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Only the non-radicalised can work to bring the radicalised back

By mrconnorobrien - 17 November 2015 31

It's time to talk

One of the most frustrating things about social media is the sense that we’re trapped inside echo chambers of our own making. It’s true, but one of the reasons we keep repeating what we believe is not because we like hearing our own opinions repeated back to us, but because we hope that by repeating the same thing over and over, we’ll eventually begin to change the opinions of those who disagree with us.

What’s difficult, though, is that because we believe so firmly that we are right, and because we feel it is so important for us not to waver in our message, we end up establishing an impenetrable wall between us and those whose minds we desperately need to change. We don’t think enough about why those who hold views we believe are reprehensible might hold those views. We too rarely stop to think that very bad opinions might be rooted in the fears and insecurities of those who hold them, or that people might hold on to bad opinions for too long because publicly admitting that you might be wrong is still viewed as a cause for embarrassment.

We desperately, desperately need to establish frameworks for better dialogues between the majority who understand that refugees and Muslim Australians are not a threat, and those who are beginning to be driven toward more extreme forms of xenophobia.

The process of IS radicalisation is beginning to be much better understood, and there are intelligent people working within our public service who are establishing smart policies to engage those who are susceptible to being radicalised and make them feel welcome within our culture. What is much less understood is the process of radicalisation that is drawing some Australians in the other direction – toward a distrust of refugees and Muslim Australians. This, too, is a form of radicalisation.

As these people – those we loosely characterise as ‘bigots’ – are drawn further away from the mainstream, they lose touch with the nuanced conversation we are having about the complex relationship between identity, religion, and extremism. At a certain point, they begin to narrow the opinions they engage with, until almost all media becomes suspect. At that point, it becomes nearly impossible to reach them, as they end up constructing their own barrier to filter out anything they don’t already agree with.

Most of us agree that bigots aren’t worth listening to, in the same way that it’s not worth taking seriously the opinions of those who have already been radicalised by IS. But we can’t just treat the growing number of xenophobic Australians as nothing more than a loony fringe, as these are the people that are, in subtle and sometimes less-than-subtle ways, drawing the vulnerable on the other side to IS and other groups that promise to protect and empower them. These two forms of radicalisation inflame one another, and every person we lose to radicalisation, on either side, acts as an enzyme in a process in which more and more of us end up slipping into extremism.

We are not doing this properly. We need to assume that all of the people that slip into radicalism are intelligent human beings, but are being caught in a loop in which extremely bad opinions are being sold to them as solutions for underlying feelings of disempowerment. We need to stop characterising anybody as a lost cause or innately prejudiced, and figure out how to begin drawing these people back.

How do we engage with those who see refugees or Muslim Australians as a threat? Ridiculing them or repeating the same facts and opinions appears to be failing very badly – it is leading some of those on the fence to see the non-xenophobic mainstream as coercive or patronising, which only draws them further away. When xenophobic opinion columnists use terms like ‘inner-city latte-sipping lefties’, the opinions of the mainstream are presented as those of a closed-off coterie, which instills in uncertain readers a sense that the non-racist mainstream does not welcome them. When the mainstream begins to label those on the verge of xenophobic radicalisation as ‘bigots’, it provides them with a sense of proof that they are unwelcome, and drives them to begin engaging seriously with the bad opinions they had begun to tentatively explore.

Once these people radicalise, we lose any of the common ground necessary for dialogue to occur. The columnists the already-radicalised read and the public figures they listen to provide them with rebuttals for any argument the non-racist mainstream can provide them to encourage them to de-radicalise. Until now, this process of xenophobic radicalisation has not resulted in the development of a well-organised framework to cause harm to others, but I can’t see how, once a critical mass of xenophobic extremists begin to gather, more sophisticated strategies won’t begin to emerge. Reclaim Australia and its offshoots are truly terrifying.

