Reactions here in Oz

Gary MacLennan g.maclennan at
Thu Sep 13 16:43:03 MDT 2001

We have just come to the end of the saturation coverage.  Though the main
news has still been re-organised since the attack.  However today or just
as I type this the first item on the news is the collapse of Australia's
second airline Ansett.  I will write a piece about this later, when I can
dig up Lou's post on the airline  industry.  The collapse of Ansett is a
dramatic illustration of his argument.

In this climate of economic uncertainty the Govt seems to be trying to
focus our attention on the terrorist threat to Australia (true).  Thus
Prime Minister Howard flew back from the US to some hastily convened
security meeting, and he has pledged Australian support for US military
action. He will find it difficult however to outflank the Labor leader Kim
Beazley on this question.  Beazley is a true militarist and as pro-American
as any Australian leader has ever been.

On the ground there was a scuffle/fight at my unit yesterday.  Some Arab
(?) students clapped at the coverage on the large screen which relays
CNN.  They were it seems immediately set upon, presumably by Australian
student.   There are also rumours of knife fights in a high school
involving Islamic and non-Islamic students.  Last night a petrol bomb was
thrown at a mosque not far from here.

I should record at the Public broadcaster the ABC is making an effort to
balance out the coverage and to head off anti-Islamic hysteria.  But the
truth is that it is very difficult to get an alternative viewpoint
across.  Last night for example an Israeli commentator very shrewdly
advanced the "complete evil" thesis;  mainly that these events have no
context and cannot be understood in political terms.  They are it seems
simply evil and must therefore be crushed, presumably by the forces of Good.

I myself have got involved in a couple of arguments on this score.  I have
heeded Jose's injunction to be sensible here, but I have insisted that
these atrocities can be understood. I tried to point out to one colleague
that the Right had benefited, but he would have none of that.  Nor would he
listen to me when I detailed Sharon's moves since the terror.

As to what will happen now it is going to be tough to try and insist on
analyzing the politics of what is going on, but we simply have to try.



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