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Miranda joins 'Team America'

G'day. Sydney lawyer and Webdiarist Irfan Yusuf has been sharing his Aussie Mossie perspective with a response to Paris burning, a role by name for reality TV raids and reflecting on 'Paradise Now'. Irfan sometimes forgets to sleep.

I note that although the Miranda Devine piece Irfan critiques was published in the Sun Herald today, it appears under the Sydney Morning Herald banner online. The latest step towards merging the mastheads? It's been happening by stealth for a while now - yet another management move to devalue the SMH brand. It's all about cost cutting, of course. SMH staff are finally speaking out: see Inside Fairfax.

Irfan Yusuf

Miranda joins Team America

by Irfan Yusuf

Margo may not agree with me, but I reckon the Sydney Morning Herald often reads a little like Green Left Weekly. This may not be such a bad thing all the time. After all, it isn’t the lefties who want to impose anti-terror laws on us that read like something out of Stalin’s political recipe book.

But I guess every newspaper has to be seen to be objective, to give the opposing viewpoint some space. In the Herald’s case, it does this by giving space to two conservative columnists.

One is Dr Gerard Henderson. I don’t mind Gerard. After having a falling-out with John Howard, Dr Henderson spent many years in the conservative wilderness. Struggling to re-define himself, Gerard at one point looked like he was trying to write policy for the Australian Democrats.

But Gerard at least has some brain cells left. Gerard doesn’t completely embarrass mainstream small “c” conservatives.

I wish I could say the same for Miranda Devine. I always wondered why the Herald bothered keeping her on the books. Was it for sex appeal?

Sorry, that was a low blow. Now for one even lower.

When I was in the Young Liberals, I used to publish a conservative magazine called pro-Action. Most of the contributors were small-“c” conservatives. But every now and then, I would allow some young big-“c” moron to have his say. I deliberately would not edit it. I left all the spelling and grammatical errors just as they were placed in the submitted piece. Why? Because I wanted to show my big-“C” opponents in the NSW Right of the Liberal Party just how stupid and infantile they were. And I wanted others to know as well. I think the Herald people apply the same formula with Miranda. Heck, we have to have a conservative columnist, even though we are left-of-centre. Why not have someone so totally outrageous and wacky? That way we can show that all conservatives are really just a bunch of nutbags who need to spend some time getting treatment.

Miranda’s latest piece is headlined “Islamic preachers drive the poisoning of young minds". Now, I know that Miranda had probably little to do with the headline. Usually it is the sub-editors who write the headline. But I reckon the sub-editor who wrote it knew exactly what Miranda was trying to say.

Miranda starts by quoting someone much smarter than her – Treasurer and former industrial barrister Peter Costello. Apparently Uncle Pete said something last week about Australia never being a sharia state and that extremists who didn’t like secularism and independent courts should leave the country.  (Does that include Phillip Ruddock? Because there won't be much independence in courts if he gets his desired anti-terror laws through the Senate.)

Absolutely correct. Extremists should leave the country. Foreign extremists, that is. Local kids with troubled lives drawn to extremists should be helped. But how is sharia law alien to Australia?

It is if you think sharia is just about chopping hands and heads and blowing yourself up so you can get some virgins upstairs. But I will deal with what sharia is really about later. Getting back to Miranda, it seems to me this poor woman wants to declare jihad on Aussie Mossies. Read what she says here:

The fundamentalists are marginalised by established Muslim leaders but appear to have a following among young radicalised Australian-born Muslims.

So Aussie-born Muslims are radicalised? And who are the “established Muslim leaders”?

Interestingly, in the paragraph prior to this sentence, she hacks into the Lebanese Muslim Association for being radical. Yet the LMA is one of the most established Muslim groups in the country.

Miranda then goes onto talk about the apparently dreaded Hizbut-Tehrir and its spokesmen, the Doureihi brothers. Now before I go any further, I should disclose what my feelings are about HT.

I think HT are about as effective and intelligent as the 20 trillion socialist groups that congregate on campuses on either side of the Tasman. These dudes talk a lot and hand out lots of leaflets. You see them at all the rallies with their banners. They make lots of bold statements about revolution and the Islamic State.

But ask them about step-1 toward establishing an Islamic state (or even how an Islamic state works in practice) and you will get little more than more slogans and more pamphlets. I’m sure not even Rex Hunt would be scared of these guys. And Rex should know – he’s been on the receiving end of youth radicalism in recent days. (Commiserations to readers from Byron Bay.)

But for poor Miranda, HT are scarier than a Halloween movie. And why? Well, for starters, they are … wait for it … “banned in some countries”!

Yep. And the Dalai Lama is banned in China. Nelson Mandela was banned for many years in South Africa. And they tried shutting down the Aussie Community Party a few decades before I was born. But don’t expect me to have nightmares about a black Commie Buddha-incarnation.

Anyway, Miranda says she has a tape-recording of excerpts from a speech some HT dude gave at Sydney Uni. She must have been too scared to go in person. Why? Let’s face it. You never with these nasty Moslem types. One of them might dream about 72 virgins and blow himself up.

Miranda then gives some quotations from the speech. She leaves plenty of “…” in her quotes, just so that we can ignore all the bits that make the speech read harmlessly like something out of Green Left Weekly (or perhaps even the Sydney Morning Herald!).

Then Miranda comes up with the classic. Try not to fall off your chair as you read this …

He spoke of ancient grievances, of Iraq, Afghanistan, Chechnya and Bosnia.

Miranda, which ancient grievance exists in Iraq? The one about when those nasty Mongols (my ancestors!) destroyed Baghdad some seven centuries ago? Did the Radovan Karadzic’s Serbs invade Bosnia on the way to fighting a crusade with Richard the Lionheart? Were the Russians part of the force that pushed the Prophet Muhammad out of his home city of Mecca fourteen centuries ago?

And since when has talking about foreign policy and international relations been a sure sign of extremism, fundamentalism or terrorism? Or should we be also locking up Kevin Rudd, Malcolm Fraser and all the activists of Amnesty International in Goulburn Super-Max?

Or did someone forget to tell Miranda that Team America was in fact a fictional comedy?