I’d like to end with an answer, but it’s so tough for me to figure this out. All I’ve realised is that the onus is on us, because only the non-radicalised can work to bring the radicalised back – it appears almost impossible for the radicalised to pull themselves back to centre. We need to engage in outreach in all directions, making sure the vulnerable and easily-manipulated can express their issues clearly, so that they can’t be convinced to reframe their frustrations by seeing another group as a scapegoat. We need to avoid treating anybody as a lost cause, especially those whose xenophobia might appear benign or just ridiculous. We all know people who could be pulled into extremism, or could already be half-way there. We need to do better at not writing them off, and making sure that we can engage with them on a level that lets them recognise that nobody is the enemy.

What’s Your opinion?


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31 Responses to
Only the non-radicalised can work to bring the radicalised back
rubaiyat 10:35 pm 23 Nov 15

dungfungus said :

rubaiyat said :

rommeldog56 said :

Grimm said :

Disgusting.
Blame everybody but the people perpetrating the crime. The onus is not on us. We have done our part by taking these people into our country as refugees. It is up to them to accept and fit in with our culture. If they hate the west and western culture so much, don’t live in it. Weak nonsense like this is what has allowed this cancer to take hold to begin with.

Well said. The West needs to toughen up in the face of this radicalisation.

What a poor contribution to the situation that now faces the World. Rubbish. I don’t know why the West and indeed, left leaning commentators, continually blame the West !

Hello – its not our fault, so take off the victim mentality glasses.

This sort of left leaning, self reflective victim “its all our fault” commentary is exactly what the radicals are hoping will happen. Its more effective for them than military action will ever be. What is actually needed, is for the West to toughen up.

Yeah – just call me a bigot, racist, a right winger (which I am not actually), xenophobic, etc – what ever label you want.

ISIS must be laughing their heads off that people like you blame “The Left!

The whole Middle Eastern Mess was created by the Right, and their puppet masters, the industro-military complexes and all the oil companies that have overthrown governments and bribed their way into the extremely dirty oil and guns business.

The most ardent critics of Islamic extremism are from the left and they were the ones who have faced the retribution both from the Islamic extremists and the hard right who both make lots of money out of everybody else’s misery.

The Islamists take out fatwahs on the critical left and the Far Right blames the left who speaks up for everything that the Far (Stupid) Right does. George W. Bush actually passed the blame for his massive stuff ups, saying everybody must have agreed with him, otherwise “Why didn’t you stop us?”

We’re still asking why all the Saudi Royal Family were flown out of the USA, when nothing else was allowed to fly, immediately after 9/11.

The “Middle East Crisis” was started 1000 years ago and continues today, as it will tomorrow.
The problem now is that is has spilled over to affect most Western countries who have tried to avert what is happening now by introducing democracy to Islamic states.
The right and left global powers have seriously ignored the threat of global Islamisation and now
Germany’s Angela Merkel has caved into pressure from the left to allow an invasion into Europe without a shot being fired.
With an Islamic caliphate in Europe there will be no left or right so that problem will be solved, won’t it?

There’s not even a “caliphate” in the existing Muslim areas of Europe; Albania, Bosnia and Kosovo.

What hope for the rest of Europe except in your imaginings which can’t cope with real threats to civilisation without burying your head in the sand?

The rebellion against the radical Canberra cleric at the Yarralumla mosque was actually lead by those very European muslims.

rommeldog56 7:00 pm 23 Nov 15

rubaiyat said :

…….and howl down anyone who objects.

Sounds like a self reflective comment, Rubaiyat ? Or the pot calling the kettle black.

dungfungus 6:49 pm 23 Nov 15

rubaiyat said :

rommeldog56 said :

Grimm said :

Disgusting.
Blame everybody but the people perpetrating the crime. The onus is not on us. We have done our part by taking these people into our country as refugees. It is up to them to accept and fit in with our culture. If they hate the west and western culture so much, don’t live in it. Weak nonsense like this is what has allowed this cancer to take hold to begin with.

