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It should never have come to this

As fact is sorted from fiction about recent incidents involving members of Australia’s Muslim communities, I cannot but lament that the media is not making any effort to minimise the hysteria that is developing. Reporting events is one thing but to constantly speculate about aspects that have no foundation will cause great harm.

Publishing the wrong photo of the man who attacked two police officers in Melbourne’s South-East by the Fairfax media this week was disgraceful. The ramifications of such an error could have been enormous if any subsequent harm came to the innocent man concerned.

It only serves to highlight the awesome responsibility media personnel have when reporting incidents that have the potential to impact upon innocent minorities. When the media rush to judgement about assaults that have the potential to unleash a tidal wave of retribution, they place everyone in harm’s way and become a major part of the problem.

Prior to the 1990s, there was no issue in our country with Muslims. There may well have been an underlying, simmering degree of discontent in certain quarters. That is inescapable given that in our country, as in all countries, some cannot rid themselves from racial and religious intolerance.

dark side There are people among us who continually harbour a suspicion that those who are different and culturally unusual, are somehow a threat to our way of life. There are people who fear what they do not know. Ignorance breeds contempt. Many in the community are already spooked enough.

A man paying too much attention to his iPad causes Sydney Airport’s Terminal 3 to go into lockdown. A Virgin Airlines low level fly over at the MCG on Saturday, caused an AFP officer to reach for his gun. Who knows what went through the minds of those who weren’t expecting it. The AFL and Virgin management should have known better.

What has made our country so tolerant and so successful at peaceful integration in the past has much to do with our egalitarianism, the absence of a class structure and our layback approach to practically everything we do. In politics, up until 1996, immigration was always managed on a bipartisan policy agreement between the major parties. Had it been otherwise our population would not have grown and we would not be the success that we are today.

It enabled a post-Vietnam War exodus of refugees to seek a safe haven here with not so much as a whimper of opposition. They came in their thousands and in a matter of a few years had established themselves as hard working, diligent members of society. It was just what we needed.

Our already broad cosmopolitan make-up was richer for the experience. This could not have happened if either major party had objected. Our immigration and refugee policy was incredibly successful and neither political party made an issue of it.

hanson Prior to the 1996 election, an endorsed Liberal candidate in Queensland broke ranks and started an anti-Aboriginal rant that allowed that simmering discontent to rise to the surface. Her name was Pauline Hanson and such was the intensity of feeling in the electorate that she won the seat even after the Liberal party disowned her.

While there was righteous indignation within the party at what she had said, a subsequent anti-Asian rant was not lost on the Liberals. And when her One Nation Party had won over a large chunk of Liberal voters in a Queensland State election, too large in fact to be ignored, that was the beginning of the end of immigration bipartisanship in Australian politics.

Just 5 years later, John Howard seized an opportunity to win an election with the Tampa incident by appealing to the same racially minded mentality. It worked for him too. From that point on, to our national shame, the issue of immigration and management of refugees has become a game of political football.

But it wasn’t Asians that bore the brunt of this new degenerate attitude. It was aimed more at the religious than the geographical. And it was cultural. Greatly assisted by our engagement in a falsely contrived war in Iraq, the fear of Muslims became a dark, festering disease covertly encouraged by certain sections of the media.

This bred a sense of uncertainty leading to suspicion, alienation and eventually outward displays of dislike and rejection. Finally, it manifested into sporadic acts of violence by us which, as it happens, was the very thing we mistakenly feared from them. Now, radicalised young Muslim males are reacting. It should never have come to this. Not here.

This issue stands alone in our communities, and in us as individuals, as a failure of moral leadership; in religion and in community. Its nakedly, aggressive manner is a blight on a once welcoming nation and is covertly urged on by vested political interests.

In 2011, Scott Morrison, as Opposition Immigration spokesman, “urged the shadow cabinet to capitalise on the electorate’s growing concerns about “Muslim immigration”, “Muslims in Australia” and the “inability” of Muslim migrants to integrate.”

