Nothing happens in a vacuum, unless you’re reading the Murdoch press.
Why the wider context of the senseless murders in the Sydney siege is deliberately omitted from the narrative.
By E.F Nicholson
Reading the news regarding the victims of the hostage ordeal in Sydney, it is utterly tragic. Normal people heading out for what seems like a normal day, somehow end up murdered or acutely traumatised by a brutal and pointless act of violence. The families dealing with the loss must be devastated – it’s so random and so completely senseless that it must be really hard to grasp.
It appears to have been caused by a mentally unstable man, who, like all perpetrators of mass violence, felt extremely inadequate and narcissistic, thinking somehow that the world needed to hear what he had to say. Whether it is extremist Islam that was the channel for his rage, or, like the mass-murderer in Norway, Anders Behring Breivik, some form of extreme anti-Islamic sentiment, in the end it doesn’t really matter. The loss of life is the same; the pain and the sense of tragedy, equally abhorrent.
What makes this go from tragedy to sickening is how the Murdoch press and the Abbott government will use this random act of violence to further their political aims. As pointed out in the previous article, there have been a number of violent hostage situations such as these, driven by other crazy madmen. Yet this one will be used a “terrorist act”, and therefore the means to justify and rationalise killing people in faraway lands and encroaching further on our civil liberties.
Part of the strategy to achieve this is the unspoken ‘code of silence’ surrounding these deaths. We can only grieve and feel outrage for these victims in isolation, according to the narrative the Murdoch press manufactures. The government have no shame in capitalising on these murders to further their power; but to point this out would be labelled “in bad taste” or “too insensitive.” A similar atmosphere was created around 9/11.
There was an article on a new website on the day the hostage situation was still playing out. It was entitled: “Terrorists – you will never change who we are as Australian.” It was a stirring propaganda piece, somehow rallying the public to let those “terrorists” know you won’t change us, as if there was some doubt they actually may. It also set up the narrative even before the facts were known; the narrative of “terrorism”. The same happened with Breivik, but the word terrorist got dropped when it was discovered he was a Christian. Through the article, we repeatedly hear the lines imploring: “Get out of our country, you terrorists!” All this without a hint of irony, and without awareness that, for a long time, Iraqis were saying exactly the same thing: Get out of our country, you terrorists!” The terrorists in that case, of course, were us and our allies, the USA and the UK, who had invaded and occupied their country. The Murdoch press present a simplistic narrative of ‘goodies versus baddies’, right against wrong. A sensational headline such as “Death Cult Murder” distorts the reality of the tragedy and uses the event to provoke fear and panic in the wider public.
If you choose to see this as an actual terrorist act, rather than the action of yet another unstable madman that just happened to be Islamic, then it needs to be viewed within the context of how – and why – these things come about. Identifying wider and more complicated factors does not look to justify or excuse the violence; rather it looks at the context from which these situations of random violence arise. The same article rattled on, saying “Australians have never started a war”, which may be technically true, but ignores the fact that we have got involved in a number of wars and been an active part of the bloody and murderous events they have triggered. We have also been complicit and given tacit support to many horrendous acts where we could have intervened, such as the 250,000 East Timorese murdered under Suharto’s Indonesia. Back then, though, our trade relationship and the oil in the Timor gulf was of seemingly greater value then all those innocent lives. So much for the Aussie spirit of a ‘fair go’!
Australia needs to grasp what has actually been perpetrated in our name. We are not the good guys fighting for democracy and freedom against the evil Muslim terrorist and tyrants.
We shamelessly support, prop up and get behind some of the most brutal, corrupt and anti-democratic regimes in the world, from Saudi Arabia to Israel and from Qatar to Bahrain – to name but a few. Only recently, we opened up a diplomatic relationship with the Egyptian military regime, illegally installed over the democratically elected Morsi government, whose members were then summarily executed. The regime then proceeded to overturn the former dictator Mubarak’s sentence for the murder of protesters. All without us, the supposed humanitarian, developed nations, batting an eyelid.