Well said. The West needs to toughen up in the face of this radicalisation.

What a poor contribution to the situation that now faces the World. Rubbish. I don’t know why the West and indeed, left leaning commentators, continually blame the West !

Hello – its not our fault, so take off the victim mentality glasses.

This sort of left leaning, self reflective victim “its all our fault” commentary is exactly what the radicals are hoping will happen. Its more effective for them than military action will ever be. What is actually needed, is for the West to toughen up.

Yeah – just call me a bigot, racist, a right winger (which I am not actually), xenophobic, etc – what ever label you want.

ISIS must be laughing their heads off that people like you blame “The Left!

The whole Middle Eastern Mess was created by the Right, and their puppet masters, the industro-military complexes and all the oil companies that have overthrown governments and bribed their way into the extremely dirty oil and guns business.

The most ardent critics of Islamic extremism are from the left and they were the ones who have faced the retribution both from the Islamic extremists and the hard right who both make lots of money out of everybody else’s misery.

The Islamists take out fatwahs on the critical left and the Far Right blames the left who speaks up for everything that the Far (Stupid) Right does. George W. Bush actually passed the blame for his massive stuff ups, saying everybody must have agreed with him, otherwise “Why didn’t you stop us?”

We’re still asking why all the Saudi Royal Family were flown out of the USA, when nothing else was allowed to fly, immediately after 9/11.

The “Middle East Crisis” was started 1000 years ago and continues today, as it will tomorrow.
The problem now is that is has spilled over to affect most Western countries who have tried to avert what is happening now by introducing democracy to Islamic states.
The right and left global powers have seriously ignored the threat of global Islamisation and now
Germany’s Angela Merkel has caved into pressure from the left to allow an invasion into Europe without a shot being fired.
With an Islamic caliphate in Europe there will be no left or right so that problem will be solved, won’t it?

Grimm 6:19 pm 23 Nov 15

rubaiyat said :

rommeldog56 said :

Grimm said :

Disgusting.
Blame everybody but the people perpetrating the crime. The onus is not on us. We have done our part by taking these people into our country as refugees. It is up to them to accept and fit in with our culture. If they hate the west and western culture so much, don’t live in it. Weak nonsense like this is what has allowed this cancer to take hold to begin with.

Well said. The West needs to toughen up in the face of this radicalisation.

What a poor contribution to the situation that now faces the World. Rubbish. I don’t know why the West and indeed, left leaning commentators, continually blame the West !

Hello – its not our fault, so take off the victim mentality glasses.

This sort of left leaning, self reflective victim “its all our fault” commentary is exactly what the radicals are hoping will happen. Its more effective for them than military action will ever be. What is actually needed, is for the West to toughen up.

Yeah – just call me a bigot, racist, a right winger (which I am not actually), xenophobic, etc – what ever label you want.

ISIS must be laughing their heads off that people like you blame “The Left!

The whole Middle Eastern Mess was created by the Right, and their puppet masters, the industro-military complexes and all the oil companies that have overthrown governments and bribed their way into the extremely dirty oil and guns business.

The most ardent critics of Islamic extremism are from the left and they were the ones who have faced the retribution both from the Islamic extremists and the hard right who both make lots of money out of everybody else’s misery.

The Islamists take out fatwahs on the critical left and the Far Right blames the left who speaks up for everything that the Far (Stupid) Right does. George W. Bush actually passed the blame for his massive stuff ups, saying everybody must have agreed with him, otherwise “Why didn’t you stop us?”

We’re still asking why all the Saudi Royal Family were flown out of the USA, when nothing else was allowed to fly, immediately after 9/11.

Nonsense.
If anything they are laughing at fools who continue to shield them and their ilk with accusations of racism and bigotry.

