Dec 22, 2017

Flinders Street attack begets online racist hatred, which tabloids feed on

Hatred on social media -- and the tabloids that eat it up -- is born of ignorance, and the media has a responsibility to change that it, writes Irfan Yusuf.

Irfan Yusuf — Lawyer, author and commentator

Irfan Yusuf

Lawyer, author and commentator

After news broke than an SUV that had smashed its way through a very familiar part of Melbourne on Thursday, news outlets reported it was a deliberate incident, not just an accident. Later, terrorism was ruled out, the perpetrator having a long history of drug abuse and mental illness.

We soon learned the driver was an Australian of Afghan heritage. The hateful commentators, columnists and trolls were waiting for this moment. “These Afghans come to our country and refuse to follow our ways”. “Wherever the Afghans go, terrorism follows”. “Afghans are the ones who filled our country with drugs”. On and on they went.

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52 thoughts on “Flinders Street attack begets online racist hatred, which tabloids feed on

  1. The Curmudgeon

    Is Miranda Devine sane?

    1. Zeke

      Ms Devine might be sane but her readers aren’t.

    2. Whodathunkit

      She is very sane. She has worked out, like Bolt, Jones et al, that there is good money to be made vomiting far right wing, racist, redneck bigotry through her keyboard.

      1. Richard

        So, cunning, like a rat?

        1. Whodathunkit

          “As cunning as a fox who has just been appointed Professor of Cunning at Oxford University.” (Cpt Blackadder)

    3. AR

      It may be debatable whether she is sane but there is no question at all that she is utterly shameless about the vile things she writes.
      The ultimate “kick down/kiss up” hack.

  2. Graeski

    Scratch the surface of alt-right types and you’ll soon find someone who hates Jews just as much as they hate Muslims: ironic, given the conflict between these two religions worldwide. And the example you give at the start of this article, Irfan, suggests that the problem is not simply one of West versus Islam.

    I believe it is a matter of political expediency rather that racism. Ever since Adolf Hitler, politicians in so-called ‘democratic’ countries have relied on inflaming the passions of the less intelligent, less well-informed half of the population as the easy path to power. The Liberals in Australia and the Republicans in the USA, and their associated commentariats, are just two current examples of this. The easiest and safest way to do this, of course, is by demonising a minority.

  3. Richard

    It was obvious that this was going to happen as you say, as soon as somebody (Turdball) uttered the words “of Afghan descent”.
    Can we look forward to racial profiling for all crimes and even tragic accidents?
    This guy was mentally disturbed, almost certainly because of the damage done to his homeland by we, the “good guys” following the US and its fraudulent war of terror.
    When the next elderly white person crashes his/her car into a crowded cafe/house/school after having a fit/stroke/heart attack/being drunk/demented or just plain dumb, are we going to be told “The driver was of English/Irish/Scottish whatever, descent?? I doubt it very much.
    This ghastly “blame signalling” must stop.

      1. Peter Wileman

        And we are going to have many more mentally scarred in the community when Manus has been closed and we, through our ‘blameless’ government have paid out millions (billions?) in rightful compensation.

    1. Craig

      Your response to the liberation of Afghanistan from Taliban control is quite disturbing. Thanks to that ‘fraudulent war on terror’ Afghani women and girls no longer have to spend their lives living in black bags and can even get a (shock horror) education. If anything you should be criticising the US for failing to continue their mission in Afghanistan which has resulted in a resurgence of the Taliban.

      1. Richard

        How far back in history are you capable of going?
        Do you remember who effectively set up the Taliban when it suited their aims?
        Do you forget the initial stated aim of the assault on Afghanistan was that the Taliban were harboring Osama Bin Laden (they weren’t).
        As it turned out, the reasons were closer to the pockets of oil/gas men (as anybody paying attention already knew) than the way women were treated.
        That was an excuse for the useful propaganda proles to use.

        1. Craig

          I’m well aware of failings on US foreign policy in the past, and in the present and I’m no spokesman for them in that regard. Regardless, the war in Afghanistan was a just one. The stated aims of the invasion were to dismantle al-Qaeda and deny it a safe base of operations by removing the Taliban. Regardless of Bin Laden’s whereabouts al-Qaeda was operating out of Afghanistan.
          I’m not even going to entertain your tin-foil hat theories about oil. Tell it to the liberated women of Afghanistan. Apparently you would be happy if they were still under the heel of the fundamentalist nutters they used to be oppressed by?

