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Geert Lovink: (fwd) BENEVOLENCE 2: LL:ART: Men of shrivelledhearts

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Date: Tue, 22 Jun 1999 18:18:37 +0200 (CEST)
From: Geert Lovink <>
Subject: BENEVOLENCE 2 - Fw: LL:ART: Men of shrivelled hearts

Date: Wed, 23 Jun 1999 01:19:17 +1000
From: rc-am <>
Subject: BENEVOLENCE 2 - Fw: LL:ART: Men of shrivelled hearts

[Recently, a group of Kosovar refugees protested against the conditions at
their 'safe haven' in Australia - a drafty army barracks in winter, with no
heating, inside toilets or water.   The refugees insisted that this was no
different to the conditions in the camps on the Yugoslav border, and they
wanted to return home.  The government said they could only return home if
they paid their own way.  After ministerial harassment (including claims that
they should not complain because the Australian govt was paying), there was
some upgrading of conditions.   Much media time was taken up with the
predictable whine that the refugees were "ungrateful".   The protestors were
ground down, except for one family who continued to refuse to stay, and were
eventually allowed to return to Kosovo.  The article below also refers to the
forced deportation of a woman to China, whom the govt is refusing to
recognise as a refugee even though shortly after she arrived in China she was
forced to abort close to term.  Philip Ruddock, btw, is the Federal
Immigration Minister.   - Angela]

>Men of shrivelled hearts
>A Miss Anne Frank has refused the nice snug attic we had provided for her
>in Singleton and has been sent home to Nazi Germany. We think her
>ungrateful, and an unfit visitor to Australia. Migrants, we believe, should
>not bring their foreign troubles to their new country. And overseas
>visitors should rejoice in whatever lodgings we give them.
>PHILIP Ruddock, I suspect, has not done too much research into the old lady
>from Kosovo with one kidney. Was her house destroyed before her eyes? Was
>it a nice house? Were any of her siblings or children or grandchildren
>murdered? Did she know anyone in the mass graves? Had she lived in the
>village all her life? How many kilometres did she walk on her final
>pilgrimage, urinating by the roadside while her son held up a blanket? What
>keepsakes did she have with her? What became of them? How many family
>photos were destroyed? Was she separated from a family member? In what
>country is that family member now?
>Research would have established, too, if she had been told that Sydney's
>East Hills refugee base was her final destination, with its toilet near her
>bedroom, and if the shock of being moved away from there was in her mind
>like the first shock of being ordered out of her village before its
>destruction. Or if she said, ``No, I am not moving again.'' Or if she was
>then forced on to the bus to Singleton in the Hunter Valley, as she was
>forced on to a train to Macedonia, or wherever. Or if she is suffering
>post-traumatic stress. Or survivor's guilt. Or is she merely grieving for
>what is lost?
>Does she have a right to that grief, or not? Does she have, moreover, an
>adequate excuse for her bad manners in Australia, or not? And if not, how
>much does she now deserve to be further punished? This awful, ungrateful
>old woman? And is it safe to send her back, in her sickly condition, to a
>region of wrecked houses and ruined farms, of landmines, to wander among
>the fresh graves of people she knew well, who were murdered only weeks ago?
>Research could find this out. I doubt Ruddock's office has done any.
>``Punishing the victim'' is the cliche phrase for what I think Ruddock is
>doing. It is like saying to the skeletal survivors of Auschwitz: ``How dare
>you waste the taxpayers' money? If walking through a freezing yard eight
>times a night to the toilet when you are old and sickening for pneumonia is
>not good enough for you, go back to Auschwitz. We don't want you here. Go
>I may be wrong about this, of course. The old woman and her son may be
>vulgar greedy villains. They may be demanding chauffeurs next, and a
>Rolls-Royce, and servants, and silver plate. They may be simply crazy, and
>fit only for a padded cell. But I doubt it.
>I myself saw my house burn down and with it all my possessions but for a
>shirt and a ring of car keys and some pages in a filing cabinet, and I felt
>then some fraction of what they, I know, are feeling now. It's not too
>flash, believe me.
>Ruddock is also refusing re-entry to a Chinese woman forcibly aborted at
>eight months back in China after his department sent her there. Why is he
>doing this?
>And why is he angry that the old lady and her family group got a free lift
>to East Hills, when they could have waited six hours on a cold railway
>station for a train? Why does he think they were wrong to hitch a lift and
>save time and not be cold? Why is he like this?
>I have known Philip Ruddock for only 27 years, though not too well, and he
>usually seems to me a humane and conscienceful man. He is not, I think, a
>villain. But he seems to be part, however unwitting, of a harsh mindset,
>one quite common in Australia, and prevalent in the Howard Government.
>This is the mindset that whatever happens to people is their own fault.
>Aborigines stolen from their mothers who take to drink and hang themselves
>in jail have no one but themselves to blame. If Aborigines want a better
>education for their children they should put their names down for Scotch,
>and earn the fees by becoming stockbrokers. If Greeks want to come here and
>prosper and then bring their old mother out to die here, they can't. Let
>her die at home, thousands of kilometres from her grandchildren. If they
>didn't foresee we would change the rules on this, it's their own fault. Let
>her die at home.
>And most of these Government members are not wicked. Some, like Michael
>Wooldridge, who worked for years as a doctor among Aborigines, are exactly
>the opposite of wicked. But most, as an article of faith, somehow believe
>in the downsizing of their imaginations, and the willed shrivelling of
>their emotions. Most do not any longer consider those less lucky than
>themselves as deserving of much sympathy.
>Except for Bob Woods, of course, poor fellow, who has bulimia. Except for
>Warren Entsch, of course, poor fellow, who, though a millionaire, has
>difficulty filling out forms. Except for Mal Colston, of course, poor
>fellow, who is too sick to stand trial for fraud, yet curiously not too
>sick to vote in Parliament.
>What they seem unable to do (though this is not true of Chris Gallus or
>Alexander Downer or Tim Fischer or John Anderson and probably others) is to
>identify with people in trouble who are not of their background. John
>Howard, I am told, has never had a Chinese person to dinner in his own
>home. Or an Aborigine. Or a Muslim. Or a Buddhist. As Prime Minister of a
>mixed population, and the man who speaks for all of us, he probably should
>have. He probably should have broken bread round what his friend Les Murray
>calls the ``common dish'', and he has not.
>And in the meantime, an old woman with one kidney is being sent home to
>dwell among landmines, and a young woman who, because of an Australian
>decision had her baby killed in the month of his quickening, is being
>forbidden her wish to have more children. Not here at any rate. Not here in
>Australia. Who does she think she is, to ask that of our free country? Let
>her stay in China, grieving.
>And this, to my mind, is extremely cruel, and it should not happen. Philip
>Ruddock, a good man of conscience, should probably resign. And John Howard,
>who hopes to open that great multicultural event, the Olympic Games, should
>hang his head in shame.
>Bob Ellis is an author who has worked for Kim Beazley and Bob Carr.