Revolutionary anti-Nazi researcher and thinker Hannah Arendt coined the concept of “the banality of evil”.
That is, the actions that lead to horrific violence and death are not just perpetuated by pantomimes and psychopaths, but by pencil pushers and watchmakers just doing their jobs.
In other words, acts with unthinkable consequences are often done without thinking.
There is no gloomier and more perfect example than the shameful and possibly fatal decision of the Australian government to deny visas to hundreds of Afghan aides who risked their lives supporting our role in the long war against the Taliban. .
It would be tempting to label the decision as morally repugnant, but no morals seem to have entered the process at all. Instead, they have been placed at increased and imminent risk of death – or indeed have already been killed – due to a brainless exercise by the Foreign Office.
Some 50 Afghan aid workers who have assisted Australian-led projects by government agency AusAID and Australian NGO Save The Children, as well as 100 contracted security officers and their families, have been ruled ineligible by the Minister of Justice. Foreign Affairs Marise Payne for the “locally engaged employee visa” – the very scheme put in place to protect them from Taliban retaliation.
Their potentially fatal failure was to be hired through an Australian government contractor instead of being employed directly by one of the agencies.
A letter sent to one of the workers on behalf of Senator Payne, obtained by the australian, is a masterclass in the cold-blooded bureaucratic process.
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“The Australian Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade has reviewed your application,” reads. “Unfortunately, you are not eligible for certification under this visa policy as you were not considered an employee of any of the Australian government agencies identified in the legislative instrument.”
So a senseless multisyllabic sentence becomes a potential death sentence.
Indeed, retired Army Major Stuart McCarthy told the newspaper the rejection letter was an effective “death warrant”, with 15 of the man’s former colleagues already fearing they had been murdered.
It’s bad enough to be sentenced to death by form letter, but the idea that the Foreign Minister herself actually considered this request and rejected it is a black mark on her moral judgment. It doesn’t say much about his political judgment either.
If putting your life on the line to support Australia in the midst of a war zone isn’t enough to get the most basic level of protection from the Australian government, then what the hell are we standing for as a country?
Indeed, what was the war in Afghanistan for, if we just want to abandon those who aided us to the ruthless and bloodthirsty enemy we were once so desperate to stop?
Frankly, it’s a doggie act.
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Australians understand and respect – and often even celebrate – the need for checks and controls in our border protection regime. And the fear of Covid has shown that the left loves hard borders as much as the right when it suits them.
But those who risked everything to help us in a war they never even asked for should be at the front of the line, not back. In fact, for them there shouldn’t be a queue at all – and neither should they have to compete with or eliminate other asylum seekers as part of our humanitarian reception program. extremely tight. I have no doubt that almost all Australians would agree with this.
It is just the moral argument, and I hope the minister reflects on it late at night as she retires to her safe and comfortable bed in our safe and comfortable country.
But even in the cold transactional world of geopolitics, the decision to deny visas to our wartime assistants is just plain foolish. What help could we hope to get from the locals on our next foray abroad when rumors spread that we have literally left the last batch for dead?
This is what makes the decision even more incomprehensible, even to the most cynical politician. Paul Keating, the great master of political cynicism, pointed out that in the course of life you should always support self-interest because at least you knew he was trying. In this case, self-interest runs last.
If Payne has an ounce of self-interest, or even self-preservation, she should urgently ensure that every Afghan aide, security guard and the 200 other translators still waiting are allowed into Australia immediately and safe from the terrorists we claim to oppose.
These courageous, duty-bound souls have done more to deserve the citizenship of this country than most people born here and it is vital to our national soul that we give them shelter.
Or we could just lock them up, let them die, and contemplate what kind of country we are.