Back in the 1990s, Prime Minister John Howard hit on a winning formula that ensured election success, guaranteeing he would be Australia's longest serving prime minister. The formula: weaponise xenophobia by wrapping it in Christianity and the Australian flag! Since then, the LNP has weaponised fear of refugees, Muslims, Asians, indigenous people, welfare, socialism ... kind of sounds like they've been reading Mein Kampf. Weaponised? They have used it to justify an illegal invasion in Iraq based on lies about weapons of mass destruction. This killed hundreds of thousands of innocent people and gave rise to ISIS. The LNP has used their weaponisation of xenophobia to justify the indefinite and illegal detention and torture of innocent people on remote islands.
Following the tragic massacre in Christchurch, where 50 innocent Muslims were gunned down by an Australian white-supremacist, many people pointed out just how weaponised hate-speech had become under the LNP and their fringe nutcase politicians, such as Fraser (Mr 19 votes) Anning, Pauline Hanson's One Nation and Cory Bernardi's whatever his party is called.
On 21 March 2019, Prime Minister Scott Morrison was interviewed on Network 10's The Project by Waleed Aly, amidst accusations that Morrison had suggested to the Liberal Party in a shadow cabinet meeting in 2011, that the party should use Islamophobic fears in the community to their political advantage. In other words, stoke fear and hatred of Muslims and appear like they are the only party who can protect Australia from Islam. Perennial deadshit racist, Pauline Hanson of the One Neuron Party, declared Islam to be a virus that needs to be vaccinated against. This is where Australian politics is at.
Morrison denied for years that he had ever mentioned Islamophobia in that shadow cabinet meeting, despite two people who were there confirming that he did suggest taking advantage of Islamophobia. In the interview with Waleed Aly, Morrison finally admitted that he had mentioned Islamophobia in the meeting, but only to ask the party to lower the temperature on it. Now, if this was true, then surely we would have seen fewer attacks on Muslims by LNP members. Instead, they ramped up the vitriole against refugees and Muslims.
Even during the interview with Waleed Aly, Morrison continued to make his claim that refugees on Manus Island and Nauru comprised of rapists and murderers. Waleed pressed him for numbers and Morrison said there were around 60 with 'character' concerns. Under further pressure from Waleed, Morrison admitted that not all with 'character' issues were murderers or rapists, but refused to give a number. Just like Trump declaring the refugees on the US southern border to be 'very bad people', Morrison is continuing to maintain this generalised rhetoric to label refugees on Manus and Nauru, who are predominantly Muslim, as murders and rapists. This is dehumanisation, it is racism, it is Islamophobia. In the interview, he stated that under Labor these people would be living in the general community. Fear-mongering at its most raw to position the LNP as the great saviours of Australia. This was during an interview when Morrison tried to claim he did not suggest the LNP should exploit Islamophobia. Morrison's actions speak far louder than his hollow and deceitful words!
This Islamophobia extended to demanding that Australian Muslims apologise for terrorist attacks across the globe. Australia's Grand Mufti was accused many times over the years since that shadow cabinet meeting, of not doing enough to combat terrorism or of expressing appropriate contrition. Following an Islamist terrorist attack in Paris in 2015, Morrison condemned the Grand Mufti for not being contrite enough and for daring to suggest that racism, Islamophobia and unwarranted military interventions in Muslim countries were to blame. Even though the Grand Mufti had been condemning terrorism for years, Morrison and others in the LNP forced him to issue a further statement directly condemning the Paris attacks (Donelly 2015, Jones 2016).
Then in 2018, when a Muslim man stabbed another man to death in Melbourne in an attempted terrorist attack originally aimed at a tram, the Grand Mufti was again called on by Morrison to condemn terrorism (Clench 2018).
Contrast this with the terrorist attack in Christchurch that killed 50 Muslims. No leading Muslims called on leading Christian or Australian figures to condemn it. Of course, many of those leaders did issue some sort of statement condemning the terrorist and offering condolences. Was this enough? Well, let's look at what followed. Morrison continued demonising refugees, he refused to rule out a preference deal with One Nation, he refused to rule out preferencing One Nation or Senator Fraser Anning below Labor and the Greens in the upcoming federal election, even though both have been extremely racist and Islamophobic. Anning in particular, continued his anti-Islam hate-speech after the Christchurch terrorist attack. It's almost like Morrison is trying not to offend his extreme right-wing base. One could be mistaken for thinking it is a type of right-wing political correctness, in which one dare not use the racism word ... or bigotry word or white supremacy words or Nazi word ... for fear of offending racists who don't like being called racists, or bigots who don't like being called bigots, or Nazis who don't like being called Nazis, or Islamophobes who don't like being called out for what they really are.
