from the horse's mouth, or backside if you will:

Another great challenge of our age is asylum seekers. The biblical injunction to care for the stranger in our midst is clear. The parable of the Good Samaritan is but one of many which deal with the matter of how we should respond to a vulnerable stranger in our midst. That is why the government's proposal to excise the Australian mainland from the entire Australian migration zone and to rely almost exclusively on the so-called Pacific Solution should be the cause of great ethical concern to all the Christian churches. We should never forget that the reason we have a UN convention on the protection of refugees is in large part because of the horror of the Holocaust, when the West (including Australia) turned its back on the Jewish people of Germany and the other occupied countries of Europe who sought asylum during the '30s. (here, the same place as before)

Smell the usual stench of political hypocrisy?

Well that was then, but this is now, and hypocrisy isn't just to be found amongst politicians.

Isn't it wonderful how the commentariat have gone rabidly leftist, almost indecently Bonhoefferish? Isn't it amazing how those celebrating Scott Morrison baying like a rabid ratbag hound are suddenly shocked?
Isn't it astonishing how those who wanted to turn the boats back are suddenly suffused with compassion?

Look around and you can find any number of weird examples, but can any match generally grumpy Paul Sheehan and his header, Devil's Island plan unmasks Rudd.

Never mind that the sneering designation of Papua New Guinea as a Devil's Island is as pathetically colonialist, arrogant and condescending as the Ruddster's own plan.

After all, at one point Australia used to be in charge of PNG, and has been busy back-pedalling away from responsibility and engagement as quickly as it could, while maintaining a semblance of a decent appearance.

Now you'll hear from those on the left and the right that it's a hellhole:

The real gotcha is the generally grumpy Sheehan's pious righteousness, which is as nauseating as the Ruddster.

Here's a sample. 

Oh you've guessed it. 

We're all - Sheehan, Abbott, Scott Morrison - Bonhoeffish now:

Rudd's Devil's Island ploy is beyond cynical. It is grotesque. The policy has not a shred of functional credibility, policy consistency or moral coherence. 
In an essay in The Monthly in October 2006, Rudd wrote: ''Another great challenge of our age is asylum seekers. The biblical injunction to care for the stranger in our midst is clear. The parable of the Good Samaritan is but one of many which deal with the matter of how we should respond to a vulnerable stranger in our midst. That is why the government's proposal to excise the Australian mainland from the entire Australian migration zone and to rely almost exclusively on the so-called Pacific solution should be the cause of great ethical concern to all the Christian churches.''

Sheehan quoting Bonhoeffer. It's beyond cynical, it's grotesque.

Now let's get a dose of Sheehan's own moral coherence:

The policy of turning back the boats is humane compared with this policy. 

Waiter, bring that bowl of water. Turning them back and who the fuck cares what happens to them is vastly more humane than letting them land ...

Uh huh. And now can we have a mention of the cost to the poor old taxpayer. Because you know, being a bleeding heart and a good Samaritan can be damned expensive:

Not surprisingly, there was a riot at the detention centre on Nauru on Friday night, leaving the centre destroyed by its inmates and a bill estimated at $60 million - to be footed by you.

As were the costs of the various riots, and all the rest that went on in detention centres in Australia during the Howard years, until they hit on the spiffing policy of exporting the problems.

Here's the really revealing line in Sheehan's polemic:

Even the opposition, which has always supported offshore processing of asylum seekers, appears gobsmacked by Rudd's audacity. As Scott Morrison - the immigration spokesman and a man not noted for softness on border protection - pointed out, it will take years to build a functioning processing centre on Manus Island, as distinct from the row of tents that Rudd is now treating as a policy centrepiece.

Yes, rabid attack dog Morrison is gobsmacked, and so is Abbott, and so is Sheehan, to the point where Sheehan is caught quoting Bonhoeffer!

Sheehan quoting Bonhoeffer!

Oh it had the pond rolling the jaffas down the aisles for hours, though it's unlikely a genuine refugee fleeing Iran - were we only a few years ago talking of mad Mullahs needing a good bombing? - would share the laughter.

Could it get any funnier, in a bleak, dark, cynical, sour way?

