Not since Billy Hughes, the British born Australian PM during the First World War, used sectarian hatred and xenophobia to divide the country over conscription, have we had such an outburst of right-wing nationalism. Hughes used fear of Catholics, especially Irish republicans, of socialists in the WW1 and foreigners, especially those with German heritage to try to get the mainstream community to back his policies. If he had been able to articulate it, he would have proclaimed the “Team White British Empire.”
As Shaun Crowe stated in The Conversation” 18/9/14, “Abbott’s “Team Australia” fits into the nationalist tradition of World War I and the 1950s.” It is a nationalism framed in terms of external threats. This time around it is ISIS and to a lesser extent and declining in significance, Russia in Ukraine.
The sudden emergence of a terror threat just as the new anti-terror laws are about to be presented to parliament, with huge police raids in Sydney, Brisbane and Logan, gave the shock jocks and all of the mainstream media a field day. The whole Muslim community suddenly became subject to attack. The usual “unable to assimilate” into Australian society, to “home-grown terrorists” to “ban the burqa “ from Liberal Senator Bernardi and PUP Senator Lambi were trotted out as they have been for the past thirty years. Lambi unknowingly insulted a woman who stood up for justice against the Taliban and paid with her life in her Facebook posting.
Evangelical oracles like the Sydney Anglican Dean Jensen quickly pronounced : “It is time to face the truth that Islam itself is in part to blame, and to help our fellow Australians, especially those from Islamic background, to understand that Islam is false. This can only come from an open and free explanation of the truth – something not allowed in Muslim countries – but available to us.”
Abbott’s statements that the Muslim community is not to be blamed for the terror suspects’ behaviour, rings hollow. As Rossleigh points out in The Australian Independent Media Network 19/9/14:
“After all, how strange would the following sound: Christian serial rapist, Wayne Kerr was taken in to custody today. Police acting on DNA evidence were able to identify Kerr as the man behind a number of attacks. The Premier praised the work of police in catching him and wanted to stress the vast majority of Christians weren’t rapists and found his actions abhorrent. OR Presbyterian investment banker I. G. Reedy was arrested after it was discovered that he had defrauded the company of over $3 million dollars. The Prime Minister said he hoped that people wouldn’t hold all Presbyterians responsible for this shameful act.
So why do the words Islamic or Muslim have to be attached to these stories at all? Particularly when there seems to some sort of understanding that it’s more about politics than religion.”
Perhaps, like Billy Hughes’ campaign against dissidents, it is all noise meant to hide unpalatable truths.
According to Bob Ellis: “But he (Abbott) isn’t serious, he’s making mischief. He’s lost most of the policy battles of his first year and he’s thought a joke by many people, by many others a disgrace, and he’s embarked on the biggest ‘scare campaign’ since the Yellow Peril.”