In an opinion piece in The Sydney Morning Herald on Thursday, Elizabeth Farrelly argued – persuasively, in my opinion – that our desperation to avoid racial and religious intolerance allows intolerance to thrive.
Ms Farrelly says “our determination not to offend means we tolerate the thoroughly offensive.” She calls it “moral relativism,” which she says is “profoundly dangerous to a free and fair society,” and she gives several examples.
One in particular caught my eye. Last year the University of Western Sydney held an Islamic Awareness Week, where members of the Atheist Foundation debated the existence of God with the Muslim Students Association.
When the atheists arrived, they found the room segregated, men on the left and women on the right. There was open hostility in the audience. One heckler shouted, “Islam will conquer the world!” The atheists were later escorted off campus by security.
This is no way to debate theology. Disagreements are not resolved by force, or by appeasement, but by sitting down together and learning from each other, building respect and mutual understanding. This is sadly lacking in Australia today.
Broadcast on 2CH Sydney, Sunday 4 September 2011.