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How to deal with terrorism

November 8th, 2005

Sixteen people have been arrested in Sydney and Melbourne and charged with terrorism offences. While the individuals involved are legally entitled to a presumption of innocence, the police were right to act when faced with evidence suggesting a threat.

What’s important here is that the threat has been dealt with under criminal law, rather than through the use of arbitrary powers of secret detention, as proposed in the new anti-terror laws. Moreover, it appears that the offences created by the 2002 legislation are sufficient to encompass a wide range of terrorist activities. By contrast, it’s hard to imagine how the revival of the notion of sedition in the 1914 Crimes act could have proved useful in this, or any similar case.

It appears that the amendments passed by the Parliament last week were used in framing some of the charges, and certainly the general tenor of the changes seemed reasonable enough. On the other hand, it’s not clear that a major public announcement was a good idea. The fact that one of the suspects was armed and allegedly fired on police may have reflected advance warning. It’s not clear whether it would have been feasible to pass the amendments quietly, then proceed with the arrests and charges, but some of the police quoted (off-the-record) over the weekend seemed to think so. Still, these issues are largely academic (in the pejorative sense) now.

The new and amorphous features of the terrorist threat we now face may well create the need to define criminal offences more broadly before. But they shouldn’t be the basis for granting arbitrary powers to the secret services or the executive government, apparently based on nothing more than an ambit claim wishlist.

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  1. a friend
    November 8th, 2005 at 19:23 | #1

    Poor Commissioner Keelty is a bought man, but what do you do if the PM is heavying you? Do the ‘right thing’ and resign, so throwing a career away and watch the govt and its toadies such as Gerard Henderson impugn your mental state etc?

    I put the odds that the PM’s office directed Keelty, ASIO et al to ‘request’ last week’s legislative changes at about 50%. Mick learnt last year that it’s easier to go with the flow.

  2. David Allen
    November 8th, 2005 at 19:44 | #2

    Let’s hope for everyone’s sake that there is some substance to these arrests. The evidence needs to be more than just scary talk on the phone and the odds and ends found around most homes. It’s standard practice for the police to gather incriminating evidence at the scene but sometimes it can paint an unrealistic picture. Bearded men can be scary just by themselves. It would be a blow to the credibility of the police in both states if the evidence is weak (and NSW doesn’t need any less confidence in their police). The NSW commissioner’s ‘catastrophe’ comment was not helpful. He should just stick to the facts.

  3. Roberto
    November 8th, 2005 at 19:48 | #3

    The two previous comments read per “Western culture’s disillusionment with institutional ‘anything’, our suspicion that the world is a conspiracy and our yearning to read life as a cryptogram”.

  4. Dave Ricardo
    November 8th, 2005 at 20:05 | #4

    “Let’s hope for everyone’s sake that there is some substance to these arrests.”

    3 police commissioners, 500 police, ASIO, 3 DPPs, 3 Governments were involved. They’d look like the world’s biggest idiots if there was no substance to it all. It’s a reasonable bet the arrests were justified. Whether anybody gets convicted of anything remains to be seen, but the trials should be interesting.

  5. November 8th, 2005 at 20:25 | #5

    Hi John,
    The sad reality is, the political success of these raids may well see those ambit claims become a reality. Joh Public is unlikely to distinguish between changing “the” to “a” in the existing laws and the new anti-terror legislation. For a largely depoliticised public, strengthening security laws is all good, and necessary to keep us safe.
    Beasley has already signalled his punches regarding the new legislation. He will try to make some amendments, but he won’t block the legislation.Those amendments are sure to fail along party lines, and the only thing that could stop these ambit claims is the Lib backbench rolling howard in the party room. Very unlikely.
    Beasley’s support for the sedition legislation is going to bite him in the bum big time come next campaign. Howard will abuse these laws, there is very little judicial reveiw and people opposing the government will be silenced during the next campaign.
    The scary thing is, you can see it coming a mile away and Beasley is too gutless to do anything about it.

  6. a friend
    November 8th, 2005 at 20:55 | #6

    Of course arrests are probably justified. But likely they were rushed into it early because Mr Howard wanted to take ownership of the thing. No need to call it a conspiracy. Let’s call it political reality in the Howard years.

  7. Razor
    November 8th, 2005 at 21:11 | #7

    a friend – you obviously have little experience of large organisations, let alone State and Federal beauracracies if you think that your kind of conspiracy theory has a snowball’s chance in hell of being true, let alone being kept secret.

    Got any other conspiracies? I can recommend a good agent and publisher.

  8. abb1
    November 8th, 2005 at 21:19 | #8

    Australia police say Muslim cleric led attack plot

    “Osama Bin Laden, he is a great man,” Benbrika, 45, told Australian Broadcasting Corp. (ABC) radio in August.

    …and (presumably) proceeded with planning terrorist attacks in Australia.

    If that’s true, the guy and his followers probably deserve a special prize for the world’s most stupid terrorist group.

  9. Dogz
    November 8th, 2005 at 21:44 | #9

    From abb1′s link:

    “Benbrika was charged with directing the activities of a terrorist organization and remanded in custody until January.”

    So two things: one, the judge figured there was sufficient evidence to hold the guy, which suggests that this is anything but a beat-up; and two, it seems there’s no chance of bail under these charges. Is that a direct consequence of the new legislation?

  10. jquiggin
    November 8th, 2005 at 21:49 | #10

    Two of the Melbourne accused applied for bail, the rest did not. I’d be surprised if someone charged with an offence of this kind got bail, both because of the seriousness of the charge and the likelihood of fleeing the country, but that’s just an application of the standard principles used in bail hearings. There’s no special law being used here to prohibit people from getting bail, and I hope we won’t see a change in the existing rules.

  11. Dave Ricardo
    November 8th, 2005 at 22:17 | #11

    abb1, they were being watched for 18 months. Benbrika didn’t come to the police’s attention for the first time in August. Although it does take a certain brazenness to go on national TV and praise Osama Bin Laden if you’re a Muslim cleric.

  12. November 8th, 2005 at 23:14 | #12

    Good post, John – I’m in complete agreement with you on the matters canvassed.

  13. Nabakov
    November 8th, 2005 at 23:23 | #13

    Incidentally I understand none of them were charged under the new laws that had to rushed through Parliament last week.

  14. Michael H
    November 9th, 2005 at 00:46 | #14

    “Osama Bin Laden, he is a great man..”, posts abb1.

    The power of selective quoting.

    The next phrase from our friend of Osama was “…Osama bin Laden was a great man before 11 September..”. Now it’s a bit less clear what he actually means.

