LETTERS News Weekly
, May 25, 2013
Boston Marathon bombing
Patrick J. Byrne deserves warm congratulations for his clear-sighted article, “The Boston Marathon bombing in perspective” (News Weekly, May 11, 2013).
Amid the passion and prejudice so often sparked by debate on terrorism and Islam, the article’s analysis stands out for its penetrating insight.
Among Pat Byrne’s most significant points is the statistical evidence for terrorism suspects being frequently identified and handed over to authorities by members of the Muslim community itself.
This is further proof of what was, or should have been, long ago clear to all who bother to think about “jihadist” violence — namely, that the group most under threat from radical Islamic terrorism is not the populations of the West but ordinary Muslims themselves.
It also leads to an important political reflection, which is perhaps the heart of the matter for Australians, and indeed for citizens anywhere who are concerned with the challenge of terrorism.
As I attempted to demonstrate in my book, Nightmare of the Prophet — so kindly published by Freedom Publishing in 2004, with a launch in that year by the then Foreign Minister Alexander Downer — radical Islamic terrorism represents an existential threat which demands a clearly thought-through policy response.
Echoing the Holocaust historian Professor Yehuda Bauer, the book suggested a four-pronged policy response: first, a prudent use of force; second, the building of stronger political alliances with Islamic communities against the violent radicals in their midst; third, economic policies designed to encourage growth of a middle class within Islamic nations; and fourth (and most important of all), a broad propaganda approach designed to isolate and diminish the influence of radical currents within the broader sea of Islam.
The follow-on to the Boston bombings, as reported by Pat Byrne, is interesting in part because it strongly suggests the validity, if not of all four points in this approach, then certainly of point 2.
Muslims, it should hardly need saying, are fellow human beings who neither wish to act violently nor to be thought of as sympathetic to violence in religion’s name.
Despite strong anti-Muslim prejudice in some quarters, no-one in the past 12 years has yet produced evidence that the average Western Muslim is more sympathetic to “jihadist” bombings than the average Western Catholic is sympathetic to knee-capping by the IRA.
The post-9/11 cooperation by many Western Muslims with security and police authorities in identifying and halting the actions of a violent few among their number should be applauded. It should also signal to non-Muslims who are serious about opposing radical Islamic terrorism that their most important allies are not indeed the brave men and women of the security forces, but rather the mainstream practitioners of the Islamic faith — of whom, fortunately, there is a growing number in Australia.
If we have not yet learned to tell enemy from friend, we may be in danger of losing the war.
DLP outpolls Greens in Victoria
In its report on Victoria’s Lyndhurst state by-election, Melbourne’s daily, The Age (April 28, 2013), retained its role as cheer squad for the Australian Labor Party (ALP) and the Greens, regardless of the facts.
The Age did acknowledge that Family First did well, but portrayed the result as a significant victory for the ALP and, without listing the votes received by each candidate, stated that the Greens’ “two-party preferred vote” was “31 per cent”.
The Democratic Labor Party (DLP) was not mentioned.
Actually, even with a good candidate and no Liberal, the ALP primary vote in Lyndhurst fell by around 15 per cent! The Greens were convincingly outpolled by both Family First (over 14 per cent), and the DLP’s Geraldine Gonsalvez (more than 11 per cent for the DLP, nearly 10 per cent for an Independent, under 9.5 per cent for the Greens and, even with the benefit of the donkey vote, less than 8.5 per cent for the Sex Party).
The Age report suggested that the Greens came second or perhaps third. Actually, the Greens came fifth!
Unless it wanted to conceal the truth from its readers, why would The Age state the “two-party preferred vote” of the candidate who came fifth, while ignoring the results for candidates who got many more votes?
The Age regularly distorts the facts and misleads its readers in its promotion of the Greens and the ALP. Unfortunately, The Age rarely allows its distortions to be corrected, even in its letters section — a part of the paper that seems to be largely reserved, of course, for attacks on Tony Abbott!
Imagine how well it might do if the public actually knew that the DLP exists and what it stands for!
Of course, this is precisely what The Age seems determined to prevent.
former DLP MLC
for Western Victoria