Wednesday, July 20, 2016

So, you hate Muslims? Congratulations. You have been Successfully Radicalised.

I realise the above might sound like an extreme statement. But after the darkness of the week just passed, and the growing animosity between fellow Australians - scrap that - fellow human beings - it's the only conclusion I can draw. And crucially, it's one of the few conversations we're not having.

Beyond ISIS' predatory recruitment processes, high quality propaganda and sophisticated social media presence, they have one painfully simple goal in the West: to turn Muslims and non-Muslims against each other. They want to create an environment so toxic; where Muslims are so marginalised, despised and hated, that turning to Islamic State seems like a legitimate or even logical choice. In their propaganda, they call this strategy 'Eliminating the Grey Zone.'

Yes - ISIS clearly hate secularism, the perceived liberalism of the West, and have been fuelled by a sociopathic response to a complex history of Western invasion, colonial mentality and interventionism. And a gross, regressive interpretation of one of the three Abrahamic faiths. They use this to violently slaughter anyone who disagrees with their twisted ideology, and rejoice at the scenes we have witnessed in France, Germany, America and countless other liberal democracies. 

But it's not just mindless violence; it's violence and terror with a goal. 

And it's this goal that my mind keeps coming back to. If ISIS' aim is to drive a wedge of division, hatred and mistrust between Muslims and non-Muslims, doesn't it follow, then, that if you find yourself hating all Muslims, you might just have been radicalised yourself?

Radicalisation is broadly defined as 'a process by which an individual or group comes to adopt increasingly extreme political, social or religious ideals and aspirations that reject or undermine the status quo, or undermine contemporary ideas and expressions of freedom of choice.'

Those who speak out against Islam constantly claim they are 'speaking the truth', 'saying what everyone is thinking' and 'making the difficult choices.' I would argue they are making the easiest choice available to them. And in the process, becoming radicalised by the very people they claim to be against.

Doing exactly what ISIS wants you to do seems like a very peculiar way to stand up against them. And yet that's precisely what thousands of Australian 'patriots' have done; walking head first into radicalisation, and giving the terrorists everything they want in the process.
In Waleed Aly's video on The Project earlier this week, he suggested you can only 'spin the gravitron' so many times before someone gets sick. The problem with our discourse up to this point is that we have focussed almost entirely on the sickness that emerges from our Muslim youth, and awkwardly fumbled for tired, blunt words to describe the sickness which has emerged in the non-Muslim community. 

Whether you hold violent thoughts towards non-Muslims or violent thoughts towards Muslims, you have both been radicalised - and it's been facilitated by exactly the same process. You are both supporting ISIS in what they hope to achieve.

Here's one radicalised Australian's thoughts, courtesy of The United Patriots Front:
Here's another young man, who has sadly also become radicalised:
This Australian has become particularly radicalised, and shares his thoughts about New South Wales Labor Senator, Sam Dastyari:

There are, of course, less violent and vitriolic forms of radicalisation, be they the comments of Sonia Kruger earlier this week, or Pauline Hanson airing her 'genuine' concerns for the future of Australia throughout her election campaign.

The thing is - it doesn't matter how much you bang on about freedom of speech or speaking your mind - when these are the views that you arrive at, you have been successfully lead through a process; and it's exactly the one ISIS wanted you to undertake. You are literally helping them achieve their goal - one hateful, bigotted, alienating opinion at a time.

These issues are undeniably complex; at the very least, far more complex that I'm capable of articulating. The road to humanity's healing will be long, and I'm almost certain things will get worse before they get better. But if there's one thing I could change about our current framing of the debate right now, it would be to call people who have decided they hate all Muslims for exactly what they are - products of the same radicalisation process which young Muslim men have succumbed to - and who are supporting the precise agenda ISIS want them to. Everytime you abuse, degrade and attack innocent Australian Muslims, you are supporting Islamic State. 

And for any radicalised non-Muslim Australians who find all of this a bit hard to swallow, I would be glad to hear of a single example in the history of humanity where actively supporting the goal of your enemy has furthered your own cause.

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