Tasmanian Times

The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. If you try it, you will be lonely often, and sometimes frightened. No price is too high for the privilege of owning yourself. ~ Friedrich Nietzsche

The individual has always had to struggle to keep from being overwhelmed by the tribe. If you try it, you will be lonely often, and sometimes frightened. No price is too high for the privilege of owning yourself. ~ Friedrich Nietzsche


Hiding behind terrorism

The news lately has been unremittingly bad – one attack after another.

Mass murder by truck, mass shootings with guns, killings with bombs, a stabbing here, an axe attack there, aeroplanes disappearing with all on board … the list goes on, the images get ever more lurid and are constantly repeated, the whole sorry saga drummed into us relentlessly.

One could speculate on what sinister motive may lie behind this endlessly reinforced view of a violent world spinning out of control, but for now I want to look at another orchestrated theme behind all this: the constant search for a terrorism link. We all know it – every time there’s another horror, the first response is to seek what jihadi-style group might be behind it.

There is no doubt that there are groups out there who are dedicated to doing the most harm possible for the cause of some intolerant ideology they wish to impose. (Not the way to win many friends, I would have thought, and since they too must know this, it leaves an uncomfortable credibility gap. If what you’re doing is only strengthening the opposition to your notions…?)

But many of the stunning killings appear to have no such links at all (other than those that unite all angry and often disenfranchised men, radicals or not). What this desperate search for a scapegoat who is ‘other’ suggests, is an unwillingness of our own society to look at what it is spawning inside its own fold.

Maybe if we cannot blame the terrorists, perhaps the fault lies with Mental Illness? Now here’s a cool thought! Of course, that nice man from down the street isn’t responsible for what he’s just done – how could he be?

The poor lad had a horrible childhood in a dysfunctional home … maybe that drove him to get high on ice … and then he was depressed and had a stay in the mental hospital … got left by his girlfriend … was over-mothered by an anxious woman … or brutalised by a drunk father.

I do not wish to minimise the wonderful advances we have made in understanding our mental and emotional states, the very real effects of PTSD, and the sad consequences of loveless homes. We are privileged to live in an age where counselling help can be found and many such wounds healed or at least acknowledged and supported, and much is now known about early intervention and prevention.

So why, when things should be starting to improve, are we overwhelmed with one horror after another?

Perhaps what’s finally coming home to us is the result of 50+ years of frenetic and unrestricted ‘freedom’. Is it really likely that the constant playing of ever-more violent video games is not going to have dire consequences?

Or the uncensored viewing of ‘adult themes’, horror movies, chainsaw massacres, explosions and shoot-ups, and even the daily news with its gory images? Us oldies who grew up with the cutie-sweetness of the early Disney films can clearly see the increasing violence – not to mention sexualisation – of these supposedly children-orientated movies.

Toys that mimic war machines build up the hype – yet parents buy them for their children. What message are they setting in place?

The corrosive effect of pornography is by now well-known, but nobody is willing to restrict it. It’s all about: “what I want, I shall have, and nobody is going to tell me otherwise.” The USA wants its gun laws, no matter how many kids are killed in the schools.

Corporations want their profits at any social or environmental cost, and no government is game to place restrictions on them.

Politicians will cheat and lie and allow appalling corruptions, just to stay in the game.

It is a sad fact that man is shown throughout recorded history as having a tendency towards violence, disruption and lack of respect. Endless wars, wipe-outs of the indigenous, the ruthless slave trade, suppression of women, land grabs and more, all document it beyond any doubt.

Now and then, there have been moments of enlightenment, periods of stability when wise and just laws were enacted, wars were put aside in favour of the arts, trade regulated, urban environments cleaned, controlled and roads made safe.

This generally happened under strong leaders, religious or just plain benevolent, and the influence of such times is with us to this day.

History also tells us is that power corrupts.

Never have such glorious periods lasted beyond a few generations. But what has kept societies functioning was the common man’s understanding that those wise and just laws actually work for everyone’s benefit, even if that meant putting aside one’s personal wishes for the common good.

