Earlier this afternoon, over forty people were killed at two Mosques in New Zealand. This horrific tragedy is, of course, abhorrent, and has drawn the usual responses from the usual suspects. I want to respond to Queensland Senator Fraser Anning’s statement issued in response to the massacre. He has been rightly slammed for his vile comments, and I wish to add my voice to his chorus of detractors.
Anning’s Statement: Dog Whistle or Foghorn?
He starts out in the usual fashion by taking the stance that he is opposed to ‘any form of violence in our community’. Can you not see this next part coming? He says
‘However, whilst this kind of violent vigilantism can never be justified, what it highlights is the growing fear within our community, both in Australia and New Zealand, of the increasing Muslim presence’
Any statement that takes the form ‘this is bad, but (or however)’ rarely ends well. Think of statements like ‘I’m not racist, but’ – never ends well. Second, who is ‘our community’? Do Muslims not count as part of ‘our community’? Who are ‘we’ exactly? Careful, Senator, your dog whistle is a little low pitched. It is noteworthy as well that Senator Anning used the term ‘vigilantism’ to describe the actions of a man identified as white. Do you think he would have used a different term if the suspect had been, say, Muslim? I know he would have. Call this what it is, Senator: Terrorism!
As if he were not already a Liberal is disguise, Senator Anning then stokes fear around ‘the increasing Muslim presence’. Need I point out that the victims were themselves Muslims? Finally, that statement, whether he means it or not, is an endorsement of the actions of the shooter! Whether tacit or otherwise, even if he says the violence is not justified, he did say there was good reason to be afraid. People who are afraid do not think. They shoot first and ask questions later.
Easier to Fight Strawmen
The Senator proceeds with two pearlers that must be quoted in full before responding
‘As always, left-wing politicians and the media will rush to claim that the causes of today’s shootings lie with gun laws or those who hold nationalist views but this is all clichéd nonsense. The real cause of bloodshed on New Zealand streets today is the immigration program which allowed Muslim fanatics to migrate to New Zealand in the first place’
Ok, in order. Nobody, either on the left (whatever that means in Australia) has mentioned gun laws as having anything to do with this attack. You made that up, almost as if you are reading from the American right-wing response to any form of mass violence. No-one mentioned gun laws. Kindly cease setting up strawmen and knocking them down. Blaming those who hold ‘nationalist views’ is clichéd nonsense, he says. Alright, the shooter was white and the targets were Muslims. Looks pretty nationalist to me.
Next, as if to read off all the right-wing talking points in response to violence, Anning blamed immigration which allowed ‘Muslim fanatics to migrate to New Zealand in the first place’. Need I point out again that the victims were Muslims, and by blaming them for the violence against them, you are agreeing with the shooter? In addition, this bigot assumes that all Muslims are violent, as if this somehow justifies violence against them. Further, he also assumes that these particular Muslims, who, again, were the victims, were immigrants! Yes, because there are no Muslims living in New Zealand who have children! Mr. Anning is a clown.
Ignorance of Islam
Senator Anning then offers his ‘insights’ into Islam. These are every bit as informed as one might think. He says
‘While Muslims may have been the victims today, usually they are the perpetrators. World-wide, Muslims are killing people in the name of their faith on an industrial scale. The entire religion of Islam is simply the violent ideology of a sixth century despot masquerading as a religious leader, which…calls for the murder of unbelievers and apostates’
One would require a shovel to get out from under all those lies. Usually Muslims are the perpetrators he says, without citation. Muslims are by no means the only ones killing in the name of their faith, and given our technological age, murder on an ‘industrial scale’ usually means some form of extermination using machinery: gas or some other form of mass extermination technology. While there is certainly violence carried out in the name of Islam, it is not on an industrial scale. Even if it were, that would be a red herring, designed to distract his audience from the point that the Muslims were the victims here. Even if they themselves had done violence (no evidence for that) it would still not justify violence against them! So all these claims about the violence carried out by Islam are irrelevant.
Islam is, he says, ‘simply the violent ideology of a sixth century despot masquerading as a religious leader’. The prophet Mohammed died in the year the west calls 632AD. That was in the 7th century, not the 6th, you historical ignoramus. As for the calls to murder the non-believers and apostates, yes, the text does say that, but it also says in 109:6 in reference to the atheist ‘To you be your way, to me be mine’. The implication of peaceful co-existence is unmistakable. But Senator Anning does not mention that as it does not fit the narrative.
More Islamic Insights
Senator Anning then suggests that Islam is ‘the religious equivalent of fascism’. While it is true that Islam does have some concerning practices concerning its treatment of groups such as women, homosexuals and Jews, and it has been used to establish (still-existing) theocratic regimes, this is by no means unique to Islam. Indeed, medieval Europe was by and large a christian theocratic state, with what we would now call Roman Catholicism being the only legal religion until the reformation, and many punishments (and indeed crimes) being based on religious teachings.
Religions are very much like the humans that are involved in (or, according to some circles create) them. They go through an innocent phase, parallel to childhood. Then they become teenagers, with all the self-righteousness and ‘you can’t tell me what to do’ that goes with that. They often obtain some sort of state power during this phase, and become very sure of themselves. Later on, in the case of Christianity this took a very long time, they mellow and lose their state power (albeit reluctantly) and learn to integrate into society as just another element. Think of this as the reformation and its aftermath. Political Islam (to separate it from the garden-variety believers) is very much still in its teenage phase.
A Final Islamic ‘Insight’ and A Lack of Self-Reflection
Anning said ‘Just because the followers of this savage belief [Islam] were not the killers in this instance, does not make them blameless’. Sigh. Islam is not, for all its flaws, a savage belief system by definition. He made that up. Religions contain texts written by humans. Whatever their source of inspiration, there is inevitable human contribution, and the resultant flaws, in many religious texts.
Also, when he says that even if the Muslims were not the killers in this case, they are not blameless. That is exactly what they are. A nut walks into their house of worship and targets the worshippers based on nothing other than their religion even though there is no evidence of any of them having done anything wrong. They are blameless. To put this nonsense to bed, let us grant his premise. Even if they had done violence, that is a job for law enforcement, not a random bigot with a gun.
To end, Anning quotes from, of all places, the Christian New Testament: the gospel of Matthew, 26:52 ‘all who take the sword, shall die by the sword’ and then he says ‘those who follow a violent religion that calls on them to murder us, cannot be too surprised when someone takes them at their word and responds in kind’.
Ok, first of all, it is unwise to quote a religious text when arguing against a different religion. This makes you look like the foolish hack that you are. Second, if those who ‘follow a violent religion’ are not allowed to be surprised when someone kills them whether they are violent or not, by that logic all members of the Dahmer family should be killed because of what Jeffrey did, whether they supported him or not. As a principle, this is called guilt by association. But once again, these particular Muslims did not do violence! Even if the text does call for this, they did not do it!
Mr. Anning is an ill-informed bigot who has no place as a Senator in the Australian Parliament.
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