At that meeting he was rebuked by Phillip Ruddock who still believed, “a well-run and non-discriminatory immigration policy was essential for nation building.” As we know only too well, that non-discriminatory immigration policy no longer exists.

And, we know the mindset of Scott Morrison. We also know the mindset of Cory Bernadi. Who else in government thinks this way? By their actions, or lack of them, we will know them. How can we possibly begin to reverse this attitude when government members are so vocal?

Democracy does not serve us well when elected representatives act in a manner that creates division. It is counterproductive. It may suit the interests of some but in the long term, everyone pays.

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32 comments

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  1. Matters Not

    The ramifications of such an error could have been enormous if any subsequent harm came to the innocent man concerned

    The ‘harm’ is yet to come and it will be substantial. Imagine when he applies for a job and employers Google his name and the like. That error will have consequences for years to come.

    the absence of a class structure

    Beg to disagree. Analysis based on ‘class’ is really quite useful in explaining a whole range of ‘outcomes’ in Australian society, including educational achievements and the like.

  2. Kevin Arnold

    I am reading a book on Hitler by Ian Kershaw. I am 72 years old. I read this blog every day. I watch the ABC news and some commercial channels as well. I am frightened, very frightened.

  3. abbienoiraude

    This is a most important post, John. Thank you for taking us through the historic reference to where we are today.

    May I just add that the ALP has also contributed to this from PM Gillard’s searching for another place to put our desperate and needy asylum seekers ( Timor/Malaysia) as well as Rudd MK 11 reopening Manus Island. They both shamed me, but nothing, no matter my cynicism and suspicions, could have prepared me for the quick and unnecessary LNP’s searching for another war let alone their secrecy on so many matters.

    I am 61. I no longer recognise my Australia, or her peoples.

    We are a pathetic and sad nation, mean and selfish, cruel and damning. Our journalists in the MSM are letting us all down as we are letting them down by buying, watching, listening and responding to the Murdochratic diatribes.

    I miss my larconic, fun-loving, sun kissed peoples and my fair-go nation. We will never get her back, I fear.

  4. lawrencewinder

    It’s the cynical erosion of trust by the right-wingers that has irreparably damaged the country. The Liarbril pandering to the banalities of the Aspirational Bogan has brought its obvious reward. Now on so many levels, this place that was once admired throughout the world for its levels of acceptance and candour is now seen as foolish, narrow minded and cruel. Thank you, Liarbrils and your lick-spittle IPA fellow- travellers for having only the vision for the lowest common denominator.

  5. Terry2

    We live in a poll-driven society and whilst I am not opposed to polls I do wonder where their samplings come from. For instance I have never been polled about anything by anyone and possibly that’s because I no longer have a landline telephone and haven’t had one for about ten years – I understand that the polling companies do not include mobile phones in their polling which, if correct, effectively excludes a significant demographic including all the people like me who have dropped their landlines and a large sector of the younger demographic who only ever use mobile interaction. This, inevitably is going to introduce a societal bias into the sampling.

    Perhaps we need to spend some time scrutinising these messengers if they are to be permitted to hold sway to the extent that they wish.

  6. mars08

    Terry2:

    We live in a poll-driven society and whilst I am not opposed to polls I do wonder where their samplings come from. For instance I have never been polled about anything by anyone…

    Maybe you’ve never been polled because the opinions in your electorate aren’t considered important enough. Maybe your electorate isn’t marginal enough.

    These days the major parties tend to concentrate the time and money on the marginal seats. We saw that in the last election with all the pandering to western Sydney. They were “indulged” like a bunch of spoiled, pouting teens.

    If the parties concentrate their resources in winning those seats, they get better return for their efforts. The rest of us are simply taken for granted.