    Hopefully the police have got it right and weren’t compelled to move now because of the glare of publicity. From what I heard today, it seemed that part of the police case presented to the courts was that the suspects were talking of “jihad”. Let’s hope that this is just background, not an example of kind of evidence the police will be relying on and that the rest is a lot more substantial than this and a guy talking about being a “martyr”.

  15. James Farrell
    November 9th, 2005 at 05:17 | #15

    Michael, if he meant to convey unqualified disapproval of violence against innocent civilians, he was at best inept. Here’s another excerpt from the 4 August 7.30 Report (I corrected a typo in the transcript):

    NICK McKENZIE: And while Abu Bakr says he teaches his students that it’s forbidden to hurt innocent people, a small number have attended terrorist training camps in central Asia. He stresses the decision was their own. Isn’t it important that you say to them, “You shouldn’t go and engage in violence.” “You shouldn’t go and train”?

    ABU BAKR: If I do this, it means I am betraying my religion.

    NICK McKENZIE: But don’t you think Australian Muslims, Muslims living in Australia also have a responsibility to adhere to Australian law? To not fight, for instance, if they do go to Iraq to not fight against Australian troops, to make sure they follow the laws of this country?

    ABU BAKR: This is big problem. There are two laws, there is an Australian law, there is an Islamic law.

  16. November 9th, 2005 at 06:04 | #16

    Hmmmm anyone remember what happened after the last “terror” swoop? If I remember correctly, it generated a lot of heat with the media, and some PCs were taken away, but no one gang was charged.

    The government of the day always gets some extra support whenever there is a terror claim. Rightly or wrongly.

    On one hand, I have friends and relatives in Sydney and Melbourne, these are innocent people and I don’t want to see them get hurt. On the other hand, the people who are caught are members of a small identifiable community.

    I just watched a DVD of Hitlers power grab and the same kind of paranoia and xenophobia that drove the Germans are now driving us. We may live in the 21st century, but our tiny human brains betray our caveman origins.

  17. November 9th, 2005 at 07:17 | #17

    Abu Bakr is an ignorant peasant, not some omnipotent Dr. Evil. We should not rearrange our entire society to accomodate the likes of him (and the relaxed and comfortable well-off who don’t mind the idea of living in the equivalent of South Africa).

  18. Katz
    November 9th, 2005 at 07:55 | #18

    1. The accused have been charged under state laws. NSW, Vic and Fed police have particularly emphasised this point.

    2. Legal experts say there is no difference between “a terrorist act” and “the terrorist act”.

    3. Intelligence sources, unattributed, have complained about the risk associated with the sound and fury surrounding Howard’s change of articles.

    4. Costello has the job of talking up the enormous contribution of the Federal Government to this piece of state law enforcement. Howard has the nose of a truffle pig for favourable publicity. But why has Costello agreed to being the mouthpiece for Howard’s blatant hijacking of this state police action?

  19. Dave Ricardo
    November 9th, 2005 at 08:09 | #19

    Katz, as much as I hate defending Johnny Howard, it’s a reasonable bet that he would have got a lot of legal advice before legislating to change “the” to “a”. Legal experts might disagree on the need for it, but this isn’t something Howard would have dreamt up himself or done without advice.

  20. Homer Paxton
    November 9th, 2005 at 08:38 | #20

    My concern here is the embellishment by the police etal.

    These people were watched for over 18 months indeed they were raaided last year.
    The AFP actually talked to kiddies in the street up here when ‘surveilling’ these people.
    Last thursday for petes sake we were told in the OZ these people in Sydanee had already gaained chemicals although I note the coppers said yesterday they didn’t know whether anyone had bombmaking expertise!

    These people advertised themselves. They were complete idiots as Brian toohey showed on Insiders last Sunday.

    These raids could hardly be a surprise given what was in the OZ last thursday!

    If these incompetents are the only ‘terrorists’ in Australia then we are very lucky!

  21. Dogz
    November 9th, 2005 at 08:38 | #21

    To all those Howard haters for whom everything is an excuse to bash the man – give it a rest. If you have to comment, please just say “I hate Howard” and leave it at that. Save the rest of us a lot of trouble.

  22. Katz
    November 9th, 2005 at 09:03 | #22

    JQ, I believe Dogz is offering to be your moderator-in-chief.

    DR: “it’s a reasonable bet that he would have got a lot of legal advice before legislating to change “theâ€? to “aâ€?.”

    There has been every opportunity for the great and the good of the legal world to enlighten the tapayers of Australia on why it was a good idea to pay for what must be, on a letter for letter basis, the most expensive piece of legislation in world history. Not a single voice has been raised to provide a rationale.

    On the other hand, much opinion has been expressed along the lines that, in this context “the” and “a” mean exactly the same thing.

    It’s a simple question to pose:

    what act is prosecutable under “a terrorist act” which is not prosecutable under “the terrorist act”?

    [Cue SFX: Chirruping of crickets.]

  23. stoptherubbish
    November 9th, 2005 at 09:14 | #23

    No,
    It wasn’t a conspiracy, but the alert will notice as pointed out here and elsewhere the arrests were effected using existing laws. Now, let’s wait and see what the trial reveals. The issue is the need for new and draconian laws, not the need to vigorously weed out would be murderers. And BTW, it has always been a crime in this country to plot to kill others and destroy property, and to throw bombs. The issue is the need for increased powers which strip us all of our rights and liberties in the name of the ‘war on terror’-not the need for vigilant and competent policing.

    Howard is playing security for all it is worth, but that doesn’t mean there is not a need for better and more informed policing against crackpots and would be murderers. I am as unconvinced today as I was yesterday concerning the need for Howard’s new laws, and I am equally convinced that the answer lies in competent smart and intelligent policing.

    He is the most unscrupulous politician this country has ever had since Billy Morris, but no-one can say he has ever undersestimated the capacity of people to forget what happened yestrday in order to further his real agenda which is not to impose ‘fascisim’ or anything else-it is just to keep him there long enough to vindicate his pathetic childhood ambition to be another Bob Menzies-It is all so retro, so aimless and ultimately so pointless.

  24. wilful
    November 9th, 2005 at 10:17 | #24

    The main issue is that the uncritical media are totally lapping up the story that the recent legislation was entirely necessary for the arrests, without any justification or analysis.

    “I hate Howard” (happy Dogz?) and I think he’ll manipulate the media and Parliament successfully for his own ends, but I still trust the various security agencies enough to believe the arrests are entirely legitimate and timed mostly for operational reasons. There is no valid connection to the recent legislation though.

  25. StephenL
    November 9th, 2005 at 10:25 | #25

    I have long espoused the theory that “incompetence is the norm, competence is the exception”. This is based on oberserving people in a range of jobs both private and government.

