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Tuesday, December 29, 2015

The Southern Cross: 'refuge of all the oppressed from all countries on earth'

The Southern Cross: 'refuge of all the oppressed from all countries on earth' 
(Eureka - a flag for the refugee)

Flags make great tattoos. Some more so than others. They are icons of nationality, ideology and symbolism. They represent culture, ideas and identify something that people are willing to live and die for. They can be combined with other icons of a culture to create a powerful image of the wearer's manifesto. In Australia, perhaps none more so than the Southern Cross, particularly as it appears on the Eureka Stockade flag. Many tattoos abound with either the Eureka Flag or a combination of that flag and the other icon of Australia's rebel spirit, the infamous outlaw Ned Kelly (who is believed to have been born in December 1854 during the Eureka Stockade(1)).

Original and restored Eureka Stockade flag
Both Kelly and the Eureka Stockade represent a fierce, fighting spirit against tyranny and corruption while defending justice and compassion. Some see Kelly as nothing more than a thief and murderer. However, to many others he is a hero who fought against the corrupt land acquisition and injustices of the government. Local aborigines see Captain Cook as representative of the 'theft of their land, the exploitation of their labour and the denial of their cultures', while they consider Ned Kelly as being 'concerned with freedom, dignity and true justice'(2). Kelly himself, claimed to be acting against police corruption and seeking justice for the poor. He called on anyone who has cause to fear him to give '£10 out of every hundred towards the widow and orphan fund'(3).

The Eureka Stockade was a battle between miners and colonial forces in Ballarat, Victoria, on 3 December 1854. The miners were incensed at the cost of mining licences and taxes, the persecution and attacks by police and soldiers, the injustice of the courts, as well as government corruption. At a monster meeting on 29 November 1854 at Bakers Hill, 10,000 people raised the newly designed Eureka Stockade flag and swore the following oath of allegiance to it:

'We swear by the Southern Cross to stand truly by each other and fight to defend our rights and liberties'.

Swearing allegiance to the Southern Cross 1854.

'According to Frank Cayley′s book Flag of Stars, the flag′s five stars represent the Southern Cross and the white cross joining the stars represents unity in defiance. The blue background is believed to represent the blue shirts worn by many of the diggers, rather than represent the sky as is commonly thought'(4).

Over the years, the Eureka Stockade flag has been adopted by numerous groups, including unions, outlaw biker gangs and various protest groups. During the administration of Queensland Premier Campbell Newman, harsh laws were passed to crack down on motorcycle gangs, which included identifying members and their associates through certain imagery; the Eureka flag was one of those images. Newman also cracked down on the other Eureka flag flying group, the unions, by passing laws that targeted their members and placed restrictions on how they engaged politically. If there was ever a time where unity in defiance against injustice was important, it was during this time; a time when the oath of the Eureka flag was ever so appropriate.

More recently, the flag and the Southern Cross specifically, have been hijacked by those who fail to understand their significance or history. Specifically, those who have been caught up in the spirit of nationalism and its racist, bigoted vitriol aimed at attacking migrants, specifically refugees and Muslims. Yet these people would do well to remember the words of one of the architects of the rebellion, Raffaelo Carboni, who stated in his speech 4 days before the battle:

'Irrespective of nationality, religion and colour, I call on you to salute the 'Southern Cross' as the refuge of all the oppressed from all countries on earth'(5).

The spirit of Eureka and Ned Kelly was a fight against oppression and injustice.

The Southern Cross represents refuge for people from all over the globe who are fleeing oppression. It is the flag of the asylum seeker, the refugee. Yet nationalists and white supremacists proudly sport the Southern Cross through their tattoos or paraphernalia as a symbol of Australian culture without realising that the very culture they claim to be defending is one of multiculturalism. Modern Australia was built from the blood, sweat and tears of aborigines as well as immigrants from many foreign ethnicities and religions. Flying the Southern Cross is to acknowledge and respect Australia's indigenous people and to welcome and honour migrants and refugees.

The arrival of British settlers in 1788 brought a spirit of racism which saw the indigenous inhabitants displaced or murdered and their lands stolen. The Australian flag can therefore be described as a dichotomy in which the brutal racism of the British colonisers is represented by the Union Jack while the fight against government corruption and persecution is represented by the Southern Cross.

To use the Southern Cross as a symbol of bigotry to oppress and abuse the persecuted is to completely dishonour its origins in the fight against oppression and injustice.


1. Lewis, Ian. 'Ned Kelly: A Short Life', Notes - 1. Son of Red, location 7378, Kindle version. Hatchette Australia, ISBN - 978-0734405449, 2008.

2. Ibid, location 7334.

3. National Museum Australia, 'Jerilderie letter transcription', Page 39, (HTML version).

4. Ausflag, 'Eureka flag',, accessed 28 December 2015.

5. Carboni, Raffaelo. 'The Eureka Stockade', chapter XXIX, location 642, Kindle version. Amazon Digital Services, Inc, ASIN B004TP1N5I, 24 March 2011. (Digital version of original book published in 1855.

Saturday, December 26, 2015

Flags - hijacked by hate

by guest blogger, Willz

What is it with all the flag waving going on at the moment? Right-wing racist groups treat flags like their something sacred that every patriot should bow down and worship. Anyone who doesn't is called an unpatriotic leftist, a traitor.

But what does the Australian flag represent? In one corner we have the Union Jack; a flag that brought terror to the traditional owners of Australia and a sign of imperialist aggression in every country conquered by Britain. Underneath that, we have the Commonwealth star; another symbol of our ties with colonialism and imperialist aggression. On the right, the Southern Cross is the only part of the flag that makes any sense in a modern Australia. It was first flown at the Eureka Stockade and has remained a symbol of resistance against oppressive federal and state governments ever since.

And here we have racists from the UPF using our flag for well let’s see … racist purposes. Do they even know what it represents? They claim to be patriots, yet we all know patriotism is just a cover word for racism and bigotry.

The First Nation people’s flag is black, yellow and red. Black represents the Aboriginal people of Australia. The yellow circle represents the sun, the giver of life and protector. Red represents the red earth, the red ochre used in ceremonies and Aboriginal peoples' spiritual relation to the land. If we are serious about making amends for our brutal treatment of aboriginal people in the past these elements need to be incorporated into a new flag.

First nation people marching for their rights with their adopted flag
In the below photo, racists from the Ku Klux Klan fly their confederate and Nazi flags outside the Mississippi state legislature, protesting against the anti-racist 'Black lives matter' protest…except it’s not a confederate flag at all it’s the battle flag from The Army of Northern Virginia a flag only to be used in battle by said army during the civil war from 1861—65. So these 'patriots' are in effect disrespecting the southern veterans they claim to be … er … respecting.

These are the real confederate flags:

Another favourite of racists in both in the US and Australia, is the Nazi battle flag that represented our common enemy in which the Anzacs and other Allied forces lost so many lives fighting against … and these racists claim to be patriots?

The Hammerskins are another neo-nazi racist group on the rise. Originally started in the US, they're now recruiting in Australia. Obviously not the sharpest tools in the shed, they are nonetheless dangerous white supremacists who've embraced the extremist ideology of Hitler, the West's enemy number one during World War II. Their  logo depicting two claw hammers crossed to resemble goose-stepping legs, is based on a fictitious neo-Nazi organization featured in the 1982 film Pink Floyd – The Wall. The portrayal of the fictional group in the film was intended to show the lunacy of Nazism and Fascism, not to be an instruction manual. The movie highlighted the damage caused and the lives lost in the fight against such intolerance and hate, yet neo-nazi organisations persist in furthering their extremist views through nationalism and a warped idea of patriotism.

