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Aug 22, 2014

Captain Pander rehearses some tired terror rituals

We're rehearsing many of the terrorism rituals that took place in the lead-up to the Iraq War, including the targeting of the Muslim community.


Like many another aspect of our ever more ossified public life, the terrorism panic currently underway is following increasingly ritualised forms.

Yesterday, exactly as the vile butchers of Islamic State would want, the Prime Minister hysterically warned that beheadings like that of James Foley could happen in Australia. Yes, Prime Minister, that’s exactly why IS chose an executioner with a British accent, to induce hysteria from people like you. Like the UK’s David Cameron, who warned of the establishment of a “terrorist state on the shores of the Mediterranean”, Abbott is, along with IS, anxious to play up the domestic threat to his own constituents. At least there is some basis for Cameron’s concerns about domestic terrorism in the UK. There is no evidence, none of any kind, that such a threat exists in Australia.

It is, however, a very real threat in Saudi Arabia. Just this month alone, according to Al Jazeera, the Saudia Arabian government has beheaded 19 Saudi and foreign nationals — including one for “sorcery”. What’s the difference between beheading a Western journalist and beheading an individual for an entirely fictional crime? Well, one was done by a group of terrorist butchers, the other by our close ally in the War on Terror with which we have a valued trade relationship. Perhaps Andrew Robb can express our disgust at beheading people for fictional crimes next time he’s in Riyadh.

It’s also noteworthy that beheadings in Iraq are being used explicitly to justify further increases in the powers of intelligence and law enforcement agencies here at the expense of individuals’ basic rights and justify massive increases in the budgets of those agencies. Remember that the anti-terrorism laws established by the Howard government (partly in response to the increase in the terrorist threat that government helped cause via the attack on Iraq) were justified as necessary to stop an insidious enemy, operating in deep secrecy, which may have had access to weapons of mass destruction, which posed a vast threat, occasionally and incorrectly called “existential”. Now, more laws and more money are apparently necessary to stop terrorists who, far from operating in secrecy, advertise themselves on social media, and who rather than using WMDs, use knives. One can only wonder which of the three logical consequences of the new demand for more powers applies: the laws we’ve had hitherto have been grossly inadequate given the threat, or our security agencies’ competence has deteriorated significantly, or the justification is nonsensical.

In any event, as we undertake the time-honoured “better to fight them in Iraq/Syria/Vietnam/Korea/Blenheim/Agincourt/Sparta/etc than here” debate, another ritual is being played out, with the Muslim community being targeted as insufficiently enthusiastic in the War on Terror. This time around, however, there’s been something of a variant, with both the government and intelligence agencies going out of their way to cultivate Muslim community sentiment. Typically, the government’s effort has been inept, having been built on the focus-grouped “Team Australia” theme, a line begging for parody that it has persisted with, including yesterday when Abbott made the remarkable statement that “the vast majority of Muslims in this country” wanted him as their “captain”. But the cack-handedness aside, Abbott’s inclusionary, rather than exclusionary, instincts on the issue should be commended.

This has, nonetheless, induced complaints that the government is “pandering” to Muslims. This is a long-running claim from reactionaries that the Muslim community, instead of being traduced, relentlessly surveilled, infiltrated by security agencies and treated as freaks by the tabloid media, wield some secret influence that makes Western governments bend over backwards to oblige them. Andrew Bolt criticised the government’s decision not to proceed with changes to the Racial Discrimination Act as evidence of a willingness to “assimilate to immigrant values” of “Muslims, jihadists, people from the Middle East”. The Western Australian Liberals savaged Abbott and compared him to Neville Chamberlain, with one senior figure calling the RDA backdown an “unconditional surrender” to the “narrow interest groups” such as the Muslim community. News Corp’s in-house bloviator Piers Akerman also accused Liberal MPs like Craig Laundy, a vocal opponent of the RDA changes, and Labor of “pandering” to Muslim constituents.