What did the community do following the Christchurch massacres? Thankfully, many Australians turned out in support of Muslims and attended vigils and rallies across the country condemning racism, Islamophobia, and right-wing extremism.
But there were those who felt it was a good time to misrepresent old stories of Islamist attacks or massacres. One such article regarded ISIS bombing a Catholic church in the Philippines, which was accompanied by the inflammatory comments that it happened a day after the Christchurch attack and was not covered by the media. Unfortunately, it is true that the bombing occurred. However, it happened in January, seven weeks before Christchurch, and received significant media attention (Evon 2019). The bombing is clearly horrendous, so what does it say about those who would exploit it and lie about it to whip up fear and hatred of innocent Muslims also killed by a terrorist?
Further to this, many Christians shared a report from Breitbart and the Christian Post that claimed Muslims had murdered 120 Christians in Nigeria. Again, this was a tragedy that did happen, but why share it now when it happened in mid-2018? Both Breitbart and the Christian Post failed to mention that the week before that attack, Christians had massacred 130 Muslims. Both these questionable journals also conveniently ignored the fact that these massacres had little to do with religion and a lot more to do with farmers and herdsmen (who just happened to be of different ethnic and religious backgrounds) clashing over access to natural resources, such as water (MacGuill 2019).
People are sharing these tragedies to distract from the Christchurch massacre and to dehumanise the victims, to paint them as possibly deserving of being massacred. They are terrorism-apologists, condoning by their words and actions, the terrorist attack in Christchurch. Where is their contrition and condemnation of the Christchurch terrorist attack when they express their sympathy one minute, and the next are sharing old and inaccurate news to dehumanise Muslims. Since the Christchurch massacre, there was an attack on a Mosque in Australia (Garcia 2019) and a surge in attacks on Muslims in the UK (Dodd 2019).
Why do people choose now to share months-old Islamist attacks? It's part of the dehumanisation of Muslims by terrorist-apologists raised on normalised language of hate by politicians who weaponise the flag purely for political point-scoring. If these people are so concerned about terrorism, why weren't they campaigning for an end to illegal wars and sponsoring of terrorism, for the protection of the victims of terrorism & persecution? Because they'd rather spread hate and fear than actually do something productive. They'd rather persecute the victims then help them. This is what happens when the government weaponises xenophobia for political power.
New Zealand Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern, showed true and heartfelt leadership by embracing the Muslim community following the Christchurch terrorist attack, and ensuring they knew that they were welcomed and loved and that her deepest sympathies were with them, while she stood bravely and staunchly against the hatred that drove the right-wing terrorist; the very hatred that many of Australia's right-wing politicians have been voicing for years. Ardern is a true leader, while Australia is left with Morrison, an incompetent and racist politician. Comparing Ardern and Morrison is like comparing Barack Obama to Donald Trump, or a highly intelligent PhD candidate to a petulant, six year old child chucking a temper tantrum for wetting his pants. Meanwhile, Ardern has received death threats from Islamophobes (Harvey 2019).
Australian politics has normalised and weaponised hate speech. It is so bad, that those who stand up for refugees, Islam, and who dare to question the malicious racism espoused by right-wing politicians and media, are considered to be traitors. In a country that fought Nazis in the war, those who now question hate-speech and neo-Nazi ideology are considered traitors. White supremacists think of themselves as patriots. Think about that. Take all the time you need.
When politicians and the media continue attacking Islam, continue demonising minorities, continue spreading fear and hate, and even employing Nazi enthusiasts (Hasham 2019), there's clearly no contrition over the role they've played in the radicalising of the Australian coward who massacred 50 unarmed, peaceful people (including a three year old child) because of the hatred & fear instilled in him by this xenophobic hate-speech.
The Grand Mufti and other Islamic leaders have called out the abuse that Muslims have suffered in Australia, both physically and verbally. Ibrahim Abu Mohamed, Grand Mufti of Australia and New Zealand, has stated that he 'partly blamed the killings on the "hate that some media reflect in its handling of Muslims ... They always portray Muslims as violent terrorist".' (Baker 2019).
