Federal Education Minister Dr Brendan Nelson is way out of line with his recent "accept our values or clear off" comments to Australian Muslims.
That isn't what this country is about. That isn't what democracy is about. The minute that you have one group of people forcing their values or beliefs on another group of people, you don't have a democracy any more - you have a form of fascism.
The term fascism has come to mean any system of government resembling Mussolini's, that in various combinations:
- exalts the nation, (and in some cases the race, culture, or religion) above the individual, with the state apparatus being supreme.
- stresses loyalty to a single leader.
- uses violence and modern techniques of propaganda and censorship to forcibly suppress political opposition.
- engages in severe economic and social regimentation.
- engages in syndicalist corporatism.
- implements totalitarian systems.
Whenever we start talking about forcing people to accept our values or beliefs, instead of just adhering to our laws, we are trampling on basic individual rights. In a civilized democracy, everyone should have the most basic of rights - the right to live their life in whichever way they choose as long as they don't infringe on that same right in others. As soon as we start telling people what they have to believe, we're on a slippery slope. It is up to the non-Muslims in this country to make sure Brendan Nelson, and the rest of our politicians, get that message.
Particularly in times of fear and uncertainty we need to make sure we have a very clear grasp on the principles of a democracy.
Perhaps our Eduction Minister needs to go back to school.