Lay Down Your Guns


This week we have something a little different. It’s a story which is as yet somewhat obscure, but which will no doubt grow and burgeon in the public consciousness as the deep truths it contains become self-evident, and the logical consequences become more and more attractive.

The story comes to us via London-based think tank Demos — which tells you right away it’s worth listening to. If there’s one place you can go for good, solid, practical, commonsense, rational, reasonable, down-to-earth, easily understood, implementable advice, it’s a think tank. Whether you want to know how to increase economic growth, achieve a sustainable population, or spend your life sitting around with a pompous attitude telling everyone how to run their lives, a think tank’s your best bet. In this case, the think tank has come up with the ultimate solution to the problem of terrorism. Which is as follows:


Yes, you read it correctly. The West’s key weapon in the War on Terror is Ben Pobjie. Now of course Demos didn’t put it quite so bluntly as that. What they said was that "satire and ridicule can help win the fight against al-Qaeda by stripping it of its glamour and mystique"; but I think we can all see the rather obvious implications that follow — I have been called to the frontline, and it’s up to me to bring down Islamo-fascism and terror for the sake of civilisation.

In a way I’ve been preparing for this all my life. All those jokes about Tony Abbott’s scary smile; all the stuff about Kevin Rudd’s psychotic temper; the endless paragraphs about the lighter side of catastrophic lethal climate change: all this has been leading up to the moment when I grasp my destiny, when I say yes. Yes, I will take up the cudgels! Yes, I will match my wit against your hate speech, my jokes against your suicide bombers, my surprising references to Daryl Somers against your Improvised Explosive Devices. And I will prevail, for my heart is pure, my aim is true, and my catalogue of funny-beard jokes is endless.

So, let’s get to work. Demos’s report stated that "terrorism must be defeated through the deliberate ‘toxification’ of the al-Qaeda brand; not by making it seem dangerous, but by exposing it as dumb," and this is a very insightful point. There is nothing more damaging to a brand than making it seem dumb. Just look at Big Brother, which was a massively successful brand when it was seen as a cool, hip, thrilling, riveting social experiment, but which slipped in the public consciousness when it started to be seen as a never-ending series of poorly framed shots of developmentally delayed teenagers in sarongs. Or take Barnaby Joyce, who had limitless brand appeal until his fatal decision to enter politics.

The lesson is, make al-Qaeda look stupid, and it will crumble like a mound of crushed Arrowroots. And who better to make it look stupid than me, with my well-honed comic instincts and love of baseless mockery? I’ve made more sensible organisations than al-Qaeda look stupid before — remember what I did to the Catholics? Just imagine the terrorists’ reaction when they hear scathing japes such as:

"Osama bin Laden — more like Osama bin Retarden, am I right?"

Or "How many virgins does it take to change a lightbulb?"

Or "What’s the deal with those f**king beards?"

Those are works in progress, of course — I’ll be polishing them up and editing them ruthlessly and adding some incredibly satirical references to camels — but you get my drift. When I am done with them, the terrorists’ brand will be trashed beyond all recognition. It’ll be like Ted Kennedy after Chappaquiddick, or Lisa McCune after those Coles ads.

What it comes down to, of course, is coolness, a subject on which I am something of an expert, being in possession of an extensive collection of Billy Joel CDs and having once met Matt Preston. As Demos notes, "al-Qaeda has become cool … it’s quite exciting … to go overseas, travel, see the world, get to shoot a gun". Which of course is very true, but if all you want to do is see the world and get to shoot a gun, why not become a pirate?

There was a time when piracy was the coolest thing around, but things have changed in the last 300 years. The stark realities of a seafaring life, and the glitz and sexiness of fundamentalist Islam, have swung the pendulum the wrong way. And satire can bring it swinging back! Just watch as I begin churning out article after article on the striking similarities between burqas and Dalek costumes; or about how suicide bombing is a major symptom of gender dysphoria.

This will help achieve Demos’s aim of making al-Qaeda "the equivalent of a middle-aged dad at a school disco". This is something to which we can all relate. I’m sure you remember your own school discos, when you’d be having a marvellous time "getting down" with your pals, when — oh no! — here comes daggy old dad with his lame dance moves and his outdated trousers and his embarrassingly violent interpretations of the Quran.

We need to make it clear, through the medium of satire, that that dorky old Quran is no longer "where it’s at". Muhammad’s old hat, we want to say. The Prophet is so 1996 — why not get on board with liberal democracy — the funky fresh political system that’s all about YOU! Let’s start highlighting the negative sides of Islamist terror — the dingy caves, the poor pay — and the positive sides of the western way of life, like universal suffrage and tiny little denim shorts.

Look, I know you’re with me on this. I know that you’re ready to start laughing hysterically at my clever puns on the name "Fatima" and side-splitting Islamic knock-knock jokes ("Who’s there?" "Sheikh Hilaly!"). I know that you’ll willingly distribute my pieces on the themes of how "Hamas" sounds like some revolting lentil dish, and how easy it is to get the drop on someone who has to pray five times a day. And Twitter will be ablaze once my advice column on how to win the war of ideas by sitting outside mosques eating family-size pizzas during Ramadan goes online.

So come with me now, on a journey of humour, laughter, and ferocious ethno-religious warfare.

By the time I’m finished with them, al-Qaeda will wish they’d never been formed from a loose confederation of Islamic fundamentalists and disgruntled Arab nationalists as a reaction to Western imperialism. I’m going to make them feel stupid. I’m going to make them feel small. I’m going to make them feel as low as Australia’s Greek community during the heyday of Con the Fruiterer.

You and me, Osama. Right here, right now. Let’s do it. You might think the armies of the infidel were a mite tricky to negotiate, but wait till you get a load of the magnum of satire I’m about to uncork all over you. Just like I did to Bolt, and Garrett, and Baz Luhrmann. Broken men, all of them. Your turn.

You’re playing with the big boys now, Osama. Prepare to be lampooned. To the extreme.

Launched in 2004, New Matilda is one of Australia's oldest online independent publications. It's focus is on investigative journalism and analysis, with occasional smart arsery thrown in for reasons of sanity. New Matilda is owned and edited by Walkley Award and Human Rights Award winning journalist Chris Graham.