So what does a flag truly represent? In modern society it should be used to represent a country, a state, an institution or a decoration for public festivities and celebrations. When a flag is used to intimidate and denigrate a particular group of people based on race, religion or other factors, under the guise of 'patriotism', it becomes a symbol of oppression and bigotry which cheapens the flag's true purpose. Something that a true patriot wouldn't do.

Those who wrap a flag around their ideology of hate have become known as 'hatriots' rather than patriots. They are the true traitors to the ideals of freedom, inclusion and the rights of all to live in peace which most western nations are founded on.

Sunday, December 20, 2015

It's easier to observe holidays than commandments

'How many observe Christ’s birthday! How few, his precepts! O! ’tis easier to keep Holidays than Commandments'.

 So said Benjamin Franklin.

Simple translation: It's easier to observe holidays than commandments.

No better is this demonstrated than in the recurrent claims by some Christians that there is a war on Christmas or on Easter or other Christian events. The complaints surface over things such as carol singing (even though many of the carols are about Santa or reindeers or holly, anything but Christ), easter eggs (again nothing to do with Christianity) or greetings (such as complaining about people saying Happy Holidays instead of Merry Christmas).

Yet, where are the complaints about human rights abuses by politicians who claim to be Christian. Some people are quick to accuse Muslims of not condemning terrorism but fail to condemn Christians who imprison and torture innocent people as Australia is doing to asylum seekers fleeing brutality, persecution and war. In fact, these particular human rights abuses are popular with the electorate and many conservative Christians.

Where are the complaints against politicians, pastors and others who propagate racism and Islamophobia, who call to ban Islam, who misrepresent Koranic scripture in order to fuel hatred and fear of Muslims. Christians are called to preach the gospel, not to twist the scripture of other religions.

Where are the complaints against Christian politicians who kill millions of innocent Muslims in order to further the Christian idols of democracy and capitalism.

Where are the complaints against Christian leaders who fund terrorism, whether it be Islamic, Israeli or Western.

Take for instance the funding of the Mujahideen and Jihadists in Afghanistan which gave rise to Al Qaeda and the Taliban, the funding of Israel as it commits genocide and ethnic cleansing in Palestine, the funding of Saddam Hussein, the funding and support of the Ku Klux Klan and the Lebanese Phalangists, or the various death squads in South America, the funding of despots such as Saddam Hussein, Indonesia's President Suharto, Chile's General Pinochet and the list goes on. Millions displaced, injured or killed by the actions of Christians in pursuit of their idols.

Christians should remove the log from their own eye before picking on the speck in others.

There is the perennial campaigning against abortion clinics and against the welfare needed to support young mothers and families. The greatest driver of abortion is poverty, so those who oppose welfare are furthering abortion. They have no right to claim the high moral ground in their opposition to abortion if they aren't going to provide the support necessary to prevent abortion.

The parable of the Sheep and the Goats tells Christians to feed and cloth the destitute, to visit the prisoner. The Sermon on the Mount tells Christians to wage peace not war, to show mercy, to hunger and thirst for righteousness. Christ himself tells Christians to 'love your neighbour' and 'love your enemy', to pray for those who persecute you. When asked about who is our neighbour, Jesus responded with the Parable of the Good Samaritan, showing that our neighbour isn't just those of the same nationality or religion. Muslims are our neighbours, not our enemies.

It is much easier for Christians to attack Islam instead of loving Muslims, to torture and imprison the persecuted instead of visiting them or welcoming them with open arms, to wage war instead of bringing peace.

As Benjamin Franklin so eloquently stated, it is easier to observe holidays than commandments. The behaviour of Christians is anything but Christian if they simply carry on about the right to say Merry Christmas while failing to love their neighbour, to visit the prisoner, to defend and help the refugee, to love their Muslim neighbours or to provide welfare to the poor and the widow.

Forget the War on Christmas and stop the War on the Poor and the Persecuted.

Monday, December 7, 2015

Australia: A history of racism & bigotry

Australia: A history of racism & bigotry

- by guest blogger, Willz

Well, they were standing on the shore one day

Saw white sails in the sun

Wasn't long before they felt the sting

White man, white law, white gun.

(Excerpt from the song, 'Solid Rock' by Goanna)

This song describes how the first Australians saw the arrival of the white man and how soon they felt the sting of the white man's legal system and guns. With complete disregard for the first nation people's ownership of the land, the white invaders declared the whole of Australia to be terra nullius; a Latin term meaning 'owned by no-one'. Not long after, the original inhabitants found themselves forcibly removed from their land at gunpoint, with any attempt at resistance met with a volley of musket fire.

This sparked what is now known as the Frontier Wars, which spanned 146 years, finally dying out in 1934. Accounts vary, but it is estimated that at least 20,000 aborigines were killed, while 2,000 Europeans were killed(1). It was hardly a fair fight, with sticks and spears against rifled muskets. It was nothing more than a series of one-sided massacres. The indigenous people paid a huge price simply for defending their land.

There were many massacres of whole tribes perpetrated by landholders and wealthy graziers that went unrecorded and unpunished. Queensland in particular, has the worst record of all with 'nigger hunts' regularly taking place right up to the 1930s. Mobs of white men armed with Lee Enfied .303 rifles shooting aborigines wholesale out of the backs of trucks. By 1930, over 250,000 aboriginal people had been massacred, some were poisoned when their water supply was deliberately contaminated.

There were incidents of whole tribes being rounded up and the men made to watch while their women were raped and killed. There was one particularly sickening account of aboriginal babies being buried neck deep in the ground while the white men took turns at seeing how far they could could a baby's head(2).

Don't remember reading this in the history books? Neither do I. The history of the barbaric treatment of the first nation people has been hidden and manipulated to make it seem like white man was doing them a favour.

Mounted police killing indigenous Australians during the Slaughterhouse Creek Massacre of 1838. 

Far more devastating in their impact on the aboriginal population, however, were the effects of disease, infertility, loss of hunting grounds, starvation and general despair, loss of pride, and the impact of the alcohol 'remedy' for this devastation. Smallpox alone is estimated to have wiped out over 50% of the Australian aboriginal population. Diseases that aborigines had never seen, were introduced by Europeans and had a devastating effect on their bodies that had no defence against them.(3)

The Stolen Generation

Still from the movie, 'The Rabbit Proof Fence', 2002.

When we hear about the stolen generation, we think it happened between 1910 and 1970. In reality it started as early as 1814. In New South Wales, the policy of forcibly removing aboriginal children from their parents has left the indigenous population with a legacy of trauma and loss that continues to affect the community to this day. Sadly, it was all part of the ideology of assimilation which assumed that aborigines were inferior to white people and to make the aboriginal race either die out, be bred out or be assimilated into white society.

Children taken from their parents were forced to turn their backs on their heritage and culture. Their names were changed and they were forbidden from speaking their traditional languages. Some were adopted by white families, while others were placed in institutions where they were subject to physical, emotional and sexual abuse and discrimination.(4) (5) (6)

There are few, if any, aboriginal families who have not suffered the loss of a child through this barbaric policy. Stories abound of children being torn from their mother's arms at gunpoint, never to see them again.

An older aborigine told me a story that made me ashamed to be a white Australian. A truck and a police car turned up at their camp and two mothers and their children were forced into the back of the truck. The truck drove off and stopped about 10 miles down the road, where the mothers were kicked out without their children. It drove off with the children screaming for their mothers while the women wept uncontrollably. They never saw each other again.

