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White supremacist terror: The new Australian export

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Bilal Cleland examines the role played by the media in the Islamic immigration discussion and the rise of white supremacy.

Effective and compassionate political leadership in New Zealand

The Prime Minister of New Zealand, addressing Parliament on 19 March, gave good advice regarding the Australian terrorist who murdered 50 members of the Friday prayer congregation in Christchurch:

“He sought many things from his act of terror, but one was notoriety. And that is why you will never hear me mention his name.”

The white supremacists and their fellow travellers have been reeling from the response to their hero’s crimes.

One commentator drew attention to the sudden disappearance of white supremacist and anti-immigrant material from the internet, stating: ‘These range from promoters to media outlets to political parties…’

NZ Green Party co-leader, Marama Davidson, condemned the “systemic bias in intelligence surveillance that distracts away from the very real dangers of white supremacists all around the world”.

The same criticism can be levelled at Australia, where Islamism is the focus and the white supremacists seem to operate under the radar.

The Murdoch media

The bias of the Murdoch media is so blatant that it is being lampooned.

First Dog on the Moon has in one panel the statement:

‘Who do they think they are, suggesting that just because Murdoch papers in one year alone published almost 3,000 anti-Muslim stories including 180 front-pages, that our organisation bears any responsibility for the febrile fertile atmosphere of hatred and violence?’

One young Muslim journalist, who found the level of bias at Sky News too toxic to tolerate, resigned on the Saturday following the killings.

‘As a young Muslim woman, I had many crises of conscience working here, but the events of Friday snapped me out of the endless cycle of justifying my job to myself. On Saturday, I finally sent in my letter of resignation.’

Way back in 2016, Michael Brull in New Matilda exposed the nature of incitement occurring on that TV channel.

The little-watched Bolt Report, famous for its intolerance, carried opinions like this:

“What madness is this ‘tolerance’ of ours that we deem it rude to even discuss the warlike religion that licenses our destruction and demands an end to our most cherished liberties?”

Bolt then outlines what he thinks is a natural – and understandable – response: “civil war”.

“And if our politicians will not speak frankly and protect us from Islam, watch out for a civil war. A frightened public will not put up with this for much longer and will defend themselves.”

Andrew Bolt condemned Fraser Anning’s attitude but bemoaned “the use that some people are making of this tragedy to make even more division, to silence their ideological opponents, to spread even more hatred and fear.”

He even appears to have discovered “hate speech”.

According to Bolt, everyone is now being accused of complicity in this atrocity — anyone who questioned immigration, or who argued for free speech, or had criticised Islamist extremism.

He, for one, would not fall for such division:

“This reaction is dangerous, it is in itself hate speech likely to lead to violence or I fear no speech at all.”

We are all Muslims today

A real turnaround was demonstrated by Greg Sheridan who, under the heading ‘In face of racist terror, we are all Muslims today’, cast blame on an unfettered internet:

‘Here is one of the central challenges of our time and our civilisation — we must bring the internet under the rule of law. This is not an infringement of free speech.’

Most of us are well aware of Mr Sheridan’s attitude toward Islam and multiculturalism.

‘How I lost faith in multiculturalism’  described how his views changed due to “real world experience”.

In particular it is four real-world experiences: watching the debate unfold about the illegal immigrants who come to Australia by boat; a month in Europe researching and writing about immigration issues; 30 years reporting on political Islam in Southeast Asia and the Middle East; and, above all, living for nearly 15 years next door to Lakemba in Sydney's southwest, the most Muslim suburb in Australia.

What do the white supremacists and their fellow travellers fear?

In an article titled ‘God, Truth and Cultural Survival’, Peter Smith wrote:

‘Our Western civilisation is beset on two sides. First by Godless Left activists infiltrating all of our institutions. Second by Islam.

 

Our civilisation is under threat. Christianity can save it. Our leaders are Christian yet keep quiet, or relatively quiet, about it. That makes no sense to me.’

Discussion over the rejection by ANU of the Ramsay Centre, loved by Abbott and John Howard, brought out some of the fears of the extreme right.

How to account for the hysterical discussion? Why would an otherwise level-headed commentator like Greg Sheridan commence his column in The Australian with the extraordinary statement that the ANU's decision “is a pivotal moment in modern Australian history”? Do members of the right-wing commentariat think that Western countries are succumbing to a poisonous cocktail of multiculturalism, Muslim immigration, political correctness and cultural Marxism that dilutes the white population and brainwashes young people at school and university? It seems that, much like Steve Bannon, they do. We are on the precipice of disaster, they seem to believe.