    It seems the same thing applies to terrorists. A few may be able to brilliantly hide their plans, but these guys are probably more typical. They have been stuffing around for at least 18 months, talking on the phone in ways that would alert the police, advertising their philosophy on national media but still may not have picked a target or got the materials together to fully build a bomb.

    The overwhelming majority of terrorist acts can be stopped by standard state criminal legislation, provided the police can manage to show a slightly higher level of competence than the terrorists. It is doubtful that any more will be stopped by the laws Howard is trying to slam through on the back of this raid.

  26. Dogz
    November 9th, 2005 at 10:42 | #26

    Howard is a savvy politician and there is no doubt that he manipulates the media where he can – but that’s just politics. Getting hung up over that is pointless, and clouds debate on the genuine issues. I think the sedition thing in the current legislation was probably a cockup rather than a conspiracy, but I am thankful the Liberal beackbench has enough heavy-hitters to ensure this sort of crap doesn’t get through.

    I imagine, more than anything else, Howard doesn’t want to go down in history as the PM who didn’t successfully prevent a major terrorist attack, which is why he is erring on the side of more draconian laws rather than less.

  27. Hal9000
    November 9th, 2005 at 10:55 | #27

    Surely John Howard is in legal terms a discredited witness? WMD, kids overboard etc etc. We are entitled to disbelieve anything he says unless corroborated by uncompromised parties. The fact is that even on his own say-so he was aware for over a week of the alleged problem with the ‘the’ and ‘a’. So launching the fear campaign ten minutes before introduction of the Work Choices legislation was entirely his own initiative – it could have been done at any other time. The known facts support a ‘proven liar exploits fear to distract attention’ hypothesis.

  28. November 9th, 2005 at 11:38 | #28

    So, here we have all this backslapping from John Howard, Kim Beasley, Chief Commissioner Christine Nixon, Chief commissioner Maroney, Australian Federal Police commissioner Mick Keelty and more and more about the successful raids and how the amended legislation was “critical� to it all.

    Now let be realistic. The Supreme Court of Victoria previously dismissed numerous charges of trespassing in regard of the Albert park incident because it was discovered the legislation never had been Gazetted.

    Next week, I am back in court still challenging the 2001 federal election because the proclamation was never Gazetted on 8 October 2001, but too late there after! Hence the writs were ULTRA VIRES.

    With the amendments, I have checked it out, obviously, and it had not been published in the Gazette meaning it is not legally enforceable!

    Before the raids took place, I did notify Malcolm Turnbull MP in writing about this issue on 5 November 2005! As such, the government could have had the amendment published on Monday by Special Gazette.

    WATSON v_ LEE (1979) 144 CLR 374;
    QUOTE

    To bind the citizen by a law, the terms of which he has no means of knowing, would be a mark of tyranny.

    END QUOTE

    It might just well be that Senator Boswell saying that everyone criticizing John Howard have egg all over themselves may find that the egg will be on him, when those detained walk free from the courts because of the failure to publish the amendment(s) and as such failing to have any legal force.
    If just John Howard had taken more notice of my warnings, more then 4 years ago, he could have avoided this fiasco!

  29. wilful
    November 9th, 2005 at 11:53 | #29

    To bind the citizen by a law, the terms of which he has no means of knowing, would be a mark of tyranny. heard of Hansard? Heard of television? While you may have a correct technical case, gazettal or not has absolutely nothing to do with whether or not these laws and the 01 election were tyrannical.

  30. a friend
    November 9th, 2005 at 12:17 | #30

    Razer, if you think it not possible that Howard could/would instruct ASIO, AFP or DPP to request the change in the law, or to request it now, rather than just wait for the bill to go through parliament later … if you think that can’t happen then you’ve been on another planet for the last several years, and there’s a bridge I think you should buy.

    Howard’s office nobbled Keelty early last year and now has him eating out of Howard’s hand. Poor fellow, but what can he do?

  31. Andrew
    November 9th, 2005 at 12:33 | #31

    Three cheers for John Howard. Someone with the guts and vision to push through all the noise.
    I still can’t believe some of the comments I’m reading above.

    Have a read of Greg Sheridan’s piece in the Australian today –

    http://www.theaustralian.news.com.au/common/story_page/0,5744,17183587%255E28737,00.html

    The last few paragraphs are excellent reading –

    “It is worth noting that Beazley has behaved impeccably throughout, subjecting proposed legislation to scrutiny, suggesting amendments, especially in relation to the vexed issue of sedition, but unwaveringly supporting the basic need to take action. He was privately criticised by some in the Labor Party for this, but Labor could easily have made itself unelectable if last week it had taken what would now be seen as the irresponsible position of opposing the legislation.

    Labor’s whip, Michael Danby, in a brilliant and withering opinion piece in the weekend’s The Australian Financial Review, skewered this thinking.

    Danby wrote: “We are seeing at the moment a strange state of affairs in Australian public life, in which the politicians and the people are in broad agreement both on the nature of the terrorist threat and what ought to be done about it, while a large slice of the intellectual class is in furious disagreement … In the world of Alan Ramsey and Phillip Adams and Michael Leunig, all the world’s troubles are the fault of the Western democracies or a witches’ brew of Zionists and neo-conservatives; terrorism is a myth or a trick by George Bush and Tony Blair to divert our attention while they seize the world’s oil.

    “The strange disconnect between the people and the intellectual elite is dangerous and damaging. Countries where the majority of intellectuals are alienated from their societies and think the rest of the population are fools and dupes can drift into serious trouble, as France of the 1930s attests … [Last] week in Canberra, despite all the shouting, we saw a mature democracy at work. When the national interest is at stake, the parties work together.”"

  32. Razor
    November 9th, 2005 at 12:37 | #32

    Katz asked : “It’s a simple question to pose:

    what act is prosecutable under “a terrorist actâ€? which is not prosecutable under “the terrorist actâ€??”

    The amendment allows charges to be laid where evidence has been collected of specific intent to commit a terrorist act but the specific target has not been identified.

    It is a sound amendment and it allowed the most recent arrests to be made without needing to wait until it is possibly too late because a target was not clearly identified.

  33. Homer Paxton
    November 9th, 2005 at 12:40 | #33

    Razor,

    Anyone who read last thursday OZ or watched Insiders on Sunday knew what was coming so I doubt if these clowns could threaten anybody

  34. Roberto
    November 9th, 2005 at 12:43 | #34

    The Age is running a poll “Was the rush to amend Australia’s counter-terrorism laws justified?” @ http://theage.com.au/polls/results.html

    Respondents to The Age are typically anti-Howard, but the results at 1.40 look as if the majority viewpoint is with the Government.

