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Tag Archives: Waleed Aly

First rule of war: Know thy enemy

(An update to this article was added on 18 November.)

Following the attacks in Paris on the weekend, there is little doubt that we – along with most of the rest of the Western world – are at war with ISIL. And at the risk of stating the obvious, the key to winning any war is knowing who the enemy is and correspondingly, who our allies are.

But understanding who’s an enemy and who’s an ally in this conflict seems to be something that many are struggling with. This is understandable – to some extent at least – as many still think of war as something that is fought between nations. But as I wrote last weekend, this is not a war which is defined by physical boundaries. You can’t point at a specific nationality – or even a specific religion – and say everyone of that nationality or religion is the enemy.

Jumping on the enemy bandwagon…

Unfortunately that hasn’t stopped some from using the tragedy of war to try and garner support for their own particular message of hatred and/or bigotry. Here’s some homegrown examples:

  • Tony Abbott – has been out and about, using this tragedy to push his stop-the-boats mantra, warning that terrorists are hiding in the ‘flood of refugees‘; and
  • Pauline Hanson – who has also grasped the opportunity to push her own particularly brand of bigotry, calling for a “Royal Commission into Islam” and demanding that Australia immediately cease all migration from “Muslim” countries.

The sad and tragic irony of this is that the likes of Abbott and Hanson have – albeit unwittingly – become voices for ISIL, pushing the very message that ISIL want them to push.

Pushing hatred and bigotry is exactly what ISIS want

Commentator Waleed Aly’s message on The Project yesterday evening made this very clear:


In Aly’s words:

“ISIL’s leaders would be ecstatic to hear that since the atrocity in Paris, Muslims have reportedly been threatened and attacked in America, England and here in Australia. Because this evil organisation has it in their heads that if they can make Muslims the enemy of the West, then Muslims…will have nowhere to turn but to ISIL…

We all need to come together, because it’s exactly what ISIL doesn’t want.”

But instead of coming together, many are being taken in by fear mongering – and as a result confusion reigns about who’s an enemy and who’s an ally.

Being French doesn’t make you a terrorist. Nor does being a refugee.

Just look at the response to the fact that a Syrian refugee passport was found next to one of the terrorists last weekend. Suddenly more than a dozen US states have said they will bar Syrian refugees and many countries in Europe are talking about putting up fences and barbed wire to protect their borders – as though this will somehow keep them safe.

The fact that at least five of the terrorists were French nationals and their leader was Belgian is just completely ignored in discussions around how to prevent terrorism – instead the focus is on refugees. Nobody is suggesting that we close our borders to all French and Belgian citizens – even though they were the bulk of last weekend’s terrorist cell – because we recognise that this would be absurd. Being Belgian or French doesn’t make you a terrorist. Nor does being a Syrian refugee.

Fighting the real enemy

The bottom line is that the very best way to fight ISIL at home is to fight racism, to fight bigotry, to welcome refugees, to support Muslims in their fight against extremism – because this is the exact opposite of what our enemy wants us to do.

If we don’t do this – if we allow the likes of Abbott and Hanson to divert our attention to their petty biases and bigotries – then instead of fighting the real enemy, we will be fighting our allies and doing ISIL’s work for them. And the outcome of this could be catastrophic.

In the words of Sun Tzu:

If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will lose every battle.” (The Art of War)

UPDATE on 18 November 2016

Since I first wrote this article, authorities have confirmed that the Syrian passport found near the body of one of the terrorists was a fake, and that the terrorist attack was ‘homegrown’. It had absolutely nothing to do with any refugee from Syria or elsewhere. This suggests what many have suspected – that the terrorist may have been carrying a Syrian passport for the purpose of turning Westerners against refugees.

Unfortunately, the terrorists’ ploy appears to be working, as state after state in the US – undeterred by facts – confirms that it will no longer take refugees from Syria. Since I wrote this article yesterday, the number has more than doubled to 26 states. Further, conservative Republican candidates like Donald Trump are falling over themselves to support ISIS through their fear-based rhetoric – with Trump calling for the US to shut mosques and using the Paris Tragedy as an argument to support US gun laws.

This post was first published on ProgressiveConversation.


Letting the Labor Party narrative win

It’s not often that I see my mum, Kay Rollison, as angry as she was on Thursday. I too was furious at the behavior of the Labor Party. I could probably write a book about all the reasons, but I thought it might be useful (and perhaps cathartic), to home in on the strongest reason for my fury. Those who have followed my blog for a while will know how I came to this position. I am just out of my mind incensed that some people in the Labor Party think it’s a good idea to let the mainstream media’s ‘narrative’ of Labor chaos, disunity and debacle win. Because it’s a f*cking joke that this narrative even exists, let alone that’s it’s allowed to be treated like a real ‘thing’, a ‘thing’ big enough to throw away any chance of a Labor government win.

I often get accused of being, or sometimes just mistaken for, a Labor party hack. It’s hard to be a Labor supporter these days without being accused of something. A faceless person. A rusted onto something. Every word I write, to some people, seems to exist with the sole purpose of campaigning for the Labor party. I find this annoying and unfair. Yes, I’m a member of the Labor party. Yes, I’m a Labor voter. But that doesn’t mean I condone EVERYTHING the Labor party does. And it doesn’t mean that I blog as a missionary to convert non-Labor voters to my thinking. I write what I think and those who read my posts can take what they like from what I say. My core belief is that you vote based on the political policies you most agree with. Policies. Should I say it again? Policies. Even if I’m totally opposed to some things the Labor party does, such as dog whistling of any kind in relation to policy around asylum seekers and gay marriage, it doesn’t mean that I’ll cut off my nose to spite my face, and vote for a party that doesn’t align in the slightest with my policy preferences. Write me off as you will. But be aware that I don’t get paid by anyone or anything to do with the Labor party or the Labour movement.

