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We are playing a dangerous game

By Brian Holden - posted Friday, 3 August 2007

Following the withdrawal from Iraq, the developing mess in the Middle East will be the mother of all messes. And it will ensure there will be no end to the tension between Muslims and non-Muslims. In Australia we should be working on a homeland security plan now to diffuse any future buildup of religious and racial tensions locally.

In 1942 we thought we were in grave danger of a Japanese invasion But the records reveal that Japan was not capable of this. And now with 341,000 Muslims living in Australia, we must be careful not to drive them into a corner. If we do, this country will be in the gravest danger it has ever been in.

To prevent this we must combat the following:

  • group-think in young Muslim males;
  • selfish manipulation of the public mood by the media; and
  • selfish manipulation of the public mood by the government.

Group-think in young Muslim males

As the home-grown London bombers were all doing OK economically, analysts have put a compelling case that the bombers were driven by group-think. As the months passed leading up to the bombing, individualism disappeared and the group as an entity became sacred.

The last bomb was supposed to be placed on a train, but all trains had been halted after the first three bombs. Bomber number four could have quietly gone home with his bomb in his bag and his three comrades now dead would not know - but he was on a sacred mission. He then caught a bus.

Feeling disenfranchised from the mainstream can gradually turn a young man’s mind to some world-wide movement with which he can identify. One sure way to alienate young Muslims is for the police to become overly focused on them.

Manipulating of the public mood by the media

Since the event known as “9-11”, our media has been unrelenting in its promotion of negative images of Islam. A recent example is the case of a detained doctor. All we needed to know was when he was actually charged or released. Instead we got daily stories based on insignificant developments in his case accompanied by flashbacks to the burning vehicle in Glasgow. Now all dedicated Muslim doctors must feel the public glare of hostility.

The media’s excuse is that it has an obligation to report the news. In this it is highly selective. No Islamic extremist bombing escapes the news while the almost incomprehensible toll of human misery arising from the conflicts in Africa gets superficial treatment. Even if the shareholders are worried about their dividends, the media has a moral obligation not to report selected news sensationally.


The venom in some of the voices on our talk-back commercial radio is scary to hear. An angry but well-articulated opinion when transmitted by radio will be instantly absorbed by hundreds of thousands of unquestioning minds. Imagine how frightened our Muslims feel when they hear this. They must be on the verge of giving up expecting to be accepted as equals in the building of this nation.

Since 9-11 there has been a gigantic media beat-up. If you keep smearing a race, nationality or social class the members will come together and collectively strike back as one. Is that too hard a concept for the media business to grasp?

Manipulating of the public mood by the government

John Howard’s homeland security plan is at the level of the anti-terrorist fridge magnet mail out and TV ads urging us to keep an eye out for suspicious behaviour: be alert not alarmed. If his attempt at mass-paranoia worked, we would have needed triple the size of the police force to carry out the investigations.

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About the Author

Brian Holden has been retired since 1988. He advises that if you can keep physically and mentally active, retirement can be the best time of your life.

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