  7. kerrilmail

    I would beg to differ on your outline of what was in some areas called “the asian invasion” Where I taught, at a State High School in Melbourne we had a large number of refugees from Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam. We also had a largely second generation group of Italian and Greek kids. My mother had a theory. When a new wave of migrants arrives they start at the bottom of the ladder and the last group is pushed up a rung or two closer to total acceptance. It has been my observation that with each “new” migrant population the discomfort of the older groups rises and the reactions become more pronounced. Back at the high school the Mediterranean boys decided to start a fight with the “slopes”. They set up a meeting and all were warned and prepared. Unfortunately the second generation kids were used to a more Aussie style punch up. The refugees had come from war zones where a fight meant to the death. The Deputy Principal told me of the knives,machetes and knuckle dusters confiscated by the school when they got wind of the battle. It could have been very nasty. The Greek and Italian kids were led by a rabble rouser (a bit like our extremist politicians) of Italian background, but staright out of the slums of Liverpool. He was most definitely the catalyst. The racism and nastiness towards different ethnic groups is very much alive in Oz and always has been.

  8. allenmcmahon

    On Nauru a fifteen year old girl attempts suicide after the showing of a recent video by Morrison saying there was no hope of resettlement in Australia it is reported in the UK press while our MSM remains silent and the majority of our population endorse the offshore concentration camps.

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2772300/Iranian-refugee-evacuated-Nauru-Sydney-drinking-washing-powder-amidst-fierce-protest-against-Cambodian-refugee-deal.html

  9. mars08

    “…it is the leaders of the country who determine the policy and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy, or a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship… Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the peacemakers for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in any country.”

    ~Reichsmarschall Hermann Goering, 1946. (as published in the book, Nuremburg Diary)

  10. kerrilmail

    Sorry to continue.
    The major difference today is that instead of the catalyst being 15 year old, ignorant, bully boy, thugs the hornets nest is being poked by the media and some politicians with very big sticks who should know better.

  11. Murray Smith

    While endorsing most of your comments, I would point out, the wave of immigration after Vietnam, was not accepted by the public at large at the time. “Boat People” were a major political issue at the time.

    I do believe we need to re-focus public attention back to the economy, back to Trans-Pacific secret deals and highlight at every opportunity, the lies and mis-representations of this government.

  12. abbienoiraude

    Have to agree with Murray Smith;
    There had been the memory, fresh and integrated into our being for the Vietnam conflict, that made the idea of ‘boat people’ from Vietnam a troublesome prospect for many Australians. However…HOWEVER, the media told their stories of their journey to get here, rapes and boardings by pirates on the open sea and the horror which they fled as the Communists took over the south.

    And through it all we had a leader who was telling us to stop being paranoid, accept these people because it is inevitable and to be kind and compassionate for we were responsible for their plight. Of all the leaders to do this, it was Malcolm Fraser, who calmed the populace down and showed the way of a fair and caring nation and its generous nature.

    Wish we had true ‘leadership’ now….Don’t look to the ALP for that! They are now part of the problem.

  13. donwreford

    The constant reiteration of attacks with combat missions against Islamic’s, it has already been said the ISIS, is not he religion that is what ISIS, is about, but they are thugs if so why the constant reiteration of this organization to be referred to as Islamic?
    The constant reference to anything that may be considered suspicious is endemic in Australia, at the same time we are told not to be concerned as the terrorists level is high but they are not to effect our going about our business as a normal activity, to me its all about a cover up of politicians who are inept and are inferior stock to be working in the capacity they were elected for, it is a diversion for policies, not useful to the public of Australia.

  14. Phi

    The Australian MSM is just another face of amoral, vulture capitalism. It is corporatised with a legal responsibility to shareholders, and a business responsibility to advertisers, and a primary objective of maximising profit. Since there is easy profit in publishing simplistic, sloganistic, provocative, emotive, inaccurate, biased and bigoted information, then that is the diet we get. Our government is is in on the scam.