It is in my rational best interests to support the party that is offering the policies that most closely align with my values as a member of the Australian community. I am nothing more than an informed voter with an opinion. I am as independent as it is possible to be. So what does this rant within a rant have to do with the topic of this post? The reason I am so angry is that I think the Labor party’s policies are bloody good. Not all of them. Not all of them all the time. But overall, especially compared to the Abbott alternative, they are the only option I can even begin to encourage. And I think that the Labor government’s weakness in letting the mainstream media decide how they conduct themselves is a disgrace. Because it threatens my hopes for the policies I want being successfully implemented or continued post September 14.

On my way home from work yesterday, I had the misfortune of listening to a few minutes of Waleed Aly on ABC’s Radio National. I often listen to Aly and I remind myself every time I switch him off in anger why I have this reaction. It’s because Aly is typical of the mainstream media when it comes to journalists, commentators, reporters and media personalities who think they’ve earned the right to speak about politics, when clearly they have not. It’s the smart-arse effect. It’s the ‘I’m so cynical, that I’m cynical that I even got out of bed this morning, and the worst insult anyone could ever give me is that I give a shit about something’ attitude. To the mainstream media, the ‘leadership speculation’ and the aborted ‘leadership spill’ is all a big game. A big laugh. A diversion. A talking point. A ditty. Something to make themselves feel so smart and humorous. Ha ha ha. If I were to name all the people in the mainstream media who have this attitude about the reporting of political current affairs, it would take less time to mention those who don’t behave in this way, rather than naming those who do. You see, the thing that shits me above all else about the mainstream media, is that they don’t give a fck. They don’t care about policy like the average voter does. They can’t even be bothered mentioning it, let alone investigating it. People like Leigh Sales think it is ok to say policies like the Mining Tax and the Carbon Price are policy failures, presumably because they were struggles, when actually, quite obviously, they are policy successes. Since when was a good policy ever not a struggle? Since when did a policy have to be popular for it to be worthwhile for the country? What the fck are you talking about, Sales?

It’s this ignorance about policy, and the obsession with opinion polls and popularity that is at the heart of the failure of good political reportage in this country. It’s the reason why political journalists love leadership speculation and opinion polls. Because this is easy. Because it doesn’t challenge them to think about anything. And that’s the other thing. They only love leadership speculation if it’s happening in the Labor party, as this suits their Labor bashing narrative. The Liberals get away scot free with leadership spills. Basically unreported in Victoria and the Northern Territory. Even when we all know that Tony Abbott only won the leadership of his party by one vote (again I’ll point out it was Peter Slipper’s), yet the only leadership tensions the mainstream media choose to fuel and obsess over are Gillard versus Rudd. Even though Rudd doesn’t have the numbers. Even though Joe Hockey probably does, since Slipper exited the scene. Even though there are policy successes that go unreported on a daily basis (anyone hear ANYTHING about the NDIS passing the lower house this week?) The mainstream media is full of wankers who are trying to make a name for themselves by showing how little they care for or respect political policy. And SOME Labor people (such as Rudd, Crean, Fitzgibbons, Ferguson, Bowen and other nobodies like Graham Richardson who I wish was more faceless), play straight into these little f*ckers’ hands.

Imagine if for two years, the media continually reported that Joe Hockey wanted to take the leadership of the Liberal Party from Tony Abbott. And/or Malcolm Turnbull was reported to be counting numbers. What if there was a constant barrage of three-way leadership tension between Abbott, Turnbull and Hockey? What if this ‘reporting’ reached a crescendo just before the election when Abbott actually looked to be making some headway? What if this was the chosen narrative of the mainstream media? Would the Liberal Party be stupid enough to have a public leadership spill so close to the finish line? Would they guillotine their policies (or lack thereof) so blatantly as the Labor Party has this week? I think not. I think Abbott’s Liberals have their eye on the prize and unfortunately, will not let anything the mainstream media does damage their chances. This is obviously purely hypothetical as the mainstream media gives the LNP a free run. Actually, it’s better than a free run. Let’s call a spade a spade – it’s a fully supported campaign. But I still think the morons in the Labor party who think there was something to be gained by giving the mainstream media a circus tent and filling it with clowns will live in our history forever as the morons who ruined Gillard’s chance of victory. I hope I’m wrong. But in my furious state, I can’t see the Labor party coming back from this, no matter how much dead wood and how many white-anting disloyal Rudd supporting MPs are sent to the back benches, which is not as far back as they deserve.

So yes, I’m furious. I’m furious that the bullshit mainstream media have been given exactly what they wanted, when all they really deserve is the falling readership and viewer numbers that they’re currently experiencing. I’m furious that the Rudd camp were leaking to the media about a challenge they didn’t even have the numbers for. I’m furious that the mainstream media were reporting on a spill, constantly for two years, that Rudd didn’t have the numbers for. I’m furious with the Labor party for giving these mainstream media wankers exactly what they wanted, when they could have just taken my advice and moved forward with dignity rather than chaos and debacle. I’m furious that the only party that’s capable of providing me with the policies that I want, is too self-obsesses and egotistical to get it together and do what should be an easy thing – to beat Abbott. I’m furious the Labor government thinks it’s a good idea to let the mainstream media narrative win, no matter how petty and inaccurate this narrative is. Because this week, that is exactly what the Labor party did.


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