Check where these politicians and media deadbeats sit on the hierarchy of white supremacy. They are not in some periphery where they have no influence. Instead, they are well advanced on the path to white supremacy, they are enabling and empowering white supremacists and far-right extremists. As the pyramid shows, Australia is at the upper-end of normalising white supremacy through government policy, rhetoric and media reports falling easily within the 'Discrimination' field. Some people have crossed over into the 'Violence' field by attacking Muslims and Mosques. This should be a concern to most Australians. Instead, far too many will continue sharing inaccurate media reports to spread fear and hate to detract from the mass murder committed in Christchurch.
|Source: Olsen (2019)|
It should be kept in mind that people can change. In New Zealand, we've seen Ardern, various non-Muslim politicians, media identities and police, wearing hijabs, while Islamic prayers are recited in parliament and people have come together like never before. This is encouraging. In Australia, there are people who have realised that maybe the hate-speech here has also gone too far and they are finally seeing the bigotry behind the policies of federal LNP.
Tom Olsen, a former neo-Nazi, explains that his beliefs were turned around through an act of kindness by a black South African man. Since then, he has worked with police to combat right-wing extremism. He has met hundreds of former white supremacists and each one has a similar story, that they turned from their racist ways when they experienced kindness from those they hated (Olsen 2019).
Those who claim they are not racist or white-supremacist, but are quick to respond to the Christchurch massacre by sharing further hatred of Muslims, need to take a long hard look at their values. They are indicating that the victims deserved to be murdered because they're Muslim. How does that make them any better than the coward who perpetrated the Christchurch massacre? Those who portray Islam as a religion of violence, while themselves calling for violence against Muslims, are no better than the Islamist extremists that they claim to oppose.
If people really want to combat terrorism, then they can start by not blaming innocent people.
Australia's ingrained racism goes back centuries to white settlement which resulted in massacres and genocide of Australia's indigenous population. Through this time, many white Australians have lived in fear of those who are different, fearing a loss of their Caucasian culture. Yet, Australia is the most successful multi-cultural nation in the world, which provides so much opportunity to experience the enjoyment and beauty that every culture has. Rather than denouncing and rejecting multiculturalism, surely, it is to be celebrated and embraced!
Baker, N 2019, 'Muslims in Australia say there are lessons to be learnt after the New Zealand mosque attacks', SBS News, 15 March, viewed 22 March 2019, https://www.sbs.com.au/news/demonised-constantly-australian-muslims-slam-politicians-media-in-wake-of-nz-attacks.
Clench, S 2018, ''Making excuses': Scott Morrison doubles down in response to Bourke Street attack', News.com.au, 13 November, viewed 22 March 2019, https://www.news.com.au/national/making-excuses-scott-morrison-doubles-down-in-response-to-bourke-street-attack/news-story/2c49a431ce596ebb112ebc943a53dac1.
Dodd, V 2019, 'Anti-Muslim hate crimes soar in UK after Christchurch shootings', The Guardian, 23 March, viewed 23 March 2019, https://www.theguardian.com/society/2019/mar/22/anti-muslim-hate-crimes-soar-in-uk-after-christchurch-shootings.
Evon, D 2019, 'Did Muslim Terrorists Bomb a Church in the Philippines “Yesterday,” Killing 30 Christians?', Snopes, 18 March, viewed 22 March 2019, https://www.snopes.com/fact-check/muslim-terrorists-bomb-philippines/.
Garcia, J 2019, 'Man allegedly rams car into gates, shouts offensive words outside Queensland mosque',Brisbane Times, 17 March, viewed 17 March 2019, https://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/national/queensland/man-rams-car-into-gates-and-shouts-offensive-words-outside-qld-mosque-20190317-p514vu.html.
Harvey, M 2019, 'Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern has received death threats on social media', New Zealand Herald, 22 March 2019, viewed 22 March 2019, https://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=12215418.
Hasham, N 2019, 'Fraser Anning staffer and alleged Nazi enthusiast employed by Home Affairs', The Sydney Morning Herald, 22 March, viewed 22 March 2019, https://www.smh.com.au/politics/federal/fraser-anning-staffer-and-alleged-nazi-enthusiast-employed-by-home-affairs-20190321-p51698.html.
Jones, C 2016, 'Factcheck Q&A: has the Grand Mufti of Australia condemned terrorist attacks overseas?', The Conversation, 22 July, viewed 22 March 2019, http://theconversation.com/factcheck-qanda-has-the-grand-mufti-of-australia-condemned-terrorist-attacks-overseas-62688.
MacGuill, D 2019, 'Did ‘Muslim Militants’ Kill 120 Christians in Nigeria in February/March 2019?', Snopes, 19 March, viewed 20 March 2019, https://www.snopes.com/fact-check/nigeria-christians-muslims/.
Olsen, T 2019, 'How a simple act of kindness from a stranger ended my career as a neo-Nazi', SBS News, 21 March, viewed 22 March 2019, https://www.sbs.com.au/news/insight/how-a-simple-act-of-kindness-from-a-stranger-ended-my-career-as-a-neo-nazi.