Sorry history of tolerating the intolerant

AT first glance the connection between Sony last week pulling the comedy The Interview from our screens and the murders in Martin Place is not obvious. Yet both are explained by tolerating the intolerant, a deadly virus that has long infected the West.

Last Tuesday, when Australians woke to news that a gunman had murdered two innocent Australians in the name of Islam during a 16-hour hostage siege, we also woke to the lethal, horrifying cost of tolerating the intolerant. As much as we would prefer to put this behind us and get on with Christmas and a brand-new year, it pays to remember just how tolerant we are.

We allowed Iranian Man Haron Monis into our country on a business visa and then welcomed him as a political refugee. Charged with fraud at home, the Iranian government asked for him back. But we said no to the Iranians. When Monis wrote inexcusable letters to the families of soldiers who died in Afghanistan, describing them as pigs and Nazis, we excused that — delivering only a slap on the wrist of 300 hours of community service. Some called for his Australian citizenship to be revoked. We said no to that, too. We allowed Monis to remain an Australian citizen, a gift sought out by millions of refugees who are keen to embrace and respect Australia as an open, generous and free country.

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