And as always, Muslims are called upon to (presumably taking time out from their busy schedule of being pandered to by governments) condemn various terrorist atrocities, just like, um, white male conservatives are called upon to condemn the actions of white male conservative terrorists. The reluctance of many in the Muslim community to join in this elaborate charade of terrorism hysteria is in turn portrayed as evidence of their fundamental inability to “embrace Australian values”, as though there’s something quintessentially Aussie about suspending your critical faculties and allowing yourself to be used as a prop for a politician’s effort to distract from their domestic political problems by hyping terrorism.

We’ve seen all this before, in the march to war in Iraq and the inordinate grab for power by governments and security agencies in the 2000s. Now we’re doing it all again, as though it will somehow be different this time around.


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43 thoughts on “Captain Pander rehearses some tired terror rituals

  1. klewso

    Cameron isn’t far out from a knife-edged election either, is he?

  2. AussieAchmed

    Carbon tax, MRRT, boats the bogeyman of the election

    Now Jihadists in other countries, some Britsh and other nationalities are the bogeyman.

    Are we really going to have to suffer another 2 years of bogey man politics?

  3. klewso

    Regarding “Captain Pander’s” black and white world :-
    [If we join his and Rupert’s “Team Australia” – how do we qualify for his “Blue Tie – Age of Entitlement More Equal Club” status that allows “the elite” to claim :-
    * out-of-pocket expenses (on the tax-payer) to attend weddings, parties, anything;
    * to promote a book we may write;
    * or to reimburses us for any expenses incurred when taking part in a media photo op for charity?]

  4. zut alors

    Fear is the tool preferred by tools.

  5. MJPC

    In keeping with the theme I would have thought Muslims would have seen our PM as the Sultan. As for Team Australia, the cartoonists are giving it a savaging in the daily’s.

  6. Nemo Omar

    What other agenda might benefit from a beatup about foreign wars?

  7. Rais

    I wonder who the imam was that Abbott appointed as one of the leading imams? Anyway as a Muslim fourth generation Australian married to a Muslim Australian of at least six generations standing I would be reluctant to appoint to my Team Australia some ten pound Pom until I at least see documentary proof of his citizenship.

  8. SusieQ

    Its a handy distraction from that Budget….
    Its quite sad to see the govt going through all this again – when do we get Tampa Mk II?

  9. Mendoza

    “the vast majority of Muslims in this country” wanted him as their “captain”

    just what is the selection criteria for becoming a Rhodes scholar?

  10. zut alors

    ‘just what is the selection criteria for becoming a Rhodes scholar?’

    In Abbott’s case it was likely a dearth of other applicants.

  11. danger_monkey

    zut alors ftw: “Fear is the tool preferred by tools.”

  12. Neutral

    C’mon! The previous LNP incarnation was extremely successful at national security. No documented case of a fridge protected by John Howard’s fridge magnet being attacked by terrorists wielding WMD’s. Knives must be trickier though and require a whole new legislative technology..

  13. Barry Levy

    Talk about the new left and pandering to the Islamic community. That’s exactly what you’re doing – thinking you’re so clever about it – Mr Keane (re your article: Captain Pander rehearses some tired terror rituals). At least be honest in your writing – thinking? – and admit there is a problem in the world, and could be a problem in Australia (I understand some former jihadi Muslims are already in Australian jails for terrorist activities, right?) – and then say that you still believe the Abbott government is going overboard on anti-terrorism laws.

    But at least be honest (objective) and realistic and present a more whole picture. Not one that panders. That is, be as honest as you ask others to be.

    Oh, and by the way, that Saudi Arabia beheads people is absolutely disgusting, it makes me sick to the stomach… but just don’t be so smug about it as though Saudi barbarism excuses others. In fact, maybe Saudi government actions should make us even more vigilant (and honest) – even in our little neck of the innocent woods, hey?

  14. leon knight

    Hey Barry, did you see First Dog’s contribution in the Guardian today.
    Have a look, then give us some more details of how your stomach is going….

  15. bushby jane

    I think that Muslim elders should be more vocal about their peaceful religion so as to hopefully temper the alarmists in Australia, however I do get your point.
    Will the Australian people fall for this warmongering trick again? It seems to me that there are a lot more enlightened people now who are sick of this Middle East intervention stuff, but I may be wrong.

