Too comfortable to care?

Australia has one of the more tightly controlled media environments in the world. Dissenters are routinely ignored, silenced or shunned. Every now and then a figure appears – such as John Pilger on last night’s ABC Lateline – that reveals the paucity of our debate.

He began:

“You [Australia] have probably one of the most restricted medias in the Western World. Journalists are very close to politicians. Presumably, that’s why the whole question of state terrorism, of Howard making Australia a target for terrorists, has not been debated at all. It’s just been left off the agenda.”

Host Tony Jones wasn’t sure what to make of that and Pilger reminded him that he’d only been invited onto the show to be the token “dissenting voice.” When he was on the program in 2004, the renowned journalist and author rightly argued that any country when attacked had the right to resist. He explained last night:

“Australia had a right to resist the Japanese in the Second World War, Britain had the right to resist the Germans, and the Iraqis have a right to resist the attack on their country. Resistances are often appalling. They do appalling things. Often, as appalling as the attackers, but the truth is in Iraq is that the overwhelming number of people who have been killed, maimed and dispossessed in that country since April 2003 have been done by the so-called coalition, of which Australia is a member. That’s an issue that really is at heart of this. Now, you know, whether I’m prepared to go to jail – I’m always prepared to go to jail for speaking the truth. I think that’s what journalists should do. You know, democracy and freedom of press is entwined in Australia.”

After dismissing Howard’s “anti-terror” laws – unsurprisingly fully supported today by quasi government proxy, Gerard Henderson – Pilger reminded viewers that Britain’s Law Lords maintained greater independence than our High Court and would therefore provide greater scrutiny to Blair’s “draconian” measures.

Finally, he articulated the great unspoken truth when debating terrorism: state terrorism:

“If we’re talking about terrorism, left off the debate, left out of the debate, is state terrorism. The fact that Australia enthusiastically joined a rapacious, illegal attack on a defenceless country in which tens of thousands of people died. That under international law, under the Nuremberg enactment that formed the basis for international law all those years ago, that is an illegal, rapacious and an act, in effect, of terrorism. Why is that not included in the debate on terrorism, because in the end state terrorism absolutely dwarfs the Al Qaeda variety, which is minuscule compared with the kind of bloodshed and suffering and attack that has gone on in Iraq.”

Don’t expect similar debates to occur regularly in “comfortable” Australia.

Text and images ©2024 Antony Loewenstein. All rights reserved.

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