Anyway, that’s enough for now. It’s almost 2:30am and I desperately need to start dreaming about my harem of 72 virgins…

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re: Miranda joins 'Team America'

Sorry, Margo, this is way off the article topic, but Irfan... do female suicide bombers get 72 male virgins?

re: Miranda joins 'Team America'

It really is a pity that we have to go through the demonising of another group of alien others now that the Cold War is over and we have no one left to become the bogeyman.

You can hardly blame impressionable young men who feel as if they are damned if they do and damned if they don't in Australia today. Imagine how you would feel if you were the butt of John Howard's wedge. Ouch ! Combine this with accumulated grievances from previous and ongoing conflicts around the world against the Muslim faith. A hell of a lot of testosterone which cannot find a vent and blow off some steam in the normal way, by imbibing some intoxicating liquor and shaping up to the next guy in the pub. Add more than a little inflammatory rhetoric provided by over-excited imams...and...hey presto! They want to go bang just like the big guys overseas.

I wish to add, before anyone trys to paint me as naive, that I do believe that acts of mass murder by way of blowing oneself up in a crowded group of innocent people is one of the most abhorrent acts imaginable and anyone associated with it should feel the full weight of the law.

However, there is going to be no end to this problem of urban terrorism whilever we continue to create groups of disaffected people in our societies. We should instead be unifying Australia and eliminating the sort of inverse snobbery John Howard feeds on and uses to pit us against them.

re: Miranda joins 'Team America'

The police have arrested a gang who have presumably been planning on blowing up innocent Australian civilians in Australian cities and Irfun Yusuf has nothing to say on the topic, except engage in some ad hominem attacks on Miranda Devine. No wonder Webdiary is wandering off into irrelevance.

Margo: Irfan has written several pieces on the topic which you clearly haven't bothered to read. Piss off Tim, and find a place you think is relevant. I won't waste my time on you again.

re: Miranda joins 'Team America'

Remember when Peter Costello said we should all abide by the 10 Commandments?

Nice piece Irfan. I hope you keep writing for Webdiary. We all need someone who can write on such a serious subject and give us a chuckle as well.

re: Miranda joins 'Team America'

My initial response to Miranda in February this year was to accuse her of being a populist and not a conviction writer. I think the best compliment I can give her is to say that I don't believe that anymore. I'm glad she's around, even when I don't agree with her.

re: Miranda joins 'Team America'

How many times do I have to point out it was white raisins? Both males and females were promised white raisins - not virgins and no number. Where 70 or 72 comes from, who knows?

I haven't taken the opportunity on earlier threads to say to you Irfan (and you too Margo) that I'm glad you are now part of the Webdiary community. I've enjoyed every piece to date and look forward to more. Particularly something more about that Clarke freak and his nasty cheersquad. Cheers mate.

re: Miranda joins 'Team America'

Irfan, what a pleasure to have the opinions of an insider. In our tiny town we have no-one (that I know of) of the Muslim faith to play with or get to know.

I do appreciate your willingness to express your feelings as opposed to just mechanically stuffing facts and opinions.

More please mate. We'll try not to tire you out.

re: Miranda joins 'Team America'

Recall that Miranda Devine in this piece in early-January wrote glowingly of the film Team America World Police as advancing "subversive themes" that exemplify a "new counter-culture" which she hoped would build "into a tsunami that breaks down the old counter-culture and begins the process anew".

I sent her a congratulatory email which concluded: “What a treat that teenage boys’ humour, obscene jokes, puppet sex, savage mockery and vomit jokes have advanced so emphatically the values you espouse.” I guess she thought it didn't warrant a reply.

re: Miranda joins 'Team America'

It now seems that the ‘Scarlet Pimpernel’ of the Middle East, Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, is responsible for the Jordanian bombings. I guess it was inevitable that he should be blamed. It also is rather telling inasmuch that it will now be unlikely that the real organisers and perpetrators will ever be brought to justice.

People such as Abu Musab al-Zarqawi, like Osama bin Laden himself, have transcended from reality to become figures of fear in the Judeo-Christian Anglospherian world’s collective imagination. Events like the recent bombing in Jordan serve only to perpetuate their myths. This, in turn, feeds the world’s dumb and gullible insatiable appetite for fear. Like well trained dogs, they react instinctively and without thought or question with a mixture of loathing and panic at the very sounds of their names.

‘1984’ is well worth a re-read.

re: Miranda joins 'Team America'

Hey Irfan, I am enjoying your insights. Your pieces have a light touch but pack a punch!
"He spoke of ancient grievances . . ." Regarding grievances, lately I seem to be developing a couple of new ones - against unreasonable scapegoating from government, and also against journos who seem to simply swallow and regurgitate the government line.

re: Miranda joins 'Team America'

I cannot see any reason for any person in Australia to have a problem with what Costello said. I seems like common sense to me.

If any person is silly enough to wish for Sharia law in Australia I to would suggest they pack their bags and make haste to the airport. It will not be comming to Australia anytime soon.

Frankly I do not care or could even be bothered listening to anyone's reasons why they would like to see it here.

re: Miranda joins 'Team America'

Irfan, thanks for your voice of reason and insight in a world going mad. Guess who is being quoted:

"We do not have to adopt beliefs, ideals and sentiments of a society. We are not and cannot be forced to adopt a different belief or value system..." ."

"…women who are raped are at fault if they dress immodestly."

"…homosexuality [should be] punishable by death" [or at least condemned to burn for eternity].

Miranda might well have been listening to a fundamentalist CHRISTIAN preacher and picked up the same quotes. And if she is to be consistent she could then say about these fundamentalist Christian preachers and their followers.

“Extremists should leave Australia if they oppose a secular state … - and equality for women". [because they do oppose both].

“Their aim is to enforce a fundamentalist line incompatible with Australian life.”

Let’s get the terms correct. The killing in Iraq on both sides is being led by "religious extremists", and that war is now spilling back onto our doorstep. And why are we surprised?

re: Miranda joins 'Team America'

Thanks Irfan, I have good friends from Iraq, Iran and Afghanistan who are my friends first and don't dare discuss their religion with this old atheist so we muddle along as best we can. It works because it is not judgemental.

I have many friends who are catholics and uniting church devotees and some who are staunch anglicans - some like Frank Brennan and Father Greg O'Kelly and Father Celso Romanin are Jesuit priests. Others are lawyers raised by the Jesuits, some are liberal and some are labor, some are democrats and others have joined the Greens.