    For Murdoch, the media is merely a tool with which to wield power and influence, and he does this in the true manner of the corporate psychopath. Murdoch presents a far, far greater threat to Australia than any or all of the jihadist fools ransacking the Middle East.

    Murdoch’s virtual monopoly of the Australian MSM and his unconscionable misuse of his monopolistic power has done irreparable damage to the social fabric of what was once a damned fine nation. Abbott is equally complicit since he has sold this nation’s soul to the Murdoch devil. For what it’s worth, I’m an Australian citizen. I’ve worked more than 50 years and paid my way, raised family and have grandkids but I categorically refuse to be part of ‘Team Australia’ – Tony Abbott, you can count me out of your bigoted little club.

  15. Terry2

    Seems that with the USA, the French, Saudis and others all bombing Northern Iraq and Syria there should be no need for us to involve our Super Hornet strike force although Abbott is absolutely busting to do so.
    Our role, sensibly, should be confined to humanitarian aid in the traditional sense i.e. no gun running.

    allenmcmahon : Morrison must be sending a very confusing message to these poor wretches – they won’t get TPV’s if they are on Nauru or Manus but will if they are on Christmas Island and he makes no mention of Cambodia at all.

    mars08: I was thinking more about polls such as Newspoll who surely would be taking random samples across the country (?)

  16. Kaye Makovec

    abbienoiraude – me too and I can’t see it getting any better for a long time.

    Terry2 – a lot of polls are undertaken by companies on behalf of other companies and the Federal and State governments via Online Surveys. These surveys can be about anything from a ‘what do you think of this new product’ to ‘which fast food places do you prefer’ right up to ‘what do you think about the government doing this or that’.
    And the people who are surveyed are not to discuss the product or the survey. Confidentiality is paramount.
    Anybody can apply to do online surveys and many use it as a way to give their opinion on something or a supplement to their income as some are paid in cash, a couple of dollars for finishing or 10 cents for being booted off as too old, too young, no kids, wrong gender etc. It all adds up and is cashed in when a certain amount is reached. Or paid in Gift Cards.
    Phone polls are different. Some are to people who do online surveys and some are random. It is the random ones which can be manipulated in that the surveyors can choose an area they know is a Liberal or Labour seat and have the computer (they are seldom people anymore) randomly call 1000 or so landlines within that area code.
    Even in true random calls the questions can be asked in a particular to give a ‘false’ reply such as ‘who is your preferred PM Abbott press 1 or Shorten press 2’ when neither may be preferred. Or there may be 5 choices which could be mixed up by the time all of the 5 questions have been asked, and many are done at dinner time so some may press any number in haste.
    So take with several grains of salt as it is like statistics where people say “6% of people are unemployed” and not saying “but 94% of people are.” 🙂

  17. mars08

    Terry2:

    mars08: I was thinking more about polls such as Newspoll who surely would be taking random samples across the country (?)

    You’re right… both ALP and the Coalition will be looking at things like Newspoll and Morgan. They will also be breaking those results down to see where their resources and spin would have the biggest impact. And, of course, the parties would be commissioning their own polls in seats they find interesting or critical to victory.

    The result is that some votes will be more important to a particular party than others. And those are the votes that they will pander to. Again, look to the attention lavished on western Sydney during the last campaign.

  18. John Fraser

    <

    Prime Minister Baldrick is just the man to lead Australia into another war ….. well when I say lead I mean, leading then to the transports that will take them to the war and then P.M. Baldrick will be 10,000 kms away waiting to say "shit happens".

    His BFF Captain Darling will be following him in this war and agreeing with everything he says ….. even though he hasn't heard the latest news from the "front".

    In this topsy turvy "conservative" Australia, Captain Blackadder is played by the one with the renowned 'death stare".

  19. Kaye Makovec

    🙂

  20. mars08

    Back to phone polls for a moment…

    It’s worth noting that, even in the same electorate, phone polls made on landlines will vary depending on the time they are taken. For example, polls taken at 8pm Tuesday, or 10am Saturday, or 6pm Friday, or during school holidays will very likely produce noticeably different results.