Sure, there were always some who tried to circumvent such inconveniences, overtly or not, but as long as the broad sweep of society adhered to the conventions, this could be managed.

So what happens when that broad sweep of society no longer believes in self-control for the sake of the common good?

Well, we all know what happens. We see the broken homes that result from ideas that marriages are only valid for as long as they please us personally.

We see our broken kids go onto the streets and get fuelled up on alcohol and ice.

We allow them to fill their minds with an endless run of violent games and brutalised sex. We show them how we spend massively on self-indulgence: the latest world trip, the newest gourmet restaurant, a car way beyond the actual requirements of basic transport, attendance at one distracting entertainment after another … all needing a punishing work schedule that keeps us away from home and the children in care elsewhere.

We want our fun and we’re having it at any price.

And if we can’t self-control then we also cannot hold our governments to account. We can’t take the time to inform ourselves about the real issues and insist our MPs do something about them. It’s much easier to just keep on electing them. Just as it is much easier to blame someone else for the mess our young men are now in.

But don’t worry. We can always put it down to our faulty genes. Not our personal responsibility after all! And anyway, it’s all too hard to think about. Let’s have another drink and see what’s on the telly, shall we?

*Elizabeth Fleetwood ‘is of European origin and has lived in Tasmania for nearly 35 years. Ran two dairy farms in the NW, then two retail businesses in Burnie, raised a family of three children there; moved to Hobart 17 years ago and ran a tourism business for 10 years before selling and ‘retiring’ recently. Initially an unwilling immigrant, it was not long before the (then) pristine beauty and extraordinary history of this Island exerted its influence and created a campaigner for the preservation of this unique place. To see it being destroyed, along with the values that once made Australia a truly special place worth coming to, is a matter of great concern for this ordinary citizen, whose grandchildren will one day ask: why did you let this happen?’

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  1. George Smiley

    August 1, 2016 at 3:33 am

    So many well-meaning people with answers. The Romans probably searched their souls similarly as oxcarts full of Visigoths rumbled down from the north. “Deny them the oxygen of publicity.” “it’s a mental illness, give them prozac and dilantin.” or jobs where there are none or respect and acceptance to people; many of whom might well despise those things as a sign of weakness after vicious subjugation in their homelands. I had asked my brother in Israel about the demonstrations of hysterical love and loyalty to Saddam Hussein whenever he came to town.
    “Are they the same as us – we would burn with a lifelong hatred for having to grovel like dogs….?”

    “They are exactly like us. If you should stay indoors and are informed on by a neighbour your daughter might disappear. The last you hear of her is a knock on the door – a child delivering a photograph of her being violated. That is the machinery of total power and those people would happily tear him to pieces and similarly seek the destruction of his successor. So ruled and ruler are forever locked in the same relationship.”

    In other words you can’t just lift the lid, add ‘freedom and democracy’ and think its going to work. Some of the trouble in Israel is due to their own fecund fundamentalists with the balance of power and unrepentant of their aim, which is to fill the promised land with their own, at the expense of the Arabs AND seculars too. The whole Muslim world is similarly riven with internecine squabbles between exponentially growing populations who have nothing to look forward to beyond escape or martyrdom and the only effective sanction on the latter is communal suffering. So the Israelis routinely bulldoze family homes; having first evicted the occupants. The other feuding tribes around the middle east are not necessarily so civilized.

    So if you were looking for an answer, perhaps try the Koran or Old Testament. Maybe those people didn’t invent genocide but they proudly recorded their successes and lamented and tore their hair when they got their own back. It wasn’t nice but it worked in a harsh land with too many people; maybe it won’t be what we wanted to hear.

  2. Leonard Colquhoun

    July 31, 2016 at 7:29 pm

    “Hiding behind terrorism”, or hiding, as in self-censoring terrorism? Wide-tanging discussion the Australian’s associate editor J Lyons, with Mercury editor M Deighton:

    “Having been traumatised by ­several acts of Islamic terrorism, France is trying to work out how it should respond to the dramatic change in its reality. One of the issues being debated is how the French media should report terrorism.