Others are atheists like me, Julian Burnside for one. I don't give a stuff who anyone worships or how they do it as long as they don't shove it down my throat.

Now to dear Miranda who is a strange mixture.

How many people remember a piece she wrote a few years ago about Ms Simaplee Phoungthang - she was a young Thai girl who was brought to Australia as a sex slave and held prisoner. There is some question about how long but that is not the point. She was turned in by the johns of Sydney weighing 31 kilograms, a drug addict, nearly dead, and taken to Villawood detention centre in the middle of Sydney.

She was overdosed on largactil by a nurse and DIMA and ACM were held to be jointly responsible.

Let me refresh memories of how this 27 year of sex slave died.

She was locked into isolation in Villawood and for the next 72 hours, the last of her young life, she vomited and shit and pissed and was left to lay in it.

They ignored her because of the smell. It's a fair bet that if she had been taken to hospital she would be alive today but ACM and DIMIA didn't bother with such niceties.

Miranda wrote the most powerful, beautiful and savage piece of work I have ever read - she called the bastards on the North Shore who used, raped and abused this poor girl murderers. I think she was right and the story still makes me cry.

That is one Miranda. The other Miranda spat and snarled and ranted about the evil monster fraud Roqia Bakhtiyari, falsely and brutally detained as a Pakistani. She seemed to think Roqia was the devil re-incarnate and there was no mention of women's equality then.

Nor was there any for the other 3,000 women and 4,000 children locked up in detention centres over the years. Not one word of kindness or equality for them. Not even a hint of understanding about their lives in places like Afghanistan where the girls are thrown away at 12 or 13, where the women are able to be killed in the name of honour.

No kindness for the Iranian women who faced acid in their faces or the Iraqis who suffered so terribly under Saddam Hussein. I wonder just how many children in Iraq starved in the name of kickbacks to Saddam by the AWB?

Who remembers that Australia was leading the blockade while the main kickbacks were being paid?

Again thank you Irfan, maybe Miranda can find some nice Iraq and Afghan women to have a chat with about women's equality.

And sometime before hell freezes over maybe she could manage to apologise to poor bloody Roqia who was just a simple Afghan girl all along.

re: Miranda joins 'Team America'

Irfan Yusuf, if Miranda Devine considers Iraq, Afghanistan, Bosnia and Chechnya as “ancient grievances”, I wonder what she would consider the Holocaust as; "prehistoric grievances"? I was about to send her an email for the content and heading of her article, but then realised that there is no merit in responding to a columnist who can't grasp the concept of time.

re: Miranda joins 'Team America'

Love your pieces Irfan. My only involvement with Miranda was at the beginning of the Iraq invasion and the fall of Saddam's statue when she wrote a column castigating the "appeasers" who got it so wrong and that Iraq was obviously going to bloom into a peaceful democratic Arab state very shortly - we should all "hang our heads in shame" she said as within months, peace will reign. She and I exchanged several emails - I of course said she got it wrong and we should wait and see - she became very stern. Our final communique was at the week's end after I criticised her writing style as being "populist" to which she replied - "and you of course, would be an expert on journalism!"

When Iraq really did fall into chaos I tried to revive our communications and asked her if perhaps I was now right and she wrong but I never heard from dear Miranda again.

However she is one of those writers like Akerman and Bolt where you only have to read the headline and you basically know exactly what position she will take on the subject. This is a handy way to avoid having to read these people's jottings. You just read one every three months and it will always confirm that you are right - you can guess every time the angle she will take. Saves time.

re: Miranda joins 'Team America'

Thanks for that Irfan, I really enjoy your pieces.

I think one of the most horrifying aspects of this for me is the way that Muslims are being scapegoated to advance the Govts objectives.

I don't usually watch much Channel 10, but they have had a show on for the last month or so called "30 Days", made by Morgan Spurlock of "Supersize Me" fame.

Last week's programme involved a young married with children American Christian man spending 30 days living with a Muslim family, and living like they did. This involved his growing a beard and dressing in traditional Muslim attire as well.

He got to experience first handed the small mindedness and bigotry of his fellow citizens when trying to collect signatures on a petition against the vilification of Muslims in the US.

When leaving his hometown to go on his visit, he was subjected to searches for the first time, though he travelled by air frequently - only difference was he was dressed like a Muslim this time.

He also found that just walking down the street he was subjected to suspicious stares from others, simply for looking like a Muslim.

However at the end of the "30 Days" he had found a new understanding and respect for Islam, and Muslims.

The irresponsible behaviour of most of the media and our elected and (so called) representatives is fueling ignorant racism.

If this is not stopped immediately many innocent people will be hurt by 'patriotic' Aussies taking the law into their own hands as we have previously seen in unprovoked attacks on Mosques.

This all feels like a return to the McCarthy era of "Reds under the Bed" and blacklists. We already have Ruddock asking 'moderate' Muslims to dob in anyone they think is suspicious - and oh, I can already see that being abused.

It is interesting that George Bush's grandfather Preston Bush made a lot of money in business dealings with the Nazis, despite his treatment of the Jews.

As is now public knowledge the AWB made alot of money out of Saddam - though obviously the Govt aren't at fault are they?

Am I being cynical to say that corporations don't care how repugnant or abusive a leader or their policies are, they will support them if there is something in it for them. They are happy to turn a blind eye while innocent people suffer.

How many will stand by in Australia and let the Muslims be scapegoated while they support Howards (and Bush's) political agendas.

I for one, am highly suspicious of any person or group that supports this vicious and destructive vilification.

re: Miranda joins 'Team America'

I am not going to comment on what I think of Miranda as I have decided that if I have nothing nice to say about someone, then I will say nothing at all.

re: Miranda joins 'Team America'

Jay White, I tend to agree with you. I didn't see a problem with what Peter Costello said and nor did my husband and any of our family. I thought that it was about time somebody came out and made certain things clear. This wishy washy way we tend to deal with everything just causes confusion and nothing ever gets fixed.

Australia needs to have its own laws, culture and regulations and those that come here must understand them (they should be required to learn English) and agree to abide by them and accept that they will be required to respect them. That doesn’t mean that they cannot have whatever religion they choose and live the way that they want but they cannot change the laws and culture in order to suit their beliefs and lifestyle. What they do in their own home and church is their own business but they cannot be given power to change things on the outside as that affects everybody and people like the Australian landscape the way it is.

