Thursday, September 20, 2012

shovelling smoke

Recently there was a demonstration by extremist Muslims in Sydney. Around the world, radical Muslims have been demonstrating against a film Innocence of Muslims which - assuming at least some of the people commenting on it have actually seen it – ridicules Islam.

To be honest, I tried to watch it and found it a simplistic and preachy, pathetic attempt at humour. I say tried to watch it because it was too tedious to sit through to the end. Does it preach hate? Can’t say, but I can see why it would be as insulting as the worst stuff directed against Christianity or other schools of spiritual thought.

The Sydney protesters did not seek a licence, it seems to have been a spur of the moment thing organised by text message [swarming]. It was barely containable despite the arrival of a huge contingent of police – in fact, several police officers were badly hurt during the fracas.

Children were used to carry placards with messages of hate. Not just messages of hate and intolerance; but a call to violence.


Some time ago Alan Jones – right wing shock jock – said our Prime Minister should be put in a chaff bag and thrown out to sea.

There are some key differences between the Sydney protest and Jones’ comments, though I’m not sure just how much worse one incident was than the other.

We expect sanctimonious hyperbole from shock jocks. It sells.
Alan Jones was only targeting one person.
Both calls to violence were public – a radio audience would be much larger than the number of people in contact with the Muslim protesters in Sydney. But a physical presence is intimidating and – as seen by the number of police injured – can make for fantastic news footage.
The number of protesters in Sydney was smaller than Jones’ radio audience, but worldwide the number of protesters was huge.

Jones’ unforgivably cheap rudeness was a reaction against alleged political hypocrisy.
The extremist Muslim protest and violence was supposedly a reaction to the alleged, widespread intolerance of Islam.

The accusation of intolerance made by the extremists is so generalised it deems millions of Australians guilty with no right of appeal. It seems to assume people are either “with ‘em or agin ‘em” and most people in democratic countries are agin ‘em.

I can’t help but wonder how we ought to define incitement to hatred or violence in a way that lends a sense of proportion to Jones’ outburst compared to the jihadist call for beheading people – most of whom are, at worst, guilty of yawning indifference.

Where should we place the limits to freedom of speech? If we silence people, how will we know how many people are thinking what?


The extremist Muslim interpretation of jihad has parallels with the Christian Inquisition that ruled the western world [and its ‘possessed’ territories of empire] through terror for centuries. The only real changes have been technology, and the ratio of Christians to Muslims.
[Ironically enough, in both cases, Jewish people are targets for genocide, even though the two top teams in the grand final playoffs were Christians and Muslims.]


This violent protest episode has given me pause. I’ve long assumed that we’ve only involved ourselves in the internal conflicts of other countries when there has been a threat to the availability of resources such as oil.

The ‘war on terror’ and the invasion of Iran have been built on a hollow claim about Weapons of Mass destruction, but are we now seeing a political shift from a domino theory about the spread of communism to a domino theory about the spread of radical Islam? If so, aren’t we a little outnumbered, and aren’t we fighting a much tougher enemy?

If the main lesson of the war in Vietnam is that money and might don’t necessarily win against ideology, we shouldn’t be too cocky about trying to stamp out radical Islam outside our own backyard.

It is one thing to fight proxy wars against the USSR’s perverted idea of communism, which ultimately proved as unpopular within the USSR as it became elsewhere – and another altogether to fight a war against an idea not contained within any particular borders.
Extremist Islam is an idea so irrational it could survive just about anything we care to throw at it

Jihad and its greatest weapon, the suicide bomber, have strong parallels with the racial and religious imperialism, and kamikaze cult, which characterised Japan’s involvement in WW II.

While I hate to think that we might ever be able to justify killing innocent people or resorting to atomic bombs, it is widely accepted that bombing Hiroshima and Nagasaki was the only way to stop Japanese Imperialism in its tracks.

However, there is no single country we could attack effectively enough to put a halt to the march of extremist jihad.

The leftist hippy part of me thinks it’s long past the time when we should stop dropping bombs from the sky and start dropping gifts. But of course, this is ridiculous because without the arms industry the global economy might well collapse completely.


