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Lessons from Boston

I agree with The Australian’s editorial (for once).  We don’t want immigrants or those entering Australia via the refugee and humanitarian program to be people who despise our democracy, our legal system and our tolerant society.  It is reasonable to be totally intolerant towards their intolerance.  Of course we don’t want those fanatics who will harm us with bombs but nor do we want bigots who do not appreciate the value of living in a pluralist democracy with religious tolerance.  It is a serious issue, we have too much to lose and, as ASIO suggest, have already lost by allowing foolish liberalism to drive our migration and refugee intakes.

Look at the foolish pleading in that last link. It is dressed up as a news story but uses language that suggests, without any evidence, that ASIO is lying.  It seeks to make a mockery of what is sensible caution.

Update: the left-wing commentariat have identified the source of the difficulty in Boston.   It is the “NRA” (Bob Ellis), or “young men” (Andrew O’Keefe) or  independent local terrorists (Waleed Aly).  Has any likely aggressive group been left out? I don’t think so – nothing I could think of.

Moreover, Aly congratulates us for “maturity” in our attitudes toward terrorist killings. The problem outside Boston? Well that is racial and religious stereotyping and Aly says we are growing-up and not doing that much anymore.  Thanks Aly.  We all appreciate well-crafted apologetics that deflects attention from inconvenient concerns.

If I hold my hand out do I see 5 fingers?

22 comments to Lessons from Boston

  • Jason Soon

    And how do you propose to make that selection? Would you have kept out the bombers’ uncle who has condemned his nephews in no uncertain terms and seems to a fine member of his community? Would you have been psychic enough to know the younger bomber who was actually born in the US would have turned out the way he did? These things are easier said than done.

  • rog

    Sorry Harry, it is you that is intolerant. History is replete with home grown terrorists eg Timothy McVeigh, Ted Kaczynski and the Bader Meinhoff gang to name a few.

    Edited out. Not on this blog Rog. That claim has no basis in fact and is grossly insulting. How would you know what my attitudes on that issue are?

  • Both Jason and rog make good points.

    you might also inquire into WHEN they became intolerant

  • Jason Soon

    My mistake – the younger brother wasn’t born in the US but according to Wikipedia he would only have been 9 when he entered the country.

  • hc

    You cannot present a view setting out the mildest restriction on the immigration intake (exclude hate-mongers and terrorists) without drawing out silly views. No, not everyone from any country is a terrorist and yes there are home-grown fanatics. Yes, you do have to use a statistical approach and both Type 1 and Type 2 errors will be made.

    I despair when it comes to talking sensibly about migration policy in Australia. Unless you are prepared to say admit anyone who wants to come irrespective of background you are a narrow-minded racist. But we don’t have an “open door” immigration policy and never will.

  • rog

    Harry, ASIO are not representative of “democracy, our legal system and our tolerant society”

  • hc

    Rog, Every society these days needs a security service since terrorism is a reality. Are you suggesting ASIO be abolished? Or is it just that the ASIO report I link to identifies suspected terrorists in our migrant and refugee intake and that is something you are not prepared to accept?

    Are you in a position to make better judgements on this issue than the spooks at ASIO?

  • Peter Whiteford

    /Why do some young men ( a really triny proportion)think that killing people is a good idea

  • rog


    I have no idea what ASIO are up to – they are a very secret police.

    Racism and xenophobia are still powerful political tools, unfortunately.

    I believe cooking utensils are now WMD, according to the terrorised. Not guns, pots and pans.

  • Alphonse

    I don’t want ASIO focusing on refugees to the exclusion of home grown nutters. Anti-terrorist resources are thin enough already without xenophobic misallocation making things worse.

  • hc

    Alphonse, There are huge efforts directed at uncovering home grown intelligence networks in Australia, the US and the UK. What is the basis for assuming xenophobia? The reasons for targetting those from war torn regions with people who have violent views and extreme ideologies should be obvious.

    The suffering of these people as refugees counts for nothing if, like the fiends in Boston, they want to bite the hand that gives them the opportunity for a new life.

  • Jason Soon

    It now emerges that the elder brother acquired his fundamentalism in the US. So it wasn’t a question of screening them out beforehand. If it was, Harry, then by your logic, the blameless uncle would be more likely to be screened out than a pair of teenagers who were in dope smoking and selling before they turned fundie, wouldn’t he?

  • Agree with Jason.

    how would your theory go with the 11/9 wackos.

    the Agencies didn’t have a clue.

    Given ASIO’s record with the Tamils I would have a lot of confidence in them.

  • Sir Henry Casingbroke

    There are no lessons from Boston. People who perpetrate such outrages are generally nutjobs, whether they have a terrorist aim in mind, in that they may be driven by a political or religious ideology or from some personal paranoiac delusions.

