Solving the problems in the Middle East is a task we cannot achieve but we can certainly do better in Australia to protect our children from the harm others would try to inflict on them and to improve social cohesion by embracing diversity and tolerance.
What do our police hope to achieve when they send in hundreds of armed men to storm a few houses in the middle of the night screaming, searching as terrified families and neighbours watch on, dragging off teenagers, locking them up incommunicado, and then usually releasing them without charge?
Why are these raids filmed and the footage, if not captured by TV journalists along for the ride, immediately provided to the media? Is it a show of strength? Is it designed to terrify the Muslim community? Should we be using fear as a weapon?
The government argues that we must protect the privacy of tax evaders but they are very quick to show the homes of people who have not been charged with any crime, to show them being led off in handcuffs, to detail evidence in the media before any trial has taken place.
In most instances, these raids have been sparked by information from the community rather than intelligence gathered by security agencies. One wonders if the community will continue to be willing to pass on concerns if their children are subjected to such harsh treatment and penalties. These actions are far more likely to build resentment rather than co-operation.
How could we do things differently?
Intervention should be constructive rather than punitive.
If you become aware of teenagers posting inflammatory stuff on social media, or being contacted by people with possible bad intent, instead of being heavy-handed, why not get the family together with local Muslim leaders, psychologists and social workers, police trained in cultural awareness, mentors – a non-threatening support group who can try to help a young person through a vulnerable period.
We should listen to young people and learn about what they are looking for. Show them a way to a happier life, a different path. Help them know their own worth as a contributing member of our society with all of us working to make it a safe and tolerant place for our families to grow.
Rather than looking for solutions, the government is spending a fortune on how to spin its approach. The Department of Immigration and Border Protection and its agencies spend up to $9.2 million on communications staff salaries alone.
They have now hired a group called Talkforce Media and Communications Strategists to provide media training to its top executives. Talkforce trains clients to deal with “difficult media situations” and manage “controversial issues and close media scrutiny”. Its full-day workshops include mock television interviews that teach clients “how to take control of an interview, even when under pressure”.
“Talkforce Media and Communications Strategists can help you tailor and direct messages to your audience in order to be heard over all the competing noise that exists in this modern and technology-driven age.”
Managing the message has become on obsession. Whatever happened to telling the truth?
It comes back down to respect.
Do those who want to stop mosques being built and to ban halal certification of food want to impose their religious beliefs and dietary choices on us all? These people who live in irrational fear that Sharia law is about to be universally imposed cannot see they are trying to do the same thing. Security forces use fear and force to fight against those who use fear and force.
There must be a better way.
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