A deep sense of sadness and loss haunts aboriginal people from that generation to this day. Unfortunately, many have resorted to the white man's drink to try to numb their minds from that dreadful past, often resulting in alcoholism and a shorter lifespan. This about this before you go pointing the finger at the people in public parks.

If you want to see a good movie about the realities of this abhorrent policy, I suggest 'Rabbit Proof Fence', a movie about three aboriginal girls stolen from their mother. The girls escape their captors and follow the rabbit proof fence back to their mother. It's a heart-breaking, but thought provoking movie.

Deaths in custody

Roebourne Prison inmates - sentenced for crimes such as 'absconding' from 'blackbirding' (slavery). Those who resisted were sent to Wadjemump (Rottnest Island). Most never survived, either killed by hanging or starved to death in overcrowded cells. 

A royal commission in 1987, investigated aboriginal deaths in custody over a 10 year period, giving over 300 recommendations which are still valid today, although very few have been implemented. Every year, aboriginal people continue to die in custody, many of them with physical and mental disabilities.(7)

The Australian Institute of Criminology (AIC) conducted a major review of deaths in custody and found a substantial increase in the number of aboriginal people dying in custody over the past five years. The study found that the overall rate of deaths in State and Territory prisons has remained relatively steady over the past 20 years but there has been a spike in the number of indigenous deaths in custody, in line with almost doubling the number of indigenous Australians being locked up.

Around 30,000 people are behind bars and indigenous inmates account for a quarter of the prison population, while aborigines comprise only 2% of the general population. It hasn't been getting better. It is getting worse.

In addition, Australia imprisons thousands of indigenous people with mental and cognitive disabilities every year. A widespread lack of understanding and action underpins this shameful breach of human rights. Aboriginal people with mental and cognitive disabilities are being 'managed' by police, courts and prisons due to a dire lack of appropriate community-based services and support.(8)

The politics of racism

In a modern wealthy nation like Australia, one would think that the ills of the past would be a distant memory, but sadly this is not the case. The average life expectancy for an adult aborigine is 45 years. Infant mortality is still alarmingly high, aboriginal people living in remote remote locations do not even have access to the most basic health services, such as running water, electricity or safe housing. Third world diseases such as tuberculosis, pneumonia and trachoma have been eradicated virtually everywhere in the world, except in remote aboriginal communities. People in these communities live in abject poverty. While politicians publicly sympathise with their plight, while little is done to help.

Why is this so?

The answer lies with the voting public. There are few votes in helping the first nation's people. Politicians who stand up for them are invariably voted out of office. Sadly this is because there are still a lot of racist white Australians who refuse to acknowledge their ancestors' misdeeds and racist policy enjoys popular support.

It's a sad indictment on a country that likes to see itself as a 'tolerant country'.


1. John Harris, 'Hiding the bodies: The myth of the humane colonisation of Aboriginal Australia',

2. John Pilger, 'Utopia', 2013.

3. N.G. Butlin, 'Our Original Aggression: Aboriginal Populations of Southeastern Australia, 1788-1850', Allen & Unwin, June 1984

4. Australians Together, 'The Stolen Generation',

5. Stolen Generations Testimonies,

6. Creative Spirits, 'A guide to Australia's Stolen Generations',

7. Creative Spirits, 'Royal Commission into Aboriginal Deaths in Custody '.

8. ABC News, Martin Cuddihy, 'Aboriginal deaths in custody numbers rise sharply over past five years', 24 May 2013,

Sunday, November 15, 2015

Radicalisation & unconstitutional politics

(Fear & loathing in Australian politics)

It's always frustrating to vote for a party that fails to follow through on implementing its policies. Imagine how frustrating it must be then to follow a political party that is unable to implement its policies because they're unconstitutional.

That's the very dilemma facing the radical right-wing in Australia who want to vote for anti-Islamic politicians such as Pauline Hansen or the Love It Or Leave Party, the Australian Liberty Alliance or any of the other ones who want to ban mosques, halal, burqas and so on.

Australia, like many other democracies, is founded on a Constitution. Section 116 of that Constitution states:

The Commonwealth shall not make any law for establishing any religion, or for imposing any religious observance, or for prohibiting the free exercise of any religion, and no religious test shall be required as a qualification for any office or public trust under the Commonwealth.

It's unconstitutional to prohibit the free exercise of any religion. That's not even taking into account various anti-discrimination laws that prohibit a variety of discriminatory practices on the basis of religion.

So ... dare I say it: Australia - love it or leave it. Love the Constitution or leave the country.

It's not illegal to build a mosque, wear a burqa or certify food as halal. Banning these will not stop terrorism.

Since the terrorist attack in Paris on 11 November 2015, anti-Islam messages have propagated across social media. Including one hoax that claims Japan has no issue with Muslims because it doesn't allow Muslims to be citizens. Sadly, the radical right so desperately hates Islam, it is happy to repeat such garbage without checking its veracity(1).

Imagine the effect that banning Islam will have. For that matter, imagine the effect that banning any religion would have. Would any religious group take it on the chin or would they fight back?

Does anyone seriously think that banning an entire religion will bring peace? Would Muslims just say, 'oh, you know what, we don't really need Islam'. Or would they be angry about it?

Imagine what Christians would do if Christianity was suddenly illegal? Would they fight or just accept it? People lost their minds over Starbucks not having snowflakes and Christmas trees on coffee cups(2), imagine if Christmas really was banned.

Unfortunately, those who lack conceptual skills see a terrorist attack by someone claiming to be Muslim and expand it to be indicative of all Muslims. Based on that logic, all Christians are pedophiles. We even have a Royal Commission exposing the proliferation of Christian pedophiles.

The radical right are suddenly experts in Islam, cherry-picking Koranic scripture to justify terrorism. Not unlike what terrorists do. Yet, the bible also has violent scripture about killing every man, woman and boy child ... in fact, it even says to give the young virgins to the priests (Numbers 31:17-18 - scriptural evidence of pedophilia?). The Koran is full of scripture about peace and tolerance. To demonstrate this, an open letter to the ISIS leader, Al-Baghdadi(3) explains, among other things, that it is forbidden to kill innocents or to harm Christians or Jews (People of the Book), that slavery is forbidden, torture is forbidden, harming women and children is forbidden. The list goes on. The Letter should be read not just by Al-Baghdadi and other extremists, but also by those anti-Islamic types who think they know the Koran better than Muslims do; who want to use the Koran to whip up fear and hatred rather than peace and love.

Much has been made of one of the terrorists in the Paris attack allegedly being a Syrian refugee. This is being used by Islamophobes and anti-refugee groups as evidence of why refugees should be blocked from entering the country. Even if he was a refugee, he would be one out of 50 MILLION refugees across the globe. One in 50,000,000. There is a higher percentage of Australians who are murderers.

Others have even shared inflammatory posts saying that Muslims across the globe are celebrating the Paris attacks. Again, this is complete rubbish. Muslims are people too, and like everyone else, are horrified and repulsed at terrorism. Social media has been swamped with Muslims sending condolences to the people of Paris as well as expressing anger at the terrorists(4).

We can't let fear and hatred rule.

We can't let lies fuel anger against innocent people.

We can't let hate-filled groupthink drive society or politics.

It helps no-one to lose focus of the real issue. Terrorism.

By attacking all Muslims, the real perpetrators are free to radicalise others or to carry out other attacks. We must focus on the perpetrators.