  21. Wayne Turner

    Can I vote out the MSM too.They are hacks and hopeless biased disgrace – The MSM of no FACTS.

  22. billy moir

    Gul Mehmet and Mollah Abdullah? The icecream vendor and the butcher???? The rabbott set the negative scene with lies and labor is shorton negatives even when armed with the truth. As for never, it will always come down to sex or violence the sellers of advertising. Especially now that the NSW police release the details of raids on twitter????

  23. marion

    We need a strong Labor party right now I was very disappointed to see Bill Shorten having so much fun with Bishop on the breakfast panel for the AFL It was far to pally for my liking, After what the people of this country are putting up with to see the two of them getting on so well was sickening, there they were having a great old time making jokes to each other, while soon our people are going to be sent to another war and I bet none of their family members will be there.

  24. stephentardrew

    Wanna find out what is wrong with Lobar today. Go no further then the geniuses at the Chifley Research Center throwing a rave in London.

    http://www.theguardian.com/world/2014/sep/28/labor-must-be-more-than-bob-and-pauls-dumb-arse-step-kids

    Our Labor is the redundant throw away Labor according to these guys who just want live in the center. The bloody trouble is the new center is right wing and they are willing to just suck it up and go along with the dumbing down of political critique. Be very worried progressives because they want to ditch the history and start all over again with their nice wealth based upper middle class elitism.

  25. mark delmege

    yes stephen and this which even now is looking out of date- http://www.lrb.co.uk/blog/2014/09/12/omar-hamilton/after-the-ceasefire-2/

    And after all the propaganda about IS who are little more than a trojan horse to overturn what was a denial of SOFA in Iraq
    and after the failure to get a green light to attack Syria after the chemical weapons false flag
    what we continue to see is life in the crumple zone on the edge of empire
    and that is no less true of Palestine.

  26. Lee

    Good article John. I was called a supporter of terrorists the other day when I pointed out that trial by journalist is a bad idea. Domestic violence is responsible for far more deaths in this country than terrorism is. Why aren’t the LNP, MSM and general public getting hysterical about DV?

  27. O'Bleak

    It is perfectly obvious that Murdoch’s rags are playing a game of fear mongering with the specific intention of precipitating incidents between different sections of the community. They are feeding the prejudices and fears of the wider community solely to distract from the atrocious performance of Abbott’s government. Going to war against Isis is by no means proven to be in Australia’s interest. It is Abbott’s belief that playing this game will see him able to claim leadership credibility that he simply does not possess. I am disgusted at the blatant lies. distortions and exaggerations that the MSM is using to instil fear in people in order to have them seek shelter behind this pathetic farce of a government. How can anyone continue to have faith that this ridiculous sham is anything but a monumental beat up trying to save Abbott’s political hide. And when some proud young bloke, fed up with the abuse and intolerance, reacts with violence, as many young men do, no matter their background, when that happens, they’ll all say, there you are, we told you so. You need us to protect you from the threat that we ourselves have promoted with this horrendous display bigoted propaganda. I feel such a loathing for these bastards, it makes me positively ill. Abbott’s stench will reek for years to come.

  28. Don Winther

    @Kevin ArnoldSeptember 28, 2014 at 11:32 am

    Kevin please turn your TV off and have a cuppa tea and chat with a friend.
    And stop reading about Hitler, Abbott is bad enough.

    Don’t let your TV frighten you, turn it OFF.

    Commercial TV is rubbish.

  29. Heather jones

    Come and join “Non Muslims supporting Muslims” on FB, it started a week ago and now has over 7000 members.

    I am learning so much, I never realised how many similarities there are between true Christianity and Islam.
    Very supportive, friendly etc a true community

    It is horrific what some of these people are going through at the moment

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