Learning from One Another and Racism on Q and A

Racism has been a hot topic lately, both in the general media and on this site. Racism is one form of intolerance, religious intolerance is another. Last night I did not get to watch Q&A, but I happened to notice a tweet about no scripture in schools. I quickly backed that up. As regular readers will know, I am strongly against religious instruction in government schools. I’ve written quite a few articles (links below) expressing my opinion of religions. I much prefer Cultural Intelligence and ethics education. I believe these have far more relevance to the human species. I recognise, perhaps unlike Richard Dawkins, that we cannot yet stop people believing in myths, the human race has not yet evolved sufficiently. We do, therefore, need to learn to accept and be tolerant of religious beliefs and include discussion of religions, ALL religions, in Cultural Intelligence education. This includes, Australian Financial Review I am talking to you, respecting Aboriginal culture when it comes to reporting the passing of Aboriginal people in the media.

We are tolerant every day in our home, so I do have considerable experience.

Back to Twitter last night! Another person, a teacher, chimed in and said the book being discussed was NOT scripture, but “a resource on integrating cultural perspectives into KLA’s, it’s not a book on religion studies.” I asked for a link to the material. The teacher very kindly provided the link and today I downloaded the document, Learning from One Another.

I also wanted to see the context in which this had come up for discussion, so I went to YouTube, that wonderful store of stuff one has missed, and watched the Q&A episode from last night.

You will find* the offending question at 43:15. I say offending because it is worded offensively. Very offensively. I have added the emphasis below.

“Why are we giving Islam preferential treatment? Why are we promoting to our children a CRUEL CULTURE which has nothing but contempt for our democracy?”

I have read a lot of the book. Not all of it, as I am not a teacher and incorporating tessellating patterns into the mathematics classroom is a little beyond me. However I’ve read enough of the book to understand the purpose. The purpose of this book is, I agree, to foster cultural understanding. The book is not about converting the student population to Islam. I found Parts B and C of the book very interesting and I am sure the teachers at my children’s schools, if they are not already aware of the book, may find it of interest too.

I was interested to learn of the scientific and medical developments originating from Islamic scholars. I was surprised to learn in some forms of Islam birthday celebrations and music are not as welcome as I had thought. Birthdays and music are both important to my family: as always religion is often adapted by local culture. Yes there are, as with Christianity, many forms of Islam.

On the question of democracy, I quote from the book in question:

While many Muslim states across the world do not adopt democracy, the Quran actually orders
Muslims to engage in consultation (shura) in order to run their daily affairs. The system of shura
is somewhat similar to democracy. However, many Muslims still live under authoritarian regimes
and/or believe that democracy is the product of the West and should be dismissed.

As for the cruel culture aspect of the above question, Learning from One Another does not avoid the question of terrorists, but it does outline Islamic beliefs: “Islam orders Muslims to be kind and friendly to all people as long as they mean no harm. Even if they mean harm, the Quran urges Muslims to respond in a kinder manner.” As I have said before, Mr O always says, “Do not kill what you cannot create.”

I am at a loss to understand how the woman asking the question on Q&A could see this book as “promoting” Islam or giving Muslim children preferential treatment. Some schools have student populations where 10% of the students are Muslims. We have Muslims living in Australia and our education system must be able to relate to the children and their parents in an inclusive and understanding manner. We need to understand each other if we are to live together harmoniously. I hope she is never a teacher of any of my children. The question came from Kia Thorpe. Kia is a political candidate. I am horrified.

*I did not shorten the video, because the question of racism was dealt with most gracefully by Linda Burney. I encourage all who watched the 13 year-old + Eddie issues in the media to watch the early part of the program as well.


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11 comments on “Learning from One Another and Racism on Q and A

  1. […] isn’t just Abbott. I recall Cory Bernardi on Q and A speaking about renewable energy. Oh, heavens, we couldn’t possibly stop pulling resources out of […]


  2. […] isn’t just Abbott. I recall Cory Bernardi on Q and A speaking about renewable energy. Oh, heavens, we couldn’t possibly stop pulling resources out […]


  3. […] is what is needed here. New ideas for a new time. As I write this I am reminded of watching Cory Bernardi on Q and A about renewable energy. Oh, heavens, we couldn’t possibly stop pulling resources out of the […]


  4. I just can’t tolerate intolerance. There, I’ve said it. Really though, I grew up in a rather large extended family, with roots from England, Scotland & Ireland. All of course of Christian faiths.
    But the best thing about my family was that it included a lot of different religions which we just accepted. Why? because each and everyone had their own beliefs & took different paths.
    I can thank them for this, because it gave me the freedom to look at ALL faiths.

    To be intolerant, imho, is showing some fear of thinking that somehow reading will change people minds completely. It doesn’t of course. It just broadens our perspectives on the lives & faiths of others, which in turn, can turn (if we are not afraid) to tolerance & understanding and is a gift.


    • I love that Sandra! You are intolerant of intolerance!

      Yes, I agree fear is the basis of much intolerance. Fear of a different skin colour, eye shape, religion, culture, language – so many things to be fearful of, yet why? What is there to fear other than fear itself?

      Of course, this applies equally to all. I am not suggesting “we” are the only ones who fear difference, for we know that is not the case.


  5. Understanding is the key to being one race – intolerance comes from being unable / unwilling to understand and is driven by those with a political agenda. I’m a Christian of the Church of England and very committed to the balance between religion and scientific knowledge. My knowledge of the past tells me that Muslims are also people of science and religion. So why should I hate them? Or anyone else for that matter?

    I’ve read Richard Dawkins and Peter Atkins – their views are rightly part of the debate about God – no God but should certainly not form our way forward on their own especially as there are so many of us gullible individuals needing to cling to a myth. We need a solid prop to cling to ;-)


    • Oh Martin – I always worry about my friends of faith when I write such, yet I can’t pretend about my beliefs or that would be hypocrisy!

      It is interesting that in another part of the book discussed above it is pointed out that, unlike some Christian denominations that send a baby that hasn’t been baptised to limbo for eternity, Islam says one doesn’t need to believe to be a good person, just do good things. Much more tolerant, I think! :)

      The bottom line is indeed tolerance. Understanding. Mindfulness. Acceptance of those different from ourselves.


  6. Developments and changes occur all the time whether people like Bernadi want it or not! :-)


  7. I agree the question you refer to was very offending.
    Learning from one another: I am all for this! We should learn from one another as much as possible, I am baffled how people who deny climate change just think of today’s costs. ‘Today’s economy is not allowed to suffer.’ This is what they always stress. They do not care to think about the costs future generations are going to have to bear!
    Is this normal not to consider what you leave behind for future generations?


    • Oh, Uta, I was STUNNED at Bernadi’s attitude to renewable energy and solar power. Unbelievable! I just felt it was too much for the one article!

      I agree totally. How can we be so selfish as to “save” our current economy at the expense of the lives of our children! Has innovation not been the cornerstone of the development of society as we know it? Are we still taking ships to get to the USA? Do we still travel in a horse and cart to go to work?


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