  35. Dogz
    November 9th, 2005 at 12:49 | #35

    The strange disconnect between the people and the intellectual elite is dangerous and damaging. Countries where the majority of intellectuals are alienated from their societies and think the rest of the population are fools and dupes can drift into serious trouble…

    No danger of that in Oz. The _intellectual_ elite as such is largely confined to academia, the ABC, the Public Service and a few remnants of left-wing commentary in the media (eg Philip “my sh*t doesn’t stink” Adams). As a group, they’ve never been that relevant to Australia’s security or prosperity, something they despise Howard and the Liberals for making painfully obvious.

    There’s plenty of IQ outside the elite, and a lot less baggage.

  36. Michael H.
    November 9th, 2005 at 13:00 | #36

    I think StephenL has it pretty much right,

    “The overwhelming majority of terrorist acts can be stopped by standard state criminal legislation, provided the police can manage to show a slightly higher level of competence….”

    The case for the extra powers is far from having been convincingly made.

    I suspect it is a manifesation of the old adage – when you have a hammer in your hands, every problem looks like a nail. Parliaments can pass new laws, so that’s what they do. The resulting ‘feel-good’ factor is probably quite high.

    My impression of the experience in other countries is that human error and difficulties in managing the inevitable turf-wars between different agencies are more likely to be the cause of problems, than is the lack of sufficiently powerful laws.

  37. Katz
    November 9th, 2005 at 13:08 | #37

    “It is a sound amendment and it allowed the most recent arrests to be made without needing to wait until it is possibly too late because a target was not clearly identified.”

    That’s nonsense Razor. Has it escaped you that these arrests were executed under state law, which has nothing to do with federal law?

  38. Andrew
    November 9th, 2005 at 13:12 | #38

    Michael H. and Stephen L.
    Yes you are both probably right – good policing should probably stop most criminal acts. But where there is a flaw in legislation (“the” rather than “a”) it needs to be fixed. Well done to John Howard for having the guts to make the change in time, despite the danger that the cynics would claim it was all done for political purposes. Bob Brown was absolutely disgraceful in parliament last week for trying to use the change for political purposes. How ironic is that Brown was claiming that Howard was doing it for political purposes when in fact he was the one guilty of that charge!

  39. wilful
    November 9th, 2005 at 15:29 | #39

    And yet still nobody has cogently stated what the new laws have to do with anything….

  40. Roberto
    November 9th, 2005 at 15:43 | #40

    The Age’s Poll: “Was the rush to amend Australia’s counter-terrorism laws justified?” (@ 4.42)

    Yes – 56%

    No – 44%

    Total Votes: 2173

  41. November 9th, 2005 at 16:11 | #41

    Dogz: What you quote & refer to as the “intellectual elite” more accurately should be termed the “so-called intellectual elite” ;-)

  42. November 9th, 2005 at 16:39 | #42

    I would have thought that given that they had been under survellience for 18 months that it would have been better to let the ‘plot’ develop more. The reports are that we do not know what they were planning to attack or when. To go from this stage to an active attack phase would, I am sure, have exposed more links in the chain as the people involved asked for expert help fom other organizations.

    It is really hard for me to believe that this gang was not hauled in to justify harsher terror laws. To me it sounds like John got on the phone to Mick and asked for some terrorists, any terrorists and Mick complied. Most drug operations are carried through right to delivery. I really think that a golden oppurtunity to actually get some real terrorists has been squandered for political expediency. Now all the other cells will go to ground and slip survellience.

  43. November 9th, 2005 at 16:46 | #43

    Good thing that after watching them for 18 months they were able to stop the Jewish communists from burning down the Reichstag…

    Wait. Sorry. Same plot, different era. Hang on…

    Good thing that after watching them for 18 months they were able to stop the Muslim terrorists from burning down the Reichstag.

  44. Katz
    November 9th, 2005 at 17:04 | #44

    Dogz: “As a group, [the intellectual elite have] never been that relevant to Australia’s security or prosperity, something they despise Howard and the Liberals for making painfully obvious.

    “There’s plenty of IQ outside the elite, and a lot less baggage.”

    So, stuff me with feathers and call me a continental doona! Dogz joins the swelling ranks of complainants against that great conspiracy against decent Ozzie values, the “intellectual elite”.

    But you see, folks (intellectually elite or not) theres’s a problem inherent in all this obsessing. It’s very difficult to dismiss this group of people as weak and irrelevant and at the same time bang on ceaselessly about them.

    If they really are such a no-account group, then why waste all that emotional energy condeming them? A case of protesting too much perhaps. Perhaps, also, a just a little greenish tinge of envy.

    I imagine that if any of those members of the intellectual elite took time off tasting premiers crus to lay down in their state-subsidised cellars, and read this blog, they’d just shake their shaggy beret-restrained hair and smack their Trotsky-goateed lips, and whisper a quiet prayer of thanks to the shade of Jean Paul Sartre that so many people like Dogz out there were still thinking about them.

    Better still, they may well congratulate themselves, that they don’t have to actually mix with such ghastly vulgarians and return to the task of corrupting a milk-fed virgin fresh from a Blue-Ribbon suburb.

  45. November 9th, 2005 at 17:48 | #45

    Katz – well we now have the Enabling act. This is important for state security.

  46. jquiggin
    November 9th, 2005 at 17:49 | #46

    I particularly like usages like “so-called intellectual” or “pseudo-intellectual”. The user vaguely recognises that intellectuals are necessary, but would like it much better if the actual intellectuals could be counted on to agree with whatever party line they want them to stick to. Hence the implication that there are “real intellectuals”, unfortunately hard to find, who would perform this role.

  47. Michael H.
    November 9th, 2005 at 19:36 | #47

    The most amusing aspect of the term ‘intellectuals’ in the pejorative way, is the sort of people who fling the term around. They are often high-profile politicians or columnists, who seem to want to position themselves outside this group. One that sticks in my mind was Mr Howard railing against “elites”. Hello?

    Anyway, as JQ suggest, it’s mostly about denigrating ideas you don’t like.

  48. November 9th, 2005 at 19:46 | #48

    Actually I meant that there isn’t a lot coming out of the mouths of (so-called/actual) intellectuals to indicate they have insight into matters any better than that of Bill the Garbo.

  49. November 9th, 2005 at 19:48 | #49

    Yes John,
    Curse those intellectuals. it is much better to let people in the pub, taxi drivers, talk back callers, and hairdressers to determine public policy. Those people are the real experts!