This mess was created by the demand for “accepting their culture” and any other politically correct garbage, rather than making them fit in and accept ours and leave theirs back in the place many of them chose to run from. Then there is the issue where most of the people on terror watch lists and who have been arrested for terrorism related offences have never even been to the ME. This has nothing to do with oil or the politics behind it, or the arms industry, or whatever the tinfoil hat is saying today. This has everything to do with completely incompatible cultures and values.

And while we are at it, probably about time we stop pretending it is a minority who hold these extremist beliefs, considering where this goes on:

http://www.smh.com.au/nsw/boy-6-calls-for-caliphate-in-sickening-footage-filmed-in-lakemba-20141029-11dzhe.html

rubaiyat 2:44 pm 23 Nov 15

What’s the old adage?

Reward the guilty, punish the innocent and howl down anyone who objects.

rubaiyat 2:15 pm 23 Nov 15

rommeldog56 said :

Grimm said :

Disgusting.
Blame everybody but the people perpetrating the crime. The onus is not on us. We have done our part by taking these people into our country as refugees. It is up to them to accept and fit in with our culture. If they hate the west and western culture so much, don’t live in it. Weak nonsense like this is what has allowed this cancer to take hold to begin with.

Well said. The West needs to toughen up in the face of this radicalisation.

What a poor contribution to the situation that now faces the World. Rubbish. I don’t know why the West and indeed, left leaning commentators, continually blame the West !

Hello – its not our fault, so take off the victim mentality glasses.

This sort of left leaning, self reflective victim “its all our fault” commentary is exactly what the radicals are hoping will happen. Its more effective for them than military action will ever be. What is actually needed, is for the West to toughen up.

Yeah – just call me a bigot, racist, a right winger (which I am not actually), xenophobic, etc – what ever label you want.

ISIS must be laughing their heads off that people like you blame “The Left!

The whole Middle Eastern Mess was created by the Right, and their puppet masters, the industro-military complexes and all the oil companies that have overthrown governments and bribed their way into the extremely dirty oil and guns business.

The most ardent critics of Islamic extremism are from the left and they were the ones who have faced the retribution both from the Islamic extremists and the hard right who both make lots of money out of everybody else’s misery.

The Islamists take out fatwahs on the critical left and the Far Right blames the left who speaks up for everything that the Far (Stupid) Right does. George W. Bush actually passed the blame for his massive stuff ups, saying everybody must have agreed with him, otherwise “Why didn’t you stop us?”

We’re still asking why all the Saudi Royal Family were flown out of the USA, when nothing else was allowed to fly, immediately after 9/11.

watto23 12:37 pm 23 Nov 15

rubaiyat said :

Bigotry, racism and misogyny is equally offensive no matter who is doing it.

Criticism of that bigotry in others is not bigotry of itself.

Minorities often are racists and bigots in themselves, but think it is purely an Anglo/Western problem not theirs. They often have very intolerant views and precepts to maintain their minority “values”.

Mostly, not always, western secular societies are tolerant and forbearing, something that gets exploited by people with their own agenda.

To maintain a tolerant and open society does not mean perpetually turning the other cheek, there is a limit and it is being tested. Equally our response to those who are testing it has to be an intelligent, focusing on the real perpetrators of terrorism, and not a blind lashing out at those who are basically on our side but with different views.

We do not want to drive sympathisers into the arms of the enemy. Which is what ISIS and many of the other terror groups want. Their End of World views are shared by American Fundamentalist Christians and the head butting between the two is a fight to see who turns the last light off for modern civilisation.

Unfortunately reasonable moderate and conciliatory people do not make an effective counter to fanatical selfish and violent trouble makers. In the Middle East there are some groups which show that there is another way, given sufficient support and materiel by the West. The libertarian organised Kurdish groups setting up communities in the north of Syria and Iraq are our best hope and with good government and protection under their wing, the nasty ISIS agenda could be starved of money, munitions and supporters.