          1. Richard

            ‘tin-foil..I would be happy…?”
            You dragged that foolish ignorant and illogical smear out of your fundamental orifice. All you want to do is have a go at Muslims but don’t have the balls to do it blatantly.
            I call you on that.

          2. Richard

            And .. It is always the more powerful who later pontificate and justify mass murder (and resource theft) by piously going on about the justness of any of their violence.

        2. [email protected]

          I assure you that you know nothing about the real reasons for this conflict.

          1. Richard

            Looks like you are replying to me.
            If so, I assure you that I do know a significant deal more than most (not counting readers of the alt news) about the origins of the US invasions of Afghanistan and elsewhere throughout the ME and the fallout thus far. There future?? Not so easy, but not looking good.

      2. AR

        You might want to look at pics of Kabul in the late 60/70s when women could wear western dress, were highly educated and in positions of responsibility.
        It was this which so riled the feudal mullah landlords that they incited the destruction of schools, hospitals, bridges and irrigation project throughout the country.
        This insurrection was then funded, initially by Carter at the instigation of Big Z who, in his autobiography is proud to have goaded the hapless Prez into this folly, “… to drag Russia into their own Vietnam quagmire – who cares if it leaves a bunch of stirred up muslims.”
        Blowback is a bastard.

    2. Charlie Chaplin

      Agreed, Richard. I first heard “of Afghan descent” this morning on 2HD talkback radio news ( think John Laws ) and remarked to my mother I was surprised it wasn’t “Muslim terrorist”, but figured people would hear the dog whistle, anyway. Seems the people did.

  4. Craig

    There is an interesting trend on the left where we seem to disbelieve the reasons people (particularly Muslim people) do what they do. ISIS blow something up in the name of extremist Islam and we demand that religion has nothing to do with it, it must be purely political, or just bad people doing bad things.
    This chap has driven a vehicle into people because of, maybe amongst other things, the “mistreatment of Muslims”. Now he may well be mentally ill, but why don’t we take what the chap tells us at face value for once?

    1. cyberfysh

      Because he’s mentally ill?

      1. Craig

        Interesting opinion. So for instance, in your view, being depressed (and therefore mentally ill) means that you are incapable of holding a coherent opinion on something?

        1. Richard

          You aren’t much on compassion or even knowledge about mental illness, are you? Again, it does not serve your blatant prejudices.

        2. seriously?

          Well it has been described as being said amongst other “utterances” (the police’s words). I’d place little weight or credibility on “utterances” made by a mentally disturbed, drug addled person. I mean the guy must have been pretty doped up when he drive the car – you can clearly see in the vision the police having to slap him around the face to wake him up after he had been pulled from the car. Hardly the modus operandi of your typical “terrorist”.

          1. [email protected]

            Actually that’s exactly the modus operandi of your typical terrorist. Most human bombs are given drugs before they walk into the crowd. Their older minders do it to ensure that they don’t wimp out or come to their senses.

          2. Richard

            As an expert on the MO of your typical terrorist (you might want to help ASIO out here… one of the problems is the variety of possible ways terrorists can effect an attack), can you tell us the 3 characteristic that can predict whether or not one particular group will use suicide tactics against another?
            On a point of order though, driving a vehicle into a crowd in a European city is not yet an assured way of getting yourself killed, unlike in that other land that must not be named here.

        3. cyberfysh

          “… in your view, being depressed (and therefore mentally ill) means that you are incapable of holding a coherent opinion on something?”
          No; but someone in an apparently psychotic state, to the degree that he’s willing to drive through a crowd of people, may say any number of things at that time which aren’t necessarily evidence of coherent opinions he might otherwise hold.

          1. Richard

            By and large, depending upon the degree of depression, yes.
            But not everybody who is “depressed” is mentally ill and vic versa.
            There is a difference between being a bit sad you have to leave a good party or sad that you have to get out of bed in the morning.

    2. Richard

      You mean because you need the “amongst other things” ramblings of one sad sick man to justify your personal preconceived prejudices?
      Q.. What do you think might contribute to the man being psychologically disturbed? After all, he is from Afghanistan.

      1. Craig

        It may well be too early to make a settled judgment of this situation. However, going on the information available to us it seems reasonable to assume fundamentalist Isalmist ideology may play some part in it. If new information comes to light to contradict this assumption then that position can change to reflect said information.
        It isn’t a prejudice to accept the fact that many Muslims are infected with a particularly dangerous interpretation of Islam. There is only so long we can bury our heads in the sand for.