  50. Roberto
    November 9th, 2005 at 20:19 | #50

    What Broken! Let real people, with real jobs and real life experiences anywhere near ‘public policy’? What a scandal. The Left shouldn’t be about people having a say, should it!

  51. davey
    November 9th, 2005 at 20:32 | #51

    Sometimes people who rail against the elites (so-called or otherwise) remind me of Alf from Home and Away banging on about those flamin’ idiots! while the surf club canteen quietly goes broke.

  52. November 9th, 2005 at 20:43 | #52

    A question for Pr Q:

    Why do Australian citizens, born and bred in Australia, want to mass-murder other Australian citizens?

  53. James Farrell
    November 9th, 2005 at 21:03 | #53

    Let’s ask Martin Bryant. I wonder if he reads this blog.

  54. November 9th, 2005 at 21:15 | #54

    James Farrell Says: November 9th, 2005 at 9:03 pm

    Let’s ask Martin Bryant.

    Does James Farrell believes Australia’s ethnic settlement program is breeding a generation of swine on a par with a psycho-killer?

    Or is he just foolin’?

  55. November 9th, 2005 at 21:31 | #55

    Broken leg Says: November 9th, 2005 at 7:48 pm

    Curse those intellectuals. it is much better to let people in the pub, taxi drivers, talk back callers, and hairdressers to determine public policy. Those people are the real experts!

    Considering what a mess cultural elites have made of culture over the past generation I would rather put my money on the cultural populus.

    It seems that the more cultural elites make contemporary culture, the worse it gets. The cultural professionals have given us the post-modern Yartz with all its attendant horrors. And the cultural politicals have given us multiculturalism. Say no more.

    “I should sooner live in a society governed by the first two thousand names in the Boston telephone directory than in a society governed by the two thousand faculty members of Harvard University.�

    —William F. Buckley Jr.,

  56. Ros
    November 9th, 2005 at 22:12 | #56

    Ender, Keelty was interviewed by Kerry O’Brien last night and he spoke a lot about the difficulty of that decision. Some follows

    “It’s a tension between when is the most appropriate time to intervene to maximise the evidence before the court or when is the opportune time to protect the community and how do we deliver the balance on that tension?â€?

    “but of course one thing that certainly the parliament can’t dictate is just how long we would let this go. That had to be dictated by the actions of the – alleged actions of the people involved and of course that also combined to help the decision makers – and it’s a risk-management decision. They are not easy decisions and they are heavily weighted decisions, in terms of the consequences of not acting.â€?

    http://www.abc.net.au/7.30/content/2005/s1500746.htm

  57. Michael H.
    November 9th, 2005 at 22:50 | #57

    Earlier I said this bent for using “elites” and “intellectuals” was about denigrating ideas that you don’t like. That isn’t really true -it’s more about denigrating the people who have ideas you don’t like, otherwise it would be enough to say ‘idea x is flawed because….’, but referring to cultural elites must be more satisfying.

    James Farrell has a point – born and bred Australians are killing other Australians all the time. Is there a good reason to argue that one type of killing is especially worse than another?

  58. Dogz
    November 10th, 2005 at 05:13 | #58

    oh well, problem with the softwar, third try, Terje-style:

    Quote[JQ]:

    “I particularly like usages like “so-called intellectualâ€? or “pseudo-intellectualâ€?. The user vaguely recognises that intellectuals are necessary, but would like it much better if the actual intellectuals could be counted on to agree with whatever party line they want them to stick to.”

    Response:

    That’s a convenient interpretation, but I couldn’t care less whether the intellectuals agree with my party line.

    The “intellectual elite� (pejorative) are characterized by the predictability of their opinions, their relatively unthinking adherence to a predominately leftist ideology, and their indignation that anyone would question their intellectual authority or the validity of any of their herd of sacred cows. They take their views as given and in no need of justification.

    They hate Howard and the Liberals for questioning/ignoring their authority, and they especially loathe the electorate for putting the Liberals in power, for it exposes their agenda for the undemocratic sham that it is.

    None of this would be an issue (after all, there are bigots in all walks of life), if not for the fact that such people occupy a large portion of the positions of influence within the public sector.

  59. James Farrell
    November 10th, 2005 at 06:25 | #59

    So it’s not because they disagree with your opinions that they’re pseudo-intellectuals: it just happens that they do. It would be a bit suspicious, though, as I’m sure you’d agree, if a hundred percent of them happened to be people whose convictions are different from yours. Therefore, you ought to be able to name at least one pseudo-intellecual who matches all your criteria (elitist, unthinking, indignant, etc.), but who’s at the same time right instead of left, and a lover rather than hater of Howard.

  60. Katz
    November 10th, 2005 at 08:02 | #60

    Even though Dogz would be inclined to disbelieve it, intellectuals (and probably even pseudo-intellectuals) put their trousers (or panties) on one leg at a time.

    In other words, intellectuals tend to be just folks too. And their opinions on matters of “right or wrong” are no more valid than anyone else’s. Intellectuals, however, tend to be better at coming up with more valid answers to questions of “can or can’t”. Although this is not always the case. Witness the recent crashing and burning of the neo-cons, intellectuals par excellence and the “Brightest and Best” of the Bush interregnum.

    There are a few habits of mind that intellectuals tend to avoid, which are prevalent among those folks who tend to see red when the subject of “intellectualism”. These habits of mind aid intellectuals in arriving at workable “can or can’t” answers.

    One of the more important of these habits of mind is the avoidance of the fallacy of composition. This fallacy posits the notion that if a solution to a perceived problem is good for a sub-group in a population then it is good for the entire population. Think about everyone running to one side of a small boat to avoid a large crocodile in the water.

    Thinking conceptually — the province of the intellectual — provides a means to avoid this, and other, logical fallacies.

    And Dogz, you can think like an intellectual without having to call yourself an intellectual. You might care to try it some time.

  61. Paul Norton
    November 10th, 2005 at 08:28 | #61

    In the light of the turn this discussion has taken, I can do no better than repeat the following comment which I made on this blog back in June.