It is folly to direct our anger at those who had nothing to do with the terrorist attacks. Refugees are fleeing these very people. In Afghanistan last week, seven Hazara were beheaded by ISIS in Afghanistan. This was followed by thousands of people marching through the streets of Kabul protesting against the attacks on the Hazara(5). Meanwhile, the Australian government has been returning Hazara asylum seekers to Afghanistan(6).

Blaming Islam for terrorism ignores the role that years of western intervention, led by Christians, has had on the rise of these groups. In the 1980s, the United States funded, armed, trained and radicalised Islamist fighters, out of whom grew Al Qaeda and the Taliban(7). In the 1990s, the US was warned that to remove Saddam Hussein would create a power-vacuum. Despite this, in 2003, George W. Bush removed Hussein and Al Qaeda in Iraq established itself, along with numerous other terrorist groups. As the Syrian war developed, the West (including the US, Britain and France) funded rebel groups, out of whom grew ISIS (8) and other extremist organisations. Syria is now home to over a thousand militant groups. It is extremely ignorant and naive for Christians or conservatives to blame Islam for the rise of Al Qaeda, ISIS or other extremists, when the West has been so heavily involved in their creation(9).

We don't live in a vacuum. Our actions have consequences. Islam is not the cause of terrorism. Hegemony is. Power is. Injustice is.

If we want to see an end to terrorism, end the injustice.

End the incitement.

Attacking innocent people is an incitement. Threatening to ban Islam or some of its religious practices is an incitement.

Alienating the entire Islamic community is not going to solve radicalisation or help in weeding it out. We need inclusion, not exclusion. We live in a country which doesn't force people to comply with any religion while maintaining freedom of religion. We want to keep it that way, otherwise it will create more problems than it solves.

Political parties founded on the hatred of others and the banning of their religion, are nothing more than fascist. We've seen it before: Nazi Germany did the same thing. It is only a matter of time before we see anti-Islamic groups unleash Australia's own Kristallnacht against Muslims and mosques. We're already seeing random attacks on Muslim women wearing head-coverings, on mosques and of course boycotting of businesses that are halal certified.
Eureka St - A Fascist By Any Other Name (10)

Unless this hatred, bigotry and fear is reigned in, we will see a level of brutality unleashed by the radical right on a scale that Australia has not seen previously.

Political parties with unconstitutional policies that incite hatred and fear of Islam should be banned. They are giving oxygen to the bigots, to the violent, to the radicals. They are not helping end terrorism, they are fuelling it.

In relation to the Paris attacks (and for that matter any terrorist attack), we need justice and love, not revenge and hate.


1. The Examiner, Michael Ross, Bryan Fischer: Japan bans mosques, Qurans and Muslim immigration (big fat lie), 30 September 2013, Accessed 15 November 2015.

2.Upworthy, Robert Couch, 'Ellen DeGeneres weighed in on the Starbucks cup controversy. And yes, she nailed it., 11 November 2015, Accessed 15 November 2015

3. An Open Letter to Al-Baghdadi,

4. Time, Nash Jenkins, 'Muslims Around the World Speak Out Against Terrorist Attacks in Paris', 14 November 2015, Accessed 15 November 2015.

5. Al Jazeera, Nadir Naim, What the Afghan protests are really about, 12 November 2015, Accessed 15 November 2015.

6. The Guardian, Ben Doherty, 'Australia forcibly returns second Afghan Hazara, despite fears over safety', 28 October 2014, Accessed 15 November 2015.

7. John Cooley, Unholy Wars - Afghanistan, America and International Terrorism (Third Edition), Pluto Press, 2002.

8. The Guardian, Seumas Milne, 'Now the truth emerges: how the US fuelled the rise of Isis in Syria and Iraq', 4 June 2015, Accessed 19 November 2015.

9. Salon, Ben Norton, 'We created Islamic extremism: Those blaming Islam for ISIS would have supported Osama bin Laden in the ’80s', 18 November 2015, Accessed 19 November 2015.

10. Eureka Street, Jeff Sparrow, A Fascist By Any Other Name, 12 November 2015, Accessed 14 November 2015.

(Updated 20 November 2015)

Saturday, October 31, 2015

Get thee behind me, Christ

Get thee behind me, Christ - the Life and Crimes of Modern Christianity

Isn't it funny how some Christians can get all high and mighty about terrorism committed by Muslims, but forget about how many people that Christians have killed over the years through genocide, wars and terrorism.

Since World War II, the United States alone has killed up to 30 million people(1). Supposedly a Christian nation trusting in God, it has either waged war directly or sponsored war or the overthrow of governments across the globe(2). Of course the USA isn't going to say it is waging these wars in the name of Christ, it comes up with something a little more subtle, like 'bringing democracy' or 'fighting terror'. The War on Drugs gave America the excuse to invade, overthrow and train despots throughout the world, particularly in South America. The War on Terror gave America the excuse to wage an endless, undefined war any where in the world for any reason(3). After all, what is a terrorist? Someone who opposes the American Empire?

One man's terrorist is another man's freedom fighter.

Since World War II, the West has embarked on a litany of state-sponsored terrorism that has killed millions, injured millions, displaced millions.

It was no secret that the USA, Great Britain and even Australia sponsored the brutal overthrow of socialist President Sukarno in Indonesia by President Suharto who then committed genocide of communists and others opposed to the government. But the western nations were happy with this as long as a socialist wasn't in power ... and we all know how anti-Christian Socialists are. Don't we?

There was the US sponsoring of the Shah of Iran who brutally murdered thousands and was ultimately overthrown in a revolution that was as much about removing a despot as it was about sending a signal to America.

The USA armed Saddam Hussein in the 1980s so he could wage war against Iran and his own people. The subsequent invasion of Iraq by the US and its allies in 1991 and the ongoing bombing of Iraq during the 1990s killed thousands, let alone the hundreds of thousands of people who were impacted by cancers caused by the USA using depleted uranium warheads (4). Then there were the sanctions, which over the years directly caused the deaths of more than 500,000 children. Madeline Albright, US Secretary of State, was confronted with this on 60 Minutes. Her reply? 'We think the price is worth it' (5).

The second war in Iraq in 2003 resulted in the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Iraqis, more than Saddam Hussein ever killed, as well as resulted directly in the rise of ISIS and over a thousand extremist groups in Syria and Iraq as the Western funded and trained extremist groups against the Assad regime. It's not just the US funding and arming these groups. Other western nations, including France, Britain and Germany have all contributed to extremist groups in Syria and Iraq(6)

During the 1980s, the United States, in the so-called Cold War against the Soviets, used Islamist missionary agency, Tablighi Jamaat, to recruit young, impressionable Muslims from across the globe in what the US marketed as a jihad against the Communist 'enemies of God' who had invaded the sovereign Muslim nation of Afghanistan. The US funding, recruiting, arming, training and radicalising of Mujahadeen and other jihadists during this time resulted in the deaths of thousands as well as directly led to the creation of the Taliban and Al Qaeda. (7)

The invasion of Korea and Vietnam led to wars in those countries that killed hundreds of thousands of people.

The overthrow of the socialist President Allende in Chile by the murderous General Pinochet, resulted in years of disappearances, torture and murders by government forces. But the USA was happy with this, as long as a socialist wasn't in power.

It is easy to say that none of this was done in the name of Christ.

It is easy to say that Muslims kill in the name of their own God while the USA kills in the name of democracy, not Christ.