  16. Barry Levy

    Yes, Leon, thanks, just listened to the cartoon – and it is potent. What was done to Aborigines can never be excused and should never be forgotten, beheadings included. But why do we always have to go back to the past to show how bad we are/were, and more especially in order to excuse the barbarism of others in the present? It doesn’t make sense to me.

  17. Bill Hilliger

    Prime Minister hysterically warned that beheadings like that of James Foley could happen in Australia.

    What is he the Prime Minister rAbbotting on about, it has already happened in Australia years ago many, many, times just study Aboriginal history Mr Prime Minister. What plonker. Oh I forgot, they weren’t white and American therefor no outrage; all forgotten.

  18. Daemon

    I may be completely off-base but my understanding is that core funding for ISIS is coming from the Saudis.

    It makes a stark contrast, as you note, to chop someone’s head off in public, in Riyadh, in the name of some sort of god thing, to protect the mullahs, or to do it in just as public a way with a knife, saying whatever you want to say, to encourage folk to give you money, stop bombing them etc.

    At the end of the day the oil kings of Riyadh will never be held to account for their sub-human behaviour, so why concern ourselves with ISIS. They usually kill other Muslims anyway. The reporter was just wrong place wrong time.

    19 murders in Riyadh, state sanctioned or not, is worse than ISIS in terms of numbers, so why not ridicule the Saudis for being such a bunch of neanderthals, (with apologies to Neanderthals, but I can’t think of a less developed group still rushing around the planet).

  19. Zeke

    Barry, I don’t really think you understood Bernard’s article. The hysteria generated by an IS beheading vs the complete and utter silence when the Saudi Government beheads people for such crimes as “sorcery”. It’s all about “friends” and “enemies”. Friends can commit any kind of atrocity and they are cheered on by Abbott, Hawke, Keating, Howard et al, but all it takes is ONE beheading and Abbott is ready to spend billions in destroying Iraq for a third time despite the so-called “budget emergency”.

    It IS hysteria, Barry. You’ve more chance of slipping and dying in the bath than being killed by a terrorist. If you want to look at problems for Australia then go no further than alcohol. The carnage every week from this drug is horrendous. It consumes billions in police and health resources. There are NO calls for it to be banned or for the liquor industry to be Gaoled.

    You need a little perspective.

  20. Kevin Herbert

    Which is worse?

    1. beheading a person where death is instantaneous OR

    2. turning 70 men, women & children into mincemeat via a drone launched missile, as was the case with Obama a while back….just to assasinate (i.e. murder) one person.

    For as long as the neocon led US MSM promote ugly US exceptionalism via mass murder, no single person with a sword comes close to matching their evil.

  21. klewso

    Abbott and his cherry-picked outrage, again.

  22. Barry Levy

    Yes, of course, Zeke, governments turning a blind eye to Saudi Arabia’s cruel and stupid executions is no excuse. But that still doesn’t mean we, as people, shouldn’t condemn both. And maybe it is because of our good spy agencies that there haven’t been any deaths here yet? As I say, there are a bunch in jail for trying already.

    But, yes Zeke, we should be very narrow and very correct and only concentrate on the issues that YOU deem important.

    Of course we don’t live in the world and therefore shouldn’t worry about what happens elsewhere. Our freedom of course is not bound to anyone else’s freedom. We should tuck our heads in the sand and just sort out our own backyard, hey?

    For my part, I would’ve thought the fact that the Islamist executioner of Folley had a British accent, should make our vigilance not less, but more.

  23. Iskandar

    Today I cleaned out the garden shed and found a copy of The West Australian dated Saturday March 13 2004. The headline story starts “The deadly train blasts in Madrid reinforced the threat to Australia from international terrorism, Prime Minister John Howard warned yesterday”. The attacks were of course blowback for Spain having joined the “Coalition of the Willing” in the onslaught against Iraq. Ten years have now passed and it would appear that the wind sown by the Bush-Blair-Howard axis has now come back as the proverbial whirlwind. Spain learned a lesson and withdrew from Iraq, but now Abbott goes on looping and re-looping the tired old script yet again, obviously having learned nothing. Will this country never get political leadership of something other than mediocrities and hacks?