    George Orwell also wrote:

    “it would be a very great advantage if that rather meaningless and mechanical bourgeois-baiting, which is a part of nearly all Socialist propaganda, could be dropped for the time being. Throughout left-wing thought and writing—and the whole way through it, from the leading articles in the Daily Worker to the comic columns in the News Chronicle—there runs an anti-genteel tradition, a persistent and often very stupid gibing at genteel mannerisms and genteel loyalties (or, in Communist jargon, ‘bourgeois values’). It is largely humbug, coming as it does from bourgeois-baiters who are bourgeois themselves, but it does great harm, because it allows a minor issue to block a major one. It directs attention away from the central fact that poverty is poverty, whether the tool you work with is a pick-axe or a fountain-pen.�

    The contemporary Australian equivalent of “bourgeois-baiting [which is] largely humbug, coming as it does from bourgeois-baiters who are bourgeois themselves� is the sort of “elite baiting�, replete with “meaningless and mechanical� references to chardonnay, cafe latte, the inner city, etc., which we got an example from in today’s Australian [i.e. 27 June 2005 - PN] from Trevor Smith, and which is also largely humbug, coming as it does from elite-baiters who are mostly elite themselves (i.e. Murdoch columnists like Bolt and Akerman, well-paid shock jocks, right-wing Labor MPs, Coalition MPs, lawyers like Michael Thompson, career union officials like Trevor Smith, Michael O’Connor and Bill Shorten, career academics like Van Onselen and Errington, etc., etc.).

  62. Dogz
    November 10th, 2005 at 09:20 | #62

    James Farrell,

    “Therefore, you ought to be able to name at least one pseudo-intellecual who matches all your criteria (elitist, unthinking, indignant, etc.), but who’s at the same time right instead of left, and a lover rather than hater of Howard.”

    That was precisely the origin of my “after all, there are bigots in all walks of life” aside. Such people on the right are less common in Australia, but would probably include someone like Alan Jones, and maybe some of the right-wing radio shock-jocks (if not for the fact that most of them are not particularly intelligent). Many of the leaders of the religious right in the US fit those criteria.

    I don’t use the term “pseudo-intellectual” to desccribe the same group as the intellectual/cultural elite. Pseudo-intellectual is just that – someone who pretends to be an intellectual but is not, usually by using the vernacular of an academic field without actually understanding it. Eg, post-modernism is institutionalized pseudo-intellectualism.

    Many members of the intellectual/cultural elite are in fact quite intelligent – they’re just anti-Howard/anti-electorate leftist bigots (Philip Adams being the quintessential example).

    Katz, “intellectual elite” is not the same as “intellectual”. I have no problem with intellectuals, being something of one myself (what’s your IQ, Katz?)

  63. Katz
    November 10th, 2005 at 10:23 | #63

    Dogz, intelligence of the type which IQ tests of various types claim to measure, may serve as a necessary condition for intellectualism, but it is by no means a sufficient condition.

    Intellectualism is more correctly thought of as a cultural condition than a cognitive condition.

    Intellectuals inhabit, elaborate, and sometimes enrich, an intellectual environment characterised by a sharing of a number of postulates and a set of methodologies.

    Perhaps the longest lived intellectual environment in world history was the tradition of Confucianism nurtured and elaborated by the Chinese mandarinate.

    But that Confucian tradition is now in severe eclipse because it has been subverted by the western canon of scientific thought and scientific method.

    This Greek tradition itself is quite old, tracing its origins to Ancient Greece. But, as every schoolboy knows, the Greek canon all but disappeared for more than 1000 years. When it reappeared in Europe in the 12th century, it wasn’t recognised as an intellectual tradition. Rather it was condemned as heresy.

    So what is seen be many as legitimate intellectualism at one time was seen by others as obscurantism, or worse, the work of the Devil.

    How does this happen? The predictive quality of the postulates and methodologies is often a marker for success. Although, as in the case of Greek thought, not always sufficient.

    Human beings are an unpredictable species.

  64. Roberto
    November 10th, 2005 at 10:27 | #64

    The Age’s poll conducted yesterday:

    Terror laws : Was the rush to amend Australia’s counter-terrorism laws justified?
    Yes – 56%
    No – 44%
    Total Votes: 2217 Poll date: 08/11/05

    http://theage.com.au/polls/results.html

  65. Dogz
    November 10th, 2005 at 10:41 | #65

    “Intellectualism is more correctly thought of as a cultural condition than a cognitive condition.”

    Hmm. I don’t agree. Dictionary def of “intellect:

    - The ability to learn and reason; the capacity for knowledge and understanding.
    - The ability to think abstractly or profoundly

    While “learn”, “knowledge”, “understanding”, “abstract” and “profound” may to some extent be cultural, “reason” is not (post-modernists be damned). I don’t think you can be an intellectual without having the capacity to reason, in the sense of “logical reasoning”.

  66. Hal9000
    November 10th, 2005 at 10:54 | #66

    I suspect it’s the tendency of intellectuals to see the complexity and shades of grey in society/morality/the economy etc etc that so annoys Dogz et al. Black and white is so simple, so elegant. As any taxi driver/hairdresser/talkback caller is likely to say, there are simple solutions to all our problems. Bring back the noose/cane/cat o’nine tails, send ‘em all back where they came from – it’s the only language they understand, all people living on the dole are bludgers, bring back conscription – it’ll give those young layabouts a bit of discipline, there’s no point spending money on [insert pejorative reference to minority group here] because they’ll only p*ss it up against the wall etc etc.

    The fact that some of these loudly and frequently voiced opinions may be held by a majority doesn’t of itself make them sensible policies that would benefit Australian society. As that model intellectual Abe Lincoln noted, it’s possible to fool all of the people some of the time and some of them (perhaps a majority) all of the time. A bit of mass hysteria helps, as organisers of witch hunts and pogroms throughout the ages can attest.

    Last, why is it that ‘elite’ is only a pejorative when used alongside ‘left wing’ or ‘intellectual’? Elite athletes, elite military units, elite scientists etc are seen as admirable. Methinks what lurks here are the shades of an inferiority complex and deepseated insecurity, expressed as always by bullying and bombast. Just a thought.

  67. November 10th, 2005 at 11:32 | #67

    Katz: Having seen intellectuals in action, I can assure you that everybody running to one side of the boat to avoid a crocodile is EXACTLY what they do!

  68. Katz
    November 10th, 2005 at 11:40 | #68

    Dogz:

    “Hmm. I don’t agree. Dictionary def of “intellect” …

    One of the other cultural habits of intellectuals is to avoid your mistake of reductionism.

    Note that we’ve been chatting about “intellectuals” but you’ve pounced on the word “intellect”. They’re related, certainly, but to talk about intellectuals from the basis of definitions of the word “intellect” is reductionist.

    Now Dogz, if you have a reasonably useful dictionary, you’ll find the word intellectual a couple of entries down from “intellect”. (I’m looking at the Concise Oxford right now).

    “Intellectual” has several meanings, some of which are simply extensions of your definition of “intellect”. But note this one:

    2. possessing a high level of understanding or intelligence; cultured.

    Now it is clear that none of your synonyms for “intellect” connote that sense of awareness of, employment of, and respect for, “culture”.