Of course, there is the sponsoring, funding and prayerful support of Israel as it commits genocide and ethnic cleansing of Palestine in the name of God and the holy scriptures.

While some Islamic terrorists will kill in the name of the religion, many others are fighting for political reasons and either just happen to be Muslim or are gaining strength from their religion when they fight against the theft of their land and killing of their people.

Palestinians are a great example of this. They are not killing in the name of their God, they are killing or fighting in the defence of their land that has been illegally stolen in the name of God by a Zionist Israel backed by a Christian America. It is a myth that Israel is defending itself. It is the aggressor in a land that it stole(8). If anyone is killing in the name of God, it is Israel and the Christians who believe in Zionism: that the bible says modern Israel is a fulfilment of prophecy. Israel has become an extension of American empire and Zionism is key to maintaining the support of America as a 'Christian' nation(9). Even worse, it is being used to dehumanise Palestinians and delegitimise their claims to the land with the lie that Israel was founded on a 'land without a people for a people without a land'. Palestine was inhabited for thousands of years and the Zionist Jews who stole it already had their own land: Europe. It is Israel that is the invention, not Palestine(10).

The theft and occupation of Palestine and the ongoing abuse and subjugation of the people is the common issue that feeds violent retribution from Palestinians and the actions of many Islamic terrorists. Then there is violent occupations of Muslim lands by the USA and its allies that also gives impetus to much of Islamic terrorism.

The thousands of deaths from Islamic terrorism are much less than the millions of deaths by Christians.

'Why do they hate us so much?', asked many Americans after 9/11. Perhaps take a long hard look at American interventions across the globe and the deaths that they have caused, as well as the loss of land and livelihood.

The vast majority of American leaders have been Christian. And the vast majority of right-wing Christians have not only supported them and voted for them, but have prayed for them and their actions in these wars and interventions.

To separate Christianity from the actions of Christians is to say that those Christians are not Christian 24/7. That it is ok to turn their back on difficult scriptures such as:

'Turn the other cheek'.

'Love your enemy'.

'Bless those who curse you'.

'Love your neighbour as yourself'.

The bible describes how Christ was tempted for forty days and nights by Satan. During this period, Satan promised Jesus all the kingdoms of the earth if he would bow down and worship him. While Jesus declined the offer, the leaders of the American empire have clearly taken it up.

Christians who support the hegemony of American empire while condemning those who oppose the death and destruction it brings, would do well to keep in mind the admonition by Christ in Matthew 7:5 - 'Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye'.

For many non-Muslims it is easy to blame Islam whenever there is a terrorist attack. However, this fails to take responsibility for the consequences of the West's actions, particularly the United States under the leadership of Christians, in the death and maiming of millions of people across the globe, many of them Muslim. This lack of accountability, this inability to understand the consequences of their actions, seems to be a common trait of many conservatives who've supported American war-mongering and war-profiteering in the destruction of innocent people.

There is a quaint little scripture in the bible that says, 'Get thee behind me Satan'. It seems that Christians who wage or condone war, other acts of violence and ethnic cleansing have ignored their own God and turned that scripture into:

'Get thee behind me, Christ'.


1. Signs of the Times, James A. Lucas, Study: U.S. regime has killed 20-30 million people since World War Two, 24 April 2007, Accessed 31 October 2015

2. William Blum, Killing Hope - US Military and CIA interventions since World War II, Common Courage Press, 2004.

3. John Pilger, The New Rulers of the World, Verso, 2002.

4. John Pilger, 'Paying the Price - Killing the Children of Iraq', 2000,

5. 60 Minutes, CBS, 'Punishing Saddam', 12 May 1996.

6. The Guardian, Martin Chulov, 'France funding rebels in new push to oust Assad', 8 December 2012, Accessed 30 October 2015.

7. John Cooley, Unholy Wars - Afghanistan, America and International Terrorism (Third Edition), Pluto Press, 2002.

8. Miko Peled, 'The General's Son - Journey of an Israeli in Palestine', Just World Books, 2012.

9. Naim Ateek, Cedar Duaybis and Maurine Tobin (editors), Challenging Christian Zionism - Theology, Politics and the Israel-Palestine Conflict, Melisende, 2005.

10. Shlomo Sand, 'The Invention of the land of Israel - From Holy Land to Homeland', Verso, 2012.


Other articles in the 'Remove the Plank' series:

Thursday, October 29, 2015

The Gospel According to Tony Abbott

The Gospel According to Tony Abbott

On 28 October 2015, former Prime Minister Tony Abbott delivered the Margaret Thatcher lecture (1) to Tories in London. The crux of his message was that Europe should implement their own version of Operation Sovereign Borders. In other words, turn back the boats.

Most importantly though, Mr Abbott revealed why he is one of the greatest minds (2) of his generation, nay, one of the greatest minds of the last 2,000 years.  He did this by declaring that Jesus had got it wrong ... or at least the church had gotten the message of Jesus wrong.

You see, way back in Matthew 22:36-40, a clever Pharisee asked Jesus to declare which of the Ten Commandments is the greatest commandment. The conversation went something like this:

36 Master, which is the great commandment in the law? 
 37 Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. 
 38 This is the first and great commandment. 
 39 And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. 
 40 On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.

The Gospel According to Tony Abbott

According to the venerable Mr Abbott, the bit about love they neighbour as thyself actually came with some caveats. Who'd have thought.

In his speech, Abbott stated: ' "love your neighbour as you love yourself" is at the heart of every Western polity. It expresses itself in laws protecting workers, in strong social security safety nets, and in the readiness to take in refugees. It's what makes us decent and humane countries as well as prosperous ones, but – right now – this wholesome instinct is leading much of Europe into catastrophic error'.

So apparently Jesus got it wrong. The second greatest commandment is flawed because it causes catastrophic error. I'm tipping that omnipotent Jesus did not see that coming.

Or maybe He did, considering that Matthew 5:19 warns against breaking the commandments and encouraging others to also break them.

Whoever breaks a commandment & teaches others to do so, shall be least in the kingdom of heaven.

Based on that, Mr Abbott's eternal happiness is looking a little shaky.

Abbott went on to state that 'too much mercy for some necessarily undermines justice for all'.

Abbott's speech was an interesting contrast to the Sermon on the Mount preached by Jesus, in which He stated, 'Blessed are the Merciful for they shall obtain mercy'.

Not surprisingly, Catholic priests were quite upset about this callous and ignorant interpretation of the bible(3).

Funnily enough, Aussie comedian Wil Anderson immediately created the Twitter hashtag, #TheToneCommandments, and very soon wags across the country were tweeting parodies of the Gospel according to Abbott(4).

Below is Ranting Panda's humble contribution to #TheToneCommandments, with the real scripture printed below each tweet.

Matthew 5:6 - Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst for righteousness: for they shall be filled.

Matthew 5:7 - Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.

Matthew 5:9 - Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.

Matthew 5:10 - Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness's sake: for theirs is the kingdom of Heaven.

Matthew 5:3 - Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of Heaven.

Matthew 5:24 - ... first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift.

Matthew 6:12 - Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us.

Matthew 5:17 - Think not that I come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil.

Revelation 2:7 - ... To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the tree of life ...

Matthew 5:19 - Whoever breaks a commandment and teaches others to do so, shall be least in the kingdom of heaven.


1. Sydney Morning Herald, 'Transcript: Tony Abbott's controversial speech at the Margaret Thatcher Lecture', 28 October 2015. Accessed 29 October 2015.