  24. Itsarort

    Beheadings aren’t particularly nice however; what do people suppose happens when Israeli jets and tanks drop bombs on the little kiddies at the UN hostels in Gaza hmm? The hypocrisy of it all…

  25. David Hand

    The objective of terrorists is to make us afraid and they have. Bin Laden has spectacularly succeeded in changing our perspective of the Islamic world from one of exotic differences to one that we feel threatened by.

    When Jihadists regularly succeed in undertaking terrorist acts around the world such as Bali, London, Madrid, Boston and Mumbai, Keane’s smirking dismissal of the government’s posture towards protecting Australians is little more than a juvenile effort to attack Tony Abbott. Again. And again.

    Talk about unrelenting negativity.

    It’s an “Elaborate charade of terrorism hysteria” is it? We can all sleep easier tonight knowing that Bernard knows all about it and there is no risk.

  26. rhwombat

    #25: The sound of one Hand fapping – again.

  27. Itsarort

    Oh C’mon David Hand, you don’t actually believe Tony Abbott is not using these recent MH17 and ISIL incidents as distractions from the more sticky issues like the situation in Gaza and the Budget woes at home. For crying out loud, Julie Bishop almost barricaded herself behind a dyke to avoid any serious questions about anything other than the ‘good’ vs ‘evil’ dichotomy of shooting down a passenger plane.

  28. David Hand

    Well, Itsa,
    You may choke with frustration that not every event in the life of this government is a disaster, though if Crikey was your only source of news and information you’d believe it so. Talk about a campaigning publication.

    MH17 has given Abbott and Bishop a chance to act on the world stage and they’ve done it very well. But C’mon yourself. What is this article about? There is no terrorist threat in Australia? It’s all being made up by Abbott’s spin merchants?

    What we have are inherently contradictory ideas that the government is criticising the Muslim community for not being vocal enough and that the government is “pandering to Islamic community leaders”. In the Crikey world, Abbott is stuffing both up of course. At the same time.

    This government has done all right. I’m in Malaysia right now and I can tell you there’s no complacency about global terrorism here.

  29. Barry Levy

    Good one, David Hand. You have a good ‘handle’, so to speak, on things — meaning reality. One that many do not like to see because it doesn’t fit with a certain ‘desired’ version of reality.

  30. Tim Keegan

    Why aren’t moderate Catholics speaking out about paedolphiles and their extremist protectors in the Catholic Church? Come on Captain Catholic, do something.

  31. Peter Watson

    >We’re rehearsing many of the terrorism rituals that took place in the lead-up to the Iraq War, including the targeting of the Muslim community.<
    The west is gearing up for war. Too many nutters like rabbott leading the US aligned countries.

  32. Ken Lambert

    Quite right David Hand and Barry Levy.

    Keane is simply using any stick to bash Abbott with. My innocuous comments seem to awaiting Crikey moderation quite often these days.

    Probably because anything said against Muslim crazies makes Crikey nervous – after all these guys can really hurt you.

    People stopped fearing Christians when the Pope lost his divisions and the Zionists gave up terrorism with the Stern gang.

    There is only one way to stop fanatical ISIS, – the same way the Allies stopped fanatical Nazizm.

  33. Venise Alstergren

    Why have I this feeling that the reactionary, and vaguely batty Liberal Party have actually found their market? Where/why are the people who voted for Tony Abbott not begun to realise their man is nothing more than a roadkill in Lycra? Blind Freddy can see it, the people who subscribe to Crikey, the Conversation and the Guardian can see it. But the readers of Mindless, Mendacity Murdoch Inc can’t see it.

    Perhaps our Tone, is dismayed by the voters’ lack of enthusiasm for the Budget. And,driven to desperation, our Rabbott is rounding up this expenditure hoping the relatively small numbers concerned (mega millions) will sorta,
    kinda disappear amongst the multi mega billions of dollars which Australia will need to spend in order to purchase war matériel from American armament manufacturers?

