Rundle on France:

Guy Rundle writes: As readers may have noted, the motorcyclist accused of eight targeted killings in France, now appears to have been identified as a radical Islamist with al-Qaeda affiliations, targeting soldiers and Jews. That itself may turn out to be an oversimplification, but it demands something of a mea culpa.

In yesterday’s article I jumped ahead a bit, and did what I accused others of in the Anders Breivik case, namely drawing a conclusion based on insufficient evidence and some political assumptions. Much of what I wrote about the right-wing xenophobic push in Europe stands, not least in creating an atmosphere of lethal tension but — unlike right-wing commentators at the time of the Breivik massacre — I’m not going to bluster it away.

It was an error, and a lesson learnt.

Stiofan Mac Suibhne writes: Re. “Rundle: a violent xenophobia is off the leash in France” (yesterday, item 3). Guy Rundle, your article is nonsense. Perhaps your education was uninterrupted by schooling. Although I imagine that this article is actually leftist cant — constructed make believe, but it does betray dullness of thought. In either case, the shallowness of your analysis is jarring.

Rundle wrote:

“Quite aside from revealing the totalitarian core of simplistic notions of “the enlightenment” — a hatred of any particularity or difference — it demonstrates something about the anti-Islamic chauvinism that the European Right have been trading in for so long.”

The European Enlightenment “totalitarian core” is not a hated of difference but a rejection revelation/foundational attitudes as a source of authority. Marxism after the fact may be added to that. It’s entirely legitimate to question religious/ritualistic slaughter of animals. It is not evidence of anything other than critical thinking that one would question unnecessary cruelty to animals and mumbo-jumbo recitations at the point the animal is dispatched.

“For some time it has been clear that Islamophobia is a contemporary form of anti-Jewish prejudice (which, confusingly, is known by the general term ‘anti-Semitism’). But now there has been an inevitable knock-on effect connecting up with anti-Jewish prejudice.”

Clear to whom? How so is Islamophobia a manifestation of anti-Jewish sentiment? I imagine your confusion is feigned. It is entirely unclear that “Islamophobia”, (if one indeed accepts that an irrational fear of Muslims is sufficiently common to require a distinct phobia be created) is a contemporary form of anti-Jewish prejudice. While I accept the meaning of language is contextual and negotiated, Muslims as a group are people primarily defined by their beliefs. They can where Shari’a law does not hold cease to be Muslims merely by choosing to believe in other supernatural systems or just stop believing in the supernatural. Further most Muslims are not “Semites”, only a minority of those professing Islamic beliefs are Arabs.

The term anti-Semite is synonymous with anti-Jewish. The complex interplay of race, religion, ethnicity and nationality is demonstrated by the phenomenon of Jewishness. And we might use the term “peoplehood”. Anti-Semitism/Jew hating is brought into being by Jews being hated, whether they are believers or not. There is no equivalence here with people that object to Islamic beliefs, when people stop holding them presumably they would stop being hated. I am not sure that hatred of former Muslims is a phenomenon that has yet been described among the “isms” the Left throw at the others. Perhaps you would call that Exmuslimphobia. Unless of course you consider the issue of apostasy in Islamic thought, which is complicating the simplistic view that prejudice is only generated by the Right-wing pretenders to the Enlightenment Project.

So. The dismal nonsense we are fed in the mainstream Australian media seems to be a contagion. Shame. I respectfully suggest you do some reading and critical thinking.

Murder is murder. No more or less. The motivations/the madness of the murderer are yet to be determined. What are you hoping for?

Coal seam gas:

Jackie French writes: Re. “Behind the seams: getting the regulatory framework right” (yesterday, item 11). Brian Bahnisch wrote:

“It is generally accepted that good regulatory practice will focus on the regulatory outcome, rather than strictly about compliance with prescriptive rules.”

Can anyone offer any state in Australia where environmental regulation is enforced? At the moment such regulation only gives a false sense of complacency: we have the legislation/regulation, therefore all will be well.

Environmental legislation is worse than useless unless accompanied by the  resources and political willingness to inspect, regulate and impose penalties.

Jim Hart writes: I’ve been having some doubts about this coal seam gas stuff but until now I never realised that it threatens “the critical resource of the Great Artisan Basin.” There is a very real danger that the next generation of Australians may grow up knowing only ugly mass-produced basins that are spewed from some off-shore sweatshop, and never appreciating the true craft of honest Australian artisans.

Apart from that I’m also concerned that CSG could affect underground water, but that’s another story.

Gough Whitlam:

Keith Thomas writes: Michael James (yesterday, comments) asks “What would Gough do?” about Tony Abbott. But what would Gough do about Australia’s top position in the list of countries friendly to mining?

On the self-serving criteria employed by the Behre Dolber mining consultancy, I would expect Gough (and F X O’Connor and colleagues) to do their best to take Australia down quickly to middle ranking, cutting the miners down to a more reasonable size with a bit more “continued government interference”.

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