November 08, 2005 | Graham

Where can we play cricket now?

With the arrest of 17 people on terrorism charges none but the wilfully obtuse could claim that John Howard invented the whole terror threat so he could wedge the ALP and get his terror legislation up. It’s hard to believe in a conspiracy when the investigating authorities are the police forces of two Labor states.
Hopefully it will make more Australians realise exactly what the war on terror is. For a start, it is not optional, we’re all in this whether we like it or not. It’s also not something that can be cured by pulling out of Iraq. As the French riots are the latest evidence to show, Islamic unrest is a global phenomenon which is not coupled to any particular war. It’s viral, like bird flu, and while some specific events may have led to outbreaks, such as the invasion of Afghanistan or Iraq, or the very existence of Isreal, it was always going to break out, independent of specific events.
After the London bombings when Jason Gillespie suggested the Australian cricket team might not play there because it was too risky I suggested readers send him a white feather. I think Gillespie, and any others who think that way, now have a bigger problem than how to find a mattress big enough for all that down. That problem is, Where is it safe enough to play cricket?
For centuries Australia has relied on the tyranny of distance to keep us safe from our enemies. Now there is no distance, and it’s still a dangerous world.

Posted by Graham at 1:25 pm | Comments (8) |
Filed under: Australian Politics


  1. 1. Arrests are different from convictions. Let’s not rush to the conclusion that those arrested were / are terrorists.
    2. You ignore the question of whether it was responsible for a leader to give advance warning that raids were likely.
    3. You ignore the question of why we might be more of a terrorist target than previously e.g. invasion of Iraq
    4. What has playing cricket in front of a drunken Barmy Army got to do with terrorism?
    5. Your use of the ‘white feather’ analogy seems designed to label anyone who questions the Howard line as a coward.
    6. The fact remains that there have been almost no terrorist incidents in Australia for 30 years or more. There are far greater threats facing Australians every day (e.g. road deaths, cancer, domestic violence / abuse, drug use etc.). Yet our leaders give them much less attention. Try analysing why this might be.

    Comment by Mike Hopkins — November 9, 2005 @ 9:59 am

  2. French unrest is Islamic? More like severe social and economic exclusion.

    Comment by dr johnson — November 9, 2005 @ 10:13 am

  3. Niall, in a social and ethnic sense the French riots are Muslim.
    Mike, with respect to your points: 1. Yes, but so what? What is your point? 2. Yes, but I can’t mention everything in a short post 3. Of course the war in Iraq makes us slightly more a terrorist target in the short-term 4. You don’t appear to have read the original white feather post 5. Ditto 6. So the fact that I didn’t die yesterday or the day before means I won’t die tomorrow? You’ve committed a huge logical fallacy here.

    Comment by Graham Young — November 9, 2005 @ 10:40 am

  4. Graham,
    A little unfair to Jason Gillespie, labelling him a coward. Not knowing his family status, would you want to go to the UK soon after the bombings, with your family commitments? There is a hightened risk when bombs start going off.
    My sister was in Bali at the time of the recent bombings there. On her return, she vowed not to go there again. It’s about what is really important in life, here and now.

    Comment by Andrew Coates — November 9, 2005 @ 10:50 am

  5. There remains the vexed question of cause and effect in this. JH made an announcement about the need to fast track some legislation, and a few days later some arrests were made.
    One possibility is certainly that this is all above board, and that JH was requested by the law enforcement authorities to expedite the legislation (which was already before the Parliament) because the authorities felt they should arrest some people, and the law as it stood was an obstacle. Though if that’s the case, then one wonders at some of the subsequent comments from the PM and Attorney General about the imminence of arrests, or possible lack thereof.
    Another possibility is that JH, knowing about the ongoing investigations, made his announcement for political purposes, and that the resulting potential compromise of the investigation has forced the hand of the authorities who might otherwise have preferred to let their investigations proceed further before making any arrests.
    This is a rare case where hindsight is proving to be rather less than 20/20 – the facts remain somewhat blurred.
    Sylvia Else.

    Comment by Sylvia Else — November 9, 2005 @ 11:30 am

  6. Graham, you say “So the fact that I didn’t die yesterday or the day before means I won’t die tomorrow? You’ve committed a huge logical fallacy here.”
    It’s a question of appropriate response. If I have a x% chance of being killed tomorrow by cause A, and a x/100 chance of being killed by cause B, I would be wise to first attend to cause A. On the other hand, if I’m a politician, and cause A gives me no political mileage, but cause B does, then I’ll put my effort into cause B. The latter is Howard’s way.
    You also say “Islamic unrest is a global phenomenon which is not coupled to any particular war. It’s viral, like bird flu”. Where is your evidence for this unsupported assertion, other than your reference to France. A presentation of a study of terrorism by a professor at Flinders University, which I heard a year or so ago, said that the number of terrorists has been consistently declining over the years. But terrorists are becoming increasingly marginalised (i.e. NOT supported by the wider population) and more desperate and therefore more ruthless. What you are suggesting is exactly the opposite – that all Muslims are in danger of being infected with terrorism and therefore all Muslims are a threat to us.
    You don’t see this as being somewhat alarmist.
    You admit that the invasion of Iraq might have made us a ‘slighly more of a terrorist target’. Slightly! Remember that Al Qaeda wasn’t even in Iraq before the invasion. The invasion gave Al Qaeda a huge boost, and turned many, many Moslems against the invaders, including Australia. That the invasion was justified on the supposed possession of WMDs, now proved to be a fallacy. How about some analysis of this, rather than slagging poor old Jason Gillespie and suggesting that terrorism is just an inevitable virus which has no real cause, and has nothing to do with ours or America’s foreign policy.
    Last, but not least, the raids and arrests of the last few days have been done without the proposed anti-terror laws, and almost completely without the rushed amendments.

    Comment by Mike Hopkins — November 9, 2005 @ 2:41 pm

  7. Mike, you were asserting that because there had been no terror threat in the past there wouldn’t be any in the future, which was quite ironic because you were also arguing that our involvement in Iraq made us more vulnerable to terrorism.
    It is irrefutable that the terrorist threat existed before the invasion of Iraq, so I’m not sure what your anonymous academic is about, apart from helping you to build a straw argument to shoot down – such as the absurd suggestion that I’m saying all Muslims are a threat.
    It is also irrefutable that John Howard didn’t invent the terrorism threat.

    Comment by Graham Young — November 9, 2005 @ 6:53 pm

  8. It is a migrant thing in France, not a religious thing. So Ethnicity yes, but tying it to Islamic extremisim needs many footnotes.

    Comment by Benno — November 20, 2005 @ 11:33 am

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