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Monica Doumit: The silence of the wokes

Monica Doumit
Monica Doumit
Monica Doumit is the Director, Public Affairs and Engagement for the Archdiocese of Sydney and a columnist with The Catholic Weekly.
Katherine Deves at a campaign rally on May 1, 2022. (AAP Image/Mick Tsikas)

Unless you’ve been sleeping under a rock, you would know that the Liberal candidate for Tony Abbott’s old seat of Warringah is Katherine Deves. Deves is probably Australia’s most famous bigot for the great crime of tweeting that biological women shouldn’t be forced to play competitive sport against biological men and that surgically removing the breasts of a healthy teenage girl is a form of legalised mutilation.

Instead of supporting Deves’ right to state her view about such contentious topics or realising that her views are likely shared by the majority of conservative voters, Liberal MPs like Dave Sharma and Matt Kean distanced themselves and called for her disendorsement faster than you can say “political opportunism.” There were others who, while not denouncing her, didn’t exactly defend her or her views either and Deves is being forced to complete the election campaign running from media who berate her as ‘transphobic.’

Friendly fire and double standards

You can expect Labor, the so-called Independents, the Greens and the other fringe parties to pile on during an election campaign, but the “friendly fire” Deves received from her Liberal colleagues was the most surprising. After all, who thinks it is a good election strategy to attack a member of your own party weeks out from an increasingly close election? But this is what the Left do, even if they otherwise try to disguise themselves as moderates and technically play on the conservative team.

With the Deves saga in the background, I was interested to see what – if any – response there would be to anti-Catholic tweets from Labor senate candidate for NSW, Mich-elle Myers. In a series of now-deleted tweets, Myers proclaimed Jesus to be gay, said the Pope should get his head out of his arse and that she had had enough of the Catholic Church and the s..t that comes from our mouths.

“Did the people responsible for approving Myers on the ticket drop the ball and miss these posts? Or did they see them and not think they were that bad?”

I wondered who might be first to denounce her tweets as offensive to the majority of the NSW population and not representative of a Labor party seeking to win back religious votes lost in the last federal election. Would the Opposition Leader, whose stump speech reminds us that he was “raised in the three great ‘faiths’ of the Catholic Church, the Rabbitohs and the Labor party” step up?

Would Senator Penny Wong, the Leader of the Opposition in the Senate that Myers is hoping to join, say something about it being inappropriate? How about Fowler-hopeful Kristina Keneally, who has rediscovered the practice of her faith recently? No there was no luck with any of those. There has also been radio silence from state Labor MPs who are similarly on a mission to convince religious voters that Labor is not hostile towards them. Actually, apart from Liberal Senators Hollie Hughes and Amanda Stoker, no sitting member of parliament has said anything.

Why wasn’t Mich-Elle Myers’ social media vetted?

This isn’t really about Myers, though. She is in an unwinnable spot on the NSW Senate ticket and after these 15 minutes of infamy are over, will return to whatever she had been doing before this. But her presence on the ticket raises another question. We have been through enough rounds of “gotcha” to know that the media scour the Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts of those standing for election for incriminating posts. There is no way that the social media profiles of Senate hopefuls are not reviewed before they are approved as candidates.

What should have happened in vetting Myers as a candidate was that she should have either been ruled out, or the problematic posts retracted and removed before her candidacy was declared. Did the people responsible for approving Myers on the ticket drop the ball and miss these posts? Or did they see them and not think they were that bad? I would like to think it was the former but, if that was the case, wouldn’t someone senior in the Labor party have immediately reached out to the Archdiocese of Sydney to apologise and see how much damage had been done? Yet, as we go to print, no such olive branch has been extended.

For what it’s worth, I don’t think Myers should now be disendorsed. People are entitled to free speech, even if it reveals them to have a deep anti-Catholic bias. In fact, maybe all the MPs who have a similar contempt for religion should declare it now; much better than them sitting in a Church on Good Friday and only playing their true hand after the votes have been cast.

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