Tag Archives: Paris

Turnbull v Abbott: PM in an age of terror

17 Nov

Abbott v Turnbull

 

Insofar as personality is a signifier of leadership ability (and like it or not, it is probably the most important characteristic as far as the voting public is concerned) Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull was visited by the good fairy in his cradle while ex PM Tony Abbott was imbued with a Dickensian gloom by the bad one, who apparently took a set against him and threw in more than a dash of dark pugility as well.

Turnbull is a happy man who will likely smother us into an uneasy, baffled silence with his unrelenting affability and charm. Abbott is one of the more miserable public figures I can recall, who seems to feel it’s his duty to hector, lecture and create division amongst us, till we are choked by a miasma of exhausted despair.

However, Turnbull’s intelligence, good nature and charm works well for him internationally: sophisticated, urbane, accomplished, personable and wealthy, people take to him (if they don’t have to put up with him all the time, as do we) and likely open to him in ways it is impossible to open to Abbott, who never quite seems to get past the influences of the seminary, and his belief that he’s been chosen to bring us Truth.

If there is one thing we don’t need as we gird ourselves to deal with terrorist attacks at home and abroad, it’s a leader who believes he is the bearer of existential truths, and who sees the world in black and white with no inclination at all to investigate the grey zone.

Abbott has all the characteristics of the religious zealot, and since the Paris attacks has found various platforms from which to peddle his hatred of other religious zealots because their zealotry threatens his. This will get us nowhere, or rather, it will see us in a whole lot of serious domestic turmoil as tribe turns against tribe, ignorant prejudices fuelled by Abbott and his nemesis Pauline Hanson, whom he landed in jail because she threatened his claim to the title of Australia’s Leading Incitor of Fear.

Turnbull, on the other hand, will appear as a voice of reason, though he lost it somewhat when he first heard about the Paris attacks, stating that though the killers claimed to have acted in the name of God, they were actually perpetrating the work of the devil. Such rhetoric is entirely unnecessary. There’s nothing in the least supernatural about terrorism: it’s perpetrated by humans upon humans. The ability to terrorise is one of our more undesirable characteristics.

The PM’s relentless charm and good will is likely just what we need at this time to keep us steady: he is unlikely to threaten anyone with a damn good shirt fronting, and while he’ll be criticised mercilessly as a pussy by those who would see us engage in world war three, at least he won’t be whipping up ill will and fear. For this relief, much thanks.

I am of the opinion that it is the intention of Daesh to turn us against one another, and have those of us they don’t slaughter permanently weakened by fear, mistrust and hatred. Abbott’s trajectory, and that of those who support him, will lead us to precisely the same place: severely weakened by fear, mistrust and hatred, bitterly divided against one another. Daesh could not find more suitable allies than Abbott, Hanson, the usual shock jocks, religious fundamentalists and those who in some way, material and egotistical, profit from war.

Turnbull’s biggest challenge will be to control those within his own party who thrive on fear and repression. They are supported by many media voices, and their platforms are assured.

There is little that can be done to control Daesh at the moment. The only certainty is that for communities to turn against one another will be to give Daesh what they desire. I am not in the least enamoured of Turnbull or his style, but I can’t help thinking he is a marginally better leader in these times, in terms of the terrorist threat, than his ousted predecessor.

As far as domestic issues are concerned, the image at the top of the post says everything. Polish it up all you want, it’s still what it is.

 

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Solidarity

16 Nov
People light candles during a vigil at the site of the two explosions that occurred on Thursday in the southern suburbs of the Lebanese capital Beirut, November 13, 2015. REUTERS/Hasan Shaaban - RTS6U96

People light candles during a vigil at the site of the two explosions that occurred on Thursday in the southern suburbs of the Lebanese capital Beirut, November 13, 2015. REUTERS/Hasan Shaaban – RTS6U96

 

I’ve read all I can read for now from genuine experts, armchair experts, bigots, racists, xenophobes, politicians, atheists, religious persons, and trouble mongers, on the Paris terrorist attacks.

I don’t have the knowledge, the expertise, the wisdom to add to the thousands of words already written.