Grant it there are many Muslims and Lebanese who live in here and respect Australia and they do the right thing and are a great asset to Australia. It's that vocal angry minority that really hates the Western way that should either be required to accept things the way that they are or they should really return home as these people are the ones that often seem to cause so many problems for the masses and are really not happy living here the way things are. They create fear and hostility in society and more often than not those that are doing the right thing pay the price for it and they understandably get hurt, angry and upset because they are being punished for something that they didn’t’ do and then we have a vicious cycle. If you treat somebody like a piece of dirt and do not show them respect or consideration then you create problems.

I think that is the problem in Australia, those in power are so busy trying not to look like they are racist or victimising the noisy minorities as everybody jumps down their throat that they forget about the people who are affected by it and that includes good Muslims. The way these issues are dealt with ensures that the majority of Muslims are now targets and are being victimised just to protect the noisy minority. It’s the same process they use to deal with bullies, and we all know how bullying has flourished and how bullies are always protected and when the targets cannot take any more and retaliate they are not said to be defending themselves, they brand them the bully.

Nobody wants to make the hard decisions and put the cards on the table for fear of becoming unpopular but it needs to be done.

re: Miranda joins 'Team America'

"Grant it there are many Muslims and Lebanese who live in here and respect Australia and they do the right thing and are a great asset to Australia. It's that vocal angry minority that really hates the Western way that should either be required to accept things the way that they are or they should really return home as these people are the ones that often seem to cause so many problems for the masses and are really not happy living here the way things are."

I would ask you a couple of things Jolanda.

1. How do you define the "Western way"?

These days the "Western Way" seems to include invading countries on false pretenses, and engaging in a brutal campaign that cares little for civilian casualites. Why don't we want to count the Iraqi dead? Weren't we going in to save Iraqis from such indiscrimate violence?

It also seems to mean supporting the similarly indiscriminate state terrorism of Israel, against the citizens of Palestine. That we condone the use of missiles and rocket launchers against civilians, while we criticise the suicide bombers seems quite hypocritical to me.

The "War on Terror" is IMHO simply an excuse for an infinate war, to replace the boogyman of communism from the Cold War days.

Very little is said about how much the US needs these wars to prop up its economy. Much of its GDP is made up of arms sales, which are flourishing at the moment.

So Muslims now have to be the new communists, and we have an unwinnable war our leaders tell us we have to fight - if we really want to combat terrorism why not have a War on Poverty, or a War on Racism, or Intolerance, or Imperialism? (The "Western Way" seems to include all of these things lately.)

We would be better of putting our resources into these things and would be more likely of a peaceful outcome.

2. This proposition of accept things the way they are or leave the country always comes up in these debates.

I imagine similar things may have been said to civil rights activists in the US in the 60s.

One wonders how these people define democracy? In a democratic society everyone has a right to have their say. Even if we don't like what they are saying. This is what debates are for.

Injustice whether it is imagined or real, if not addressed will always have the potential to fester into something more.

Those that are marginalised and suppressed may inevitably turn to other methods to get attention when all else fails.

IMHO the 'ones causing the problems for the masses' at the moment are Bush, Howard and Blair with their respective agendas.

Muslims, radical or otherwise are not the ones tearing up our industial relation system, or attempting to silence their critics with the new anti-democracy bill.

re: Miranda joins 'Team America'

Miranda, great and noble defender of women's rights and our way of life and the values that make us uniquely Australian - you know, liking vegemite and all that - the great Miranda.

Really why give her all this publicity? I long ago stopped reading her ranting rubbish. She uses women's rights as a sword for other attacks to suit her agenda. Women's rights - so convenient before the Iraq and Afghanistan regime changes, but now? She is so quiet about the life women now live in the modified democracies they have been liberated into. I dare her to write an article about that and compare to what Iraqi women, (the average one not those opposing Saddam), had as far as lifestyle before the invasion. And so bad under the Taliban and now the same again as ex Taliban ministers take power for oil companies and in the provinces the opium drug lords rule supreme again under American/NATO protection from Taliban dissent, it appears. Expect the Overdose rate to increase again.

Miranda, so very noisy about the "Moslem" rapists - hardly observant lads - in the Western Suburbs (BTW, sentenced how many years? 40yrs gaol? Compared to a recent nasty white WASP man comitting double child hanging murder? Dare one mention that maybe there is racism in our court system?) but I don't remember what she wrote about the Bulldogs alleged gang rape? Mandatory 15yrs minimum popularist sentencing comes back to bite the opium of the masses - sport - and their heroes.

Badge of convenience for Miranda, methinks, and fits the agenda as easy to use against those nasty foreign funny dressers. Has she ever written anything positive about Islam or failed to stereotype it as all the same? Just wondering.

Miranda supporters can jump to her defence here. Hop, hobble, slink away?

Of course it is easy to forget that the Christian and Jewish communities are rife with sexist regulations amongst the more dogmatic sects, and wouldn't Abbott and Clarke love to impose their radical dogma upon us? You bet they would. Start easy with late term abortion and then work down the line with abstinence sex education, limit contraception and even divorce, promote religious based education, allow descrimination upon religious grounds, contol publications and meetings and limit questioning or criticism of government or church, remove those who criticise and follow whatever line comes out of the head honchos gatherings.

Does she speak a word about the real scourge of our society, the silent destroyer of lives, far more harmful than any terrorist attack. Maybe I missed it. A war on paedophiles and organised crime and their drug trade and corrption of our society, now that I would support as real and with real enemies within.

No, we must forget Paedophiles they get protected, even DIMIA don't see them as people of bad character - see latest deported US pedophile multiple offender, haven't seen Miranda write anything about that (but to be fair I haven't watched closely) or its prevelence and cover up in our Christian churches at the very highest level, or are we waiting for an Imam to be charged somewhere?