    “Several media outlets are now suggesting that there should be a ban on running the names or photographs of terrorists. The rationale is that this will deny the terrorists the ‘glorification’ that many of them may seek from their acts.

    “Influential French newspaper Le Monde has led the debate, ­issuing a challenge to the country’s media — ‘the sites and newspapers that produce this information cannot excuse themselves from self-examination on several fronts’, it wrote. The paper said it had decided that it would no longer publish photographs of terrorists to avoid the potential effect of ‘post­humous glorification. The emotions behind Le Monde’s decision are understandable.”

    ~ Most of our media outlets do something similar when reporting suicides and arson.

    “But beneath the emotion the media must also focus on its role — to report the news. In my opinion, censoring the news is not the answer. In fact, I think there must be more information about Islamic terrorists, their lives and the communities from which they are originating, not less. . . The idea that their names or photographs will not appear in Le Monde will not make any difference to these people. They are being driven by a different and dangerous force.

    “In Australia . . . recently, memorial services were held in Tasmania on the 20th anniversary of the killings to remember those who died. The Mercury in Hobart made a ­decision that Bryant’s name would not appear anywhere in their special edition. ‘We are extremely sensitive as to how we handle stories involving Bryant,’ the paper’s editor, Matt Deighton, told The Australian. . . We didn’t want the memorial edition to be about Bryant. We wanted it to be about the community, its resilience, how it had learned to live in the wake of such a tragedy, found some sort of meaning out of something so ­random and horrific. So I made a decision, for that issue alone, not to use his name.’

    “The Mercury, in my opinion, made the correct decision on that occasion. But in my view that was not censorship but rather a calculated decision to deal with the trauma and grief that had hit that community.

    “For French media to make a blanket decision never to name or photograph terrorists would ­surely be the wrong approach. The solution to this new round of Islamic terrorism must come from inside the Muslim community, not from censorship [from outside].”

    Link – http://www.theaustralian.com.au/business/media/opinion/censorship-of-terrorist-names-photos-a-step-in-wrong-direction/news-story/75ee263c176050e82edd63a30fc9037e

    ~ Least of all should there be any censorship about who perpetrated such savagery, and in what cause. After all, they themselves are quick to ‘brand’ it, aka ‘claim responsibility’, as their own.

  3. Leonard Colquhoun

    July 31, 2016 at 3:10 pm

    About Comment 10’s “Long live tolerance and inclusion” – looking forward to some of those who proclaim this to (those they diss as) ‘Islamophobes’ following the example of 2003’s Iraq War human shields and proclaiming it, with suitable eye-catching banners, T-shirts & stuff, in just about any major city in the Arab / Muslim world. Especially “tolerance and inclusion” for LGBTIQ people. Oh, and women.

  4. Lynne Newington

    July 29, 2016 at 1:24 am

    @14 Simon for those born Before the 1980’s it has already been prophesied’, according to Pope Francis WWlll is already upon us….http://www.catholic.org/news/hf/faith/story.php?id=65403
    I wonder if Bishop Porteous agrees….

  5. Robin Charles Halton

    July 28, 2016 at 2:20 am

    #14, Odd script, a complete jumble in my opinion.

    Most likely ISIS terror cells are creeping into Europe via recent refugee traffic, similar circumstances can apply to visiting clerics to come to stir up trouble in Australia to recruit followers who in turn can end up on police watch.

    Its a catch 22 situation for us Australians who are traditionally not used to this sort of behavior and its costing the taxpayer a mint for policing, money that could be used to reduce debt, education and health instead of creating social divides.

  6. Simon Warriner

    July 28, 2016 at 12:29 am

    re 15, you are confusing a plantation with a forest.

  7. russell

    July 28, 2016 at 12:07 am

    Re #9 and original – Elizabeth is correct many are ignoring problems within our society and readily jumping to the terroist/radical Islamist. The publicity draws people to the following whether they are believers or not – just as the Space Age caused many to have worries/sighting of aliens.

  8. Stu

    July 27, 2016 at 10:57 pm

    RE 14 you’re not only barking up the wrong tree, you’re in the wrong bloody forest!

