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Issue #1708      October 28, 2015


Let’s talk about real threats

The federal government has gone to great lengths to appear tolerant in the midst of the social tensions it has had the major hand in creating. Over a decade of opportunistic, dog-whistling slogans of the “children overboard” and “turn back the boats” sort and the policies that flowed from them, have taken their predictable toll on Australian multiculturalism. Prime Minister Turnbull launched a National Unity Day to be seen to be doing something about the disturbing outcome of his own party’s efforts. The campaign called Living Safe Together – Building Community Resilience to Violent Extremism falls into the same damage-controlling category.

The kit associated with the campaign mentions racist groups and even anti-logging activists as part of the problem of violent extremism in Australia. But when people hear of the threat posed by “radicalised youth”, most Australians would think of Muslim youth and support for IS-type groups. Such is the power of the media in tandem with essentially racist government policy. Australia is not alone in experiencing an outbreak of Islamophobia. Far right, anti-immigration parties in Europe are making ground in Switzerland, Greece, France, Hungary, the Netherlands and elsewhere.

Pauline Hanson’s One Nation collapsed like a soufflé when the Howard government hijacked its immigration policies. But a new wave of intolerance with hostility to Islam as its centrepiece is getting organised. Reclaim Australia continues to organise rallies across the country. The United Patriots Front acts as a storm trooper organisation for the anti-Islam movement. It was there in Bendigo at a recent protest against plans for the construction of a mosque.

The United Patriots Front describes itself as “a nation wide movement, opposing the spread of Left-Wing treason and spread of Islamism.” It believes Muslims are being used by Communists in a race war leading to the destruction of the “white race” and the establishment of a “Communist dictatorship”. The UPF supported the call coming from US racist groups for people to rally with guns outside Mosques in their communities.

Adding to the irrational and dangerous trend was the recent visit of Dutch parliamentarian Geert Wilders. The smooth talking politician is topping the opinion polls in the Netherlands on the strength of his anti-Islam stance. Wilders wants all mosques in his country closed and other measures taken to stop the supposed “Islamisation” of Europe. He visited Perth to launch an anti-Islam party, the Australian Liberty Alliance. The party is a project of the “Islam-critical” Q Society. Its efforts to incite hate against the Muslim community will be added to all the others.

The proliferation of such groups at a time of capitalist crisis should come as no surprise. Capitalism has form in this regard with the rise to power of the Nazis and other fascist governments across the globe in the 1920s and 1930s. Millions of people were sacrificed to ensure the survival of the anti-human capitalist system. This danger is real once more. It may seem like a remote threat in Australia but the potential for extremist violence from the right is, despite the media’s obsession with Islam extremism, the greatest one facing us.

It is not just the Communist Party of Australia saying this. Counter-terrorism expert, Curtin University’s Dr Anne Aly, points to statistics from the US that confirm the right-wing’s reputation for violence, including politically-motivated killings. NSW Deputy Police Commissioner Nick Kaldas described far-right marches and rallies as some of the biggest challenges facing his officers. Last year, the then Deputy Commissioner of Victoria Police, Tim Cartwright, warned of an increased likelihood neo-Nazi groups will target Muslims.

Progressive Australians must continue denouncing the spread of racism and intolerance. The demands for an end to policies of war and exclusion must become louder. So must the calls for the government to purge its ranks of members who encourage the extremists and lend them a sympathetic ear. Calls for capitalist governments to act in a proper way have to be made and, if sufficiently forceful, may have some temporary impact. The truly urgent task before us is to unite left and progressive forces against this real threat.

Next article – The Common Tern –Indians not connected to power grid

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