  34. AR

    Umm…which of the three logical consequences of the new demand for more powers applies: – I’ll take a guess and say “all three” and add mudorcian mendacity (scuz the tautology), poltroonish pandering to Mr & Mrs Pooter and utter disregard for anything within cooee of decency.

  35. AR

    onya OneHand – nice conflation of crap there as per your crib sheet (must be pretty tattered by now, new crayons needed?).
    The only dingbats claiming “pandering to Muslims” are the likes of you & the zealots at RabidRight Institutes, contributions tax deductible if BigBi$ ever pays tax.

  36. rhwombat

    Lambert, Hand & Levy: circling the wagons as they circle the drain.

  37. klewso

    Who, in their right mind, supports what these self-obsessed zealots are doing?
    But that sort of “bundling” is what some are attempting, with those that don’t agree with the way this government reckons is the best way to handle this. To discredit those with the temerity to question such policy, that don’t agree that “Abbott’s conservatism is the answer” in public?
    We’ve tried their way. Abbott was part of the Howard government in his “Coalition of the Shilling” – hiving off resources to “fight the good fight” in Afghanistan to go “Liberate Iraq” – under false pretences?
    Obviously I don’t think Right, because
    [I reckon that didn’t work?
    That, in this hole they’ve dug, “This time it will. We just have to trust the same sort of conservative thinking!” won’t?
    I reckon we’ve lost the “War on Terror” when we’re prepared to hand over our freedoms to some government that, in a former embodiment, screwed things up?
    I also think “tyranny/despotism is ambidextrous” – eventually Labor will win government and then they’ll have all this to hand. That will be all Right then too?
    We don’t live in a country run by a tyrant – sponsored by foreign self-interest, in their own commercial enterprises – whose armed forces go around persecuting/murdering “wrong thinkers” – like Iraq and Iran – so I don’t know what motivates or deters them from their zeal; unlike others, obviously.]
    What’s wrong with accepting that current tactics haven’t worked; revisiting, to consider what can be done – more measuredly, this time – if it’s not too late, courses set as they are, by history in human nature?

  38. GideonPolya

    Muslim-origin non-state terrorists have killed only 2,000 Westerners in the last quarter century (this total excluding 2,000 racist Zionist colonizers killed by Palestinians and 3,000 people killed in the 9-11 atrocity that clearly involved the US Government and very likely involved Israeli state terrorists; see “Experts: US did 9-11”: https://sites.google.com/site/expertsusdid911/ and “Racist Zionism and Israeli State Terrorism threats to Australia and Humanity” : https://sites.google.com/site/palestiniangenocide/racist-zionism-and-israeli ).

    In contrast, 12 million Muslims (half of them children) have been killed by the US Alliance by violence or through war-imposed deprivation in the last 25 years , this Muslim Holocaust and Muslim Genocide being also associated with over 20 million terrorized Muslim refugees (see Muslim Holocaust Muslim Genocide”: https://sites.google.com/site/muslimholocaustmuslimgenocide/ and Gideon Polya, “Body Count. Global avoidable mortality since 1950”, that includes an avoidable mortality-related history of every country since Neolithic times and is now available for free perusal on the web: http://globalbodycount.blogspot.com.au/2012/01/body-count-global-avoidable-mortality_05.html ).

    In the last 50 years only 4 Australians have been killed by “terrorists” in Australia, 3 of them in the Hilton Bombing (that many believe was actually due to an operation-gone-wrong of Australian Intelligence) and the other a medical clinic security guard killed by a Right to Life fanatic.

    Yet Neocon American and Zionist Imperialist (NAZI) “terror hysteria” been associated with the preventable deaths of about 60,000 Australians EACH YEAR this century through the horrendous fiscal perversion of committing $125 billion to the US War on Terror. Thus the fiscally utterly perverse $125 billion long-term accrual cost to Australia of the War on Terror can be linked to 0.8 million preventable Australian deaths since 9-11 (Gideon Polya, “Endless war on Terror, Huge cost for Australia & America”, MWC News, 14 October 2012: http://mwcnews.net/focus/analysis/22149-endless-war-on-terror.html ) .