Mainstream politicians and their Islamophobic discourse

Politicians who have used Islamophobia and fear of immigration and refugees as a political tool since Howard’s Tampa Crisis and 9/11 are also now backing away from their populist posturing.

Morrison has threatened defamation proceedings against The Project’s Waleed Aly for his explanation of why he was not shocked at the Christchurch massacre, given the anti-Muslim rhetoric of our leading politicians for some years. Waleed alluded to the Shadow Cabinet meeting in 2011, when an unnamed politician tried to get anti-Muslim policies into the upcoming election campaign.

Morrison’s trainwreck interview with Waleed on The Project on 22 March convinced many viewers of his insincerity.

One evidence of change was the rapid final decision to remove the visa previously granted to Milo Yiannopoulos, despite his backing by some of the louder Right-wing commentators.

Even Tony Abbott has backtracked on his controversial 2017 claim that “Islamophobia hasn't killed anyone”.

Then Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton – who revealed deep concern for white South African farmers facing genocide from the blacks, regretted that we ever let Lebanese migrants come here in the 1970s and remarked that Melburnians feared going out at night because of African gangs – lined up against Anning.

Deeply offended by accusations from the Greens that he had played a role in the Christchurch terrorist attack by fuelling anti-Islamic sentiment in Australia, he denounced them “…as bad as Fraser Anning”.

It was noticeable that many of this Right-wing network came out in support of Cardinal Pell after his conviction, but kept mum over the Christchurch massacre. He was deeply involved in the culture wars of the extremists.

In a 16 March NITV News item titled ‘Pell was more culture warrior than cleric, more politician than priest’ , Michael Carey maintained:

‘For 30 years, Howard and Pell were brothers in arms driving Australia dangerously to the Right. For many, Pell was more culture warrior than cleric, more politician than priest. John Howard, and others, recognised that.’

Anders Behring Breivik, the Norwegian white supremacist terrorist who killed 77 Labour Party youth, in his 1,500-word manifesto called for a new European bloc and the creation of a revitalised Western culture which isolated Muslims, rejected multi-culturalism, constrained China and promoted a conservative, traditional role for women.

Two prominent backers of that philosophy, according to Breivik, were John Howard and George Pell.

Of Pell, Breivik said:

‘Luckily, not all Christian leaders are appeasers of Islam. One of the intelligent ones comes from Australia, a country that has been fairly resistant to Political Correctness.

 

...Prime Minister John Howard has repeatedly proven to be one of the most sensible leaders in the Western world. George Cardinal Pell, Archbishop of Sydney, tells of how September 11 was a wake-up call for him personally.’

The Response of Australian security services

Our security services are apparently reluctant to call out white supremacist movements for what they are — a threat to democracy and to our multicultural community.

According to a 2015 article from ABC News:

[ASIO chief] Duncan Lewis had the temerity to assert that Muslim baiting in Australia was overblown and dangerous and could make it harder for the various counter-terrorist agencies to do their work.’

Greg Sheridan of The Australian reacted predictably and claimed parliamentarians were outraged. Apparently, this was limited to Abbott supporters, the Tasmanians, Eric Abetz and Andrew Nikolic and the West Australian Dennis Jensen.

This interview was used to attack PM Turnbull. The Australian came out with the headline: ‘Turnbull warned on stifling Islam debate.’

Politicians of the ruling coalition chose to ignore ASIO as the Islamophobic rhetoric continued for years.

Then the Christchurch Massacre occurred.

The Department of Home Affairs head, Mike Pezzullo, speaking to a Senate estimates hearing on Friday 22 March said the department had “rededicated itself to standing resolutely against the extremist ideology of white supremacy and its followers”.

However, as Amy Remeikis reported in The Guardian, his comments on white supremacy come a week after he delivered a major speech on ‘seven gathering storms’ for national security, where white supremacy was not even mentioned.

This new dedication is questionable, given that the Sydney Morning Herald and The Age reported that one of Fraser Anning’s staffers was on unpaid leave from Home Affairs and had apparently written the “Final Solution” speech. The individual denies it but that remains to be established.

It seems our security services still have a way to go before they can offer security to the targets of the white supremacists.

Bilal Cleland is a retired secondary teacher and was Secretary of the Islamic Council of Victoria, Chairman of the Muslim Welfare Board Victoria and Secretary of the Australian Federation of Islamic Councils.

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