Instead it is the fear of Sharia law imposed upon us - yes seriously that is what we are supposed to fear! Ribcracker really, but down in the pubs the beer befuddled mutterings begin and on the talk back they are revved up. We are supposed to be scared of seeing all our beach babes suddenly having to cover up in black sacks - good for melanoma sure - really. Are we morons? Most Muslims wouldn't want that here. Most Christians wouldn't want Abbott/Clarke brand of Christianity imposed, most Jews wouldn't want to have imposed religious law, sooooo... why? Why is Sharia law even given credence by the media as a threat to be feared here?

There is a far greater reality that endangers us that none of these shock jocks wake the public up to. The threat to free speech and our healthy democracy functioning as it should.

As long as we have a true democracy we have nothing to fear from religious radicals of any persuasion controlling our lives with their dogmatic rules, whether Moslem or Christian or others, no matter what the fear propaganda of the antiMuslim media... Today Moslems and unionists, tomorrow peace activist (already animal activists are targeted), then Greens, then whoever else dares question they who sign the orders.

Yes, they may promote wars and suicide "missions" for their military agendas and yes they may promote retaliatory suicide bombings, but surely such violence is clear to all rational people, on both sides of the violence, to be wrong. Or is it?

Democracy and open government is what protects us from all these radicals. The threat to that is what we should really fear. So Miranda, are you up to writng about that? Even Mr Turnbull would support you there.


re: Miranda joins 'Team America'

Jolanda, what exactly "needs to be done"? We "need our own laws" - I thought we had that.

How would you have things done differently?

What is it about Muslims that you think is unAustralian?


re: Miranda joins 'Team America'

Irfan, once you've had a good night's sleep, would you be able to expand on your suggestion that Sharia law is more tame than most Westerners believe.

It would be interesting to see Peter Costello really put his money where his mouth is in defending secularism. I have just the place for him to start.

Chistian prayers in Parliament seem to be against section 116 of the Commonwealth of Australia Constitution Act (see here). Yet, at the commencement of each day of Parliament the Christian "Lord's Prayer" is read, I'd like to see him move to have this practice ended.

re: Miranda joins 'Team America'

If we didn't have Levanda DeWhine we would have to invent her.

She reminds me of the First Speaker for the Government on Friday night debating competitions in Year 10. There would always be this girl on the other side who was perfectly groomed and attractive and you'd wonder why she wasn't out at the pub getting into under aged drinking or sneaking into the local disco with her friends. But no, here she was in a cold classroom introducing her team to an audience of three somewhere on the Catholic Schools Debating Competition circuit with a bunch of nerds.

Then she'd open her mouth and you knew why. She would in the space of three minutes link the debating topic of "He who pays the paper calls the tune" to a) the sacking of the Whitlam government by Malcolm Fraser, b) the Holocaust and c) Pol Pot and Cambodia. Hitler and Stalin always featured in this diatribe, which followed the lines of there being good and evil. Her side was good and the other side were evil. Yes, she was a nerd, too.

Her debating style was about on a par with the rest of us fifteen year olds. Sadly for Levanda, she hasn't developed past fifteen. Her research skills are crap and she must have failed Logic A01 in First Year, coz the leaps she makes in her arguments are spectacular flops. Her best effort I recall was a recent piece along the lines of "Why if you criticise America and the West you cause terrorism" in the SMH. The poor thing got hacked to bits in the letters page in the following few days and she never repeated that one.

I wonder whether the problem is she is trying to be too much like her Dad, old Franky DeWhine. She is a bit of a carbon copy, a right wing Catholic, but without the social justice element of Catholicism. He is of course older and a much better writer. Unfortunately Devanda is kind of stuck being fifteen forever.

re: Miranda joins 'Team America'

Miranda is 'Brand Miranda'. She is a brand in the commentariat round about. But I would like to be earning what she is for writing such tripe. No need to research, no need to check facts - just let fly from the narrow but deep wells of bigotry and prejudice and hey presto a six figure salary. Just as well she is not an elite though - not like those pesky teachers and librarians earning around $50,000 a year. She is a pissant.

re: Miranda joins 'Team America'

To me the Western way does not mean invading anybody. I do not agree with war, I also do not agree with terrorism. War is not something new, it has been happening for ever - it's not a Western thing.

When I say the Western way it has more to do with the way we live, the fact that we are so accepting and open to things that the Muslims are against in relation to our dress, our women, alcohol, homosexuality and our other beliefs etc.

I do believe however, that the Western way is somewhat out of control, and it is not healthy or in our best interests and that a happy medium would solve a lot of problems. However I can see how people can feel threatened by a particular group criticising our culture and wanting things to change to better suit their culture and belief as it feels like it leaves an opening to be taken over and that puts fear in a lot of people and they retaliate.

To me the problems are being caused by those who keep going on about the way that we live and act and the need to rid society of what they pretty much regard as filth and scum. Those that don't like the culture and ways here, should go and live somewhere where they feel they fit better and that is more in line with the way that they want to live.

re: Miranda joins 'Team America'

Terror suspects 'near N-reactor'

Will the racial profiling/targetting of Muslims never end?

It seems Australians can't even ride their bike anymore. Johnny Howard!

Fear not Webdiarists!

I'm sure there's an innocent explanation to all of this. OR a stitch up.

Ifran, just out of curiosity, what is the Koran's position on plutonium/nuclear energy?

I think they were using it for chemotherapy.

re: Miranda joins 'Team America'

Margo, please don't "piss off" the radical rabid racist rightwing. They are so amusing and I am sure that our erudite piece writer has the superior education and wit to deal with such rabble.

All the same I do take issue with the publishing methods (spelling mistakes, ignorance in grammar - can never remember meself if it be -er or -ar etc) used by our special piece writer today, with their comments and don't feel that is ethical. An abuse of power is such no matter who does it and no matter how tempting the morons make it. Maybe that's a leftwing view. I notice that many rightwing blog spots seem to do it.

That doesn't mean a nice cartoon can't be put beside it for the day's editorial comment.

BTW could you consider a cartoon corner? I remember the art corner you used to have on that-that-shall-not-be-named publication. You may find yourself launching the careers of budding such critical commentators. Does the legislation forbid critical drawings?


re: Miranda joins 'Team America'

Jolanda and others who blithely throw the phrase around - please define "Australian culture".