Australia’s involvement in Iraq has contributed to the killing of over 1 million people, the displacement of 4 million more, and the permanent injury of countless others. Not to mention the shocking and disturbing legacy of deformed and cancer-ridden Iraqi children, exposed to depleted uranium found in discarded munitions after the invasion. Australia really needs to let the enormity of those numbers sink in. Chris Floyd describe the reality of what Australia’s involvement in Iraq created.
“…Line up the bodies of the children, the thousands of children — the infants, the toddlers, the schoolkids — whose bodies were torn to pieces, burned alive or riddled with bullets during the American invasion and occupation of Iraq. Line them up in the desert sand, walk past them, mile after mile, all those twisted corpses, those scraps of torn flesh and seeping viscera, those blank faces, those staring eyes fixed forever on nothingness.
This is the reality of what happened in Iraq; there is no other reality….”
Chris Floyd, December 17, 2011 From Global Research
Those deaths in Sydney are rightly mourned, and we feel outrage at the way they happened – and rightly so. Yet how would the Australian people feel if the entire population of Brisbane was murdered, or starved to death through an oppressive and immoral sanctions regime? And if every Sydney inhabitant became a refugee? And all babies born in Victoria started developing deformities and cancers that had never been seen before? How would we respond then? The acts of terrorism (if you choose to call them that) in Australia, thankfully still occur within a relative safe and civil environment. Yet when it comes to Iraq, Gaza or the bombing of ISIS strongholds in Syria, the type of terrorism inflicted on innocent civilians is quite unstoppable, and just as impossible to make sense of. Bombs rain down randomly – day in, day out – as normal people go about their day, just trying to get on with their lives. Nowhere is safe and no-one is safe. Babies, children, grandmothers, brothers and sisters all fall victim to the butchery of cluster bombs and hellfire missiles.
In the bombing of Gaza, which the Australian Government supported, a Palestinian mother and father lost their 8-year-old child amid what they thought was the safety of their own home. Ahmed Basyouni and his family were watching news of the attacks on TV in their home in the eastern section of Beit Hanoun. He and his wife assured his older children that they would be safe because they lived in a calm area where there are no fighters. Two of his younger sons were asleep in the next room. While they were talking, at approximately 10:35 pm, the Israeli Air Force fired three rockets from a U.S.-provided F-16 bomber into a nearby olive grove. Ahmed’s house rocked, all his windows shattered, electricity went out plunging the family in darkness, and Ahmed’s fifteen-year-old son Nader screamed from the next room that his brother was dead.
When Ahmed went into the room, he saw, with horror, that it was true. A fleck of shrapnel from the rocket had killed his youngest son, eight year-old Fares Basyouni. Fares had been completely decapitated but for a strip of flesh from the side of his face. The child’s blood covered the ceiling, the walls and the floor.
As gruesome as this kind of horror and madness is, thousands of these events are being perpetrated by Australia or by governments we support. The Murdoch press simply leaves stories like these out of the narrative, as these wars and their victims are not considered worthy of their outrage. There will always be random acts of violence like the attack in Sydney, and tragically innocent people who are caught up will not be able to find a way out. Yet there other acts of violence that are calculated, planned and authorised that we have some control over, as they done with our tax money and in our name. We have a responsibility to fight terrorism, but we can’t let our national pride, the Murdoch press and the Government’s spin on things make us blind to our own crimes. All life has value: the two people killed in this siege and the families killed in Syria, just as much as the children killed in Gaza. If our government was at all serious about protecting Australian citizens from terrorism, then it would cease all of its own terrorist actions and cease supporting other governments’ terrorist actions. There is a reason Iceland isn’t bracing itself for a potential terrorist attack. There is reason why Australia, US and Britain are. Violence begets violence, terrorism begets terrorism.
If there is a simplistic narrative to follow, then it isn’t Australia and its allies fighting against Muslim terrorists at home and abroad. It’s ordinary people throughout the world being lied to, shafted and often murdered, just to forward the agenda of the powerful and greedy few that run the world. That is a fight worth fighting, and that is the only fight that can honour the lives of those who were killed in Sydney.