no sleep for reason in these times

I’ve been reading Robert Hughes’s Goya. In the introduction he canvasses Goya’s occasional heroism in taking on the Catholic Church in the late 1700s in Spain. (‘artists are rarely moral heroes, and should not be expected to be, any more than plumbers or dog breeders … Goya, being neither madman nor masochist, had no taste for martyrdom’). Yet, Hughes goes on to say,

‘His work asserted that men and women should be free from tyranny and superstition; that torture, rape, despoliation, and massacre, those perennial props of power in both the civil and the religious arena, were intolerable; and that those who condoned or employed them were not to be trusted, no matter how seductive the bugle calls and the swearing of allegiance might seem.’

How neatly put. Although he might, also, have added, in that list of crimes, the incarceration of innocent men and women to make a point. Which brings me, of course, to our present government, that rag-tag bag of misanthropes I voted for a couple of years back who seem to believe that it doesn’t matter what they do I’ll continue to vote for them because the opposition – in the shape of Tony Abbott – is too awful to contemplate.

the sleep of reason brings forth monsters, Goya

They’re right about the latter part, of course. Abbott is the worst sort of zealot, the kind of man who, if he came to power, might well see fit to resort to tyranny to stay there, for the good of the country. But Rudd is proving, unfortunately, to be little better. Every day it feels more like he is prepared to sell his, and the country’s, soul in order to stay in power, so that he can do some mystical good. And what’s the good of that, tell me?

Right now he is prepared to indefinitely lock up those who are almost certainly genuine refugees, without the due process of a trial, or even the promise of one, simply to thwart Abbott on immigration.

At some point each one of us has to cry enough.

Refugees from Sri Lanka and Afghanistan are just that, refugees. If it’s safe for them to go home to Afghanistan then why are our troops over there, engaged in a fierce battle with a devastating insurgency? (And the northern summer just beginning) Howard’s policies on immigration brought shame upon this nation. In the name of political expediency – locking innocent people away without charge and with no indication of a time for release – the Rudd Government is behaving just as badly.

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