Friday, September 19, 2014

Real and Present Danger?

I’ve been hesitant to write about this because there is a feeling abroad that if you raise questions about this, you are somehow being un-Australian, not a team player... Not part of ‘Team Australia’ to repeat one of our Prime Minister’s endless slogans. At the very worst you are being naïve.

I am talking about the sudden supposed increase in the terrorist threat, here in Australia and in other countries throughout the world. And, very specifically, about the uncovering of the alleged plot by a group of ‘members’ of ISIL here in Australia to capture a random civilian off the streets and behead them. (As an aside, how does one become a ‘member’ of ISIL? ISIL claims to be a nation state. It would be rather as though I were suddenly to declare myself a ‘member’ of the USA.)

Now this is undoubtedly a terrible thing. No one wants this to happen. It may be appropriate to ask questions about whether such a large force of police was necessary to counter this threat. I certainly think we should weigh carefully the evidence supporting this claim when it comes before the court, and the people charged have a right to a fair trial. But clearly, preventing such an atrocity is to be applauded.

But the point of such a murder is to create a mood of fear within the community. It doesn’t require the carrying out of the deed to create that fear. Those who plotted this act—if indeed they did—have already achieved their goal. With, I might say, the help of the media and the government. But I am not unduly afraid. Yes, I could be seized and murdered by a terrorist. But before this threat was paraded before my eyes, a few days ago, I was in danger of being murdered in the street by a non-terrorist. I was in danger of an accidental death from a whole range of causes. The level of threat to me, and to each of us as individuals, is only greater today than it was a week ago by a minuscule quantity, if at all.

It is not my intention to play down how callous and inhuman such an act would be. Like most of us, I find it difficult to comprehend how one human being could even consider committing such an act against another human being. It also, unfortunately, doesn’t surprise me. Nevertheless, I do not now feel under any greater personal threat today than I did last week, or ten years ago. The danger to me and to each one of us is not significantly greater.

So, to those who seek to strike terror into my heart by plotting or carrying out such a heinous act, or any similar act, with respect to me, you have failed completely. On I go, living my life exactly as before, with scarcely a passing thought for you.

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