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We all have a role in tackling bigotry

People of the Muslim faith have endured it, too.

The point is that it must end, and each of us has a role to play in halting it. Schools have a role. So do parents and friends, education systems, community groups and, especially, political leaders.

No one is born bigoted. It is learnt behaviour, adopted through observing the language and actions of other people. It might infiltrate our homes and our children’s minds through social media, peers or bad mentors, but it is our duty, always and everywhere, to call it out and condemn it. It is our duty to explain to impressionable young minds why religious and racial discrimination is despicable.

Just a few generations ago, hatred of the Jews – and of homosexuals and gypsies and the disabled and mentally unwell – was promoted as a philosophical ideal by a fascist dictator who utilised the machinery of government to murder many millions of people.

We must never forget what happened before, during and immediately after the Second World War, in Germany, Poland, Ukraine, Lithuania, Latvia, France, Russia, northern Africa and elsewhere. The passage of time does not erase it. Yet religious bigotry and racism continue to be promulgated by far-right political parties, which demonise minorities to press their own misguided causes. It is on the rise and is a universally alarming development.

There have been many more instances of anti-Semitic propaganda in recent months, as Dvir Abramovich, of the Anti-Defamation Commission, has previously pointed out. Swastikas were daubed on a Jewish aged-care home in Caulfield and on playground equipment in suburban McKinnon. Treasurer Josh Frydenberg’s electoral campaign posters were also plastered with swastikas.

Such grotesque abuse deserves absolute condemnation and the denunciation must get louder each time.

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Our nation was built on waves of immigration, on people of all colours and all religious faiths coming from all over the globe. They came in the hope, initially, of finding wealth, freedom and a new land. In later years, they came for shelter and peace, fleeing war or national upheaval, discrimination and murderous tyrannies.

Australia is a far better nation for having embraced multicultural and multi-faith diversity, and for continuing to do so. But our leaders need to stand shoulder to shoulder and tell every Australian that religious and racial vilification is never acceptable nor excusable. To say nothing is akin to acceptance.

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