Of course it can, of course it can:

On and on it has since gone, creating a multibillion-dollar black hole that can only get bigger. ''It will not be inexpensive,'' Rudd said with a straight face as he announced his PNG ploy. ''Our responsibility … is to ensure that we have a robust system of border security and orderly migration … as well as fulfilling our legal and compassionate obligations under the refugees convention.'' 
Legal and compassionate obligations. What a dark joke. Two weeks ago I met long-serving foreign affairs minister Alexander Downer, who has friends on both sides of politics. This is what he had to say about Rudd: ''In all my years in politics I never encountered anyone more cynical, opportunistic and narcissistic than Kevin Rudd. ''He will do anything to gain an advantage.'' 

Alexander Downer? Alexander bloody Downer talking of doing anything to gain an advantage?

Has Downer - or Sheehan for that matter - never met feral attack dog Scott Morrison?

What about nattering negative naysayer Tony "invisible substance" Abbott?

How about John "don't want no Tampa here" Howard outsourcing the problem with the Pacific solution?

How about Alexander "the stocking" Downer himself?

Here's the real problem. For years, the Morrisons, the Sheehans, the Abbotts, none of whom have given a toss about legal and compassionate obligations, have whipped up the hysteria, and used the boats as a stick to beat the government around the head with, so desperate were they, so offensively disinterested in people, so obsessively interested in gaining a political advantage, were they ...

And now it has come to this, in this game of poker. A bidding war for the darkest side of the Australian psyche,  and the Ruddster, playing with the thinnest of hands, has gone all-in, and all that's left on the hard right is is clucking and tut-tutting by Sheehan about Bonhoeffer and political advantage ...

Waiter, a bowl of peppermints. Anything to squelch the taste of nausea and bile in the mouth ...  anything to disguise the stench of hypocrisy ...

But I suppose there's an upside ... at least we can say Paul Sheehan unmasked in story about Kevin Rudd unmasked ...

Oh okay, here's a little Bonhoeffer. Apply it to Sheehan, Rudd, Morrison, Abbott, and Downer how you like:


  1. Dorothy, for the first time in my 71 years I will not vote for either of the major parties. What a bunch of so called seminarians and christian leaders. An absolute POX on them all!

  2. Sheehan's "devils Island" was eclipsed by Claire Harvey's shithole in the Sunday terror...

    "But also, and perhaps most importantly, Rudd's PNG plan has exposed the intellectual dishonesty of the "refugee lobby".

    "But but but but but but but," they have spluttered, "but but but but ... " But PNG is a shithole?

    Yeah. It is. And now it's our shithole - and you know what else? It's a signatory to the United Nations' 1951 Refugee Convention."...

    "Rudd's PNG solution is genius. It provides haven for genuine refugees and enormous discouragement for everyone else.

    Like it or not, that's true humanitarianism."

  3. Serious question- will this cynical 'solution' survive the next election in Papua?

  4. It's not Papua, and it's not Niugini (as smart arse Bob Ellis likes to use, thinking he's being clever). Its Papua New Guinea, or Papua Niugini in Pisin. To leave out one half of the country is patronising at best, ignorance at worst.

  5. As a mark of the disgust the Australian media's comments about PNG have aroused in PNG here is a comment from a gifted your PNG writer which deserves reproducing here.

    "Is this the mark of an Australian female journalist - to call my country a shit-hole, specifically her country's shit-hole?

    Is this a statement representing the understanding that a journalist of The Sunday Telegraph (Sydney) has for it's closest neighbour?

    Kevin Rudd, congratulations, well done on representing Australia to what your citizens call a 'shit-hole'.

    Peter O'Neill, I hope you are pleased with this article and your part in it's creation.

    Claire Harvey thank you for your revelation. I'm impressed at your very apparent bad karma.

    Thank you to The Sunday Telegraph (Sydney), for publishing this Australian opinion about my country Papua New Guinea. It is very enlightenning to know what some of you think.

    To all the good Australian people who have ever visited, lived or still live in and love my country, I apologise that Claire Harvey has called your lives a 'shit-hole' experience; Mi sori tumas olgeta gutpela wantok."

  6. At least we know that Sheehan, Rudd, Morrison, Abbott, and Downer will never die of heart disease.

  7. To translate that last bit in the comment from PNG (roughly) - "I am very sorry to all you good friends of mine."

    Tok Pisin is a pretty amazing language, and not difficult to learn.

  8. Thanks for that Anon. The pond hadn't caught up with Claire Harvey, and not sure that the pond wants to, but it's better that these loons appear on the pond. Can it get any more offensive?

    Happily it's behind the paywall, and happily you can access it for free, here

    so the rag doesn't cop a cracker


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