2.17.2007

Australia's Ignorant PM

Australia's Prime Minister John Howard recently attacked U.S. Senator Barack Obama for his opposition to the War in Iraq.

A U.S. war ally, Howard was so bothered by the senator's criticism of the war that he felt compelled to go on Australian television and make the absurd suggestion that Senator Obama was somehow in league with al-Qaida.

Why the vicious attack on Senator Obama?

Certainly, Howard could have chosen any number of U.S. politicians (such as senators John Kerry and Edward Kennedy) to pick on that are strong critics of the war and are better known to Australians.

In Aussie's Obama attack reeks of racism (The Capital Times of Madison, Wisconsin), John Nichols makes that Senator Obama earned the prime minister's wrath simply due to race. Here are excerpts from his article:

After racial violence erupted in several suburbs of Sydney in the fall of that year, Howard dismissed concerns about the motivations behind the violence, despite reports that they had been provoked at least in part by neo-Nazis who targeted immigrants and people of color.

That outrage led to a parliamentary debate on the subject of "racism and Prime Minister John Howard."

During the debate, Sylvia Hale, a representative from the Sydney area, explained, "It is pertinent now to re-examine the prime minister's contribution to the rise of racism in this country. John Howard's primary political strategy has been to divide and rule this nation. ... Undoubtedly, the most destructive aspect of the strategy has been his pandering to the fearful, racist element in the Australian community."

It was not the first time that Howard faced such withering criticism. Howard came to prominence in Australia as an outspoken critic of multiculturalism and moves to respect and foster diversity. In the 1980s, he pointedly criticized moves to challenge South Africa's apartheid system. In the 1990s, he stirred anti-immigrant sentiment, taking stands that would make U.S. "border war" politicians like Colorado Congressman Tom Tancredo wince.
So, John Howard too suffers from racism, anti-immigrant bigotry and the war mongering disease? (Do these diseases always come in a pack?) Read the Wikipedia write-up on Howard to learn more about the racist and anti-immigrant actions of this so-called friend of the U.S.

BTW: Many Australians do not share Howard's views on race, immigration or the war. And many are embarrassed by Howard's foolish commentary regarding Senator Obama. Here's what M.P.Bailey of South Australia wrote: In response to Deputy Dogs' (Prime Minister John Howards') uncalled for and unwarranted intrusion into the political affairs of the United States, the Australian Supporters for Obama site has been formed to let the Americans know they still have friends in Australia - as Deputy Dog doesn't speak for all of us.

American (and Australia) needs sane leaders and sane allies.