This woman, journalist Ruby Hamad, born to a Lebanese father and a Syrian mother, says, for mine, the most important things that need to be said. In her article titled Paris attacks: Is solidarity for white terror victims only ? Ms Hamad, without hatred, rancour or the desire for vengeance, says what needs to be said about who is and who is not considered fully human, what it feels like to not make the grade, and who gets to decide.

Please read her piece.

Racist prophecies from Department of Immigration replace informed advice

8 Sep

In a briefing to Tony Abbott yesterday, Department of Immigration secretary Andrew Metcalfe warned the Opposition leader that on-shore processing of asylum seeker claims would lead to 600 boat arrivals a month. This would cause overcrowding in detention centres making community release inevitable, and this in turn would cause tensions between asylum seekers and the community comparable to those that allegedly led to the rioting in Paris in 2010, and more recently in London.

It’s enough to make a grown woman cry.

Without offering any evidence at all for this causal chain, Metcalfe takes it upon himself, along with his officials, to offer unsubstantiated opinion that is divisive, hostile, demonizing, racist and irresponsible. Is this an indicator of the culture inside the Immigration Department? Of course it is.

Metcalfe then makes a fantastical leap, linking riots in Paris with the riots in London and other UK cities, just because they’re all riots, I suppose. Just because people from non Anglo cultural backgrounds took part in both of them, as did whites, but don’t mention that. Just because immigrant families were involved in the Paris riots and some immigrant families took part in the UK riots. Or just because Mr Metcalfe and the Immigration Department don’t like refugee families who arrive by boat from the Middle East and Metcalfe just has a feeling in his water that they’ll riot if they get out into the community in sufficient numbers just like they have in Paris and London.

Metcalfe doesn’t have to substantiate this ignorant drivel before he and his staff broadcast it to Australia, it’s sufficient that they think it for it to become their professional advice to politicians.

Even the most superficial assessment of the Paris and London riots would concede that there were very different factors at work. The Paris riots broke out in a self-described immigrant ghetto on the outskirts of the city, where young French citizens, ostracised because of their skin colour and/or their immigrant parentage, rioted against French President Nicholas Sarkozy‘s right-wing anti-immigration rhetoric, and the miserable and disadvantaged circumstances of their lives.

The UK rioters came from a much wider demographic, and overt political protest was not a motivating factor. Few of the UK rioters could be described as living in ghettos comparable to those in Paris. But a riot is a riot, according to Metcalfe. Let’s not split hairs. If they’re from another culture, the Middle East in this case, if they’re refugees and if there’s enough of them, they’ll riot, causing social upheaval, fear and destruction in previously safe Australian communities.

The asylum seeker debate, (though to call it a debate is to dignify it) is top-heavy with unsubstantiated codswallop useful only to those who harbour the evil desire to whip up fear and uncertainty in the community. Has everybody turned into Pauline Hanson, because what’s come out of the Immigration Department in the last twenty-four hours could have been written by her.

We are awash with these generalizations, that are nothing better than lies and obfuscation. They are not argument and they are not debate. It’s unacceptable that public servants are given free rein to express uninformed and ignorant racial prejudices in the guise of advice to politicians. There’s opinion and there’s advice. The latter requires evidence and substance. Metcalfe’s conflation of the London and Paris riots is ignorant personal opinion, and to use ignorant personal opinion as the basis for policy advice to government and politicians is unprofessional.

On August 16 Andrew Metcalfe fronted a parliamentary inquiry into mandatory detention of boat arrivals, and suggested that politicians should consider the usefulness of detention as a deterrent. He also urged them to consider how to achieve a better balance between our international obligations and our need for border security. At the time, some of us were encouraged by Metcalfe’s stand, however in view of yesterday’s irresponsible claims, it would seem his racist fear of rioting Middle Eastern immigrants trashing our communities will inevitably dominate and prejudice his thinking.

Is this another example of senior public servants telling politicians what they think the politicians want to hear? Or have we been granted an insight into a racist culture in the department that nicely corresponds with both government and opposition policies? Is racism so ingrained in this country’s asylum seeker/border protection policies that neither senior public servants nor politicians no longer feel any need to even attempt to conceal it?

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