On extremism

Jock Webb writes: Re. “Rundle: new anti-extremist security plan erodes our freedom” (yesterday) I am a teacher. I am also utterly sick of being expected to provide the magic solution for every new problem. We can find a stack of money to help find radicals, apparently there will be counsellors coming out our ears. But for the troubled victims of god knows what at home, mentally unwell, traumatised and everything else we spend so much of our day trying to patch up nothing. Most teachers are people of incredible good will who will do amazing things for their students. I have watched them for over 20 years. Now we are to become experts on how to stop children becoming radicalised. In my young days they were lying in front of Askin’s car and blockading left and right. My union’s then leadership was on the top of ASIO’s suspicious list. They were an (oh dear), association of educated people. Very dangerous. No doubt there are some people we might notice, if it were easy we would have already referred them (damned if I know to who). Where do we find the time to teach and do the parenting that an increasing and alarming number of parents do not?

John Richardson writes: Thanks Guy Rundle for calling out the deceitful and dishonest campaign being pursued in support of the latest fear meme: “radicalisation”. Once again our cynical and duplicitous politicians from all sides are positively salivating at the prospect of eroding what little is left of our civil liberties, further cowering the citizenry into an increasingly sullen silence. While no-one can ignore or downplay the utterly horrible murders of the three Australians who were victims of domestic terrorist attacks in the past 15 years, where is the common-sense justification for handing a billion dollars to our Police and Intelligence Agencies and enacting the most oppressive laws in response?

Compare that to our political leaders almost “non-response” to the deaths of 22,800 Australians who took their own lives over the 10 years to 2012; the 2,600 who were victims of homicide, the 850 whose lives were taken through domestic violence or the 66 Indigenous Australians who died in police custody over the same period. That both sides of politics in this country have cynically and wilfully sought to out-game each other in this hysterical abuse of public trust and wanton waste of public resources is surely testament to the real dangers confronting our democracy.

That these same politicians would now equate “radicalisation” with “violent extremism” is equally dishonest and deceitful and amounts to a deliberate attempt to stifle genuine and lawful dissent. Were those “radicals” — often guilty of civil disobedience and sometimes jailed — who campaigned against apartheid; Aboriginal deaths in custody; Australia’s involvement in Vietnam and later Iraq; the damming of the Franklin; coal seam gas mining; and those who have campaigned in favour of abortion; the legalisation of prostitution or equal marriage: were they “violent extremists” or terrorists?

Of greater concern in this government sponsored campaign against “radicalisation” is the implicit attempt to stifle public debate by implying that strong views that are not in lockstep with mainstream government propaganda are dangerous and represent an existential threat to our society: witness the federal government’s threat to prosecute detention centre personnel under the Crimes Act should they have the temerity to publicly report or bear witness in respect of crimes perpetrated against asylum-seekers: Time to step up and speak out Australia.

Jackie French writes: Is Guy Rundle seriously decrying the $6 million that will now be put into the NSW school counselling program to “to ensure that they have the skills necessary to identify and help vulnerable young people access support programs”? Maybe you’d like to pause and reflect on that for five minutes, Guy. Teenage aggression is a symptom of depression. It is far better to help kids at school than reap the repercussions of social or domestic violence later in life.

Peter Fray

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Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey