George Brandis looks back at the 20th century and sees only that “blind pursuit of left-wing ideology led to the deaths of many millions of people” (“Freedom set to reclaim its spot at heart of human rights debate”, The Australian, 3/9). He is apparently able to ignore the millions who also died at the hands of right-wing regimes, and this should give us an indication of how skewed is his view of history and present-day reality.
“We let the Left take over the language of human rights”, says Brandis, forgetful of the fact that for most the last century, human rights were not even in the vocabulary of the Right. In fact, the rights we currently enjoy were won by the Left and resisted by the Right: the abolition of slavery, workers’ rights, democratic government, universal suffrage, racial equality, gender equality, freedom of religion and yes, even free speech itself. Sexual equality is still a work in progress, but the outcome is inevitable.
It is a good thing that the moderate Right has mostly ceded these issues. But to claim, as Brandis does, that they have somehow been stolen from the Right is a self-serving reversal of historical truth.