Last night I was one of the few Muslims in Bankstown who attended the QandA session. It was boycotted by many of the Muslim community, led by a few agitators who had tried to convince the ABC QandA crew from changing the format of the show. I agreed with them, but always believe it is better to engage where engagement is offered, rather than simply boycott, and thereby have no engagement at all.
The format of the show particularly suited the Attorney General and his paternalistic manner.Seated alone on the dais, our active and senior members of the Muslim community were required to stand to ask questions or engage with the Attorney General. This meant that there was an immediate imbalance in the way that the show was conducted – the Muslim community and the ‘problem’ areas like Bankstown, were being ‘told’. In effect, Muslim community leaders were being humiliated – albeit at a low level - it clearly showed the AGs intolerance for mutual respect. This is something that continues to happen in all of the ‘negotiations’ that are being held around the country. They are an effort to show engagement but are in reality held to simply enforce the view that the government has.
From the Muslim community’s perspective the government’s view is that it knows what is good for us. It understands better than anyone what Australia represents, what its morals and attitudes should be, and will tolerate those with different attitudes and behavior to a limited extent. Step out of line and you will be hit with the legal hammer. The vast media presence and terrifying images of 800 policemen breaking down doors in the early morning, with helicopters drumming overhead, have filled the Australian wider community with fear. The most fearful are of course innocent Muslims who could be ‘dobbed’ in by a local teacher, and who are monitored day and night. Despite only two arrests, this pre-emptive strike, where one person who had been encouraged to mount ‘a’ terrorist attack was apparently caught, has been used to convince everyone not to stand in the way of the government. This was truly ‘shock and awe’.
In our ‘consultations’ with various government members (and so far the Premier’s meeting seems to have been the most productive) we are given the privilege of meeting with the PM, the AG and various other Ministers. But there is no wicket for us to throw our balls at, we speak to a wall of indifference where a small army of ministerial staff take notes but give no feedback, listen to our suggestions but discard them (all but a few token minor ones to show they are listening). They then lecture us about how we have responsibility for ‘our community’, but are also victims and need to be cared for by the government.
Brandis on QandA reminded me so much of being in the Principal's sights (even though I'm a former Principal lol!), and not a friendly one either. He sees his government as 'protecting' the community that community leaders are 'nurturing' that is being 'preyed upon' by 'very wicked' people. This is such a passive understanding of a very dynamic community. It completely ignores that there is growing anger about the government's policies overseas as well as the lack of resources to tackle employment and social issues in places like Bankstown. It especially ignores the complete freedom that exists to vilify Muslims and the lack of cultural competency exhibited by this government and most of its ministries.
Australia appears now to have the most draconian laws to protect against terror compared to its Allies. And yet there have been only 3 deaths to terrorism related events since the Hilton bombing in 1978, yet tens of people killed in low level gang related violence and thousands killed in domestic disputes. The government will argue that their very strong anti-terror policing has protected Australians. I would argue instead, that the risk of a terror attack is still incredibly low, compared to death by domestic abuse, neglect by government with asbestos, suicide from depression, but by highlighting the bogey man of the crazy terrorist (and who is more crazy than a religious fundamentalist who only thinks of ‘virgins in paradise’) the Government is able to severely limit civil liberties. It has obtained the right to proscribe organisations, places that people can visit, and spy to such a level that the data gathered can be edited in order to ensure a conviction. Any report on their actions can result in jail time for a journalist in this Orwellian society.
In this paternalistic society, Tony Abbott is a great mate and the Attorney General is a great father figure who decides who will leave this country, who will live in this country, who can come to the country and under what conditions they can live. The potential for these laws to abused is incredible, and as the genuinely independent media are shut down (QandA will be given its marching orders for sure in the near future) there will be more airtime for commercial entities encouraging us to relax, spoil ourselves and allow the wealthy to increase their share of the market, and their control of our lives. In the meantime, Muslims will have to toe the line, be interesting items to view in our enclaves and will be encouraged by all legitimate and funded means possible to keep our religion to ourselves while the Muslim world is gradually decimated to the benefit of the allies of Israel.
I did enjoy QandA last night, but perhaps came away a little pessimistic.