2. The Guardian, 'Tony Abbott joins the world speakers' circuit as one of the "worlds greatest minds" ', Accessed 28 October 2015.

3. Sydney Morning Herald, Latika Bourke, 'Catholic priests slam Tony Abbott's anti-immigration Margaret Thatcher lecture', 29 October 2015, Accessed 29 October 2015.

4.,  '#TheToneCommandments: The internet's not done with Tony Abbott', Accessed 28 October 2015.

Saturday, September 26, 2015

The slippery slope to radicalisation and extremism

The slippery slope to radicalisation and extremism

Former Prime Minister Tony Abbott's short-lived government was renowned for its vitriolic attacks and demonisation of the Labor Party, unions, Muslims, asylum seekers and essentially anyone opposed to their ultra-right-wing policies.

All of this was done under guise of patriotism or anti-terrorism and used falsehoods, exaggerations and outright fear to convey its message. ABC Factcheck found that only 12% of the Abbott government's claims were (1). Call me cynical, but this is a dismal display of hypocrisy and lack of integrity from a party that gained significant traction by claiming to be an honest alternative to the Labor Party after exploiting Julia Gillard's single 'lie' about the carbon 'tax'.

Within months of gaining power, the Abbott government instituted a Royal Commission into Union corruption, continued persecuting, demonising and misrepresenting the plight of asylum seekers, unveiled anti-terrorism laws that targeted Islam, unleashed hundreds of police in numerous raids on Muslims and wrapped the Prime Minister and his messages in more and more Australian flags to push the illusion of patriotism.

With the replacement of the Abbott government by the apparently more moderate Malcolm Turnbull, there was hope that some sanity might return to the political discourse.

However, within weeks of assuming power, the Turnbull government unveiled its 'anti-radicalisation kit'. The kit addressed extremism and radicalisation in a number of areas, including racism and nationalism. This is somewhat ironic, given that the government has been using Muslims and asylum seekers as the poster-children of terrorism in order to advance its ultra-right-wing agenda behind a facade of flags and nationalism. Pot / Kettle. It seems the kit is more about paying lip-service to anti-racism rather than being a serious attempt to truly address the racist hate crimes currently being perpetrated across the country against Muslims, Asians and even Australia's own indigenous population.

The kit also took aim at left-wing politics, environmentalism and ... alternative music (2). A person could be mistaken for thinking that the 1980s Reagan-loving Christian Right had made a return with their tub-thumping 'rock is evil' mantras. But no. Welcome to 21st century Australian politics. Alternative music can lead to radicalisation.

Extract from Booklet - Preventing violent extremism and radicalisation in Australia (3).
Alternative music has nothing to do with radicalisation. Radicals will chose whatever music suits their tastes or purpose. Reclaim Australia and their various off-shoots and associates tried to use songs by chart-topping artists such as John Farnham, Jimmy Barnes, Midnight Oil, Goanna and Redgum to promote their racist, anti-Islamic, nationalist agenda. Each of these artists demanded their songs not be used to promote racism and intolerance.

Since winning the 2013 election, the LNP government has:
  • instituted a Royal Commission witch-hunt into Unions
  • attacked and misrepresented Islam
  • introduced harsh anti-terrorism laws that reduce freedom and give unprecedented power to law enforcement agencies
  • demonised, persecuted and tortured asylum seekers in contravention of international laws on refugees and torture while using the military as a political tool to enforce brutal 'border protection' policies
  • attacked environmentalists and denied climate change
  • invoked nationalism in the name of patriotism and flag-flying to portray its opponents as enemies of the state
None of this is new. It's straight from the fascist hand-book. Nazi leader, Herman Goring stated at the Nuremberg trials, ' ... the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country'.

German Pastor and anti-Fascist activist, Martin Niemöller succinctly described the events in 1930s Nazi Germany:

First they came for the Communists 
And I did not speak out because I was not a Communist 
Then they came for the Socialists 
And I did not speak out because I was not a Socialist 
Then they came for the trade unionists 
And I did not speak out because I was not a trade unionist 
Then they came for the Jews 
And I did not speak out because I was not a Jew 
Then they came for me 
And there was no one left

As bad as terrorism is, any government that exploits the community through fear and falsehoods has to be considered a threat to the Australian way of life, to our freedoms, to democracy.

Abbott's fascist style of government has taken Australia down a slippery slope of authoritarianism, racism, xenophobia and jingoism which portrays anyone to left of this extreme right-wing ideology to be unpatriotic. Many of the government's supporters sincerely believe that Australia is a Christian nation and that it is their patriotic duty to attack Muslims, even though the Australian constitution specifically states that people are entitled to practise any religion, not just Christianity.

When persecuted people requesting protection are imprisoned for years and treated as criminals even though they haven't committed any crime or been charged with a crime, there is something seriously wrong. When children are referred to by number rather than name, there is something seriously wrong. When the government makes it illegal to reveal the abuse, maltreatment and persecution of asylum seekers, there is something clearly wrong and something which the government is clearly hiding.

Now is the time to oppose the government's attack on the freedoms that we've taken for granted. Freedom of religion, of expression, of association, of movement. The freedom to protest. Now is the time to protest the government's attack on the rights that Australia claims to hold sacred. The right to political association, the right to seek asylum, the right to a fair trial and the presumption of innocence.

Through its vilification of the left-wing, the unionists and Islam, the LNP is shoring up its political strength by weakening those it sees as its opponents or who can be used as scape-goats for government policy, and conditioning the rest of the community to believe these groups are radicals, extremists, terrorists; that they are a threat to society.

As with the majority of the Abbott government's claims, these are fallacious, dangerous and give impetus to racist and radical right-wing ideology. Abbott's sloganeering and flag-waving go beyond patriotism and slide down the slippery slope of nationalism.

The words of award-winning Filipino writer, Manuel Syjuco, are most apt, 'I don't believe in nationalism. I think it's a bunch of slogans. It's a bunch of poor attempts at creating pride. My problem with nationalism is that it becomes exclusionary. We start to exclude people'.

And exclude people Australia has. From the gulags of Manus Island, Nauru and Christmas Island to the anti-Halal, anti-Mosque, anti-burqa and anti-Islam preaching and vituperation of politicians, pastors and plebs. Muslims and refugees are being excluded. Yet, inclusion not exclusion will help prevent radicalisation and extremism. Inclusiveness breeds understanding and understanding destroys ignorance and fear of the unknown while promoting community, harmony, friendship and love.

Now is the time to challenge and reverse the culture of fear and demonisation that has been the basis of political policy-making. It is time to challenge and reverse the ideology which has radicalised many Australians to fear and hate Muslims and refugees, and the belief by some on the right that verbal or physical abuse is patriotic or that vilifying people through social media is somehow the Australian thing to do.

It's not Islam that is to be feared. It's not asylum seekers who are to be feared. It isn't green groups or alternative music that are to be feared.

It is the insidious rise of racism and hate within mainstream society that is to be feared. It is this that will lead to radicalisation and extremism of the majority against the few.


1. ABC, 'Fact check scorecard: How does Tony Abbott's record of claims and promises stack up?', 24 September 2015,, accessed 24 September 2015.

2. ABC, Carl Holm, 'Radicalisation Awareness Kit: Government's new booklet for schools links green activism, 'alternative music' to terrorism', 24 September 2015,, accessed 25 September 2015.