    That’s the sense I was appealing to when I mentioned Confucianism, Greek thought or medieval Christianity in the above post. All of the proponents of these systems or cultures of thought can be said to be intellectuals, even though none of them are likely to have given any respect at all for the postulates and methodologies of the others.

    Take Medieval Christianity for example. Enormous intellectual effort was expended to explicate and to elaborate contending versions of the Truth. For a superb account of one extraordinary moment in this story, read James Burge, “Heloise and Abelard” (Here’s an Amazon reference)

    http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B000BHA3XG/002-5943522-0201647?v=glance&n=283155&s=books&v=glance

    None of us are born with the intellectual furniture we need to make sense of the world and to communicate our sense of the world to others. This process is a cultural process. “Intellect” in your reductionist sense, is a means to that end, not an end in itself.

  69. Michael H.
    November 10th, 2005 at 11:46 | #69

    The sneering that usually accompanies the negative usage of ‘elite’ is the give away. It’s just an act of labelling that avoids the more taxing task of lucidly arguing the case against the loathed idea/person. And by using it, the user places themselves outside this group. It’s interesting to reflect on why people might consider this to be an effective pejorative term. What aspects of culture and custom make ‘elite’ something to be despised? As Hal9000 pointed out, in other contexts, it’s high praise.

    There certainly is an attraction in simple, elegant answers. Maybe people are ‘hard-wired’ to accept binary propositions? But I think it is more likely that increasingly fast paced news is a factor. Newspaper head lines and 30 second news items don’t lend themselves particularly well to nuanced and complex explanations of, what is mostly, a nuanced and complex reality.

    If we go back of our current ‘terrorism’ situation, a quick review of the recent front pages leaves little doubt that “Jihad” and “Holy War” are on the menu for Australia. Many use the terms interchangeably and with little discussion of what they might mean. They have become labels or ‘hot buttons’ that provoke complex reactions and feelings, without the need for extensive explanation.

    A good dose of explanation from some of those ‘intellectual elites’ to explore some of the “complexity and shades of grey” would be quite handy at the moment.

  70. Dogz
    November 10th, 2005 at 12:07 | #70

    Katz, do you take smugness lessons from Peter Costello or were you just born with the requisite furniture?

    I understood your definition of intellectual. But out of the Confucians, Medieval Christians, and the Ancient Greeks, I would class only the Greeks as true intellectuals, as they employed logical reason (founded the entire western philosophical tradition in fact). I don’t count most theology as an intellectual pursuit (once you assume one falsehood all falsehoods follow – logic 101). But I accept that I may differ in my definition from common usage.

    HAL9000 – intellectuals see shades of grey, bigots do not. Just as there are intellectuals on the right and left, so too are there bigots. The bigots are particularly fond of your argumatative style: build a strawman, attribute it to your opponent, then knock the strawman over in an attempt to knock your opponent over.

    Anyway, all this intellectual debate (ha!) is getting rather boring. Someone else say they hate Howard or that the terrorists are actually misunderstood victims of evil western explotation….

  71. Andrew Reynolds
    November 10th, 2005 at 12:33 | #71

    I do not hate Howard and I think that criminals, whatever their religion or history of exploitation are responsible for their own actions.
    I also think that habeas corpus is a vital part of any democracy – the executive must be subject to independent oversight or the result, in the long run, will be tyranny. To quote Lord Acton – “All power tends to corrupt, absolute power corrupts absolutely.” To give anyone more than a few hours to hold onto a person without effective oversight is a very strong power – close to absolute power – and is simply wrong. Weeks of detention without appeal is even worse.

  72. Katz
    November 10th, 2005 at 12:42 | #72

    Dogz: “Katz, do you take smugness lessons from Peter Costello or were you just born with the requisite furniture?”

    I just like to think that I’m making a difference Dogz.

    “I would class only the Greeks as true intellectuals”

    Of course you’re free to think what you like, Dogz. But your problem is to explain how well-intentioned persons living in different epochs can have enormously different levels of respect for a system of thought which you accept as the “only” logical one.

    Of course, you may well believe that the disappearance of “the entire western intellectual tradition” from the West for 1000 years was the result of some vast conspiracy. But that’s a whopper of a conspiracy theory.

    “But I accept that I may differ in my definition from common usage.”

    I hope (in a friendly and non-smug way) you find someone else to coverse with who is as well acquainted with “Dogz’s Lexicon” as you are. The two of you would doubtless have many fascinating conversations.

  73. November 10th, 2005 at 12:45 | #73

    Michael H. Says: November 9th, 2005 at 10:50 pm

    James Farrell has a point – born and bred Australians are killing other Australians all the time. Is there a good reason to argue that one type of killing is especially worse than another?

    Each life lost is equally valuable. But the way in which lives are taken does make a big difference to the way society operates.

    Psycho-killers are a small, local and ephemeral problem. Terrorist cells are a large, national and enduring problem.

    James Farrell suggests that terrorists are simply Martin Bryants in ethnic drag. This is clever-clever but off base because it ignores the force-multiplier effects that terrorism has on society. (Thats why they call it “terrorism”. Duh!)

    My original question, constructed in the plural form, and alluded to the fact that terrorists were acting like fifth columnists: “Why do Australian citizens, born and bred in Australia, want to mass-murder other Australian citizens?”

    A pscho-killer is a micro phenomenon – he affects only the unlucky few. Martin Bryant and Ivan Milat are examples of native mass-murders who act alone for essentially idiosyncratic reasons.

    Terrorists are a macro phenemenon – they affect the indiscriminate many. Also, they are the products of a migrant settlement program – multiculturalism – that is supposed to breed happiness and tolerance amongst diverse people. I dont see much evidence of that amongst certain parties.

    It would be nice if the odd Wet would treat the problem of ethnic violence serriously instead of construing it as a trivial in itself and a manifestation of RWDB hysteria. (Read the papers recently?)

  74. Dogz
    November 10th, 2005 at 12:53 | #74

    Katz,

    “Of course, you may well believe that the disappearance of “the entire western intellectual traditionâ€? from the West for 1000 years was the result of some vast conspiracy.”

    Well, yeah, it kind of was. Not the whole 1000 years of course, but towards the end the Catholic church did their darndest to keep rational/scientific thought suppressed. Galileo?

    (these days of course even the Catholics are outdone by the ID mob).

    [We really need to stop this - I imagine it's boring the pants off other readers watching us fight like Katz and Dogz]

  75. Nabakov
    November 10th, 2005 at 13:19 | #75

    “…build a strawman, attribute it to your opponent, then knock the strawman over in an attempt to knock your opponent over.”

