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2016 Federal Election Commentary

The following article from The Australian is presented in the national interest, to encourage discussion and to provide information.  This article does not necessarily reflect Australian Voice policy.

Federal election 2016:  Unlike Islam, Hastie gets no respect and Leahy goes unheeded

BY:  Chris Kenny, Associate Editor (National Affairs), Sydney


Our politicians are so intent on pretending away the issue of Islamist extremism that they will not utter its name. Along with our bureaucrats, civic leaders and, incredibly, our military leadership, they tie themselves in knots to avoid offence while others risk their lives combating murderous intolerance.

This failure confounds mainstream voters, undermines the morale of security forces, plays into the victimhood narrative of extremists and exposes the nation to dangerous levels of ignorance and complacency.

For 15 years our defence personnel have battled Islamist extremists in Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria. They expose themselves to deadly threats, knowing 41 of their colleagues have been killed and 261 wounded. Yet the debate in Australia this week turned to whether these soldiers exhibited enough “cultural sensitivity”.

Australian Defence Force personnel combat Islamist extremists so warped that they launch suicide attacks against women and children. Some of our troops have been killed by terrorists who infiltrated Afghan forces to slaughter their foreign “comrades”.

This is not a war between nation-states or ethnic groups — it is a battle between Islamist extremists and those who are not (including non-extremist Muslims).

We can see how religious perversion is central when we consider that our nation supplies combatants to both sides: the ADF deploys to tackle the terrorists while homegrown Islamist extremists travel to join the jihadists.

The ADF trains our soldiers in “cultural sensitivity”, encouraging them to view Islam as a religion of peace. Army research this week found the overwhelming majority (80 per cent) of a sample group believed the “Muslim religion promotes violence and terrorism”.

This was reported breathlessly in the Guardian Australia as showing strong and widespread “anti-Muslim” attitudes in the ADF. Yet it can hardly be surprising given these soldiers have put their lives on the line and seen comrades killed and wounded by an enemy defined by its interpretation of Islam.

We all understand the need to prevent the tarnishing of all Muslims with the evil deeds of the radical extremists. But we cannot pretend away the religious or cultural dimensions. The jihadists have killed us in New York, Bali, London, Madrid, Paris, Parramatta, Oruzgan and Martin Place. They strike in nightclubs, battlefields, public transport and on the street, using weapons as diverse or common as guns, bombs, cars, planes and knives. The one constant is the evil ideology, based on extremist Islamic teachings, and a barbaric, often suicidal, intent.

Andrew Hastie joined the army immediately after the 9/11 attacks because he wanted to actively defend our values from such hideous violence. He deployed to Afghanistan as a troop commander and again as a member of the crack Special Air Service Regiment.

He switched to politics last year at the Canning by-election and this week was sacked from the Army Reserve for refusing to remove a campaign billboard showing him in military uniform.

He can fight and die for his country but cannot display this loyalty and commitment in a campaign poster. Hastie must hide away his military honour and service. To the military brass it didn’t seem to matter that he was proud of his uniform and his service, or that others might be. Nor did it seem to matter that many other soldiers had used uniformed pictures in political campaigns.

The army claims it wants to avoid being politicised. Yet this is where its hypocrisy and cultural confusion is exposed.

The ADF allows uniformed personnel to parade at Sydney’s Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras, despite its overtly political agenda. It allowed former army chief David Morrison to begin his political activism on issues surrounding sexual discrimination and domestic violence while he still in the job.

The ADF stood by the navy’s Muslim affairs adviser Captain Mona Shindy even after she used a navy Twitter account to criticise former prime minister Tony Abbott over Muslim issues. She also criticised the Australian Liberty Alliance and backed Australia’s Grand Mufti when he made controversial comments after the Paris terrorist attacks that seemed to blame Islamophobia and Western foreign policy. Our politicians and security service leaders are sending conflicting messages and don’t seem to realise which values they should be protecting.

Many hours after a radicalised teenager draped in a black robe yelled “Allahu Akbar” before shooting an innocent police worker dead in Parramatta last year, the NSW police were denying any suggestion of terrorism. Malcolm Turnbull, Bill Shorten and Mike Baird reacted to the attack without reference to Islamist extremism.

The previous December when an Islamist extremist gunman held innocent people hostage in a Sydney cafe, a social media campaign trumpeted solidarity not with the innocents being held at gunpoint (two were later killed) but with Muslim Australians who some wrongly imagined might suffer a backlash.

Former army chief Peter Leahy has expressed his frustration at the lack of attention paid to national security issues in the election campaign, even though we have personnel deployed. “They’re at war,” he told me on Sky News, “what is the strategy?”

Leahy, now a professor at the University of Canberra’s National Security Institute, says we need to discuss the ideology we are battling at home and abroad.

“In these sorts of times when we are at war, we need to be as direct, blunt and factual as we can. So we need to try and understand what the enemy want,” he says.

“(Islamist extremists) don’t want our form of government, they want to replace the forms of government broadly through the Middle East with sharia law and then, in many ways, they have global ambitions. Now I am pretty happy with the way I live in this country and the form of government that we’ve got and I don’t want sharia law, so we need to discuss that first.”

Australians don’t like being lectured about tolerance and inclusivity when that is their history and nature. Most would prefer our leaders better defended these values from extremists seeking to impose intolerance. It is cultural cowardice to shame our proud and brave soldiers for parading their service at the same time our politicians and security leaders are too timid to even name the enemy.


FROM:  http://www.theaustralian.com.au/opinion/columnists/chris-kenny/federal-election-2016-unlike-islam-hastie-gets-no-respect-and-leahy-goes-unheeded/news-story/b11775106b737cbd6afabbca54551bc1