  9. Simon Warriner

    July 27, 2016 at 12:30 pm

    It might be a good idea for everyone to read this:


    about Operation Gladio.

    Especially those born after about 1980.

    As Goering stated, it is easy to bring the people to the leaders bidding, just ell them they are being attacked.

  10. Robin Charles Halton

    July 27, 2016 at 2:38 am

    #9 Elizabeth, you mentioned the North Hobart murder of Voula, the dear Greek lady who worked hard all of her life in the shop barely 200 meters from our residence in Andrew St.

    A friend who phoned me tonight told me that the murderer had only been released from prison the previous day was on ice and unstoppable at the scene when he knifed Voula who was defenceless and took her cash box.

    The victim or worse still victims could have been anyone of us either in the shop, on the street or confronted at our front door.

    The law has clearly failed to protect the community so I have a base ball bat inside my front door as on occasions had nuisances pestering me with excuses to see if there is some one at home!
    With ice on the streets around the city blocks and now this murder nearby our lives will change forever.

    I am back in Tasmania after spending 32 days in FN Qld without any feeling of being threatened among strangers even in isolated bush areas during travel.

  11. Russell Horton

    July 26, 2016 at 6:36 pm

    Elizabeth’s comments about people with mental illnesses caused by deprived environment unnecessarily stigmatises many who function well and who have not had deprived/traumatic experiences.

  12. Maxwell Knight

    July 26, 2016 at 6:14 pm

    Actually, the global mcounter terror apparat is looking for reasons NOT to link these seeming
    random attacks. The recruiting and operational tactics of extremist groups have adapted to bypass the traditional monitoring and interdiction strategies of law enforcement agencies, and as a result governments are in full ‘cover the posterior’ mode. The most cogent professional assessment on this new development is from one of the sharper knives in the asymmetrical 4th generation warfare drawer:


  13. Chris

    July 26, 2016 at 2:48 pm

    Who among us can identify…potential radical socially disruptive actions from outsiders”

    Do we line them up , give them a yellow star, class them ALL as non humans, examine their minds, which by some logic they are all the same, dangerous and not nice to know and do not practice western religions, apart from that section which is derived from the Jewish faith (who are tolerant and live behind walls with lots of guns and tanks)
    At what age do they become radical, is it 6 or 7 or going on 17, its good that Australia and its citizens especially Tasmanians , with a few exceptions like one bigot one could name along with his followers who DELIBERATELY foster unrest and dislike of others because they cannot apply logic and inclusion rather than hate and xenophobia to justify their attitudes.
    Long live tolerance and inclusion.

  14. Elizabeth

    July 26, 2016 at 12:42 pm

    Thank you to those who have commented on my article. I’m surprised at the suggestion that I was minimising the terrorist problem – did I say any such thing? – and I did acknowledge first up that there are such groups. But violence is not an Islamic monopoly and young men can get radicalised just to the simple idea of being violent. Certainly they may be currently getting plenty of inspiration from jihadi-style atrocities, but for example the Norwegian mass murderer was not connected to any such. Nor are the men who kill a woman a week here in our own country, plus the countless others who bash their partners regularly. Just ask any teacher or principal how many incidents of violence and disrespect they deal with, on a daily basis. Are those kids terrorists? And what about the recent murder, here in North Hobart, of the lady in her shop? Did that guy kill her for some terrorist cause? And go stand in the Royal’s Emergency section on a Friday night and see just how many casualties come in that are the result of gratuitous, local violence.
    Yes, Islamic radicalisation is a problem. So is the Ku Klux Kan. So are the Mexican drug dealers who ruthlessly murder and steal the girls from the villages. So are countless other out-of-control violent people. And many of them are our own kids. I think it is hypocritical of us to put so much emphasis on terrorist violence when we are so willing to ignore our own. Scapegoating won’t solve the problem.

  15. phill Parsons

    July 26, 2016 at 11:37 am

    Fleetwood falls for a similar fault claiming we see this and that when it is not so. Not all homes are as dysfunctional as painted, not all youth turn to this or that drug or a seduced by the baubles and trinkets described.

    All terrorists are mentally ill, their act confirming that.

