Before we focus on the people at the Melbourne "protests", we should consider the messaging that got them there and the complicit silence that enabled them.
Never in living memory have we seen gallows, Nazi paraphernalia and prayers used in an attempt to remove the premier of an Australian state. A few days after there was a bow and arrow standoff outside parliament and not too long after that Brett Sutton and Jerome Weimar were protected by police as an encroaching mob howled "scumbags" and "rat dogs" while they were removed from the scene.
As politicians delay and the media misinforms and encourages these victims of manipulation, rapidly poisoning our society, can we as Australians afford to stand back and watch?
The results of an anti-government media blitz are now manifest, as the form the bedrock for the beliefs of angry throngs of people. Among them are malevolent groups looking for fresh recruits, relishing their new mainstream safe space they move in the crowd, free to tie their slipknots in the springtime sunshine amongst the plane trees of Melbourne, something they could never have done before.
For many at these rallies, this is a political awakening, an introduction to the power of protest for a group of people that have not been able to feel the power of human assembly for two years. But many of them are scared, whipped up into tears.
Alongside them, if we look closely, there are people that are present for an entirely different agenda, for beliefs that ASIO deem to be of concern. With no coherent message of condemnation from the leaders of society and a media apparatus that seeks to hyper-accelerate the incomprehensible darkness, impressionable minds are like lambs to the slaughter.
Choosing to play politics in a pandemic, in fervent opposition to the Andrews Government, the incessant Murdoch-led media barrage has provided the connective tissue between the mainstream and the fringe, flirting with the misinformation and validating its acolytes.
It gives politicians the option to stir the cauldron and enamouring the conspiracy theorists, legitimising their views by allowing it a wink and a nod on primetime. The incredible gravity of this consolidated misinformation, the way it sits like a solid foundation for the fanciful to dream big on QAnon-related conspiracy, trickles down through our society.
Australia's national leader, who noted protesters at the March for Justice last year were not “met with bullets”, who has supported a tailored political narrative against the Andrews Government, has offered little to quell this fracturing environment.
Josh Frydenberg, Victoria's preeminent liberal and blokes like David Davis and Bernie Finn, instead of totally distancing themselves, couch their condemnation behind cheap shots and mingle with the punters on the steps of parliament.
Week by week, the short memory of a short-sighted pack is accepting new norms, allowing for rapid shifts in the perception and adoption of what is tolerable and what was once unthinkable in this country.
Floating at the bottom of a geographical reality, with diminishing regional and strategic importance, without a national identity defined by Australia's leaders, we are at the mercy of more developed and complex problems from more developed and complex nations.
True to the encroaching Americanisation of our collective psyche and absence of creativity and big ideas from Canberra, we apathetically take on the burdens of the American experience, with all its scars and extremes, its zealotry.
We choose to forget our own unique destiny.
Under the watch of his selector, the renegade “captains pick”, Craig Kelly, was allowed to start crypto-fascist-conspiratorial spot fires in the national parliament, bringing the unhinged to the national debate. Now, after bulk texting the nation, and interrupting our YouTube viewing with 20 minute-long addresses, Kelly now takes his anti-democratic propaganda to the foot of Victoria’s Parliament, a long way from Hughes, playing the pantomime with a retinue of neo-Nazis beside him.
If we don’t act, eventually these dark forces will fool us all. Even Murdoch. With many of these groups now sliding into the cultured and isolated petri dishes on Telegram and Discord, the damage is mounting, away from common society, at the mercy of a new breed of miscreant.
A multi-headed hydra of conspiracy now greets decision makers on both sides of politics, seeking to fracture democracy for reasons many of them could not articulate. For every successful incision, two more will return in its place.
Across the political divide, the fundamental pillars of governance have been abandoned by a group of charlatans. People who run large debt without building schools or hospitals; people who mismanage taxpayer funds for political gain; people who cultivate and divvy out short straws from pools of money meant for emergency recoveries and underservice vital pillars of society without providing transparency to the voting public.
They are same people who wilfully stoke the fires of hatred and chaos, threatening the unity of Australia, are turning us against each other so they can run away with the chocolates. There is no deep state, just a bunch of self interested buffoons.
Sometime soon, with a jump in ASIO major caseloads for homegrown far-right violent extremists moving from 40 per cent to 50 per cent in just a year, the major parties have yet to take a unified stance against this encroaching threat. We must recognise that elected officials see political capital in allowing this to continue.
While the trailers are hooning down the roadside and violent activity broils in the street, Prime Minister Scott Morrison, who once broke bread and employed QAnon believers, has not yet shown the will, belief or the courage to take a definitive stance to condemn this slight on democracy.
As we thought we could grasp at a glimmer of hope as we re-emerge after lockdown, we are greeted with blind anger spilling out onto our tentative city, we are concerned and we should be.
Now it lays in front of us, with no meaningful words of condemnation from the Prime Minister, it becomes apparent: the corporate media and politicians seem to have no intention of quelling this unrest.
In the weeks and months ahead taking us to a Federal Election, it is imperative for these leaders to convey a message of national unity in condemning this activity. If they can’t, they are unfit for office. If politicians cannot unite against homegrown extremism, Australians could have to deal with homegrown terrorism.
We have an opportunity to condemn this irresponsible leadership, this wilful damage to society, because we have just seen public calls for public executions and death threats to people we have elected. And this hasn’t happened before.
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