Who knows, you may score a first since no-one as yet has come up with a definition which is acceptable to all of us.

re: Miranda joins 'Team America'

Angela Ryan, I don’t think that there is anything about Muslims that is un-Australian. I don’t have a problem with Muslims or any other nationality for that matter. Just because I don’t agree with some things they say and do doesn’t mean that I am anti-Muslim. I am non practicing Catholic but my brother in law is Muslim and I have a Muslim nephew.

I feel for the Muslim community as it couldn’t be easy especially given that they do look so “different” and have such different beliefs and there is so much aggression and hostility towards them. Society, including Muslims, is not very accepting of difference and that is such a shame.

I don’t believe in multiculturalism as I don’t believe it works. Tolerating each other is not good enough as people have vastly different ideas on how to tolerate a particular group or person. If there is no requirement that we show acceptance and respect then what you get is what we are experiencing today.

I do believe, however, that given the present climate that the Muslim community could take measures to help themselves. It can’t be easy when you are used to living a certain way and you come to Australia, it must be a huge culture shock and they need to be educated and supported in order to cope. I don’t have a problem with the scarf they wear although I do think that if they put a bit more colour into it, it would be better accepted as Australia is a bright and colourful country. I do have a problem however, with the full outfit that just leaves the opening for the eyes. I believe that it should be banned. Any item of clothing that changes the landscape to a degree that it creates fear should not be permitted and that outfit, given the present climate, does have a way of making Australia look oppressed and fearful. We should also be required to show our face so that we can be identified.

I guess what may have happened in the past is that immigrants did do things to try not to stand out so much, many changed their names and dressed to blend. The Muslim community has not changed their names and they have tried to maintain their dress and morals and culture etc. and that of course is their right and something that they were told that they could do here in Australia. However, maybe people would be more accepting if they saw the Muslim community not change, but try to blend a little more and if they were less publicly critical of the Australian culture and ways.

Of course some Muslims are already doing that and that is great.

re: Miranda joins 'Team America'

Jolanda, about 900,000 people from Australia live in other countries. Do they all follow the laws of those countries I wonder?

How about Schapelle Corby, convicted drug dealer? Did she follow the rules?

Australians are ugly overseas - did you see the filth they left behind at Gallipolli this year after listening to the Bee Gees in the middle of the night? Is that the sort of laws you would have Muslims here live up to?

Australian's are racist mongrels at cricket matches in other countries - they openly sledge and abuse the Pakistani, Indian, Sri Lankan and Bangladeshi teams. Hell, they sledge the Poms.

Australians have a habit of behaving like drunken yobbos in every country they deem they have the right to set foot in.

Yet we expect others to behave differently to that. Would you have the Muslim women take off their scarves, skinny dip and get pissed with the boys like our girls do?

When in Muslim homes and countries do Australians respect their culture? Don't think so.

We bomb and invade and kill them.

re: Miranda joins 'Team America'

Jolanda Challita, what do you think of Hasidic Jews?

They wear a particular garb that sets them apart from every other 'normal' Australian. Are you as afraid of them because they refuse to blend in with 'our' Australian way of life? They also have very strict interpretations of a religious text and firmly believe that those who do not believe are goyim. Should they be sent back to Israel where their religion is faithfully practised? I wonder if Mr Costello agrees? Of course not, because it is far easier to rail against those who most of us can agree, even the most simplistic of commentators such as Miranda Devine, are capable of clearly defined vile behaviour and look identifiably 'different'.

Such simplistic moralising troubles me, in this anniversary week commemorating the life of Yitzhak Rabin. He was killed by a rabidly religious Jewish extremist, yet we as a society, and Miranda in particular, have nothing to say about these types of people. They have nothing to say about the targeted assassinations of Palestinian citizens. Whether or not they are terrorist group leaders is irrelevant, as they are human first and foremost.

What about the 12 year old boy who was murdered by the Israeli Army because he was playing with a toy gun when one of their patrols was passing by? Though I could pretty well guarantee that if Miranda, Piers, Andrew, John and George changed their tune about them, then abracadabra they would transform from being worthy of our support and defence, to the vilest evildoers unhung. What they practice and preach is surely the most vile humbug and cant.

re: Miranda joins 'Team America'

Marilyn Shepherd, Australians are no different to many others. That's the problem. We are all different but in many ways we are the same and as per usual you have gone off on a wild tangent.

Shapelle Corby might be a convicted drug dealer but she is appealing and has always denied that those drugs were hers and I actually believe her because I don't believe that a young person would be so stupid to put such a large amount of drugs in a boogy board going to Indonesia without at least trying to conceal it.

re: Miranda joins 'Team America'

Victoria Collins, I never said I was afraid, I said that given the present climate it makes people fear and that I believe that everybody should have to show their face. If their garb covers their face then yes, they should remove it.

re: Miranda joins 'Team America'

Dee Bayliss, your question is a good one but a difficult one because I think that most people would agree that there are parts of the Australian culture that have been allowed to be taken to the extreme and that are now doing us more harm than good.

I know that no matter what I say here I am going to be attacked so I am too scared to answer that question. However when I talk about the Australian culture I am talking about a fair, kind and caring people.

Unfortunately there are some who have tried to ruin that picture but they are the minority, just like the terrorists are the minority.

I need to believe that the majority of people are good.

re: Miranda joins 'Team America'

"When I say the Western way it has more to do with the way we live, the fact that we are so accepting and open to things that the Muslims are against in relation to our dress, our women, alcohol, homosexuality and our other beliefs etc."

One does not have to be a Muslim to object to some facets of our society. Many Christian fundamentalists take exception to the things you mention as well... look at the religious debates in the US.

In fact many Australians (Muslim or not) are against divorce, and abortion as well as the other things you mentioned. Would you similarly advise them to "leave the country".

What is it about having to listen to the views of others that some seem to find so confronting. The great thing about our society is that we can discuss these issues openly.

"However I can see how people can feel threatened by a particular group criticising our culture and wanting things to change to better suit their culture and belief..."

Obviously by particular group you mean Muslims, how xenophobic can you get. Most Muslims are happy enough to go about their business, with the exception of a few vocal radical discontents, and they appear to be on the very fringe of Australian Muslim society.

If anybody has been critical of anybody's 'way of life' it is the constant attacks by the usual suspects on Muslim culture especially in regards to women's dress.

I find it ironic that many can say they are speaking up for Muslim women when they do this, but cannot see the hypocrisy when they criticise 'some' Muslims who dare to comment on Western dress.

