A letter to the minister for bigotry

Dear Mr Dutton,

I was interested in your recent remarks about the ancestry of 33 people charged with terrorism offences. Even if some of those charged are eventually cleared (that possibility is why we have trials, after all), your figures were significant because they indicate that the federal government is now keeping statistics on the ancestry of people accused of crimes.

Terrorism is undoubtedly terrible, but there are many other offences that can have an equal or even greater impact. So I hope you can provide comparable statistics regarding other crimes. For example, what were the ancestries (by percentage) of:

* Bank executives accused of ripping off millions of dollars through shonky loans, inflated interest rates, bank fees, interest on bank fees, charges on bank fees and fee fees?

* CEOs of corporations whose misdeeds have killed workers they employed and/or unfortunate passers-by?

* Bosses of companies whose retail outlets force employees to give back up to 40 percent of their wages?

* Politicians who involve the country in unnecessary wars and military conflicts?

There are obviously lots of other crimes about which we might ask. Since the government has statistics regarding one offence possibly committed by as few as 33 people, I presume you have figures on every other offence of which 33 or more people have been accused. Why haven’t you told us about their ancestries?

There is a further problem. You haven’t said whether you think the tendency to terrorism is genetic or cultural, but let’s say it’s the latter, because you wouldn’t want to be considered a 19th century racist. This only increases your difficulties.

Everyone has at least four grandparents (four biologically, but as well there may have been step-grandparents, and/or the parents and/or step-parents of step-parents). Is it really the case that all 88 of those 22 accused terrorists’ grandparents (and all the other possible social-cultural influencers) were of the same nationality and the same religion? If one of those alleged terrorists had a grandmother or grandfather of some other nationality or religion, shouldn’t you have said that “21.75 of the 33 charged terrorists” were from the group you want to demonise?

For example: I am an immigrant who fled the United States even before Donald Trump decided to normalise Islamophobia and pussy-grabbing. My wife is Australian. Our daughter married an immigrant whose parents are Vietnamese. So if our granddaughter or grandson step outside legality in any way, will you consider this as criminality from US, Australian or Vietnamese ancestry? And then religion: if I were considered the ancestor of the criminal, would I be a US Christian (as I was raised) or a US atheist (as I am today)?

Finally, why do you focus on just two generations, i.e. grandparents and grandchildren? Wouldn’t it be more scientific to take a longer view: what percentage of crimes in Australia since 1789 have been committed by descendants of (unwilling or willing) immigrants?