Thursday, August 21, 2014

Say 'NO' to living in terror of Terror

Australia and the world has been rightly shocked by the images emerging from Iraq, images of beheadings and of young Australian, British and American men participating in brutal atrocities. We are right to be disturbed that young men from Australia and other countries are leaving to fight in support of this barbaric cause. I have no sympathy at all for this ‘Islamic State’, or whatever they call themselves today. I have little sympathy for the young men who leave Australia on these ‘adventures’. Although I do think we should be taking the time to understand why they might be doing it.

I do, however, have to speak out when our Prime Minister raises the spectre of such acts occurring in Australia. Perhaps they could. People do shocking things to other people every day for all kinds of reasons, few of them religiously or politically motivated. But what could be Abbott’s motivation for suggesting that we need to be ever vigilant to prevent such acts from occurring here? It’s obvious to me. These are the usual fear tactics that governments use to shore up their flagging support. When you are making a mess of domestic politics, what better than to turn the nation’s eyes outwards, towards that ever-present, nebulous threat of terrorism.

It is always best, of course, to keep the threat vague, while exaggerating it out of all proportion. This is how governments make themselves appear strong and important. This is how they justify more and more expenditure on defence and security. All kinds of measures can be introduced in the name of national security. I have said this before and I will say it again. I will continue saying it until the day I die.

Mr Abbott, I for one do not live in fear of a terrorist attack. Such an attack is certainly possible. But it is nowhere near the forefront of my concerns for Australia. And, as terrible as such an attack would be, it is not the worst thing that could happen here. Worse is the gradual whittling away of our rights and our freedom in the name of this threat. Worse is the eroding of our society and our values under a conservative and regressive government. Worse is the almost total neglect of the very real and serious environmental threats that face us now. In the name of defending and saving this country, you are gradually stripping it of everything worth defending and saving.

I am deeply concerned and saddened by what is happening in Iraq, Syria and other parts of the Middle East. But I am concerned, not because of some nebulous threat to me or Australia, but because of the terrible suffering that is actually occurring there right now. This tragedy is not about my safety. It is not about this country’s security, however much governments and the media want to make it so. It is about me and it is about us only insofar as we share a common humanity with those who are suffering as a result of the human race’s interminable inhumanity. We also share, perhaps to our shame, a common humanity with those who are perpetrating these atrocities.

What would a real leader do at this time? He would be assuring the nation that, while the threat of terrorism to this country is real, it is not huge. He would be taking measures to understand what is driving these young men to go and fight in this distant war. He would be assuring the Muslim community here in Australia that we do not fear them, and that we do not blame them for what is occurring over there. Nor would we blame them if any kind of atrocity or terrorist attack were to occur here.

Instead, he uses this opportunity to ever so calmly and reasonably instil fear into the Australian community, and sow the seeds of suspicion and hatred against the Muslim community here and around the world. I realise that none of his exact words can be used to justify this assertion. Abbott is far too canny for that. We are slowly being stifled and deadened in this country by Abbott and other infinitely calm and reasonable men and women, with their calm and reasonable propositions. I also know, however, that the effect of his words is to sow the seeds of fear and suspicion, and fan the flames of hatred. He can then ride in on his white charger and save us all.

Just remember: If we constantly live in terror of terrorism, terrorism becomes unnecessary.

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