Features Australia

The feminist religion? How we laughed.

23 February 2017

3:00 PM

23 February 2017

3:00 PM

Sometimes, Pauline Hanson’s ‘Please explain’ and the Senate’s role as House of Review achieve perfect congruence. Last week, in Question Time, One Nation Senator Malcolm Roberts delivered a spectacular reminder that sometimes the House of Reps can be a tourist trap. The real gems are off the beaten track in the Senate.

His question – canny and detailed – revealed that Yassmin Abdel-Magied (the ABC’s current Muslim pet; there’s a South Park ‘token’ joke in there somewhere) was subsidised by the taxpayer via DFAT to the tune of $11,485 to travel the world’s most oppressive regimes (including Saudi Arabia) and then, on her return, tell Senator Jacqui Lambie on the ABC’s weekly exercise in self-harm, Q&A, that ‘Islam is the most feminist religion’.

Attorney-General George Brandis spun like a top, revealing in the process of answering Roberts’s question that DFAT is fond of taxpayer-funded junkets. His non-exhaustive list included sending reporter Greg Sheridan to Indonesia and Reverend John Henderson to the Vatican. This latest junket wasn’t Abdel-Magied’s first, either. DFAT sent her off to an ASEAN conference in 2012, when she was 21. Last time I looked, neither Rupert Murdoch’s News Limited (Sheridan’s employer) nor the Catholic Church were paupers in need of government welfare. Until relatively recently, Abdel-Magied was a FIFO rig engineer and now works full-time for the ABC. I suspect some of the people being hung out to dry thanks to Australia’s on-going Centrelink snafu would benefit rather more from $11,485 than she. Maybe DFAT is the Institute of Sport for ABC talking heads, much like politics is the Olympics for ugly people.

Fellow Speccie columnist Kerryn Pholi and I put our heads together after watching Roberts’s question, thinking there must be method in DFAT’s madness. Maybe they’re master Svengalis down there in Canberra’s R. G. Casey Building, working to neutralise political Islam by promoting dorky moderates like Abdel-Magied.

‘If I were a randy jihadi,’ Kerryn suggested, ‘her idea that Islam is one great big girly giggle-fest would probably make me stop building bombs and start building a meth lab instead’. Sexually frustrated, spotty schoolboys want to blow themselves up yelling ‘Allahu Akbar!’ not ‘Girl Power!’

DFAT would be smart to cultivate Abdel-Magied if she has this effect. Pholi has written previously about what she calls the ‘non-profit industrial complex’, where genuinely radical political movements are corporatised, controlled, and ultimately neutralised by the state. However – like most people who’ve been on the Malcolm Tucker staffer circuit in Canberra – I have DFAT contacts. And poking them revealed DFAT is full of hopeless hand wringers with no idea what to do about a militant, missionary monotheism that looks like monotheism did during Europe’s Wars of Religion 400 years ago.

Islamic hardliners dismiss squishes like Waleed Aly as ‘not real Muslims’; if anything, they’re used to evidence the West’s corrupting influence. One only has to read Abdel-Magied’s exchange with Hizb ut-Tahrir’s Wassim Doureihi for insights into the contempt Islamists have for ‘secular people and… secular government’. Meanwhile, righties point to people like Abdel-Magied – she runs a strong line in blaming the West for everything and refusing to acknowledge problems within Islam – as evidence of creeping dhimmitude. Everyone loses while a government department with no bloody idea bilks the taxpayer.

That said, the excuses made for this particular monotheistic idiocy – when no excuses are made for other monotheistic idiocies – are among the few things that make me properly cross.

I’m no fan of Lambie – who could shout for Australia, as Abdel-Magied discovered (being an ex-military policewoman has its advantages) – but the next Muslim who runs this ‘Islam is the most feminist religion’ crap around me is going to be forced to read a standard textbook on pagan Roman law and then go to the nearest gay bar.

With me.

The first should scotch the notion Islam did anything positive for women, while the second grants an opportunity to establish whether the individual in question would like to throw people like me off buildings or equate my relationships with those of the barnyard.

There were Australian Muslims present at Malcolm Turnbull’s Iftar supper who’ve publicly supported the death penalty for homosexuals. Australian Muslims, note. Not Ahmed the Foreigner from Whoflungdungistan. Q&A’s Tony Jones took issue with Lambie for ‘sounding hateful’ towards Muslims. I’m here to tell him that in this dyke’s experience, excessive (but non-hipster) facial hair on a bloke and the voluntary wearing of curtain material around the head on a bird is a pretty reliable proxy for someone who wants me in gaol, or worse.

The excuses have their origin in the racism of diminished expectations. Australia pissed itself laughing at Abdullah Elmir, the ‘ginger jihadi’ because, well, I’m darker than he is in the summertime. He’s living proof of the truism that Islam isn’t a race.

However, Abdel-Magied is properly black, and while she may be a competent engineer, she is of sufficient rarity (black woman in STEM) to have her opinions on anything and everything taken seriously, even when they give every sign of being sourced from the back of a cereal packet.

There’s also an interesting class dynamic at work. Abdel-Magied – with her crisp, private school declarative sentences – is more sympathetic to the ABC set than part-Aboriginal, up-from-poverty Jacqui Lambie. Middle-class people can no doubt imagine having nice Yassmin to supper while showing grumpy Jacqui the door. Yet it was grumpy Jacqui, with her buzzsaw accent, who displayed greater insight. She was willing to point to actually existing sharia in those countries where it dominates law and civil society, not to some unicorns and fluffy bunnies theological fantasy.

Most Islamic countries could be described, charitably, as shitholes with hydrocarbons. People leave them and come to Australia because they want a better life. Surely, part of the immigrant’s bargain is an undertaking not to make the new country resemble the old.

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