Sunday, September 2, 2012

In Defence of Secularism


A very wise man  and  close colleague in two workplaces more than once counselled me as follows :

If your neighbour reads the bible be sure to keep a loaded gun.

I didn't have to ask him which bible. I knew the answer. He didn't care what bible.

I have  never encountered that bracing piece of advice anywhere else and I've just Googled it and it's not there so I reckon it's original.

To be sure my wise man was not a rootin' tootin' fightin' man like our Anglican priest in Sydney but he was for many years a very senior Australian  federal public servant.  A very senior Australian civil servant indeed.

Confronting I know;  but it could explain the  high rates of home gun ownership across much of the United States.

 Mexico too come to think of it. South America as well. Regional Australia.  It most certainly explains it in Israel. I don't have to mention "Palestine" but I will anyway. There;  "Palestine".  And every other Muslim "homeland" whether a land  of the bible or not. Any bible. Any land.  It would be enough  to make the baby Jesus cry.

I am not an enemy of religion. Any religion. I know and have seen the grandest of the human spirit achieved with the fire of  religious belief. Religious belief, any religious belief, is cool with me.

 I am  however above all a secularist and at that point there is a need to push back even in your own back yard. This is so irrespective of what you are.

The Vice Chancellor of the university where Che Gorilla  was a commerce/law student and general bigmouth for much of the seventies was none other than that famous old liberal and great Australian jurist  Sir Zelman Cowen. I remember the day in the quadrangle of that beautiful old university among Queensland's finest when Sir Zelman already known as among the finest constitutional lawyers in the English speaking world defined the limits of freedom and therefore of liberalism itself.

I had already read his words.  Sir Zelman had used them in an address to the  university the year before. No doubt he felt the need to make the point again. They were turbulent times. There were plenty of Commos and other religious cranks around who wanted to blow up the world. Secular liberalism needed defended. .

Your freedom to swing your arms ends at the tip of my nose.

Sir Zelman was expert in US constitutional law. Probably he was paraphrasing Oliver Wendell Holmes who in turn was quoting Abraham Lincoln. One of my favourite Americans of all time by the way. They too were turbulent times.

To all of this I offer the Che Gorilla corollary for the twenty first century.

I don't care what religion you are so long as you don't shove it up my face.  Better still don't blow it up my face. 

Which brings me to Father David Smith who by the way I am no longer angry with. From his name alone he could easily be a cousin. There is even a faint family resemblance.

He is not by the way.

Thanks for asking.  Thank God. I say that as a secularist.

I'm not angry with David Smith any more because anger passes quickly as it must. I am just sad is all. I had just read his blog that had been emailed to me by friend Shirlee who had seen the good father in action in person last year in the council chambers during the Marrickville Greens BDS No Jew State outrage.

I will quote Shirlee.

Just the mention of Father Dave sends shivers down my spine. The first time I heard him speak at Marrickville I thought I'd burst a blood vessel   and  I could not believe I was hearing what he was saying. I could not believe this was coming  from a man of G-d

A huh. I hear you Bob wherever you are.

Clergy like Father Dave sometimes like to imagine they are speaking truth to power.

To do that they have to imagine that Israel is the power and the "Palestinians" are the poor weak and defenceless who are the victims of Israel and to do that they have to be blind to what Orwell would have  said was in front of their noses.

They are not speaking truth to power at all. They are on the side of power and they want to be on the side of power. Israel is a tiny country and the Jews are a handful of people. Antizionist clerics are on the side of those who want to see the destruction of Israel for the sole reason that it chooses not to be another Muslim state.

The enemies of Israel say this again and again. Are the clerical antizionists deaf? Do they think the Israelis are as well? Do they think the Jews are? Do they think the Christians are too?

Clergy are as entitled to buy into a political issue as much as  any other citizens but they must understand that by this stage of the game they are not entitled to any benefits of clergy.and that includes the assumption that they are in good faith.

Some one said this. This is a quote cut and paste to here. Someone  capable of saying this is entitled to answer some questions:
Of course Khomenei’s speech needed to be taken in the context of 1979, and I knew the organisers of this rally well enough to know that they are not anti-Semitic people by any stretch of the imagination, and were solely concerned to see justice done for Palestine. Even so, it still wasn’t clear to me whether or not Al Quds day was itself essentially anti-Israel, and I knew that I couldn’t speak of my concern for the suffering of my Palestinian sisters and brothers if that compromised my love for my Jewish sisters and brothers.
Excuse me? Compromised your love for your Jewish sisters and brothers? What about your "Palestinian" sisters and brothers? How is continuing this nasty vile war in their interests? How much longer are you prepared to see it go on? Another ten years? Another sixty years?

At some point Father Dave and the rest  will be invited to look in to their own souls. I sure hope they are ready for their  own sakes.

cross posted Geoffff's Joint 


  1. Father Dave should make more time for the word of G-d in his life and less for political activism and boxing which obviously got him hit in the head a few too many times.

  2. Ayup.

    Israel is a tiny country and the Jews are a handful of people. Antizionist clerics are on the side of those who want to see the destruction of Israel for the sole reason that it chooses not to be another Muslim state.

    Many people, particularly those of the progressive-left persuasion, seem to forget this.

    They honestly think of Israel as some sort-of dominating power in the world despite the fact that what it really is is a tiny country trying desperately to survive in a particularly vicious part of the planet.

    As westerners with liberal inclinations we've grown accustomed to thinking of the Arabs as "oppressed people of color," but this just feeds our arrogance, our imperialist sense of superiority, and the humanitarian-racist tendency to give little, or no, agency to non-white people.

    The fact is, of course, that Islam represents one of the world's greatest empires in history and it still dominates huge swaths of land throughout much of the world... and it is distinctly hostile not only to Israel, but to Jews as Jews, and for religious reasons.

  3. Thanks for your comments guys which I'll paste at the Joint.

    Congratulations Mike on your explosive exposure! Goodonya mate.

    I'm going to snitch one of your posts.

    I believe that there are people all around the world who have had enough of this vile war against Israel and the Jews for all sorts of reasons and who are mobilising to say so before our eyes.