September 17, 2012
The right wing commentators reaction to the Islamic riots in Sydney about the fundamentalist Christian anti-Islam video that depicted the prophet Muhammad as a murderous paedophile is that these riots are the unacceptable face of multiculturalism in Australia.
The Australian's editorial says that the riots were the work:
of an international movement devoted not to changing Western society but to its downfall. They want to abolish modernity and the principles on which Australia's free and democratic society is founded. Instead, they want to pursue their peculiar dystopia, a caliphate of medieval unreason.
The Australian refers to the black flag of evil jihad (ie., al-Q'aida), but it makes no mention of the Islamophobia of the Christian right 's rhetoric about Islam's intolerance and the imposition of sharia law; or that the film was a provocation aimed at inciting violence in order to show the world what a violent religion Islam is. It was designed to enflame Muslims through its contempt for Islam.
Presumably, this kind of Islamophobia is an acceptable face of Australia for outraged conservatives. They quickly appeal to free speech and then infer that (backward and unenlightened) Muslims do not accept that Western liberal democracies like Australia permit freedom of expression.
Here's something to consider. The right wing commentators are appealing to those on the right who support a combination of populist, anti-immigrant and increasingly anti-Muslim policies. The core of the conservative movement want a halt all further nonwhite immigration, a reduction in the the number of Muslims or the presence of Islam in society, and to prioritise native Australian values over those of other cultures. The inference is that Muslims will never truly be Australians.
The appeal of the conservative commentators is to the core conservative base---those older, angrier, Anglo-Saxon Australians who desire a party that adopts a tough, populist stance toward elites, immigration, Muslims and British values. They are outraged by the Sydney riots and their deepseated hostility to Islam surfaces in their comments.
There is no mention that the protests in the Muslim world are not just about a film. They are also about a US foreign policy in the Middle East that supported tyranny and dictatorship that ensured that the citizens' views, so contrary to US policy, would be suppressed and rendered irrelevant. Or, as the SBS's documentary The Secret War on Terror showed, the US programme of drone strikes in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Yemen that kill civilians.
This event is another example of what Anne Summers said recently, namely:
we are experiencing an era in politics where there is very little civility. The overall temperature of discussion and debate is torrid and people use language towards and about each other that even a few years ago would have been considered totally out of line. This, sadly, is the new norm.
In her speech Summers was referring to, and spelling out, the misogyny towards Julia Gillard--where the prime minister is attacked, vilified or demeaned in ways that do specifically relate to her sex. Islamophobia is another example.