    A sane person would band with others to work for changes through communication. It is the root of change in human activity.

  16. Robin Charles Halton

    July 26, 2016 at 2:30 am

    I will continue to push for changes to Australia’s immigration policies as I dont want to see our nation become a police state with current society torn between incompatible religious and racial groups who only come to create difficulties for the Australian way of life.

    This did not happen with post WWII immigration so why should it be allowed to happen now.

    Brexit for the UK has moved to stem the flow of potential radical socially disruptive actions from outsiders moving across Europe through Germany and France.

  17. TGC

    July 26, 2016 at 12:11 am

    Agree with #3 aqnd #4

  18. davies

    July 26, 2016 at 12:08 am

    And another attack in last hour or so. Two knifemen take priest and nuns hostage in France (a church near Le Havre). Slit throat of priest and in turn killed by Police.

    More than likely a terrorist attack…

    Is this article trying to downplay the dangers of radicalized Islamic views (as outlined in #3) to blame video games and porn instead?

    It is never about Islam until it is all about Islam…

    Correction on my previous post the train attacker in Germany was using an axe and knife not a machete.

  19. JDN

    July 25, 2016 at 11:23 pm

    I’m sorry Elizabeth, but statistical data absolutely blows away any argument you put forth that radical Islam is not the major cause in the increase of these horrific & cowardly events. I believe your use of ‘stunning’ is also a completely deplorable adjective for these attacks.


    People like you who ignore, defend or downplay the millions of Islamist’s that hold radicalized views are detrimental to the very safety of our nation.

    We cannot continue to ignore the increasing indoctrination and radicalization of Islamic youth in western nations perpetuated by policies of promoting social and geographical segregation (see Islamic suburbs/Schools within Europe).

    In 2006, surveys conducted by Pew Research, found that 19% of 18-29 year old Muslims living WITHIN the UK believed that SUICIDE BOMBINGS were justified actions.

    Am I an ‘Islamaphobe’? Not in any sense of the word. The Muslims I know personally and do business with are extremely nice people.

    Do I understand the terrifying results of ignoring or downplaying the radicalized Islamic views that are now becoming home grown in Western Nations?


  20. davies

    July 25, 2016 at 11:10 pm

    Perhaps it is relentless because the attacks are relentless…

    Since Nice (a terrorist attack) which occurred on the 15th July we’ve had a machete attack (a terrorist attack) on a German train, Munich (where the BBC tried to say the guy was an Iranian called David when it appears he is called Ali and like the rest of his family from Turkey/Syria so is quite likely a terrorist attack), the bombing in Germany outside a concert (a terrorist attack), Kabul (a terrorist attack), in France the stabbing of 3 girls and their mother by a Moroccan because they were scantily clad, the fatal machete attack by a Syrian on a pregnant mother at a bus stop (Police say it is not terrorist related but few details are available), and the attack in Japan (not a terrorist attack).

    Did I miss any?

    I am all for people taking responsibility for their actions But I am uncertain this article articulates that.

  21. TV Resident

    July 25, 2016 at 8:26 pm

    To my mind the media play right into the ‘terrorists’ hands every time there is an attack of any kind. Immediately after ANY multiple slaying worldwide the media give the ‘terrorist organisations’ credit for it, whether they were responsible or not. The ‘terrorist organisations’ are getting a rolling commentary publicised. They are getting ALL of the publicity they need without even trying and that appears to be just what they want, publicity.

  22. Leonard Colquhoun

    July 25, 2016 at 7:56 pm

    Given the high level of statistical correlation, “every time there’s another horror, the first response is to seek what jihadi-style group might be behind it”, seems an understandable “first response”, doesn’t it?

    ‘Understandable’, but not necessarily reasonable, nor necessarily supported by evidence. And even if (some / early) evidence is there, not necessarily jihardist. Copy-cats, for example.

    ‘Understandable’, also, that Islamophobia might be present, especially if ‘phobia’ is taken in its psychological sense as a term for an irrational or obsessive fear.

    Once more, no simple answers, nor simple interpretations, especially the simplistic sort beloved of simple-minded ideologues.

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