I’m with David

As the Howard government detains a peace activist as a “security threat” and the Muslim community expresses concern that they will be unfairly targeted by proposed anti-terrorism legislation, journalist David Langsam sent this as-yet unpublished letter to the Melbourne Age:

Prime Minister John Howard’s “Nuremberg laws” of 2005 frighten me. They frighten me enough to urge a campaign of civil disobedience against them before we are locked up for writing letters to The Age urging civil disobedience.

Born in Australia of Polish Russian Jewish parents, naturalised as Australians before I was born, with three children born in Australia, I acquired British citizenship while living in London under the Paul Keating reform of the immigration laws to assist Australians working overseas. I reacquired my Australian citizenship the next day.

Under this draconian legislation, the Australian Prime Minister says that dual citizens can be stripped of their Australian citizenship by the whim of one his ministers. Will I be answerable to Vanstone, Ruddock or hell herself, Bronwyn Bishop?

Will this proposed legislation also include incarceration for the crime of “defiance”? While I do not regularly wear a kippah, I am concerned that along with Orthodox Jews laying tefillin (leather prayer straps sometimes mistaken for radio transmitters by military dictatorships) my occasional visits to synagogue will be seen as unusual and possibly defiant.

It is breathtaking that the legislation was announced at the height of the tumult over Telstra and I cannot help but think that the Prime Minister has thrown a massive smokescreen of terrorism over Telstra, to avoid unwanted questions.

This whole terrorism in Australia nonsense has gone way too far. There has only been one act of terrorism in Australia – the Hilton Hotel bombing – and most people have good reason to believe it was perpetrated by ASIO. Australian journalists have had to work very hard indeed to get foreign Islamic extremists to include our country as a target which it unequivocally was not until John Howard attempted to make it one.

Every measure this Government takes is counterproductive. I want our airports returned to the people, now that we know that terrorists have learned how to buy train and bus tickets. Strip-searching at the football and bag searches at the Big Day Out just seem so in keeping with John Howard’s campaign against the Australian lifestyle.

Perhaps we should start with the Age cartoon (was it Leunig or Tandberg?) and have a mass naked demonstration at all Australian Parliament Houses. Vanstone and Bishop can keep their clothes on.

David Langsam

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