    “Someone else say they hate Howard or that the terrorists are actually misunderstood victims of evil western explotation….”

    And so now you want others to build your strawmen for you? Lazy dog.

    And funny how many of those who use “elite” disparagingly when it comes to those damned intellectuals are also the ones who rail against creeping socialist tendencies to make everyone equal. Apparently it’s quite OK to have a meritocracy in sport or business but not in matters of thought. (Although yes I would concede it’s much easier to empirically measure excellence in the first two areas.)

    It’s true though that when it comes to public discussion and debate of ideologies, trends in thought and perceived wisdom delivered en haut en bas, we do have a very visible and influential elite – one that’s overwhelmingly big city-based, plugged into high level media and social networks, pulling down six figure salaries and basically the epitome of the chattering classes: that cluster of commentators and pundits that includes Janet Albrechtsen, David Flint, Christopher Pearson, Miranda Devine, David Barnett, Paddy McGuiness, Piers Ackerman. Andrew Bolt, Imre Salusinszky, Gerard Henderson, Tony Parkinson, etc, etc.

    Now that’s a mob that keeps stampeding from one side of the boat to the other to feed the crocodiles.

  76. Michael H.
    November 10th, 2005 at 13:27 | #76

    Jack Strocchi says,

    “Psycho-killers are a small, local and ephemeral problem. Terrorist cells are a large, national and enduring problem.”

    And he is wrong.

    For most countries, for most of the time, ‘personal’ killing is a greater threat to the average person than terrorism. And by ‘personal’ killing I include the usual motives – revenge, rage, personal gain, not just the ‘psycho-killers’. And the personal variety of killers have always been, and will always, be with us. To suggest that only the threat of terrorism is enduring, defies experience.

    And likewise for the claim that “it ignores the force-multiplier effects that terrorism has on society. (Thats why they call it “terrorismâ€?. Duh!)”

    Maybe Jack doesn’t have any young female friends who could relate their fears of walking down a dark lonely street at night by themsleves.

    This is one of the problems with the terrorism debate, the word itself is no longer simply a descriptor, but has acquired it’s own massive ‘baggage’, to which, otherwise rational people, seem intent on adding their own, eg “a migrant settlement program”.

  77. Roberto
    November 10th, 2005 at 15:33 | #77

    One of the things the insurgents in Iraq (and in Indonesia recently) like to do is to decapitate the heads of their victims, on the basis that the soul can’t transmigrate to heaven, owning to the body being damaged in such a way.

    Now given that suicide bombers, and it appears that Azahari Husin (hopefully) suffered the same fate of having their own heads ‘detached’ as a result of self-destruction, why haven’t (Islamic) theologians picked up on this; or is it that if you kill yourself under threat of ‘attack’ from infidels, then that overrides the decapitation issue?

    http://www.smh.com.au/news/world/severed-head-identified/2005/11/10/1131407727971.html

  78. James Farrell
    November 10th, 2005 at 23:44 | #78

    Jack

    When someone reaches the stage where they’re ready to murder a batch of people who pose no threat to them, considerations of national loyalty are unlikely to get in the way. That applies equally to misfits like Bryant and to political zealots.

    What really surprises and disturbs you, I think, is not that killers kill their neighbours, but that young people like the London bombers, who seem pretty normal, and who should have been enlightened by a liberal education, can become mass murderers.

    I can’t explain it either, of course. But nice, well balanced, young people have always fallen under the spell of malignant gurus and suicidal cultists. Such people decide to join the Hitler Youth, the Manson Family, the People’s Temple or Heaven’s Gate, without any contribution from multiculturism.

    What’s different here is that the gurus are focused and calculating rather than deluded, and that political violence against civilians is their specific objective. Young people like the London bombers just happen to their weapon of choice.

    Of course it’s easier for a professional terrorist to recruit bomber mules from communities that share their language or religion. It’s less work to convert someone who already shares your goals and antipathies to some extent. But anyone can be converted to the cause of liberating Muslim lands from the Infidel, as we know from the cases like David Hicks, John Walker and Wllie Brigitte.

    Thus it’s true that multiculturism has presented an opportunity for determined and ruthless killers to achieve their ends, but so for that matter have trains and fertilizer.

  79. November 11th, 2005 at 09:54 | #79

    James Farrell Says: November 10th, 2005 at 11:44 pm

    Thus it’s true that multiculturism has presented an opportunity for determined and ruthless killers to achieve their ends, but so for that matter have trains and fertilizer.

    We cant dispense with trains and fertilizer. But many successful states (Finland, Japan) can easily do well without multiculturalism.

  80. Steve Munn
    November 11th, 2005 at 19:39 | #80

    Jack Strocchi says:- “Terrorists are a macro phenemenon – they affect the indiscriminate many. Also, they are the products of a migrant settlement program – multiculturalism – that is supposed to breed happiness and tolerance amongst diverse people. I dont see much evidence of that amongst certain parties.”

    This statement doesn’t withstand five seconds of scrutiny. The Red Brigades were Italians who killed other Italians and the IRA and the UDF were/are Irish terrorists who kill other Irish folk.

    You shoot yourself in the foot by naming Japan is an example to be emulated. Remember the sarin gas attacks a couple of years ago?

    The reasons for terrorism are far more complex than “multi-culturalism”. And Australia, and many other countries, have experienced centuries of multi-culturalism without terrorism.

    One more point- Australia is already profoundly multi-cultural, in respect of ethnicities. You can not put the multi-cultural genie back in the bottle.

  81. November 12th, 2005 at 15:52 | #81

    Steve Munn Says: November 11th, 2005 at 7:39 pm

    The reasons for terrorism are far more complex than “multi-culturalism�. This statement doesn’t withstand five seconds of scrutiny.

    We have been disussing the recent rash of home-grown terrorists with ethnic backgrounds. I was referring to multiculturalism as a necessary, but not sufficient, condition for home-grown ethnic terrorists. This is established by the London bombings. Try to read the relevant parts of the thread before jumping in blindly.

    And Australia, and many other countries, have experienced centuries of multi-culturalism without terrorism.

    Multiuclturalism as a political program began with Konrad Heinlein’s agitation amongst the Sudetendeutsche in 1939. And we saw that after that MettleEurope had no more ethnic political problems ever again.

    Australia adopted gradually adopted multiculturalism over the period 1974-1979. Within about ten years of that time the immigration program had become so unpopular with the populus that the Fitzgerald report into multiculturalism was rejected by the Government and had to be suppressed in part.

    It has only been in the past decade that Howard’s conservative cultural identity politics have made the a race-neutral immigration program more acceptable to the majority.

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