Father Bob Maguire is a catholic priest who styles himself as the ‘Larrikin Priest; the patron of the unloved and unlovely’. He cares for people who are less fortunate than himself. He is one of those people who seems to follow the teachings of Jesus, unlike so many other Christians, whose main aim seems to be the accumulation of wealth, power and the punishment of the poor or those who are different1.
Father Bob Maguire is on Twitter and is very popular, even among those who will have no truck with religion, and has about 113,000 ‘followers’ (including me). This is because he is a genuine human, with bucketloads of integrity and empathy. He follows the tweets from the Auschwitz Museum; something that I doubt I could do for fear of bursting into tears of outrage on a regular basis. In response to one of these, at 11:30 pm on the 24thof December, Father Bob Maguire tweeted the following
“The tweets with haunting photos of Auschwitz camp remind me of tweeted photos of refugees detained [on] Manus.”2
He received considerable support from many people, but the right wing nut jobs (RWNJs) soon came in to attack. Warren Mundine tweeted:
“There is no comparison between Auschwitz and Manus” and
“1.3m ppl were interned there and suffered indescribable horror. 1.1m ppl were murdered. If you & FrBob want to feel sorry for ppl on Manus then do so, but don’t make up false comparisons and learn a little history for God sake.”
Then in an effort to try to deflect, Mundine tweeted:
There is no detention in Manus. Hasn’t been since the PNG court case. They have movement around the island.
This was just Mundine’s way of saying it is not fences, just shorelines, which imprison them, so that is seemingly perfectly acceptable.
With a level head which comes from being a normal person, Coalition Tea Lady stated in reply to Mundine:
“He didn’t say it was the Holocaust – he said he was reminded of the people in the Auschwitz camp. We put people in ‘Camps’ indefinitely until we be break down their mental and physical health. We regularly medivac critically ill kiddies to Oz from ‘our’ camps. That’s how we do it.”
Chris Kenny, the bizarre Sky News ‘host’ tweeted the following:
Christmas Day message from a priest. Horrific slur against Australia, PNG and their people. No regard for truth or facts. Terrible diminution of the Holocaust.
Someone on Sky News accusing others of not having regard for truth or facts is laughable. As a Murdoch outlet, Sky News seems to have been directed to deny climate change2,3,4.
Perhaps the worst and most snide of all, Alexander Downer, tweeted the following on December 28, seemingly unware of the identity or reputation of Maguire:
“You’re a priest or is that a false name? The latter I assume.”
I replied to Downer:
You are a nasty piece of work, aren’t you? Bob has more integrity and more compassion in his little finger than in your whole family.
Bruce Ross, who is much wittier than me, replied to Downer:
“Georgina pet. It’s Pater. I have started the Twitter campaign to ensure you win back the Downer Dynasty seat stolen from you by that frightful commoner woman. I had occasion to put some imposter claiming to be a priest in his place. If I say so myself, I did a spiffing job”
These foaming-at-the-mouth attacks on Father Bob Maguire are what you would expect from RWNJs. If they can take something the wrong way, they will. In addition, you cannot criticise Coalition policy; you cannot show compassion, especially to brown people; you cannot mention the physical or mental health of the refugees on Manus; and most importantly of all, you cannot call them asylum-seekers, you must call them illegals.
These RWNJs are getting more strident as the days pass, probably in response to the monumentally and increasingly shambolic federal government which is causing their influence to dissipate. The similarity to the increasing stridency of the religious as their influence also wanes is striking. One can only hope the influence of both continues to wane. One thing is for certain, no matter what happens to religion, father Bob Maguire will keep helping those less fortunate.