We have to face the real problem that it is really through our own stupidity, greed and ignorance that this has been allowed to get so out of hand. Step one would be to stop funnelling money into the Middle East extremist states by our addiction to oil. It is unsustainable, damaging our planet and is coming back to bite us with Wahabi funded islamist extremeism throughout the world. The days when we thought we could have the oil and leave all the problems that it creates back at source, are over.

Completely agree especially about the oil. Saudi and Qatari oil both eventually funds the terrorists. Note those countries also don’t accept the shia refugees or any of the other refugees of other islamic denomination, because they don’t believe they are muslims either. That is where this right wing fanaticism in Australia shows their lack of intelligence. Its like saying Catholics and mormons are the same. Its a very complicated problem that can not be solved by blaming all of islam.

The right wing extremists in our country are not dissimilar to the terrorists. Happy to use violence when it suits them to get their way also. Sure they are not bombing mosques or killing innocent muslims, but just because one side is using physical force and the other is using politics doesn’t make one side right and the other wrong.

watto23 12:31 pm 23 Nov 15

The problem is as has been pointed out by many experts, that the anti-islam campaign, gives the impression of making out country safer, but really does not. We could close all our borders, kick every single muslim out of the country and I’d guarantee we’d have far more terrorist attacks than we’ve had so far. It would create and us verse them mentality

The solution to the problem is to not give the terrorists what they want. The problem is the right wing extremists in this country who oppose the islamic right wing extremists are doing exactly that. Creating a division and a clear boundary. Its human nature to want a black and white problem that can be solved with a black and white solution. France has probably suffered more because of its stance and laws, I don’t want these right wing nutters making Australia a bigger target than it needs to be. They are the ones endangering us all, not the left wing nutters who don’t have a solution either and just an ideal. The thing is their ideals and no more realistic than the right wing ones either, but here is the catch, apparently if you don’t believe the Reclaim Australia and other similar groups stance regarding islam and refugees, then you must be a left wing apologist or similar and yet I’m not. Many people are not but clearly understand that while the issue is related to islam its not an islam problem.

The rationality and logic is lost by the far right. The fact that dying in a terrorist attack probably doesn’t even make the top 100 causes of death in this country and will never will realistically be doesn’t matter. The fact that Suicide is a high cause of death as are traffic accidents and domestic violence seems lost in the facts. The fact that muslims are integrated into society as much as buddhists and jews is also lost in the facts. Its an opinion they are not integrated into australian society and very little facts support this opinion.

Very very few muslims once they’ve been in a democratic society would want to go back to some of the strict islamic regimes that still exist. Ask muslims in Jordan, Morocco, Tunisia, Turkey, most of Asia and many other countries how they enjoy the freedoms of a modern islamic society and do they agree with terrorism. Personally I’d feel safer in Lakemba, Bankstown or most of the Middle East than with a bunch or Australian right wing extremists who have never even been to a muslim country or thought much beyond, I don’t like them, so lets kick them out. Thankfully our country rejected the right wing extremist government we had and we now have some sensible adults in charge.

rubaiyat 10:32 am 23 Nov 15

Bigotry, racism and misogyny is equally offensive no matter who is doing it.

Criticism of that bigotry in others is not bigotry of itself.

Minorities often are racists and bigots in themselves, but think it is purely an Anglo/Western problem not theirs. They often have very intolerant views and precepts to maintain their minority “values”.

Mostly, not always, western secular societies are tolerant and forbearing, something that gets exploited by people with their own agenda.

To maintain a tolerant and open society does not mean perpetually turning the other cheek, there is a limit and it is being tested. Equally our response to those who are testing it has to be an intelligent, focusing on the real perpetrators of terrorism, and not a blind lashing out at those who are basically on our side but with different views.

We do not want to drive sympathisers into the arms of the enemy. Which is what ISIS and many of the other terror groups want. Their End of World views are shared by American Fundamentalist Christians and the head butting between the two is a fight to see who turns the last light off for modern civilisation.