    Over 1 million people world have died opiate drug-related deaths since 9-11 linked to the US Alliance (and Australian) restoration of the Taliban –destroyed Afghan opium industry form 6% of world share in 2001 to 93% in 2007 , this carnage including 200,000 Americans, 50,000 Iranians, 18,000 British, 10,000 Canadians , 8,000 Germans and 4,000 Australians (see “Afghan Holocaust Afghan Genocide”: https://sites.google.com/site/afghanholocaustafghangenocide/ ).
    Yet the Awful Truth is resolutely ignored by the lying, traitorous presstitutes of the Neocon American and Zionist Imperialist (NAZI) subverted and perverted Mainstream media (MSM) , politicians and academics. Accurate reportage is vital for societal safety. but for details of gross malreportage and censorship the global Murdoch media empire, Australian Fairfax media, the Australian ABC, the UK BBC, and the Australian universities-backed web magazine The Conversation in Neocon American- and Zionist Imperialist-perverted and subverted Murdochracy, Lobbyocracy and Corporatocracy Australia and elsewhere in the West see “Boycott Murdoch media”: https://sites.google.com/site/boycottmurdochmedia/ ; “Censorship by the BBC”: https://sites.google.com/site/censorshipbythebbc/ ; “Censorship by The Conversation”: https://sites.google.com/site/mainstreammediacensorship/censorship-by ; “Mainstream media censorship”: https://sites.google.com/site/mainstreammediacensorship/home ; “Mainstream media lying”: https://sites.google.com/site/mainstreammedialying/ ; “Censorship by The Age”: https://sites.google.com/site/mainstreammediacensorship/censorship-by-the-age ; “Censorship by ABC Late Night Live”: https://sites.google.com/site/censorshipbyabclatenightlive/ , “Censorship by ABC Saturday Extra”: https://sites.google.com/site/censorshipbyabclatenightlive/censorship-by-abc-sat and “ABC fact-checking unit & incorrect reportage by the ABC (Australia’s BBC)”: https://sites.google.com/site/mainstreammediacensorship/abc-fact-checking-unit , “Censorship by The Guardian UK”: https://sites.google.com/site/mainstreammediacensorship/censorship-by-the-guardian-uk and “Censorship by The Guardian Australia”: https://sites.google.com/site/mainstreammediacensorship/home/censorship-by-the-guardian-a .

    Informed Australians will utterly reject the lying, traitorous, war criminal, US lackey MSM and the lying, traitorous, war criminal, US lackey Lib-Labs (Liberal-Laborals, Coalition and Labor Right) complicit in 60,000 preventable Australian deaths each year – they will vote 1 Green and put the Coalition last.

  39. David Hand

    Keep wearing your tin foil hat Gideon

  40. Ken Lambert

    What the rhwombats and their fellow travellers need to get through their skulls is that the Muslim community in Australia is not a monolithic united force but rather a disparate ethnically based array of groups each with their own agendas, fears and aspirations.

    The best will be moderate mainstream and progressive. The worst; the Mufti led extreme making outrageous statements about uncovered women as meat, wiping out Israel et al..

    In between will be muslims who are scared of their own potentially radicalised youth being attracted to the crazies in Syria and Iraq.

    Abbott’s task is to embrace the moderate mainstream, reassure the scared, and assist them to suppress the extremist tendencies without surrendering any of our reputation for tolerance and free speech.

    This does not mean that the PM of the liberal democracy we are should pander to cries of victimhood by those playing the identity politics of ethnicity or religion.

  41. Barry Levy

    You speak with a strong and rational voice, Ken. Like.

  42. rhwombat

    @#40: Ah, yes. Howard’s Mufti, and the Saudi funded IS. Read Yusuf’s piece you pillock.

  43. Ken Lambert

    You are aptly named wombat, whether rh or lh

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