        1. Richard

          It is not reasonable at all. That much has been made crystal clear to all but the most deliberate Islamophobic antagonist and/or other trolls.

          1. Craig

            You don’t think it’s a reasonable assumption even when the person in question deliberately drives a vehicle in to people (reminiscent of prior terrorist attacks) and then states that it was because of mistreatment of Muslims?
            Also try to remember that just because someone has a different opinion to you, you don’t have to denigrate them. So far I’m a prejudiced Islamaphobe. Anything else you want to sling at me? Try to remain civil.

          2. Richard

            I find your simplistic reasoning and supposed “only asking” comments utterly disingenuous. Explained elsewhere. You are in no position to call others uncivil.
            We can leave the comment thread for others to judge.

          3. [email protected]

            Islam has a problem, only it’s a problem that might kill you.

            Judaism, Christianity, Hinduism, etc, all have problems too, but I’m not too worried about being killed by anyone of those faiths.

            You can make as many excuses as you like, but if just one ‘misunderstood’ person of Islamic faith kills another person, wbilst quoting the unfair treatment of muslims, no matter what mental state, then it’s just not worth the risk of having them in our society.

          4. Richard

            Tonym2 Just one…?? Muslim, of course..
            You are doing exactly what the puppet masters of fear want you to do.
            Listening to their deceitful propaganda and promises that only they can keep you safe from the hordes of ravening blooded Jihadist just waiting to rape our “leetle gurls and wiimin” and wash their hands in the blood that pours from our slashed throat will warp your sensibilities and humanity.
            Far more Muslims are killed by Christians, Jews, Buddhist, atheists (etc) and fellow semi coreligionist Muslims than any number of Christians, Jews, Buddhist, atheists (etc) killed by Muslims.
            You also don’t do logic, understanding of mental illness and even compassion very well, do you.
            Where is your compassion for the millions killed, maimed, rendered stateless (etc) in the ME by the forces of the Judeo Christian West?
            Your empathy is misplaced and racist.

          5. drsmithy

            You can make as many excuses as you like, but if just one ‘misunderstood’ person of Islamic faith kills another person, wbilst quoting the unfair treatment of muslims, no matter what mental state, then it’s just not worth the risk of having them in our society.

            Does that mean we can apply the same standard and if one “misunderstood” person of those other faiths kills someone, it’s also not worth the risk of having them in our society ?

            Might help a lot of our problems.

        2. drsmithy

          It isn’t a prejudice to accept the fact that many Muslims are infected with a particularly dangerous interpretation of Islam.

          Indeed. The “prejudice” part comes when you apply that to all Muslims.

          There is only so long we can bury our heads in the sand for.

          Bury our heads in the sand ? Who actually disagrees that “many Muslims are infected with a particularly dangerous interpretation of Islam” ?

          1. Richard

            Nobody I know and I know people of each and every faith and many atheists. It is the bigots and phobes who pain all with the useful broad brush strokes of universal responsibility.

      2. greg jb

        ummm more likely drug use would be the cause than nationality.

    3. drsmithy

      Now he may well be mentally ill, but why don’t we take what the chap tells us at face value for once?

      Because it wouldn’t be useful ? What do you propose we conclude ? That anyone “concerned about mistreatment of Muslims” is prone to driving vehicles into crowds ? That anyone who drives a vehicle into a crowd does so because they are “concerned about mistreatment of Muslims” ?

  5. JQ

    No, Irfan, the research by All Together Now did not “show” [that] the media is often the only exposure the average Aussie has with people of non-white races and non-Christian ethno-religions,” it proclaimed it, without any statistical evidence to back up its assertion. Here is the quote to which you refer: “The media is often the only interaction audiences have with people from other cultures, nationalities or ethnicities.”
    Care to elucidate how exactly your “average Aussie” audience is defined?
    I also presume you’ve done a factor analysis to identify if the views espoused in randomly selected media articles and by commentators with extreme views following distressing events align with the views of the general community?
    The report declares that since it has been established (!) that the media is the only exposure average Australians have to foreign culture, (a laughable proposition in Australia in 2017 – been to school or had a job in a city in the last 30 years?), that this then affects how the public interacts with people from different racial backgrounds. You might try looking up the word syllogism and then throwing ATN’s ideologically driven report into the garbage.

