Gay Mackie

Dutton’s terrorism rhetoric might divide us, but we should come together

Yesterday, Peter Dutton blamed the Flinders Street attack on the Muslim community, the ALP and the openness of our borders. Fear might split us, but we’re better than that.

 

 

Yesterday, Peter Dutton faced the assembled media to source the blame of the Flinders Street incident. The Muslim community let him down, the citizenship tests let him down, his own police powers let him down. He even took umbrage with Labor, claiming that they let him down, and were unwilling to protect the electorate from the threat of terrorism.

 

 

It was a shameful speech, but, someone had to say it. Something had to be done in the wake of this terrible thing. Something to ensure that history doesn’t repeat. Up with terrorists, we will not put. The man himself is harder to figure. Hassan Khalif Shire Ali was a man known to police, but not suspected of planning an attack, where Hassan’s family noted his substance and mental health issues. It seems easy to analyse in the afterwards, and simple to boil down to the binary. Here was someone who could have been stopped, someone who wasn’t, and now a beloved restauranteur is dead.

 

 

When I registered the news on Friday evening, my stomach lurched. Not just because of the needless loss of life, but in the disparate parting of an already spilt populace. We’re not that far removed from the entirety of the country being cleaved over the issue of marriage equality. We were torn between two polar opposites, only to be brought back together by a score of 60-40. We’re a nation divided against itself, a house that barely stands, but I’m of the belief that’s not who we are, it is who we’ve become.

The words of our elected officials, particularly Dutton, do not help. In the aforementioned press conference, he said that “we need to be realistic about the threat…it is a time for community members to step up. The idea that (Islamic) community leaders would have information but withhold it from the police or intelligence agencies is unacceptable…we’re best to be honest about the problem so we can address it, because otherwise more Australians will lose their lives.”

Now, it’s no fluke that we’ve been mostly unbrushed by the hands of terrorism, and the threat is absolutely real. You could also argue that while we’ve been lucky, our terrorist incidents have had an extremely personal feel to them; we know the two victims in the Lindt Cafe and the one on Flinders Street. The loss of our lives have been a very close affair. The coverage allows us to truly focus on the individuality of the person, but comparatively, we’ve been quite safe. Clearly, those behind the scenes are protecting us, and we need to register this. We’re not immune to terrorism, but the blanket demonisation of a community presents a problem, and indeed, puts us further at risk. If the official line is that you are a terrorist by assumption, invariably, you might become one. If people suspect you of owning a knife, maybe you’ll buy one, maybe for your own protection, or maybe, to be what everyone tells you you are.

 

 

For instance, if the American brand of white supremacist violence landed here, how would we react to the claims that that one individual is solely the responsibility of our community, and indeed, suspected you of holding out on information, and indeed, indirectly blaming you for what happened. We’d rightly lose the plot. That theoretical person doesn’t represent us, nor do the acts of violence they committed. See my point? Hassan was a Somalian-Australian, but it could have gone the other way. My point is that we all bleed red, and that should be the defining point. Dutton painting in broad strokes presents us with something far darker.

In times of crisis, we need to scope things on a national level. Analyse the reasons, and speculate on the solutions, but come together to discuss it.

I know you’re scared, I am too. We’re living in uncertain times. But, I can stomach the spectre of terrorism a lot more than rampant suspicion on our streets, as we suspect our neighbours of radicalised brutality on nothing but assumptive prejudices. That is truly the definition of insanity.

 

Gay Mackie

Gay Mackie is a retired print journalist, who spends her time at yoghurt (yoga), tap dancing and asleep between the hours of 2-4pm. She'd also like to make it clear that the Editor-in-Chief of The Big Smoke is her grandson.

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