His party’s just suffered another election loss. His supporters in his home state refuse to preselect a woman for a state seat in his own electorate. His promise to keep interest rates low is floundering. But John Howard has now found a diversion. When all else fails, clip the cultural wings of Aussie Mossies! Yesterday’s Oz reported Howard claiming Muslim leaders are “pussyfooting around” the issue of condemning terrorism. Which leaders is he talking about? The middle-aged migrant leaders of his generation who took 21 days to condemn the London bombing but 21 seconds to condemn Michelle Leslie’s dress sense? Such leaders Mr Howard rewards with dominant positions on his Muslim Reference Group. Don’t expect Howard to consult with “Crazy” John Ilhan or Ahmed Fahour or Ed Husic. And certainly don’t expect him to consult with prominent Aussie Muslim women who attended last week’s Muslim women’s conference. Howard’s Muslim formula is simple. Handpick a reference group stacked out with middle-aged males who won’t challenge you and just want their photo taken with you. Then as soon as interest rates go up or an additional minister is needed to sell unpopular IR laws, bag these same leaders and watch as they squawk like ducks. Last night, on a Four Corners episode marking the fifth anniversary of the September 11 attacks, Howard also claimed his favourite 1% of Muslims refusing to integrate (most of whom he has handpicked for his reference group) might find their cultural cringes leading to unspecified “unfortunate consequences”.What consequences? Are misogynistic NESB types more likely to strap themselves with bombs?  Howard’s nonsensical remarks even forced his Attorney-General to remind Howard’s rabble of an obvious fact – that claiming terrorism only finds its source in Muslims is stupid and dangerous. In fact, Costello’s comments are more on the mark. He recognises that having no culture (as opposed to the wrong culture) inspires home-grown terrorists who are locked in a “twilight zone where the values of their parents’ old country have been lost but the values of the new country not fully embraced”. You can read more of my views on the subject here.

Peter Fray

Fetch your first 12 weeks for $12

Here at Crikey, we saw a mighty surge in subscribers throughout 2020. Your support has been nothing short of amazing — we couldn’t have got through this year like no other without you, our readers.

If you haven’t joined us yet, fetch your first 12 weeks for $12 and start 2021 with the journalism you need to navigate whatever lies ahead.

Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey

JOIN NOW