"... as it feels like it leaves an opening to be taken over and that puts fear in a lot of people and they retaliate."

I do not think ignorance and xenophobia are adequate reasons for vilifying innocent (ie guilty of no crime) people who just happen to be Muslim.

Such thoughtless generalising of a 'particular group' seems very shallow and dangerous to me.

"To me the problems are being caused by those who keep going on about the way that we live and act and the need to rid society of what they pretty much regard as filth and scum."

Actually Osama bin laden's grievances are a lot more profound and go a lot deeper that the way we dress and 'live'.

His open letter to the American people was available on the web some time ago, and listed among other things, the Palestinian issue and US support of dictators like Saddam.

I am amazed that anyone actually believes the "they just hate our freedom" rationale of Bush & Co. They may see us as decadent, and some may understandably resist their countries being 'democratised' in the fear that other facets of our culture may be forced upon them as well.

Why can some not see how ironic it is that our leaders build up the fear of Muslims creating an Islamic state in Australia, but see nothing wrong with forcing our version of 'democracy' on them.

A civil war was always going to happen when Saddam was removed from power... probably why Bush didn't push the issue in 1991.

re: Miranda joins 'Team America'

Mr Yusuf, what a truly disgusting article. It never ceases to amaze me that it is Muslims who are creating the terror and yet are the last to either police it or, at the very least, recognise that they are the source.

Sexist comments about Miranda Devine do little to further your article; nor do your probably fictitious comments about (a) editing a Young Libs rag and (b) large C conservatives (as you put it). Would you prefer that Miranda was home under a sheet with a metal face mask? I wouldn't.

I would advise you to spend more time worrying about groups in the community who believe that they can change Australia and other nations through violence. Perhaps then you will realise that an impressively large percentage of those groups are Islamic. France, Spain, the US, London, Bali, Jordan, Egypt (just to name those few countries suffering at the hands of Fundamentalist Islam over the last few years). Care to comment or would you prefer to fall behind that old "it's all George's fault for invading Iraq" chestnut even though these type of bombings have been going on years before G W Bush even heard of Afghanistan?

re: Miranda joins 'Team America'

Marilyn Shepherd: "Would you have the Muslim women take off their scarves, skinny dip and get pissed with the boys like our girls do?"

Victoria Collins: "What about the 12 year old boy who was murdered by the Israeli Army because he was playing with a toy gun when one of their patrols was passing by?"

They can just never get above this level, can they?

At least it comforting to think that we are as likely to be subject to the same baseless over-generalisations as are Muslims and Jews from these two.

Marilyn, not every Muslim woman wears a scarf. Though many Christian women do.

Victoria, for every 12 yeard old targetted by the IDF you can point to, I can point you to a 12 year Israeli old blown up in a bus bombing - or a 16 year old Palestinian duped into wearing a bomb belt in order to blow up a 12 year old.

And perhaps people would be paranoid about Hasidic Jews too, Victoria, if enough Hasidic Jews were hijacking aeroplanes then slamming them into high rise buildings or blowing up subway trains or bombing restaurant wedding parties and the like.

We all know the very great majority of Muslims don't do these sorts of things - but just one night every now and then of the evening news wherein not every item other than the sports and weather was about Muslims killing someone or being killed by someone would be nice.

Wouldn't it?

Now, please, tell me how I'm "over generalising" without evidence in support?

That would be rich from you two.

re: Miranda joins 'Team America'

Anne Brookes, I guess what I would say here is that, "It’s not what you say but the way that you say it".

I try so hard to say things nicely and it still gets twisted by some who are intent on branding me a racist. So, those that come out and condemn what Australians do etc, can't possibly expect to be able to say what they say in the manner that they say it without some sort of negative reaction.

re: Miranda joins 'Team America'

C. Parsons: "And perhaps people would be paranoid about Hasidic Jews too, Victoria, if enough Hasidic Jews were hijacking aeroplanes then slamming them into high rise buildings or blowing up subway trains or bombing restaurant wedding parties and the like."

Speaking of the 9/11 hijackers, it was my understanding that most of them were from Saudi Arabia, yet Bush & Co still have very good relations with the Saudis don't they? Why is that do you think?

re: Miranda joins 'Team America'

You know, C Parsons, I don't think you can. Here are B'Tselem's figures for Sept 2000 - Sept 2005, reported by the BBC. They don't break the figures down beyond "under 18", and you'd expect the teenagers to be over-represented in the Palestinian numbers. But the raw numbers at least cast doubt on your claim.

Do you want to quibble about terminology? Victoria Collinsused the word "murdered". You used "targeted" for the IDF actions, and "blow[n] up" for the Palestinian actions. Is that comparing like with like? If the IDF targets an apartment block believed to contain a Palestinian terrorist, and incidentally blows up a sleeping 12 year old, was she targeted?

And Victoria, you shouldn't have used "murdered". It will be very surprising if the killing is found other than a justified (if regrettable) incident.

My recollection from a couple of years ago is that about 3 Palestinians were killed for every Israeli. The September rate from B'Tselem is 3.4. Since January this year it has been running at about 4, if my calculations are correct. Does this reflect the success of the separation barrier?

re: Miranda joins 'Team America'

"I would advise you to spend more time worrying about groups in the community who believe that they can change Australia and other nations through violence."

Completely ignoring countries like the US, UK, Israel, and Australia who believe they can liberate people by blowing them to bits...

You may want to spend your time being paranoid about people who you obviously understand little about, but personally for me there are much bigger and much more obvious dangers to my freedom than those you worry so much about.

re: Miranda joins 'Team America'

I agree with Angela Ryan. With the exception of the disapearance of Robert Manne, the SMH gets generally easier to read all the time. On Tuesdays I don't read Gerard Henderson, on Wednesdays I don't read Miranda Devine, on Saturdays I don't read Mike Carlton and I almost never read Adele Horin any day. Paul Sheehan is a quick read (anyone who believes water can cure cancer has a major problem) and I never read the World news other than on Saturday. Even Ross Gittins is getting a little tired. As far as the letters go, I ignore anything with any reference to sport and I never did read Column 8 even when it was.

I must say though, Miranda Devine does come in quite useful if one wants to plant a story and exploit her. She's very easy on the eye but things do have to be explained in words of one syllable or, where, possible with pictures.

