Thirteen years have passed since that gloriously blue-skied morning in Manhattan, where the maps and posters on my son’s classroom shivered on the walls as a jetliner rumbled low overhead and, lucky for him, kept going for a few more seconds. It slammed into the World Trade Centre, the second to hit its target that morning, and helped consign some 3000 innocent souls to their doom. We were told that day how everything had changed. Except it hadn’t, not then and not today in Australia.
Within an hour of 9/11’s impacts, decent Americans were forming spontaneous posses outside New York mosques to protect innocent Muslims from the vigilante reprisals they fully expected. There were no payback attacks, of course, there never are. The dead were all down town, under the smoking rubble. But that was the meme, soon parroted, incredibly, by none other than President George W. Bush, who ludicrously assured the world that Islam is the “religion of peace”. Nineteen devotees of that faith had just committed mass murder for a morning’s work and there was the Free World’s leader papering over the vile philosophy that inspired them. Bush was far from the simian doofus his detractors insisted, but he came close that day and, when the topic was Islam, on many others thereafter.
Today, after Sydney was brought to a standstill, two innocents were murdered, a police officer wounded and several others injured, that same old kumbayah script is being dusted off and recited for the umpteenth time. On ABC radio just now, some well-meaning young woman was close to tears as she poured her sympathy on the “real victims” of the coffee shop siege. She didn’t mean the slain Katrina Dawson and Lindt store manager Tori Johnson, or Ms Dawson’s three now-motherless children. It was those poor Muslims who are going to be viewed with suspicion all over again.
Funny thing, that.
Australian kids get blown to bits by Muslims in Bali, and it’s Muslims who are said to suffer most.
Sydney sees a riot by a 1000-strong mob of rampaging weird beards incensed that someone on the other side of the world made a YouTube film about their precious Prophet, but it’s not the merchants who lost business or the cops pelted and thumped who are said to have suffered. Nor is it the amity and amenity of an otherwise modern and mostly peaceful metropolis that was done an injury. It’s those poor, oppressed Muslims.
Two policeman are stabbed ten weeks ago in suburban Melbourne, one almost killed, by a brain-washed teenage jihadi and “the backlash” that never happened scores acres of ink in the Fairfax press and many, many concerned words on the ABC — far more attention than is devoted to a critically wounded cop and the progress of his recovery.
Today, if you want to display your well-educated and thoroughly nuanced concern, get on Twitter and endorse the #Illridewithyou hashtag, the idea being that Muslim women need protection, not from fathers and brothers obsessed with “honour”, but “rednecks” who will be rampaging from Sydney to Perth, tearing off hijabs and burning mosques and demonstrating all the intolerance that another creed, the secular one preached tirelessly in universities and newsrooms, insists is woven into the very fabric of the racist Australian soul.
I’ll ride with you? Pardon me, but it is thoughts of those unwitting passengers who rode with Mohammad Atta on September 11 that come most immediately to mind. It is thoughts, too, of the London commuters who rode a double-decker bus with yet more homegrown jihadis and finished their lives as footnotes to the 7/7 massacres.
Two pernicious philosophies – radical Islam and unquestioning multi-culturalism – define and limit the debate the larger Australia caught between those two extremes is forbidden to have. Why is that no one wonders how that much-mentioned religion of peace throws up so many adherents who are anything but?
Muslims oppressed? Ask yourself this: when Scientologists fleece fools, who do you hear arguing that relieving simpletons of their cash is a misinterpretation of what cult founder L. Ron Hubbard intended?
But with Islam the connection between violence and scripture isn’t allowed to be uttered. It’s all there in the Koran and hadiths. You want peaceful Islam, stick to the early bits, where the voices transcribed from a schizophrenic desert warlord’s head are somewhat more pacific. Fancy something a bit more militant? Turn to the latter pages, where you can find permission for lopping heads and smiting infidels and parking jumbo jets on buildings full of folks whose only crime was reporting to their desks with bagels and coffee.
Remember that over the kid-glove days to come. Remember that when tame reporters regurgitate dubious tales of harassed hijab wearers and vandalised mosques – alleged attacks for which no one ever seems to be apprehended. Given the lack of arrests you might almost think they were staged, exaggerated or never happened at all. As for reports of racist incidents, you can file one in a twinkling, courtesy of a standing message form at the Islamophobia Register. It’s that easy.
And one last thing. When you wonder why the media bleats about Australian racism, rather than Islam’s intolerance, bear in mind that the MEAA, the journalists’ union, just honoured Fairfax columnist and Radio National compere Waleed Aly as the nation’s best and most incisive analyst and commentator.
Aly’s appraisal of terrorism, as delivered after Muslims bombed the Boston Marathon? Why, the prize insight that terrorism is no worse than “a perpetual irritation”! And anyway, as Aly concluded, it was probably white, right-wing terrorists who did it anyway.
As a revered and well-paid mouthpiece for the multi-culti industry, how could he say anything else?
Roger Franklin is the editor of Quadrant Online. He spent the months after 9/11 attending funerals for fathers of his son’s classmates, many of whom were New York City cops and firemen.