One problem is that trying to identify exactly who is the enemy is a little like shovelling smoke.
Muslims have very quickly become “they” to some, and there have been many people insisting that the more reasonable Islamic councils in Australia must speak forcefully against extremist violence.
To be fair, some branches of the media are acknowledging that more reasonable Islamic councils have spoken forcefully against this violence, both on this occasion and in the past.

One organization which did not speak out against the violence is Hizb ut Tahirr which, according to Wikipedia, was founded in Jerusalem in 1953. The Wiki article says Hizb ut Tahirr describes Israel as an ‘illegal entity’. The article further says this organisation “explicitly commits itself to non-violence”, so their failure to say anything about the Sydney violence – apart from ‘it wasn’t us’ – seems a tad inconsistent.

We can talk about what should be a crime and how it should be punished, or suggest that another solution is to be more careful about who we accept as immigrants, but little is being said about the root causes of worldwide support for this extremism, or what we must address if we want to prevent the spread of support.


  1. Easily sorted. We don't interfere in Muslim countries and we don't allow them here in Australia. What is the attraction of a secular country like Australia to Muslims? Nowt more than lifestyle, money and education for their children, in private religious yet government supported schools. You can only see what happens. Whatever country Muslims have gone to, they have caused problems. Did I hear six million Muslim immigrants in France? They live in appalling housing on the outskirts of Paris and not French in any manner, except for their language. Muslims in the US are not game to open their mouths there, lest the wrath of the average American fall upon them.

    I would really like a defender of the Muslim religion to point out to me why Australia, which has successfully absorbed people from all over the globe, have a problem with Muslims?

    US presidents have to pander to the Jewish vote. Muslims know this and behave accordingly. Australia has no need to pander to any religious vote. We are too secular for that. Long may it remain so.

    1. Hi Andrew,
      firstly, when you say we don't interfere in Muslim countries do you mean 'we shouldn't'? I think if we left afghanistan and stopped sucking up to the US as our military protectors, the world would be much better off.

      What did we achieve by helping to reduce Baghdad to rubble? We just gave more people reason to hate us. They may have hated Sadam Hussein, but many will have suffered more because of indiscriminate bombing. They may have hated it but they survived - until we came along. They are no more likely to write a PhD about westerners before forming an educated and informed opinion than we are to do the reverse. We - and they - base our prejudices on immediate experiences, emotions, and anecdotes. We are all humans.

      I suppose I come across as a defender of muslims. What I'd like to think is I defend any decent person, regardless of what their views are about god. I don't have a problem with all Muslims, but I do really resent the white dress and doily brigade.

      One good suggestion I've seen is that no one should qualify for Oz citizenship until they've been here at least 10 years.
      I'm all for multiculturalism but NOT for pluralism. One decent and reasonably tolerant culture as opposed to a fractured society.
      This is why the proposal to change our constitution guaranteeing we will protect cultureS is such a frightening crock of thoughtless rubbish.

      All the emails TO gets from France confirm that Muslims are detested. In fact they are such hilarious emails that we can be sure Muslims are not just detested, they are despised and sooner or later there will be a lot more blood on the streets than was spilled by the Norwegian Breivik.

      Even after Hitler, gypsies have been detested throughout Europe. They live outside society and become parasites forced to live outside society. It's a very chicken and egg thing.
      I don't want the white shirt and doily brigade invading this country because eventually they WILL become our 'gypsies'.

      We have a problem - and again, for me this is only with some muslims - with integration because the white dress and doily brigade don't want to. Worse still, they would have nothing to gain and everything to lose by integrating.

      Because technology and our economy have changed so radically in the last 40 years, it's going to be a very different process to absorb anybody let alone the people least likely to integrate.
      For all the different nationalities who came here in the past, even germans and brits who had been at war just a few years before, they have integrated because they share western values. Plenty of muslims do share western values.

