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Issue #1652      August 20, 2014


Gutter politics, gutter media

For several months now The Australian newspaper has been running a scare campaign, with horror stories of Australian Islamists fighting with the terrorist group Islamic State (formerly ISIS).

“Homegrown jihadists are an affront to our tolerance” runs one of many such headlines of The Australian’s warning of jihadists (24-06-2014). The line in this one is the need for Muslim and non-Muslim Australians to work together. Of course we should work together. But there was a bit more to it than that. “… the reality of Australian-born jihadists is one that must be of deep concern to domestic policy makers and citizens concerned about our unifying national values.”

The constant flow of such stories and constant warnings of the risk to Australia of Australian Islamists training and fighting overseas with banned terrorist organisations has been building up to something. It all became clear on August 5, when Tony Abbott and the Attorney General George Brandis announced a new batch of draconian “counter-terrorism” measures. They include requirements for internet service providers to retain data for two years; give intelligence organisations the power to trawl through the data without warrants; increase the powers of the Federal Police to seek control orders on returning foreign fighters; and require Australians returning from overseas to prove (reversal of onus of proof) their trip was for “legitimate” purposes.

In trying to sell the new laws Brandis made a complete fool of himself, demonstrating that he did not even understand the legislation that he had been given. His attempts to explain the meaning of metadata became the object of ridicule as they were repeatedly replayed for several days. There was little support for the new measures which were still lacking detail, despite all of the Murdoch media’s efforts to pave the way for them.

So on August 11, Murdoch’s Australian sunk to new depths in gutter politics, deflecting attention from Brandis by running with the gruesome image of a young boy appearing to be holding a decapitated head. The authors Paul Maley and Greg Bearup using a child as a political pawn, did their best to justify the need for more repressive legislation. “That’s my boy: Sharrouf kids witness war’s horror” was the headline this time. “Khaled Sharrouf’s son, a child raised in the suburbs of Sydney, struggles with both arms to hold up the decapitated head of a slain Syrian soldier,” the article claims. Not surprisingly there was an angry response to the image, which brought those who published it down to the level of those who posted it.

Three days later, a rather defensive editorial appeared, attempting to justify the publication of the image. We are told that the decision to publish was a difficult one, but after considerable discussion they reached the conclusion that “As a newspaper, our first duty is to present the truth.”! No doubt, the same truth that the Murdoch media have fed its readers with in relation to Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Iran, Ukraine, asylum seekers, trade union struggles, the CFMEU, etc, etc.

The Editorial continues: “To comprehend the Abbott government’s response to the conflict, including its proposed new counter-terrorism laws, requires a clear understanding of the atrocities being perpetrated overseas. Even more unsettling, it requires an appreciation of the involvement of Australians and the threats that they have made against people here in Australia.” There-in lies the real reason, to rally support for the proposed new laws.

Duncan Lay, in an article titled, “Why I fear the severed heads are fake” in The Sunday Telegraph (17-08-2014) puts forward very plausible arguments as to why the images of severed heads are fake. He says this after looking at unpixellated (nothing hidden) images. If they are fake it is yet one more example of fabricated media stories to support what a government is about to do. Who would be surprised!

Next article – Fund R&D – unis

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