I have never as much as mentioned the name “David Hicks” in this column so far. Partly the reason for that is that my ability to make up my moral mind on the whole affair is almost as slow and tardy as the US Military have been to lay charges against the sole Australian in Guantanamo Bay.
But after a long time in the oven, I think I can say that the timer has gone off, and I have come to the point where I can take a stand. Not that I will be going to any “Bring Hicks Home” vigils or marches or anything in the near future. Maybe I should, if my conclusion is right. I haven’t got that far yet. Maybe that will be the icing on the cake…
Anyway, my ten bobs worth, if you want it, is virtually the same as that expressed by Peter Faris QC in today’s edition of Crickey. He writes:
In my opinion, Hicks is a vile, despicable and abhorrent creature who chose to support the Taliban, one of the worst regimes in recent history. He is not a hero and certainly not an Australian hero. He deserves to be condemned for what he has done. But despite all of this, he has the fundamental right to be tried by a court or released. He has not been tried. He must be released
.I couldn’t agree more. This isn’t a case of merit, it’s a case of simple human dignity. I believe that respect for the inalienable dignity of every human being is foundational for all ethical and moral action. Hick’s dignity (nb. his dignity that rests on what he is–a human being–not on what he has done, which has no dignity about it and in fact appears not to have valued the human dignity of others very highly) is not being respected, and something should be done about it.
Incidentally, when I was home over New Years, I heard a bunch of farmers discussing the issue. I was surprised to find that every one of them was critical of the Howard Government for not doing more to bring David Hicks back to Australia. They, however, were not being driven by any sense of the dignity of the human being enshrined in natural law. They had come to their conclusion on the basis that it was shameful for Australia to allow one of its citizens to languish inthe hands of a foreign power. For them, the extradiction of Hicks would represent an assertion of Australian sovereignty and autonomy. There’s something in that, as Neuhaus would say.