Saturday, August 1, 2015

Ending the Cycle of Minority Blame – Speech by KEYSAR TRAD for the University of Western Sydney conference titled: Advancing Community Cohesion, Towards a National Compact Conference. 15 – 17 July 2015

My respect to the Original custodians of the land and their elders past and present.

Before I cite a few quotes from regular columnists in the major Australian mainstream media who have fuelled the Islamophobia industry in Australia, I would like to offer this insight from Prominent lawyer Julian Burnside, he wrote:  “Right now, Islamophobia is the new antisemitism, and it is dangerous.”

In my spoken speech, I will refrain from using names of those media personalities who perpetuated minority blame, these names and appropriate references are reproduced in the written speech:

The Sydney Morning Herald - Paul Sheehan:
“A de facto world war is under way and it has everything to do with Islam. It is not thousands of lone wolfs. It is not un-Islamic conduct. It involves thousands of Muslims acting on what they believe is their religious duty to subjugate non-believers, as outlined in the Koran.
And the problem is growing, not contracting.”  (11 Jan 15)

In another column he quotes a number of part verses from the Holy Qur’an and part Hadiths and then presents the following ill-conceived conclusion:
“So many Muslims have been encouraged to murder civilians by such exhortations that the rate of violent incidents perpetrated in the name of Islam is staggering, a toll that shows no sign of subsiding.”  (26 May 13)

And towards the end of this same article:
“Not included in the log of violent crimes are the outbreaks of civil violence such as the riots that have rocked Stockholm over the past week, where an urban underclass of predominantly Muslim immigrants, refugees and asylum-seekers and their children has erupted in violence, vandalism and attacks on police.” (26 May 2013) (it should be noted that he provides no evidence for the Muslim reference).

In another article he blames Australians of a Middle Eastern Background for the Cronulla Riots:
“Cronulla, where after yet another assault thousands of people demonstrated about the years of abuse and intimidation from a disconnected, racist, violent, moronic and sexually dangerous subculture.” (13 Jan 2006).

The Herald Sun’s Andrew Bolt:
Opens a 14 July 2015 blog post with:
“You might get the impression that many Muslim leaders are treating our police as the real enemy in this battle against Islamist terrorism.
“Whatever the truth of their motivation, such leadership is grotesquely irresponsible and another disturbing sign that Islam may be incompatible with a pluralist and secular country such as ours.”

in an article dated 9 April 2015, he completely misrepresents a University of Melbourne Curriculum study with the following:
“What an offensive corruption of our curriculum. Children are to be taught the fabled best of Islam and the imagined worst of Australia to blind us all to the real challenges Islam poses even to a country that’s peacefully integrated the many more Buddhists here.”
He closes this long article with:
“Only a fool could not see a problem in importing more people from a faith that sets many so apart from, and at odds to, the culture of their host country.”

The same commentator excuses or attempts to rationalise the cold blooded murder by Anders Brievik of 93 Norwegians as being a result of his becoming unhappy about Muslims, he wrote on 25 July 2011:
“Some are left deeply wounded and enraged by a sense of powerlessness and rejection. Which means this is more likely than anything else I’ve seen to be a clue to this explosion of murderous rage:”

Radio 2GB’s Alan Jones:
Here is a selection of his comments about Lebanese Australians over the course of four days towards the end of April 05:
“These mongrels.”
“Lebanese males in their vast numbers not only hate our country and heritage.”
“They have no connection to us.”
 “They simply rape, pillage and plunder a nation that’s taken them in.”
“What did we do as a nation to have this vermin infest our shores?”
“Tell me we don’t have a national security problem in the making.”
“Take the gloves off, and make life a collective hell for these bastards and their followers …”

Nearly eight months later, he or his callers said on air:
“My suggestion is to invite one of the biker gangs to be present in numbers at Cronulla railway station when these Lebanese thugs arrive, it would be worth the price of admission to watch these cowards scurry back onto the train for the return trip to their lairs … Australians old and new shouldn’t have to put up with this scum.”
“Jones: Yeah, good on you John.
John: Now, ah, my grandfather was an old digger and he used to say to me when we were growing up “Listen, shoot one, the rest will run!”
Jones: (laughs)
John: Right?
Jones: (still laughing)”

Rather than standing up for the vilified minorities, both the Prime Minister and the leader of the opposition come to Jones defence after ACMA found that “Jones was likely to have encouraged violence and vilification of Australians of Lebanese and Middle Eastern background.”

