Australian letters

24 January 2015

9:00 AM

24 January 2015

9:00 AM

Lucky Country

Sir: I run a slashing contracting business and cattle at Byron Bay. I just sat down here at Broadbeach for a few days with my three boys and wife, and was catching up with some old Speccies. Would you mind passing on my sincere gratitude to Nick Cater for (in his article 8 November) giving credit to the pioneering, by an Australian, of the wool and refrigeration industries in Australia in the 19thC. It’s been a grudge and frustration of mine (and Dad’s) for many years that somehow TS Mort has never been properly recognised for his personal and financial contribution to these and many other activities that helped give us the global community we have today. His statue stands at the very centre of Sydney, yet he is virtually forgotten from our history and indeed educationally unknown. Yeah so thanks Nick. Good piece..
Rob Mort
Myocum, NSW

The roots of radicalism

Sir: Qanta Ahmed is to be praised for her dissection of Islamism and her call for a reformation of Islam (‘Let there be light’, 17 January). That call has been muted for decades but is now growing louder, and it is right to promote Muslims who see a way forward out of their current predicament. But her view of an ‘authentic Islam’ that is untainted by Islamist interpretation is surprisingly naive. Islamists do not, in fact, distort classical Islam to the extent that Ahmed suggests. Offensive jihad is a doctrine in the Quran and was a practice of Mohammed. Harsh sharia laws pre‑date modern Islamism by many centuries. Most of today’s Islamists (who refer to themselves as Salafis) do not call for a new form of their faith, but for a return to the days of the Prophet and his companions (the Salaf). If there is to be reform, Muslims must face the problem of how to overcome the Quran’s own verses ordering hatred for non-Muslims and war against them.

Fortunately, the excellent Douglas Murray took up this theme correctly, placing Islamic scripture and history in their rightful context and showing how radicalism is rooted in ‘authentic’ Islam. Mohammed ordered the assassinations of ten poets who had offended him: that is the inspiration for the Charlie Hebdo attack. Reform in Islam will not happen until honest and right-minded Muslims like Ahmed work alongside non-Muslims like Murray and others who seek a fact-based evaluation of the religion in both its spiritual and ideological form.
Dr Denis MacEoin
Newcastle upon Tyne

Islam vs Islamism

Sir: Qanta Ahmed’s article was excellent. Kipling once wrote that ‘where there is Islam there is an intelligible civilisation’. Where there is Islamism, there isn’t. Dr Ahmed makes this clear, to us and to her fellow Muslims.
Allan Massie

Robot medics

Sir: Mary Wakefield’s column about Google replacing the local GP (‘Would you put your life in the care of Dr Droid?’, 17 January) unexpectedly reminded me of my late father-in-law Bill Dorsch’s experience as a surgeon at the Broken Hill Base Hospital at the start of the second world war. At the time, he was one of two surgeons at the hospital with German names (though both were Australian): Drs Wilhelm Dorsch and Franziska Schlink. There were no other surgeons within 200 miles. A day or so after the declaration of war on Germany, their lists emptied because of anti-German feelings. But within two weeks, the same patients who had taken themselves off the list were back; their conditions did not share their prejudices.

Just as there were no substitutes for surgeons Dorsch and Schlink, I believe there will be no electronic substitute for a well-trained, competent general medical practitioner in the foreseeable future.
Leon Le Leu
Googong, Australia

Clean cars and class

Sir: Toby Young is right to suggest that people with clean cars are probably those who throw their litter out of the window (Status anxiety, 17 January). Several years ago, my mother, grandmother and I were stuck for some 20 minutes in a jam on a country road in very hot weather. When one of the young men in the car in front threw his beer can out of the passenger window, it was promptly returned to him by my indignant grandmother. The young man was too surprised to say anything, but minutes later, his three companions ‘mooned’ us from the back seat. I don’t know whether the youths came from the bottom of the social pyramid, but my grandmother did observe that their car was considerably cleaner than mine and that the offender was wearing a sleeveless ‘wifebeater’ T-shirt. We also spotted a tattoo on one bare buttock.
Kathy Walton
Chorleywood, Hertfordshire

Apology to Iman Muldoon

In our article ‘A Muslim ambush – Weekend Sunrise bares its anti-Israel bias’ (republished online as ‘A Muslim’s ambush: how I was stitched up by Australian breakfast TV’) published on Jan 10 2015, we published criticisms made by Dr Qanta Ahmed about Iman Muldoon, a segment producer at Seven Network, including accusing Ms Muldoon of unprofessional conduct and biased coverage. We accept Iman Muldoon did not produce the story described in the article and has been unfairly criticised. The Spectator apologises to Iman Muldoon for any hurt or embarrassment caused.
The Editor, The Spectator Australia

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