The terrorism scare isn’t going very well for the Abbott Government lately, with people more worried about the cost of living than ISIL, writes Bob Ellis.
THE HOME-GROWN ISIL BOGEYMAN isn’t playing very well for the Liberals lately.
The boy they shot dead was seventeen. The boy in the recruiting video was a teenager too — red-haired and blue-eyed and clearly naive. It seemed wrong he should go to gaol for twenty-five years, or be targeted for assassination by drone in Iraq or Syria. And the Australian master terrorist Mohammad Ali Baryalei, now reportedly dead – killed perhaps by a fighter bomber ASIO gave information to – didn’t kill any of us, though he probably wanted to.
So the score, thus far, is two of them dead, none of us.
And yet no Australian on Australian soil has died of ‘terrorism’ since January 1915 — three months before Gallipoli, 100 years ago.
And so little is the issue resonating that a rise in the price of petrol of 40 cents a week has overwhelmed it.
People feel safe enough with the Muslims they know and they’d rather gripe about petrol prices.
In Queensland, where it should be playing up big (APEC, old white Christians, and so on) Opposition Leader Annastacia Palaszczuk has overtaken Newman for the first time as preferred Premier. In New South Wales, a by-election occurred which, if duplicated federally, would leave the Abbott-Truss government with one seat, not their own. In Victoria, a poll out this morning shows Labor gaining a majority of twenty-five seats.
It’s usually thought a national security scare helps the leader then in power. And it usually does. But Abbott is so creepy and sneaky and malodorous (would you buy a used pregnant bride from this man?) that anything he says is now suspected.
We have found MH370. Putin is behind the shooting down, and I will shirtfront him and say so. I broke none of the eighteen promises you mention, you just didn’t hear them right.
And none of the narrative is working very well.
No Australian troops are in Iraq yet and half the army there is AWOL, or buying their way out of battle, as rich young men did in Lincoln’s time. We are defending crooks and cowards against people we call ‘terrorists’.
There will be minimal precautions at the Whitlam funeral, which everyone famous is going to. There are no body-searches, none, on suburban trains. In October, 500 million train journeys occurred unpoliced. We are hysterical about the Cenotaph, where an attack is unlikely, and blasé about trains, where most terrorist acts, historically, occur.
One of the problems about the whole thing is that ‘terrorism’, lately, has either no meaning, or too much.
A divorced husband who holds his wife and children at gunpoint in a siege while police bellow at him with loud hailers is, logically, a terrorist. A papparazzo with nude photos of a princess he proposes to sell back to her is a terrorist. A U.S. drone bombing a village containing ‘suspected militants’ in Pakistan is practising terrorism. Everything Israel does in Gaza is terrorism. Most of what the CIA does in Homeland is terrorism. Most of the debt-collecting industry is a form of terrorism — inciting fear in a chosen victim, the fear of a worse lifestyle than the one now enjoyed.
And to call a terrorist someone who has merely talked about blowing things up, as most young men do in their adolescent years, and to put them away for twenty-five years if they do, is to take on the colouring of a South American police state, or Putin’s Russia, or a harsh, provincial, peasant religion punishing women for wearing lipstick, or men for swearing, by flogging them or putting them in the stocks.
There are already laws against killing people. There are already laws against conspiracy to murder. There are laws against attempted murder. There are laws against causing grievous bodily harm. There have been no deaths caused by Muslim ‘terrorism’ on our soil in a hundred years — except the boy we shot in the head three weeks ago.
Let’s leave it at that, shall we.