What really pisses me of though is that they keep leaving the law lists out.

re: Miranda joins 'Team America'

Mark Sargeant, thank you for the statistics to back up my hyperbole. Contrasting Jews with Muslims always gets a rise out of people, interestingly. It's a pity that the usual suspects descend on what I have to say like termagents without knowing the Jewish causes that I support or about the Jewish friends and lovers I have had during my life. As a people, they are a source of all that is best and all that is worst in this world, and I show no fear or favour when talking about them...just the facts ma'am!

Jolanda, I do not wish to attack the messenger, just the message. Also, I did not make a point of defending the ch'ador, I think it an iniquitous garment of oppression, but if the women involved want to wear it for whatever reason, then I feel it is not my place to argue because we have freedom of religion in Australia[though freedom of association is being sorely tested by the new IR laws, but that's another argument for another day].

I just wished to make the point that I thought your argument was a little narrowly based, and so I compared and contrasted it with another group in our society who behave similarly but don't cop anywhere near the same amount of villification. Maybe you're right though that because the Muslim headscarf is the only religious garb[that I can think of] that covers the face, it is more widely resented.

I also resent people such as C. Parsons trying to paint me as a kook, and thus attempt to trivialise whatever I might have to say subsequently [if their sobriquet sticks]. Though it is the sort of confected outrage at statements made, and playing of the man, not the ball, that has become the all too obvious hallmark of conservative commentators...like Miranda and Co.

re: Miranda joins 'Team America'

I would suggest CP and A Mills that you get hold of a movie called "Blowin' in the Wind", and I don't mean the song by Bob Dylan. It's a film by David Bradbury about the use of depleted uranium by the US, UK and us - we sell them the rotten stuff after all.

Now CP what the hell is the difference between strapping on a bomb and killing 12 people and dropping a bomb killing 100 or so from 35,000 feet?

You never seem to be able to make that leap and yet in both cases the victims are dead.

re: Miranda joins 'Team America'

You're missing out Malcolm B Duncan. Whatever Mike Carlton writes at least he's witty. A bit like your good self.

re: Miranda joins 'Team America'

Now Irfan, you haven't been editing Malcolm's spelling have you? Tsky tsky. Or was it too much Hellfire from otherwise risky prophetic articles?

C Parsons: "We all know the very great majority of Muslims don't do these sorts of things - but just one night every now and then of the evening news wherein not every item other than the sports and weather was about Muslims killing someone or being killed by someone would be nice."

Isn't that overgeneralising Chris? Then again it is nice that you noted how hard it is for people from that particular group of religions to ignore the violence against others of the same religious group or ethnicity. Sort of why the Israelis here on this site get so upset if there is any criticism of Israeli actions, there is so much violence and hurt that people are sensitised to it, cannot ignore it and are personally hurting from the real pain from someone they identify with.

Probably the reason for that is the site where most of the world conflict is at the moment are countries where the population is significantly Moslem. Are you trying to say that is in itself a criticism of Islam? Or are you saying we should be more sensitive of people of Islamic religion because of the burden of saddness they already bear?

Perhaps we should stop reporting the religion of the violence, I don't remember anyone calling the Tamils Hindu, just Tamils, nor the Bogota bombings Catholic just leftwing, nor the Mexican parliament bombers Jewish just Israeli.

Otherwise people are never going to look at the real cause of the violence and what is promoting it but just go along with the tribal/religious/ethnic vilification as that is the easy way. In a multicultural society that is dangerous and only trouble makers would promote that or people that see their own enemy in the crosshairs. Of course the problem with the latter is that it is short term and next time it may be themselves by their own rules.

Violence easily breeds violence. The healing is the hard part.


re: Miranda joins 'Team America'

Dee Bayliss: “Jolanda and others who blithely throw the phrase around - please define "Australian culture. Who knows, you may score a first since no-one as yet has come up with a definition which is acceptable to all of us.”

But then there was Sir Leslie Colin Paterson (Barrie Humphreys) of the Australian Diploatic Corps: “Don’t ask me whether there’s any Australian culture ladies and gentlemen – we’ve got loads of k’n culture comin’ out of our k’n arseholes.”

Just like our mincing and erudite education minister, Sir Brendan Maelstrom, has loads of Newtown study tour anti-refectory sausage rolls comin’ out of his precious little date.

And it’s about all he keeps in his pants.

Peter "It's a snack" Woodforde.

re: Miranda joins 'Team America'

One point that all Webdiarists have passed over in Miranda's article was her smearing of Noam Chomsky.

I suspect it is not coincidence that less than two weeks ago Emma Brockes, 'The greatest intellectual?' (The Guardian, October 31, 2005) published an article claiming that Chomsky had denied the Srebrenica massacre.

This of course is a complete fabrication and a new low in English journalism.

Not surprising that Miranda should jump on the bandwagon. Right wing journalists seem to look to each other for inspiration.

Anyone who questions US foreign policy is a terrorist sympathiser these days. I guess the majority of US citizens who no longer support Bush must also be terrorist sympathisers.

re: Miranda joins 'Team America'

Good piece Irfan. I rather enjoyed it.

Deconstructing Miranda Devine is easy when some of her commentary simplifies to something equivalent to "America... f**k yeah!" (to borrow the line oft used in the movie 'Team America: World Police').

re: Miranda joins 'Team America'

Malcolm B Duncan, your wit is up to standard, but I can't let your throw-away attack on Noam Chomsky go unchallenged.

To start with dismissing Chomsky, in terms of the Western intellectual tradition, is like dismissing Darwin or Einstein. He virtually founded the study of linguistics and hence, indirectly, cognitive psychology. His influence remains profound and he will doubtless be discussed for centuries. Einstein was known for his pacifist and humanist views, but that does not make him someone even the rabid Right can publically despise.

But it has indeed become, for various columnists (and as Stuart points out Miranda - who I'm guessing has probably read less than 100 words of Chomsky - has joined them) a reflexive self-evidentiary truth that Chomsky is full of shit. So tell me Malcolm, and I am asking you because I have come to respect your intellect (believe me I wouldn't bother asking Miranda), why is Chomsky so despicable that you would like to see him squashed? Please don't quote some columnist; quote Chomsky.

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