Despite being an avid believer in voluntary student unionism, I maintain a life membership of my old university student union. This entitles me to get a range of metropolitan Sydney newspapers for half price.
These days, the union newsagency is shut. So when I want to read that American newspaper they call The Australian, I have no option but to read it online. The other day I was visiting the website and came across an interesting article by Melbourne QC and former Deputy Leader of the Liberal Party, Neil Brown. I don’t know much about Neil – he was a Minister of the Fraser Government when I was just starting high school.
The article (link here) was entitled ‘Ruthlessness in pursuit of terrorism is no crime.’ Although on the website’s homepage, the heading was ‘Kill the tyrant.’
Thanks to Fiona Katauskas
The article’s message was quite simple: if Winston Churchill were alive today, he would probably have murdered Osama bin Laden, Saddam Hussein and anyone else found to be aiding what Brown describes as ‘fundamentalist Islam and its lunatic followers.’
The comparison between Adolf Hitler and Messrs bin Laden and Hussein may seem fair enough to some. The problem is that Churchill and the Allies had little to do with creating the Hitler monster. On the other hand, Europe and the US (and perhaps a few Aussie agricultural boards) had plenty to do with creating and arming Saddam. As for the other dude, we all know his name should really be Osama bin Reagan (link here).
This is not the first time The Australian has published opinion pieces calling for all-out war against a nebulous enemy – which isn’t that difficult to understand if you know where some writers at The Oz get their cue from. To figure this out, you have to visit the websites of other News Corp publications. There you will find an array of writers explaining how the Muslim world is involved in a huge conspiracy to destroy Western civilisation.
One of the more forthright attempts at conspiracy-mongering can be found at the website of the Washington Times, where, you can click (here) and read excerpts from a book written by Times editorial-page editor Daniel Blankley entitled The West’s last chance: will we win the clash of civilisations?
Who are the parties to this clash? Who are our enemies?
Blankley doesn’t hold back. The enemy is ‘the Islamic diaspora’s growing cultural and religious assertiveness – particularly in largely secular Europe, where Muslim cultural assimilation has not occurred.’ (In Australian terms, that means anyone deemed to belong to the same ethno-religious group as a number of convicted gang-rapists, radical sheiks, persons currently on trial for terrorist offences and a few boofheads accused of assaulting surf lifesavers.)
This new ‘cultural and religious assertiveness,’ according to Blankley, will lead to the formation of ‘Eurabia’ – a Europe dominated by the allegedly alien cultures of Muslims. Presumably, some monoculturalist and/or pseudo-conservative op-ed writers for The Australian fear the formation of an ‘Austarabia’.
So how do we stop this from happening? How do we fight the scourge of Muslim culture? How do we defend our liberal democracy and all the values we hold true?
The formula is simple. The best way to protect liberal democracy and the rule of law from a resurgent Islam is to get rid of liberal democracy and the rule of law. After all, if you get rid of the checks and balances of liberal democracy, you can focus your unfettered and undivided attention on fighting the real enemy.
And who is the real enemy?
The real enemy is me, my parents, my nephews, my nieces, my cousins and anyone else presumed Muslim who hasn’t allegedly assimilated. I’m not really sure, but if I were a betting man, then I would have to say this ‘cultural and religious assertiveness’ is what Neil Brown means when he speaks about ‘fundamentalist Islam.’
Like Brown, Blankley looks to historical precedents for clues on how to fight this war. And like Brown, Blankley uses only the shortest of quotations from his sources. For Brown, all you need (to prove that Churchill was prepared to throw liberal democracy and the rule of law out the window) is phrases like ‘What a farce’ and ‘the mainspring of evil’ and the ever-so-instructive ‘bump him off later.’
And the context in which these comments were made?
Well, who knows? And more importantly, who cares? Brown just proffers the phrases, gives a little background, drops a few names, and throws in a year here and there (preferably somewhere before 1950).
To be fair to Brown, I admit that it’s a bit hard to insert lengthy contextualised quotes, references and bibliography into an 800-word opinion piece. But surely it isn’t so hard to at least provide more than a few choice phrases that could be used to support either side of the argument.
Blankley is a bit more careful in his use of quotations. Admittedly, he has the benefit of much more space on the page.
But all the space in the world wouldn’t hide Blankley’s scary message.
Basically, Blankley wants the United States (and, by implication, its allies) to use similar domestic tactics against Muslim minorities as were used against Japanese and German Americans during World War II: constant around-the-clock surveillance, opening of detention camps, and indefinite detention of anyone falling within certain ethno-religious categories.
Blankley has declared a new Crusade. He makes his position clear. He also clearly states why the solution to the problem must involve anyone and everyone except Muslims. ‘Ethnic and religious profiling is a specific war power that must be available to our government,’ he says. ‘Christian Southern Africa (390 million of Africa’s approximately 850 million people), Hindu India, non-Muslim Southeast Asia, Christian Latin America and Russia all have important roles to play in defeating the Islamist jihadists.’
The presumption always is that Muslims are different and simply cannot be trusted. This is not an ideological war. This is a cultural and religious war.
In at least one respect, Blankley’s reasoning is the same as that of Brown. The war on assertive Muslims is as righteous as the war against Hitler: there is no difference between Nazism and culturally and religiously assertive Islam.
The thesis only makes sense if you believe in a grand conspiracy by allegedly assertive Muslims to destroy all that our Western civilisation holds dear. In other words, you have to believe in the sorts of conspiracies about Muslims that Nazi propagandists used against Jews, Gypsies, homosexuals, communists and other religious, ethnic and ideological minorities.
And so what we have is a grand conspiracy which may as well be collected into book form and named The Protocols of the Learned Mullahs of Eurabia.
Essentially, the writings of Blankley and others of his ilk involve waving the flag of hatred and gathering the forces in preparation for a massive inter-civilisational war – a war in which they are prepared to throw out the window the fundamental principles of the civilisation they claim to defend
The reality is that such nonsensical rhetoric confirms the sentiments frequently expressed by bin Laden. The real Muslim extremists want the average Muslim punter to believe the whole world is out to destroy Islam. And so we have an unusual spectacle of allegedly conservative commentators and pundits providing free propaganda services to al Qaeda.
I can’t stand a lot of his Marxist rhetoric, but Tariq Ali has a point. What we are seeing is not a clash of civilisations. Rather, it is a clash of fundamentalisms.
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