My letter to Peter Dutton about Australia’s continued detention of Asylum Seekers

letterwriting

Some people asked to see the letter I said I was going to write in my post on how to write to a minister or MP. I’ve sent this to Peter Dutton, the Minister for Immigration and Border Protection, and to my local member (who is a Liberal Party MP).


Dear The Hon. Mr Dutton,

I’m writing to you regarding the ongoing situation of asylum seekers and refugees held in detention by our nation, especially the recent announcements that no refugee currently held offshore will ever receive an Australian Visa. I’m a Presbyterian Minister in Brisbane, and am writing to ask you to consider an alternative way forward, and to offer my assistance, and that of my church community. I want to thank you for the way you serve our nation through managing your complex portfolio and don’t want to pretend these are simple issues; regardless of the way forward, you are in my prayers. I’m thankful for Australia’s generosity when it comes to re-settling refugees through our humanitarian program; but concerned at the huge cost of our continued detention of asylum seekers in off shore detention; not just the financial cost, but the cost to our humanity.

In the words of the poet John Donne, I believe that “no man is an island” so that ‘any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind;’ the way we treat others impacts us because it changes how we participate in humanity globally, and shapes the vision of humanity we live by in our community and as Australian citizens. The bell is tolling, and the evidence that we are causing damage to others (including children), and so to ourselves, is mounting.

The Russian novelist Fyodor Dostoyevsky said: “The degree of civilisation in a society is revealed by entering its prisons.” How we care for those under our authority who are excluded from our society reflects something about the society they are kept apart from. Continuing to deny vulnerable refugees, especially refugee children, any sense of hope, freedom, or dignity, especially if we’re punishing victims of crime to deter criminals, will not just cause damage to these refugees, but will damage our souls. I don’t mean this exclusively in a spiritual sense, but that it undermines the core of the Australian psyche; teaching us, as citizens, to be more self-interested, and that global problems aren’t also our problems. We may indeed live on an island, but we are not disconnected from the suffering of humans abroad; nor can we detach ourselves from the suffering of those in our care held on smaller islands.

I believe it is time we turn to community-based, not simply political, solutions to lower these costs. It is a sad indictment on modern life that we have politicised everything, and so made this a problem for our political leaders to solve, not for us all. As a believer in small government I’m hoping we might find ways to share the burden created by international humanitarian crises amongst other institutions and communities within the Australian public.

As a church leader, I think the church has a particular opportunity and role to play here; a role it is already playing on a case by case basis; my church in Brisbane is home to a community of Iranian asylum seekers and our love and care for them has enriched our souls, and the life of our community. I’d love to see this experience repeated in churches around our nation as we take the responsibility for living out the call Jesus gave us as his disciples. In Matthew’s Gospel Jesus called his followers to look after the poor, the widowed, the oppressed, the prisoner, the hungry and the thirsty — those at the margins — he says:

“For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in, I needed clothes and you clothed me, I was sick and you looked after me, I was in prison and you came to visit me.’ — Matthew 25:35-36

He says whatever we do for the “least of these;” whether in caring for them or ignoring their plight; it is as though we are doing it to him. Australia is by no means a Christian nation, but Christians in our nation are concerned to follow the teaching of Jesus, and in doing so to seek the good of our neighbours, be they our global neighbours or the Australian whose spirit is being systematically eroded as vulnerable people are broken in our name.

No man is an island. The bell is tolling; and it is tolling for thee, and me… Can we please stop keeping our vulnerable global neighbours on these small islands and find ways to bring them here, where Australian citizens might take up the challenge, apart from the government, of caring for these neighbours lest our nation’s soul be destroyed? I would like to offer to be involved with exploring ways that the church, and other interested communities or institutions, might play a part in lowering the cost of caring for refugees in our community.

Regards,

Rev. Nathan Campbell

“No man is an island, entire of itself; every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main; if a clod be washed away by the sea, Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were, as well as if a manor of thy friend’s or of thine own were; any man’s death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind, and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee” — John Donne, For Whom the Bell Tolls

Funniest letter response ever

I’m filing this for “response letters I’d like to send one day”… there’s a slight language warning. Via DeadSpin.

Here’s the transcript of the original letter:

“Gentlemen:

I am one of your season ticket holders who attends or tries to attend every game. It appears one of the pastimes of several fans has become the sailing of paper airplanes generally made out of the game program. As you know, there is the risk of serious eye injury and perhaps an ear injury as a result of such airplanes. I am sure that this has been called to your attention and that several of your ushers and policemen witnessed the same.

Please be advised that since you are in a position to control or terminate such action on the part of fans, I will hold you responsible for any injury sustained by any person in my party attending one of your sporting events. It is hoped that this disrespectful and possibly dangerous activity will be terminated.

Very truly yours,

Roetzel & Andress

By Dale O. Cox”
Here’s the response the team sent:

“Attached is a letter that we received on November 19, 1974. I feel that you should be aware that some a*&#&$ is signing your name to stupid letters”

Letters of note

I think this is currently my favourite blog. A veritable treasure trove of missives significant and otherwise. I could spend all day reading through these letters because they satiate both my curiosity about people’s perspective on historical events and my voyeuristic deviance. The letter truly is a window to the author’s soul. Here are some of my favourites…

I think I have posted this Mark Twain one before – so I won’t redo it – but it is, without a doubt, the best complaint letter ever written…


A piece of 2×4 sent to Jimmy Carter by a builder
.

Transcript

Dear Jimmy

The general economy may be in a recession but housing is in a depression. Immediate action must be taken to assist our industry – it equals 5 Chrysler Corporations. Thousands of jobs and companies are being lost along with the tax dollars plus added costs i.e. unemployment compensation. Available and affordable funds must be made available now – a good start would be Brooke-Cranston. Where do you expect our children to live? This piece of 2×4 is not wasted if you get the message and then put in your wood burning stove.