  6. CML

    No Irfan…race is not the problem here…religion is.
    I’m an atheist, so ALL religions are equally barmy as far as I’m concerned…but when individuals from ANY religion commit crimes (and suggest their religion/culture is the reason) then people have the right to criticise the action they undertake.
    The bottom line is…we would all be better off if religion was banished from the face of the earth!!

  7. klewso

    All’s not lost, as Julia Baird (tonight’s The Dum) said “There’s piles of material that investigators are yet to wade through” – who knows what they might (hopefully?) find?

    Personally I can’t work out the difference between falling victim to :
    a) someone with mental health and drug problems, “hearing voices”, impelling them to wreak havoc on society (Gargasoulas?); or
    b) someone disillusioned/marginalised/disenfranchised, with the sort of impressionable personality and experiences that leaves them open to the influence of a manipulative force such as wielded by those that might seek to wreak havoc on society (for whatever reason) through those they “radicalise”?
    But apparently there is?

  8. klewso

    I’m glad I wasn’t born a ‘native Australian’, growing up in one of those parts of Oz that “benefitted” so much from Christian patronage 60+ years ago?
    Or in US states like Georgia or Alabama ….. or that I wasn’t in Charleston just 18 months ago – sharing a pew with Dylan Roof?
    How do you like your Special KKKs?

    1. klewso

      That’s “Or born African American in US states like Georgia, Alabama” and Charleston, of course …. though Native Americans weren’t spared that “magnanimous beneficence” either.
      It’s never ceased to amaze me, the destructive, intolerant, monocular, myopic attitude of religious and racial supremacists – of any variety.
      Their inability to see that which so upsets them in ‘others’, in their own? What they think they can do in their god’s name to set to rights such deviant/aberrant behaviour as they see it.

      1. Coral SeeNQ

        Klewso as a rabid dispiser of religion in politics, I am going to join you down this rabbit hole detour for a moment and drift away from this hapless man who has just thrown his own life away as he harmed so many others in doing so, but but I must object to your reference to being glad not being born in parts of OZ that were under the yoke of Cristianity. Apart from indigineous people whose circumstances were different, most aussies found themselves in state and private schools that had one class a week of religious studies which you could get out but which you didn’t need to because it was mostly a great muck up. I think most aussies from yon’ time of which you speak, fortunately, except when someone is pretty crook or they have someone in war or in danger, are your normal garden variety heathen. It’s them that are using religion of late as part of this right wing culture war stuff that’s new or recently imported from lessons learnt from U.S by Bernardi and co of trying to politically mobilize racist bigoted types from evangelicals and other extreme oppressive types like security agency nazis. However it was the black vote and in particular black women that turned the Alabama race for Jones and we know that this amazing group of the ‘great put upon’ have used a religion to hold their communities together and to organize from them. We know it was Jones who ultimately bought the case against those KKK’s that hurt those little girls in their church so long ago. Just sayin’ as a backslider we need to stay nice and just remember hypocrisy and venal self interest is what is being trotted out by the new christian right in this country as christian values, which in and of themselves can be quite fine and even helpful to those who face great odds. But practising hypocrisy fortunately is detectable by deed and word, that’s why someone once said something about ‘casting the first stone’ about judging another to make that exact point, but just be sure and don’t tell Miranda because she is an expert on values you know

  9. AR

    The usual obfuscatory, misdirecting, look over there from this author.
    The only thing all religions have in common is that they believe the others to be wrong. It’s also the only thing they have correct.

    1. Zeke

      Who mentioned his religion? No one. A random utterance about “injustice to Muslims” doesn’t make one a Muslim.
      You should also take note that the huge majority of religious people keep their religion to themselves and only a few use their religion as a tool to help their political cause.
      BTW, I’m an atheist.

      1. Richard

        It was announced that he was of Afghan descent so the trolls and other life forms jumped to conclusions.

  10. Itsarort

    Perhaps the word “terrorist” is too attractive for some. Maybe we need a new name like, “Flog Sock”? And then the Gov can run an ad campaign like “Don’t be a Tosser”. However this time it will read, “Don’t be a Flog Sock”. I think it will stick…

    1. Itsarort

      Besides, MD is a hack. If it wasn’t for her darling daddy Frank’s loyalty and devotion to Murdoch over the years, she’d be handing out leaflets for the Australia First Party.

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