3. Australian Government, Living Safe Together - Building resilience against violent extremism, What is radicalisation, Booklet - Preventing violent extremism and radicalisation in Australia,, accessed 25 September 2015.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Terrorism & ISIS: Proudly brought to you by the War on Terror

Terrorism & ISIS: Proudly brought to you by the War on Terror

14 years ago today, then-President George W. Bush declared a 'War on Terror' in response to the September 11 attacks in the USA which killed 2,966 victims and 19 hijackers.

Bush's war on terror kicked off with the bombing of sites in Afghanistan as he pursued Osama Bin Laden and his terrorist group, Al Qaeda, who had claimed responsibility for the attacks. Al Qaeda was allegedly based in Taliban-controlled Afghanistan. When the Taliban refused to give up Al Qaeda, the bombings started.

Two years later, Bush expanded the war on terror to include an invasion of Iraq on the auspices of links between Iraq and Al Qaeda. This was broadened to include the false claim that Iraq was in possession of Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD). The reasons for the invasion contradicted UN and US intelligence reports that Iraq had no WMDs and warnings that there was no evidence of links between Hussein and Bin Laden (1).

To help justify the invasion, Bush created an idea of an 'Axis of Evil', which included Iraq, Iran and North Korea, while declaring a 'Coalition of the Willing' for any nation that supported the USA's invasion. The war in Iraq did eventually topple dictator Saddam Hussein, however, it came at a cost.

Back in 1991, when the USA and other nations retaliated against Iraq's invasion of Kuwait, Saddam Hussein was left in power because of credible warnings that to topple him would cause a power-vacuum and result in complete anarchy and the rise of terrorist groups vying for power. George W. Bush's father, George H. W. Bush, was president at the time.

In 2003, George W. Bush ignored these warnings and made the completely puerile comment, 'this the man who tried to kill my dad' (2), unleashing an invasion and occupation that would result in the predictions of 1991 coming true.

Iraq had no links to Al Qaeda. In fact, Saddam Hussein and Al Qaeda leader, Osama Bin Laden, hated each other.

The overthrow of Hussein was a Pyrrhic victory. There was no point taking down Hussein's government if it was to be replaced with something worse. Those who thought Hussein was as bad as it got, greatly underestimated the devastation, destruction and sheer malevolence that was to replace him.

Hussein, a Sunni, was replaced by a Shia government which sought retribution against the Sunnis for their brutal treatment under Hussein. Under the new government terrorist groups gained a foothold. Something that Hussein hadn't allowed.

Al Qaeda in Iraq was established. Just one of many terrorist groups.

Hundreds of thousands of innocent Iraqis were killed. Far more than Hussein had been responsible for.

And then there was ISIS.

Neighbouring Syria degenerated into civil war and saw a number of rebel groups gain traction there as well, many of whom were engaging in terrorist actions against the government and civilians; many of whom were being funded by the USA (3) and the UK. As usual, the thinking that the enemy of my enemy is my friend saw the funding of rebel groups opposed to Syria's Assad government which did nothing but give strength and power to terrorists. Giving money to terrorists, is no way to wage a war on terror.

Al Qaeda in Iraq joined forces with terrorists and the most infamous of modern terrorist groups was born. ISIS: Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (amongst other names). ISIS declared a new caliphate and unleashed a wave of terrorism, kidnappings and brutal, public executions across Syria and Iraq, and have now extended into Afghanistan while exporting terrorism on a global scale through online and direct recruitment campaigns.

It justified war crimes such as the illegal detention and torture of captives in Abu Ghraib prison (4) and Guantanamo Bay (5). The captives, while charged with various terrorism offences, most were not found guilty of crimes. Why? Because they had been arrested on the flimsy and often contrived evidence. Many of them were innocent. The war on terror saw gross human rights abuses for political reasons, not to stop terrorism.

The War on Terror broke international laws on war and torture, committed atrocities and rather than stopping terrorism, fuelled it. In addition to its military actions in Iraq and Afghanistan, the USA has launched illegal drone attacks and military operations in Pakistan, Yemen and Somalia, often resulting in the death or injuries of innocent civilians.

A Yemeni boy walks past a mural depicting drone strikes in Yemen. Photo by MOHAMMED HUWAIS/AFP/Getty Images

George W. Bush, British Prime Minister Tony Blair, Australian Prime Minister, John Howard and other leaders who joined the 'Coalition of the Willing, all spouted the falsehoods and propaganda that resulted in these illegal actions. The destruction of Hussein's government (as brutal as it was), directly resulted in the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people and to the rise of ISIS.

To state that the Middle East has always been at war with itself is to completely disregard the affects of Western involvement. What is often forgotten in this statement is that Europe has been a bloodbath for centuries, with war after war waged. Yet for centuries, the Middle East was relatively stable with most of its wars fought against European invaders.

The state of affairs in Iraq and Syria are not the product of centuries of Middle Eastern fighting, but instead are the result of ongoing Western imperialism, capitalism, greed and hegemony.

The West cannot solely blame the Middle East for the problems it faces today considering that much of it is because of Western invasions, political interference and funding and support of various despots such as Hussein, the Shah of Iran, Muammar Gaddafi, the House of Saud, Egypt's Mubarrak and Morsi. The list goes on.

The West can't blame Islam for terrorism considering the amount of money that so-called Christian nations, particularly the USA and UK, have funnelled into rebel or terrorist groups throughout the world in order to bring about political change favourable to the West and at the expense of innocent civilians (6). The rise of Al Qaeda and the Taliban was directly the result of US funding of the Mujahideen in Afghanistan in the 1980s (7).

The War on Terror is not about stopping terrorism, but about shoring up American hegemony across the globe. It is about instigating a 'perpetual war' as George Orwell described in 1984, his dystopic novel of global authoritarianism.

The War on Terror is a war of propaganda. A war that demonises Islam. A war that characterises Muslims as terrorists. It is a war that justifies racial profiling. Only last week, a 14 year old Muslim boy was arrested for bringing to school a clock that he'd built because teachers thought it was a bomb(8). Meanwhile, white Americans can roam the streets with impunity, carrying firearms.

The War on Terror is the perfect perpetual war. It is ill-defined, vague with shifting scope and allows the demonisation of anyone who dares oppose it while enabling the establishment of authoritarian rule.

At the Nuremberg Trials held after World War II, Nazi leader Herman Goering stated:

'Of course the people don't want war. But after all, it's the leaders of the country who determine the policy, and it's always a simple matter to drag the people along whether it's a democracy, a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism, and exposing the country to greater danger. It works the same way in every country'.

The War on Terror is making the world more dangerous with less freedom as governments' convince citizens of the need to introduce authoritarian, fascist laws in the name of security against terrorists ... the same terrorists the USA and its allies have been sponsoring.


1. John C. Conyers Jr and Elizabeth Holtzman, 'The Constitution in Crisis: The High Crimes of the Bush Administration and a Blueprint for Impeachment', 2007, Skyhorse Publishing.

2.Sydney Morning Herald, 'Saddam tried to kill my dad, says Bush',, 27 September 2002.

3. Darren Pope,, 'Declassified DIA documents reveal Obama administration ordered CIA to train ISIS,, 29 May 2015. Accessed 20 September 2015.

4. Seymour M. Hersh, The New Yorker, 'Torture at Abu Ghraib',, 10 May 2004. Accessed 20 February 2015.

5. Wikileaks, 'WikiLeaks Reveals Secret Files on All Guantánamo Prisoners,

6. William Blum, 'Killing Hope: U.S. Military and C.I.A. Interventions Since World War II', Updated edition 2008, Common Courage Press.