Unfortunately reasonable moderate and conciliatory people do not make an effective counter to fanatical selfish and violent trouble makers. In the Middle East there are some groups which show that there is another way, given sufficient support and materiel by the West. The libertarian organised Kurdish groups setting up communities in the north of Syria and Iraq are our best hope and with good government and protection under their wing, the nasty ISIS agenda could be starved of money, munitions and supporters.

We have to face the real problem that it is really through our own stupidity, greed and ignorance that this has been allowed to get so out of hand. Step one would be to stop funnelling money into the Middle East extremist states by our addiction to oil. It is unsustainable, damaging our planet and is coming back to bite us with Wahabi funded islamist extremeism throughout the world. The days when we thought we could have the oil and leave all the problems that it creates back at source, are over.

Mysteryman 9:41 am 23 Nov 15

Acton said :

To summarise the script:
Anyone who does not share our opinion is a bigot.
There shall be no diversity of opinion.
When there is a Paris shooting, plane bombing, schoolgirl kidnapping, forced marriage or slow beheading blame Western society and say any expression of outrage is xenophobic.
Got it Comrades?
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Islamist_terrorist_attacks

Wow. Seeing the list of attacks over the last 30+ years is astonishing. I find it hard to believe that so many attacks are the result of “just a few crazy people who don’t represent Islam”. That list is getting longer, and more densely populated as time goes on.

Rotten_berry 10:12 pm 22 Nov 15

There is room for a range of reasonable opinions between the simplistic xenophobia of Reclaim Australia and the confusing waffle of the bleeding hearts. Just a few years ago, suggestions that we would see terrorist shootings on Australian soil and a bloody stab at the establishment of a caliphate in the Middle East would have been dismissed as the Islamophobic wet dreams of the paranoid far right. Now these are things that we will apparently have to learn to live with.

Meanwhile the significant Buddhist, Hindu, and Jewish communities in Australia manage to get along peacefully and do not feel the need to blame their problems on rest of society. Pardon me if I am less than thrilled about the encroachment of religious fundamentalism into a society that has spend the last couple of hundred years gradually shedding itself of such archaic nonsense.

dungfungus 12:16 pm 19 Nov 15

I’m proud to be a bigot in the context it is used in the OP.

Acton 8:45 am 19 Nov 15

To summarise the script:
Anyone who does not share our opinion is a bigot.
There shall be no diversity of opinion.
When there is a Paris shooting, plane bombing, schoolgirl kidnapping, forced marriage or slow beheading blame Western society and say any expression of outrage is xenophobic.
Got it Comrades?
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Islamist_terrorist_attacks

rommeldog56 7:22 am 18 Nov 15

Grimm said :

Disgusting.
Blame everybody but the people perpetrating the crime. The onus is not on us. We have done our part by taking these people into our country as refugees. It is up to them to accept and fit in with our culture. If they hate the west and western culture so much, don’t live in it. Weak nonsense like this is what has allowed this cancer to take hold to begin with.

Well said. The West needs to toughen up in the face of this radicalisation.

What a poor contribution to the situation that now faces the World. Rubbish. I don’t know why the West and indeed, left leaning commentators, continually blame the West ! Hello – its not our fault, so take off the victim mentality glasses.

This sort of left leaning, self reflective victim “its all our fault” commentary is exactly what the radicals are hoping will happen. Its more effective for them than military action will ever be. What is actually needed, is for the West to toughen up.

Yeah – just call me a bigot, racist, a right winger (which I am not actually), xenophobic, etc – what ever label you want.

Grimm 1:36 pm 17 Nov 15

Disgusting.
Blame everybody but the people perpetrating the crime.

The onus is not on us. We have done our part by taking these people into our country as refugees. It is up to them to accept and fit in with our culture. If they hate the west and western culture so much, don’t live in it. Weak nonsense like this is what has allowed this cancer to take hold to begin with.

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