Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Death and torture

While mourning the innocent lives lost in Sydney over night, most Australians would be somewhat relieved to know that the perpetrator was a nutter well known to the police, rather than a previously unknown "lone wolf" inspired by IS to make a grandiose stand for their fetid view of Islam.  The latter would rightly raise the question "how many more are out there?"  and the media would not be able to get off the topic for days at a time.   It would also appear that the initial concern and rumour that this might be a widespread and co-ordinated terror event (with things like the Opera House being cleared) were unfounded.   The police appear to have acted very professionally, and were on the scene quickly.  So, despite the tragic outcome, there are some reasons for a sense of relief.

Not that it will be found in evidence at Catallaxy, where (as one would expect) the incident will end up with thousands of extreme comments about Islam.  You really have to wonder about how proud Sinclair Davidson, who (very, very occasionally) waves the flag of moderation towards the religion of some of his friends, must feel about his readership.

And, of course, the blog's same participants have had little to say about the US Senate report on torture, but what was said was pretty much fully in support of the "this is all a Democrat stitch up" line of most Republicans.

The Dick Cheney interview on Fox on the weekend showed what a moral vacuum he, and quite a few of the political Right, have become.  In this good article at Slate, the comparison is made between Republican complaints about how Obama is supposed to be "acting like Caesar" in making an executive decision about illegal immigrants, with their acceptance of the Cheney argument that it's  OK for the State to do "whatever it takes" to torture to the point of death some folk who were in fact innocent:
Still, if the immigration action is Caesarism—if, as Sen. Cruz has said, it’s the action of an “unaccountable monarch”—then the same is surely true of the torture program. In reality, it’s not even a comparison. On one hand, you have discretion for some unauthorized immigrants, rooted in congressional statutes. On the other, you have a secret and illegal program of kidnapping and torture, justified by wild claims of executive authority and defended in the name of “security.”
Barack Obama used his office to help illegal immigrants, and for this, Republicans have attacked him as a Caesar. That’s fine. But Dick Cheney used his office to claim dominion over the bodies and persons of alleged enemies, some of whom were innocent. If that isn’t Caesarism, if that isn’t despotism, then it’s something scarily close. But here, with few exceptions, Republicans are silent.
Indeed:  the Right has a long way to go to return to a sensible, moral, centre.

As readers know, I have been talking about the same despotism friendly policies of this Abbott government  in relation to boat arrivals - centralising decision making in the hands of one Minister; removing recourse to judicial review; justifying stopping boasts on the high seas, and imprisoning people from them on Australian ships for weeks at a time; returning them to their point of departure with no real review of why they are leaving.

This is much worse, in my view, than the libertarian hand wringing over government attempts to regulate data retention, because in fact the government proposals may end up with less access to the information for piffling reasons than currently exists anyway.  (And besides which, the information is already informally retained for some period - the internet has always been capable of leaking.  It is not as if the government is inventing some risk to individuals that is novel.)

Yet we have heard very little about the liberty abhorrent nature of the migration law changes in Australia, and both the media, and those who purport to be concerned about liberty in principal, should be ashamed.

Update:   talking of the morally bankrupt, Rupert Murdoch knows just the right thing to say about the tragedy.  [/sarc...and be sure to read the comments following.]

Update 2:   Tony Abbott this morning twice referred to it as "politically motivated" violence.   I would have thought, given this nutter's background, that most people would be thinking that's exactly what it wasn't.  Just because a nutter holds hostages and wants to talk to the PM (as was reported yesterday, although I know of no confirmation) I don't see that that makes it "political".   Once again, one has to question the smarts of this PM.   (Although,  for the most part,  he  and Mike Baird have deserve praise for seeking to ensure there is no general community backlash against the moderate Muslim community.)

Update 3:  I have to agree with Jason Soon, Brendan O'Neill, whose writing generally makes me grind my teeth, gets the reaction to this incident just about right.

Except that, perhaps, he might be playing down this guy's role in radicalising others if  Rachel Kohn's almost prophetic piece from 2009 is anything to go by.  She points out that he was actively promoting radicalism (she was a direct target of it!) and he should have been the subject of much more active condemnation from the broader Islamic community.   (And perhaps, even closer attention from the authorities - although, I guess we don't really know yet how closely he has been monitored over the years.)


Not Trampis said...

Dick Cheney said all that without once reading the report.

I have a number of articles on this on Friday and had some last friday.

Anonymous said...

So steve

Are you suggestion this was a Seedish backpacker incident again? They happen a lot these days.

Steve said...

JC, if a fundamentalist Christian who has set up his own small church and is facing umpteen sexual assault charges goes on a rampage saying that he is being persecuted because of his religion, I don't take it as a particularly strong case for believing it was his religion that made him do it.

Much the same in this case.

But broader Islam does as a problem, as is evident in many countries where I do routinely criticise their extremism and medieval era views and practices.