L.W.McKENZIE SR. VT.

A letter sent by a disenfranchised Tasmanian pupil to his teacher.

Transcript

Mr Broome

Dear Sir

I write this letter for the good of myself and other boys. Instead of you teachers making school a pleasure you make it a perfect misery to those who happen to be a little backward. Referring to myself, I can say that I never did like school but since I came to Rockdale I have just dreaded the thought of school. This, may I say, has all come from your sneering and poking fun at those who are not quite so well on as others. If a boy happens to have a few mistakes instead of you trying to help him in his difficulty you look over his slate, you either cane him, or spell out aloud his foolish mistakes before over 100 boys who are always ready to make fun. This is why there are so many boys who are always ready to play the truant. And therefore instead of me looking forward to school days I just long for the time when I shall receive a sitificut saying that I may leave school. And as manhood draws on I shall look back on my schooldays as a period of misery instead of a period of happiness.

A Margett

Scholar at (Inferior?) Rockdale Public School

Thomas Edison congratulating a fellow engineer on his ingenuity.

Transcript

From the Laboratory of Thomas A. Edison

Orange, N.J., Nov. 27, 1926

Mr. W. L. R. Emmet
General Electric Co
1 River Road
Schenectady, N.Y.

My dear Mr. Emmet:-

I want to thank you for your letter of the 23rd, with its enclosure, and at the same time to extend my congratulations to you on the successful outcome of your ideas.

The worst is to come, for it takes about seven years to convert the average man to the acceptance of a solved problem.

With all good wishes to you, I remain

Yours very truly

Thos. A. Edison

TAE:O

And possibly my favourite of all – a conspiracy theorist warning J. Edgar Hoover about the perils of Elvis Presley. I’ll post the whole thing, even though it’s long. Because it is brilliant.

Transcript

May 16, 1956

Mr. J Edgar Hoover
Director
Federal Bureau of Investigation
Washington 25, D. C.

Dear Mr. Hoover,

Elvis Presley press-agented as a singer and entertainer, played to two groups of teenagers numbering several thousand at the city auditorium here, Monday, May 14.

As newspaper man, parent, and former member of Army Intelligence Service, I feel an obligation to pass on to you my conviction that Presley is a definite danger to the security of the United States.

Although I could not attend myself, I sent two reporters to cover his second show at 9:30 p.m. besides, I secured the opinions of others of good judgment, who had seen the show or had heard direct reports of it. Among them are a radio station manager, a former motion picture exhibitor, an orchestra player, and a young woman employee of a radio station who witnessed the show to determine its value. All agree that it was the filthiest and most harmful production that ever came to La Crosse for exhibition to teenagers.

When Presley came on the stage, the youngsters almost mobbed him, as you can judge from the article and pictures enclosed from May 15 edition of the La Crosse TRIBUNE. The audience could not hear his “singing” for the screaming and carrying on of the teenagers.

But eyewitnesses have told me that Presley’s actions and motions were such as to rouse the sexual passions of teenaged youth. One eye-witness described his actions as “sexual self-gratification on the stage,” — another as “a striptease with clothes on.” Although police and auxiliaries were there, the show went on. Perhaps the hardened police did not get the import of his motions and gestures, like those of masturbation or riding a microphone. (The assistant district attorney and Captain William Boma also stopped in for a few minutes in response to complaints about the first show, but they found no reason to halt the show.)

After the show, more than 1,000 teenagers tried to gang into Presley‘s room at the auditorium, then at the Stoddard Hotel. All possible police on duty were necessary at the Hotel to keep watch on the teenagers milling about the hotel till after 3 a.m., the hotel manager informed me. Some kept milling about the city till about 5 a.m.

Indications of the harm Presley did just in La Crosse were the two high school girls (of whom I have direct personal knowledge) whose abdomen and thigh had Presley’s autograph. They admitted that they went to his room where this happened. It is known by psychologists, psychiatrists and priests that teenaged girls from the age of eleven, and boys in their adolescence are easily aroused to sexual indulgence and perversion by certain types of motions and hysteria, — the type that was exhibited at the Presley show.

There is also gossip of the Presley Fan Clubs that degenerate into sex orgies. The local radio station WKBH sponsors a club on the “Lindy Shannon Show.”

From eye-witness reports about Presley, I would judge that he may possibly be both a drug addict and sexual pervert. In any case I am sure he bears close watch, — especially in the face of growing juvenile crime nearly everywhere in the United States. He is surrounded by a group of high-pressure agents who seem to control him, the hotel manager reported.

I do not report idly to the FBI. My last official report to an FBI agent in New York before I entered the U.S. Army resulted in arrest of a saboteur (who committed suicide before his trial). I believe the Presley matter is as serious to U.S. security. I am convinced that juvenile crimes of lust and perversion will follow his show here in La Crosse.

I enclose article and pictures from May 15 edition of the La Crosse TRIBUNE. The article is an excellent example of the type of reporting that describes a burlesque show by writing about the drapes on the stage. But the pictures, to say the least are revealing. Note, too, that under the Presley article, the editor sanctimoniously published a very brief “filler” on the FBI’s concern for teenage crime. Only a moron could not see the connection between the Presley exhibit and the incidence of teenage disorders in La Crosse.

With many thanks, and with a prayer for God‘s special blessing on your excellent and difficult work for justice and decency.

Sincerely yours,

(Signed)

This is just an hors d’oeuvre there are more than 200 letters posted so far. Brilliant.