7. John K. Cooley, 'Unholy Wars: Afghanistan, America and International Terrorism', 2002, Pluto Press.

8. Mark Pesce, ABC, The Drum, 'Ahmed Mohamed arrest: We should nurture the kids with the clocks',, 18 September 2015. Accessed 20 September 2015.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Border Farce - Needle, haystack, jackboots

The Australian government has become increasingly militant towards asylum seekers. It started with former Prime Minister John Howard unleashing the military on people arriving by boat and implementation of the Hitleresque-named 'Pacific Solution'.

In 2013, Prime Minister Tony Abbott implemented 'Operation Sovereign Borders', a military led operation to 'stop the boats'.

The Liberal Party governments of Howard and Abbott have dehumanised asylum seekers and recast them as illegals, even though it is legal to seek asylum in a country regardless of whether the means of arrival would normally be termed illegal (1).

This dehumanisation and recategorisation of asylum seekers has resonated with the Australian public, with most supporting the government's hard-line tactics and not caring about the human rights abuses being committed in the refugee camps of Nauru, Manus Island and Australia.

Abbott's latest salvo in this war on people fleeing persecution, was to establish the Australian Border Force to manage immigration security. To emphasise the militant role of the ABF, the government spent $10 million kitting them out in black Gestapo-like uniforms and promotional material. Meanwhile, the government is failing to provide asylum seekers on Nauru with proper clothing. (2)

To justify this $10 million, the ABF was scheduled to model its new uniforms in Melbourne at a paramilitary fashion show called Operation Fortitude.

Within moments of this little parade (or more accurately, charade) being announced a large crowd of protesters descended on the Melbourne CBD and hogged the steps of Flinders St Station. Which just happened to be the exact location of a press conference to launch Operation Fortitude.

The ABF and Victoria Police saw hundreds of people protesting and promptly cancelled Operation Fortitude amid a flurry of excuses, such as the press release was 'clumsily worded' (3). People all the way up the food chain to the Prime Minister denied knowledge of Operation Fortitude and opted to blame some middle-management pleb. However, it turns out that the Immigration Minister Peter Dutton, who owns the ABF, did actually receive a copy of the press release about the upcoming operation. So his excuse was that he didn't read it (4). For a Minister who has just spent $10 million decking out his fascist bully-boys with the latest fashion in jackboots, surely this is a little difficult to believe. A bit like say, a President of the USA claiming he smoked a little hooch but didn't inhale.

So let's look into Operation Fortitude. It was planned that the ABF, Victoria Police and a number of other agencies would patrol the streets of Melbourne asking suspicious looking characters for their 'papers' in order to identify 'illegal immigrants'.

There's a few issues with this.

Firstly, who the hell carries their 'papers' around. It is not a legal requirement to roam the streets of Melbourne with birth certificate or visa in hand.

Secondly, there are 62,000 illegal immigrants in Australia (5). Most of these are not asylum seekers because they asylum seekers are in the community legally, while others are illegally detained on Nauru, Manus or one of the on-shore gulags awaiting processing. No. The 62,000 illegal immigrants are mainly visa over-stayers from China, Malaysia, US, Britain and India.

Thirdly, mathematics and the science of probability.

Bear with me.

Population of Australia: 23 million

Number of illegal immigrants: 62,000

That means that illegal immigrants account for 0.26% of the population.

According to the Melbourne City Council, the population of inner-city Melbourne is 844,000 (6).

It is highly unlikely that the entire illegal immigrant population is in the Melbourne CBD. It is likely most our outside of the CBD area. But even if the same rate of 0.26% applies, that could mean up to 2,000 visa overstayers in Melbourne CBD on a given day. Sounds like a lot, but randomly selecting people out of a crowd of 844,000 is really stretching the odds. They might pick up one or two if they're lucky. But considering that people don't need to carry papers it will be difficult to prove that someone is a visa overstayer.

Needle. Haystack.

Do these odds justify unleashing the ABF, Victoria Police and seven other agencies, including Metro Trains, Yarra Trams, Sheriff's Office and the Taxi Services Commission?

So why do it?

Independent MP, Tony Windsor, eloquently stated the obvious that Abbott's agenda is to create fear in the general community. Windsor goes on to make this chilling statement regarding the Abbott government's motivation in doing this:

'I have no doubt that some of the people in Abbott's government hope that something goes wrong domestically. That they can taunt a Muslim into doing something so that they can say, "we're the only ones that can protect you. The Labor Party are too weak to protect you. Vote for us". I think that's an extraordinary agenda to go to an election on'(7)

The problem is that most of the illegal immigrants aren't Muslims even though this is the image that the Liberal Party has been promoting.

Operation Fortitude was not just designed to further instill fear. It was designed to reinforce racism and Islamophobia in the community.

Crowds protest Operation Fortitude. ABC News: Stephanie Ferrier

Demonstrators gather outside Flinders Street Station. ABC News: Jean Edwards

Peter Dutton, Immigration Minister, refused an interview about the issue because he claimed it was an 'operational matter'. Meanwhile, independent MP, Andrew Wilkie stated that 'Joseph Stalin would be proud of Tony Abbott'. He went on to say that East Germany's Stasi would be 'delighted' and that Chile's Pinochet would be 'impressed'. (8)

Although Abbott has stated that government officers will never stop people to check visas (9), the problem is that the operation was conceived in the first place to fulfil the government's hard-line approach to immigration.

Many Australians are willingly exchanging freedom for an illusion of security based on delusions and deception.

This has been drummed home by Abbott's comments in an interview in which he accused a journalist of hyperventilating over the press release, which he claimed was a mistake. What wasn't a mistake was that the ABF et al were being mobilised. Coordinating nine federal and state government agencies does not happen accidentally. Denial of such an operation is yet one more lie that shows the contempt the Liberal Party has for the electorate.

Fear and deception are the LNP's modus operandi. Howard used fear and xenophobia to great effect through his dog-whistling rhetoric and deceit about the Tampa, Children Overboard, boat arrivals, weapons of mass destruction, Afghanistan, Iraq, terrorism and so on. Abbott is perpetuating this and taking Australia down a path of fascism, dehumanisation and supremacist thinking that some people are worth more than others and that liberty and rights are less important than the illusion of 'security' based on LNP lies and fear-mongering.


1. Article 31.1, United Nations Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees and its 1967 Protocol, adopted 28 July 1951, entered into force 22 April 1954, Accessed 30 August 2015.

2. Sydney Morning Herald, Nicole Hasham, '$10 million splurge to rename Australian Border Force', 26 August 2015, Accessed 30 August 2015.

3. Sydney Morning Herald, Nicole Hasham, 'Australian Border Force farce leaves Tony Abbott under fire', 29 August 2015, Accessed 30 August 2015.

4. Sky News, AAP, 'Dutton's office ignored Border Force briefing', 30 August 2015, Accessed 30 August 2015.

5. Department of Immigration and Border Protection, 'Australia's Migration Trends 2013-14', Accessed 30 August 2015.

6. City of Melbourne, 'Melbourne in numbers', Accessed 30 August 2015.

7. ABC Radio, Elizabeth Jackson, 'Operation Fortitude parto f an agenda to create fear: Tony Windsor (full interview)', 29 August 2015, Accessed 30 August 2015.

8. ABC News, 'Controversial Australian Border Force visa checks, Operation Fortitude cancelled', 28 August 2015, Accessed 30 August 2015.

9. ABC News, Susan McDonald, 'Australian Border Force: Tony Abbott promises officers will 'never' stop people for visa checks', 30 August 2015, Accessed 30 August 2015.