      I agree we don't have to pander to any religious vote, but for some reason it seems to be happening. This is not just a left wing thing, despite what the shock jocks and Bolts say.
      While there is bipartisan support for our military interventions in muslim countries, both parties must maintain the multicultural touchy feelies to justify this military action. They cannot justify being there if they don't appear to at least be there for some higher moral good. To think we can help "good" muslims keep "bad" muslims under control in order to protect ourselves from "bad muslims" is pie in the sky thinking.

      So long as we suck up unhesitatingly to the US we will pander - directly or indirectly - to Jewish votes.

      I'm not too sure our lack of dependence on jewish votes is causing extremist muslims to behave any differently towards us than they do to the US.
      What we have done for quite some time is tip-toe around trying not to be seen as anti-muslim because Indonesia is a bloody big country with a bloody big muslim population and it's too bloody close. Despite our tip-toeing Australians were very much a target of the Bali Bombings.

    2. Again, I have argued repeatedly that there IS a queue for refugees. Ali Al Jenabi's book contained a dead giveaway that people are not only able to go the UN, they are going to the UN and when they don't get refugee status or what they want start looking for boats.
      Anyone seeking asylum can go to the back of a queue somewhere else, and let's pick the cream of people who have been languishing in camps somewhere else for 20 years.
      If we say "them for their country and us for ours" would this constitute some form of apartheid? No, because we would not be exploiting them, nor would we be assuming and kind of racial superiority. The difference is solely one of values.

      Yes, I'm ticked off and annoyed, and fearful about the changes happening in Australia. This is no longer the country I grew up in and I'm angry about it too.
      Actually, I'm also extremely ticked off about just how far we pander to the United Nations' rubbish.

      For now, we must bring home our troops, mind our own business, and decide who will come to our country and when. Anyone who knows they will only end up in an African refugee camp if they come here will only come if they are genuinely afraid for their lives. With present policies the only people benefiting are extremist immigrants, the legal beagles, and the arms industry.

  2. I haven't seen this film and i don't intend to. But the violent protests and murder of innocent people is really way over the top in my books.

    1. No question that the reaction is over the top Windsmoke. In fact 'over the top' is a bit of an understatement.

      I don't think any of it is justified. Just trying to understand what motivates it.

  3. A lot of thought provoking concepts here, FruitCake. I think we need to recognise there are some cultures that are just ideologically incompatible. This doesn't mean those cultures can't tolerate each other or even live in the same country or have individuals who respect each other, but there is no point in trying to achieve harmony or a blended society. I'm not specifically talking about Muslims either.

    1. Aaah, thank you. We might call "it" religion but au fond I suspect religions first reflect culture and only reinforce the culture after the fact. In which case, no need for any of us to talk specifically about Muslims - in any case the category is so large as to be almost meaningless.

      If I understand what you are saying, people of different cultures should be able to get along, but when ideologies are incompatible there is no point in even trying. I would 100% agree with that.

      Maybe ideology is defined in part by a lack of respect for people who think outside the 'party line'. It's sad that people would rather respect an idea above everything, when ideology should [a stupid word] grow from a respect for life.

  4. HHHMMMmmm... what came first, the religion? Or the culture?? Is there no place for a religion to have shaped the culture??? Or am I agreeing with you?!?! I guess there's no control group for how culture/religion has developed in religions that have been carrying on for millenia. I think we both know from where ideology (agreed, stupid word!) 'should' spring - perhaps it was a poor choice of words on my part and 'dogma' fits the bill better!

    1. Of course we agree. When I get involved in a deep discussion it so often starts with me digging a verbal hole for myself. At least, I'd like to think it's not bloody-minded pedantry on my part so much as a willingness to listen hard.

      Yes, there is plenty of room for a religion to have shaped a culture, though sometimes I'm tempted to think it's a chicken and egg thing, and sometimes I think religion and culture are the same thing, with one aspect simply being used to "justify" the other.
      [How satisfying to split hairs without having to refer to an invisible friend.]

      The stupid word
      to which I referred
      [please note that rhymes]
      was "should".
      Ideology and dogma seem interchangeable. No poor choice of words on your part at all.

      Of course you agree with me - how could anyone not?