Not to be outdone, the Abbott government promised (that it later dropped in return for more draconian security measures) to introduce a repeal of the racial vilification laws (a move named after one of Australia’s leading Islamophobe)
When Andrew Bolt gets caught out for breaking the racial vilification laws, a conservative coalition promises to change the law to suit him.

Back to the Cronulla Riots, those I have quoted along with other commentators, rather than condemn the racist violence, went on the attack against the backlash from Middle-Eastern Youth youth – and the system followed suit, ME youth getting heavy-handed treatment whilst the rioters received very light treatment.
In addition to the example I quoted earlier from Paul Sheehan, here is a classic example from 2gb’s Brian Wilshire:
“Brian Wilshire: We Australians do not have to apologise for anything. My anger is reserved for the politicians and bureaucrats who conspired to bring in people who were guaranteed to be incompatible and have demonstrated that in every country into which they have moved.

“Francis: Absolutely. Look, I couldn’t agree with you more.

“BW: Many of them have parents who were first cousins, whose parents were first cousins, because of the culture - it’s not a religious thing, it doesn’t say this in the Koran - but it’s a cultural thing for some part of the world to have parents who are very closely related. The result of this is inbreeding, the result of which is uneducationable people, and very low IQ.”

2GB, Brian Wilshire, 15th December 2005

New Matlida columnist Michael Brull highlights some of the impact of Bolt’s Islamophobic commentary including:
“A man threatened to set a Muslim woman on fire.  When she looked to another man for help, he called her a terrorist.
“Another man entered a mosque and threatened to hit a woman with a chair.  He also threw cement bags at the mosque.  Another Muslim woman was physically attacked and called a “fucking terrorist”.  Another Muslim woman was attacked by a large man, who told her to “go back to where you came from”.  His physical assault broke her arm.”

Of course there are other attacks[1], such as the photographing of a Muslim woman on her way to work and posting her image on social networking and denigrating her and her faith[2], filming Muslim schools[3], inciting people, uploading a youtube clip calling for the killing of prominent Muslims[4] and the creation of a computer game whose object is to Massacre Muslims[5] (and recently in the United States of America, the cold blooded murder of 3 Muslim university students[6]). (additional resources)[7]

Yet as these attacks occur – the call is always for Muslims to dissolve into some sort of ideal that sits in the mind of the political and media antagonists.

They lay all the blame for Muslim discontent on Islam and Muslims – taking no responsibility for the hostile conditions they created which have silenced and forced many members of the Muslim community to the margins making it difficult for many Muslims to find work or a clear sense of belonging.
It would seem that the assimilation demanded by Pauline Hanson is no longer their ambition, Sheehan, Bolt and their ilk seem to no longer be looking for Muslims to assimilate, their commentary is profoundly antagonistic to Islam – and through that, Muslims become unassimilable or incapable of integrating into any majority Western country.
Comments such as: “The killing will go on because jihad is built into the fabric of Arab Islam.”
and others quoted earlier make it very clear that there is very little room for Islam in such people’s worldview.
This fixation with Islam seems unquenchable

Groups such as: The Q Society[8], Reclaim Australia[9], the ADL[10] (Australian Defence League), Catch the Fire Ministries look[11] like a neo-crusade against Muslims and columnists such as Bolt and Sheehan along with politicians like Senator Cory Bernardi have supported some of these groups.
We now have a parliamentary enquiry into Halal certification (which the senator instigating the enquiry referred to as a “racket”).  The words Halal, Sharia (the corpus of Islamic teachings), Jihad ( the exertion of effort, the greatest of which is to speak up against tyranny) are increasingly used in a pejorative way in public discourse.
Minorities become easy targets when Othering goes unchecked.  Othering is “The process of perceiving or portraying someone or something as fundamentally different or alien.”

Another important tool in creating acquiescence to minority blame is “Projection”, projection is when one projects his own flaws or societal malaise onto others, you call them out for these flaws as if the flaws were not yours, but theirs.  This is part of the problem – if Jihad is built into the fabric of Arab Islam, then what is built into the fabric of cultures that sees their nations going from one war to another under false or at best dubious pretexts?  They project their violent expansionism by accusing Muslims of doing or trying to do or fantasising about doing the very thing that the dominant culture is doing.  An example is the headline to the 8 Nov 13 blog by Bolt: “First off: our freedom restored to criticise the New Racism

The hard truths are never told, these are:
1 – The majority of asylum seekers from the Middle East or Afghanistan are here as a result of either foreign intervention through invasions or through the installation or backing of pliant dictatorial regimes.
2 – Some of our youths get involved in anti-social behaviour because they have fallen victim to the same anti-social behaviour that prevails amongst a section of mainstream youth – this behaviour is not imported it already existed here.  The gang rapes of 2000 are not imported, many women have suffered and continue to suffer from rape, violence and misogyny are also perpetrated by members of the dominant culture and have been so perpetrated for far too long.

