Niki Savva and dhimmitude

Stifling free speech or just pragmatic?

I was particularly perplexed to see Niki Savva, a usually constant and dependable commentator on the machinations in Canberra, criticising Cori Bernardi for his invitation to the Dutch politician Geert Wilders to Australia. Savva, being a pragmatist, suggested Tony Abbott dump him from the shadow cabinet because “he is a serial offender on Islamic issues” and colleagues think “his behaviour threatens votes in western Sydney”.

Cori Bernardi’s reply to Savva, as posted on Andrew Bolt’s blog, from any view would have to be considered tempered and very reasonable.

You may not like Mr Wilders’ political stance but he commands a larger vote in an open and tolerant democracy than the Greens party in Australia and provides vital political support for the Dutch government. Mr Wilders’ electoral appeal is in response to a range of successive policy failures that have many in the Netherlands (and western Europe generally) concerned about the direction of their country.

I wonder if you would be calling for my sacking if I invited Ayaan Hirsi Ali – a former Dutch politician who is under constant protection because of her criticism of Islam – to Australia. On her most recent visit she was featured on the ABC, hosted at various functions and was even sponsored by a State government to attend an event.

It is disturbing that a “conservative” commentator can take a pragmatic line which is in effect a subtle way of closing down a debate which, however awkard, is central to a fundamental and vital issue of national harmony and security. It smells too much of ‘dhimmitude’.

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