In the aftermath of the terrorist attack on mosques in Christchurch, New Zealand, in which 50 people were killed, some of the comments from those with a public platform have been breathtakingly offensive.
I’ll be the first to admit that while I don’t always agree with our prime minister, he was surely right to publicly denounce what he called the “disgraceful smear” by Waleed Aly. The Project host — and you just will not believe this — actually accused the governing Coalition of fanning the flames of anti-Muslim bigotry just because it has spent two decades cynically fanning the flames of anti-Muslim bigotry!
Honestly, if the media start accurately describing the attitudes of our leaders, then I despair — mostly for my chances of finding new material for these columns.
Aly’s specific comments, which drew a furious phone call from the PM’s office accusing him of “defamation”, was his reference to “media reports going back eight years at a shadow cabinet meeting in which [Morrison] suggested his party should use community concerns about Muslims in Australia failing to integrate as a political strategy”.
Incredible. How could Aly say such things just because there are actual media reports going back eight years that Morrison said those things?
Honestly, if our politicians cannot speak freely in closed-door meetings about their desires to exploit racism then no wonder they are forced to retreat to the privacy of Sky News broadcasts!
The Project offered Morrison a chance to appear on the program and defend himself, but the PM refused. And fair enough, because it is surely a matter of principle that under no circumstances can we negotiate with those who call out the appeasers of terror.
Other government members defended Morrison, insisting he didn’t make those comments.
One was home affairs minister Peter Dutton and I’m inclined to believe him. As a man on record as having suggested Australia made an “error” in letting Lebanese Muslims into the country, I am pretty sure Dutton knows cynical attempts to exploit Islamophobia when he hears them.
Another was health minister Greg Hunt, who strongly denied Morrison said anything like what media reports claimed. True, he wasn’t even at that particular meeting, but as he told ABC Radio at the time, “I know Scott”.
Which is weird, coz I don’t and yet I can still think of more incidents of his race baiting for political ends than I can count.
Dutton, for his part, helpfully suggested that the views of the “extreme left” are just as bad as the white supremacist views that drove the killer. And fair enough, as between “we should kill Muslims” and “we should not hate or discriminate against Muslims” there is clearly very little difference. Both statements include the word “Muslims”, and no doubt that’s enough to upset Dutton.
For his part, Channel 7’s Sunrise host David Koch angrily accused Senator Pauline Hanson of being complicit in the terrorist act as the killer Brendan Tarrant’s stated views “read like One Nation’s immigration policy”. I’m inclined to trust his judgment here, as having given Hanson a platform so frequently to expound on that policy, he must know it backwards.
Or possibly that is unfair, and Sunrise only ever had Hanson on to tell viewers about her recipe for battered snapper and were shocked each time when she instead started ranting about Muslims.
Or maybe it is just an equal opportunity policy to promote greater visibility for redheads and the only one they could find just happens to be a hate-filled racist.
Some, including extreme-right Senator Fraser Anning, immediately took to Twitter to blame the West’s “immigration policies” for the bloodshed, and they have a point. Tarrant immigrated from Queensland to New Zealand, whose PM Jacinda Ardern must regret not building a sea wall.
Then there are those who say they oppose fascist violence as much as anyone, but are also very concerned by the “violence” involved in 17-year-old Will Connolly cracking an egg onto Anning’s thick, fascistic skull.
Which makes me really hope these people never hear about a little footnote of history called the Battle of Stalingrad. Christ, I can just picture their earnest op-eds about the “regrettable degeneration of public discourse” involved.
Then there are the media outlets who have run feature stories on how the killer loved violent video games or was bullied at school for being chubby, attempting to connect these adolescent factors to the deadly terror he unleashed years later. I guess we will never really know what drives people to commit such horrors, especially in this case when all the terrorist has offered as an explanation is his 74-page manifesto insisting he did it to start a race war.
I mean I haven’t read the entire manifesto, so perhaps once the terrorist finishes with all the white supremacy stuff he ends with, “And also the other kids called me fat coz I played Grand Theft Auto instead of rugby league so this will show them”.
Inevitably, some people on social media have claimed the attack was actually staged, or a “false flag”. Maybe they have a point. It does seem hard to believe that such an atrocity could somehow be the work of a random Australian racist who just happened to be emboldened and whipped into a state of violent hatred by racist media and politicians in a country built on stolen land with a deep history of racist violence, who was then further radicalised and encouraged by a free-for-fall internet chat site that specialises in white supremacy and openly celebrates acts of violence against Muslims, who then travels freely to New Zealand because Westerners have freedom of movement that the West routinely denies others, and then legally purchases the weapons he used because white extremists are not put on watch lists even when they openly boast about violent plans.
That's clearly unimaginable.
How could something as unprecedented as this not raise suspicions? When has anything like this ever happened in recent memory, asides from the white supremacist terror attack in Oslo that killed 77 people, the white supremacist who murdered a British politician, the US neo-Nazi who shot up a Synagogue in Pittsburgh, the US white supremacist who massacred Black churchgoers in Charleston, or the white supremacist in who drove a car into anti-racist protesters in Charlottesville?
Or for that matter the seemingly ceaseless atrocities committed against predominantly Muslim peoples in nations occupied by Western forces for large chunks of this century that sends the message that killing brown people and/or Muslims is normal practice? Or the constant racist graffiti, threats and public rants against Muslims right across Western nations that suggests the risk of some people going further?
I mean just think for once!
There are two things we can take heart from in the aftermath of these devastating events. The first is the global outpouring of solidarity with Muslims and in opposition to racism. The second is the spectacle of every filthy dog who has built their political or media careers on exploiting racism now running desperately for cover, pleading “It’s not my fault!” while desperately hoping their worst tweets haven’t all been screenshot.
Unfortunately for them, they have.