The children of the recent wave of migrants didn’t introduce drugs into Australia, drugs had been sold by gangs long before migrant youths started to get drawn into the illicit trade.

Gang violence is not exclusive to a few migrant youths, gang violence existed long before migrant youths were introduced to it – the bikie shootout in 1984 on a street in the Sydney suburb of Milperra left 7 people dead.

Blaming minorities is the laziest and nastiest form of deflection.  It transforms the dominant culture into a bully and ironically, the bully projects his crimes onto his victim through the use of Othering and other tools which the minority has limited means to address or against which to seek redress.
Little wonder that some of those who are “Othered” can start to feel like “the Other.”

I don’t ask these cultural warriors to respect my human rights because their attacks show that this would be the least of their concerns.  They have Othered minorities and blamed these minorities for most of their woes.  I tell them that they are pursuing a false pragmatism that cheats their “utopian” society of our abilities.  Depriving highly capable or highly qualified migrants of access to work in their fields and restricting them to menial work[12] is as much a denial to the host culture as it is to the individuals who belong to the deprived minority.  Similarly, youth who rebel against the system and steer towards anti-social activities could, with the right direction in their formative years, be guided to harness their skills for legitimate pursuits where they can contribute constructively to the society.

This minority blame deprives the host/dominant society/culture from the best fruits of all its citizens (or residents) as it denies a section of citizens opportunities to harness their potential the same way others can.  On the pragmatic level, it is a crime against the very host culture by those warriors who claim to be protecting it and as long as minorities are denied the protections available to the rest of society, the chasm within society will increase, the mistrust will increase and racially motivated crimes will increase.

We need to move from this minority blame for our society to move forward, there has to be a very strong bipartisan approach at the political level.  This is not about political correctness nor about curbing free speech.  However, fanciful blame-shifting against the most vulnerable in society is not free speech, it is bullying, it is denialism and it is a betrayal of society.

After the bipartisan approach to protect the quality of life of all Australians, we need to ensure that anti-vilification laws are accessible, affordable and effective – my personal experience with these laws is that they are costly, take a tremendous length of time and can leave the victim footing a huge bill (as I stand on the brink of bankruptcy for seeking to uphold such laws).  The case of Trad v Jones (the vilification took place in April 2005, ten years later and aspects of the case are still unfinished).  Our legal system showed that the higher the court, the less its judges are likely to understand the vilification laws or to understand the right of minorities to live free from vilification.  (not only did this happen in my own personal experience[13], but a supreme court judge refused to accept the evidence of Mr. Mamdouh Habib[14], a former Guantanamo Bay detainee that he was tortured, this case was overturned on appeal after a major expose of the tortures at Guantanamo came to the attention of the international media).

In addition to these laws, the silent majority needs to speak out, I would say “we”, the silent majority, but I am Othered in this debate, so the silent majority of the dominant culture needs to speak out.

I have heard phrases such as:  the Chinese, the Greeks, the Italians, the Vietnamese or the Catholics had to go through this, now it is the turn of the Muslims.  They talk as if this widespread minority vilification is some sort of an initiation ritual on the way to being accepted as Australian. 
The reality is that vilification of each of these minorities is a shameful blight on our history as a nation, we should have learnt from the time we vilified the Afghan cameleers or the Chinese labourers that such vilification is not in the interest of Australia, but instead, our nation has a history of always projecting its problems on the latest minority to arrive at our shores and that unfortunately shows that we, the majority are not taking the most important lessons from our own history.


Trad v Harbour Radio Pty Ltd (No 2) [2013] NSWCA 477 (23 December 2013) This matter went through the Supreme Court of NSW, the NSW Court of Appeal, the High Court of Australia and back to the NSW Court of Appeal.  Four of the judges in the High Court returned the matter to the Court of Appeal to judge the defamation not on the basis of what “Right-thinking Australians” would decide, but rather on the basis of what “Ordinary decent Australians” would decide.  This fine-line indicates that the High Court of Australia would rather describe ordinary decent Australians as being non right-thinking people rather than admit that I was illegally defamed.

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