    You will note I am trying to make a distinction here between someone’s personal obsession and an action which has a political aim. Sometimes terrorism has genuine and achievable aims, such as the bombing of the King David Hotel in Jerusalem in 1946 by the Irgun which killed 91 people of various nationalities, not just the Brits, but at whom the bombing was aimed. The idea was to get Britain to quit the Mandate of Palestine (so Israel could be formed), which she did. No doubt, bombing(s) helped to concentrate the minds of Clement Attlee and Ernest Bevin.

    Similarly, the Beirut Marine barracks bombing in 1983 in Beirut in which Hezbolah (then Islamic Jihad) killed 241 US servicemen and 58 French paratroopers (in a separate incident). The US and France were there as part of an international peacekeeping force and the aim was to get them to leave. It worked. It helped to conetrate the mind of Ronald Reagan, the US troops decamped, pronto.

    I can cite many many other such instances of politically motivated terror. But what’s with the Boston Marathon bombing? How could that help the Chechnyans who find themselves still under the yoke of Russian federal administration?

    I don’t think there are any rational conclusions – lessons – we can draw from Boston for Australia, except as a one-size fits all – bar all Chechnyans from coming to Australia on the logic that some of them may be irational terrorists; ditto Sri Lankans, and others who have fought an assymetric war. That leaves the Lebanese, Hungarians, Irish, Israelis, Germans, Burmese Karens, Americans, etc. etc.

  • hc

    Sir Henry, You certainly like the “nut jobs” idea. I think there were 652 terrorist bombings last year in Pakistan. Were they all nut jobs? The regular slaughterings in central Africa, Sri Lanka, Syria, Lebanon et etc etc were all nut job situations?

    Certainly there is no simple lesson from the single event discussed. But those who have been involved in conflicts in their home countries and whose religion/political ideology has a fanatical tendency are not good candidates for immigration considering their humanitarian needs alone. The needs and desires of the host country they propose going to also needs to be considered and who wants violent bigots who hate western democracy and our justice system.

    The valuable feature of western societies is their capacity for prosperity with decency. Why risk it? The ASIO report suggests we have been risking it.

  • rog

    You could say that “those who have been involved in conflicts in their home countries” would include post WW2 migrants and refugees.

    There are fanatics in all religions.

    Aren’t we having a Royal Commission into sex abuse of children by religious individuals and groups?

  • rog

    Leaving racist and political elements aside the primary issue is, would ASIO evidence be admissible and stand up in a court of law?

  • hc

    I agree Rog, I have always myself been fearful of the revolutionary Presbyterians and the anarchistic CofEs. You point is that the bad elements in any group mean we should have a totally non-selective immigration intake in terms of cultural and political background. I obviously disagree – we can do better than this.

  • Sir Henry Casingbroke

    I am not in total disagreement with you H. I said “generally”. However it should be said that a temporary psychosis can be induced through a combination of alienation and ‘mentoring’ by fanatics.

    Christopher Swift [ had this to say last night on Lateline:
    “…up until the time that I learned that the older brother had travelled to Russia recently I was pretty certain that this particular event was an instance of that individualisation of global jihad. And more specifically, the self identification and self radicalisation process that usually happens over the Internet. Sometimes that process happens and it involves an overseas mentor or facilitator. A good example of that was the Fort Hood shooter, Nidal Hasan who was mentored by the Yemeni American cleric…”

    Unfortunately, jihadist movements tend to be drawn to damaged nations such as Chechnya, Iraq, and now Syria – it has been said that the longer the battle continues the more likelihood there is of moderate and democratic forces being squeezed out of the political process.

    However, in Chechnya and Syria, and other countries the vast majority are normal folk who want to get on with living their lives and are not interested in jihad or hurting other people. Sadly it only takes a few to create murderous mayhem.

  • rog


    There is no evidence that the events in Boston represent a failure of immigration policy. The two bombers came to the US 11 years ago, when they were 8 and 15. One became a resident the other holds a green card. Evidently they were radicalised in the US.

  • Sir Henry Casingbroke

    He, he, Rog, that is just waht the Russians are saying, see today’s Crikey.(But what about the visit to Russia and, if the Russians knew something, why weren’t they arrested?)

  • Jim Rose

    Screening and surveillance work.

    Jihadist, when they go jihadist, go down to the mosque and blab about their plans. The local radical imans turn them in and act as police informers. These imans believe in jihad but not where they live.

    Surveillance disrupts terror networks .they use their mobile at their mortal peril.

    Foreign undesirables cannot be tried in oz for their crimes abroad for jurisdictional and evidence collection reasons, but they can be refused entry.

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