I’m quite sure I wasn’t the only one who, upon hearing last week that Merrylands Police Station in Sydney’s west had been the target of a (failed) car bomb, thought once again of Islamic terrorism. When the ABC subsequently reported that there was “no known link” to the Religion of Peace, I was quite certain I was on the right track. But my rule of thumb about Auntie’s denials being proof positive has, for the first time, let me down.
I’m actually writing this from Fiji where I’m participating a week long birthday celebration for a mother-in-law (Happy Birthday Pam!) and even here they find the situation as ironic as it is bizarre. As my well-informed taxi driver, “Chandra (Edward)” was amused to point out: “who would have thought there would be a car bomb at a police station not perpetrated by a jihadi?” Indeed!
But for the sake of clarity, I hereby and happily issue my mea culpa. I was wrong. The provocative comment I made on Facebook, wondering aloud what the attackers’ religion might be proved, we are now told, quite irrelevant in the sad case of an apparently deranged man. I was asked if I felt chastened or embarrassed, but why exactly should I? As Melanie McDonagh wrote after the Nice attack (or was it after the Orlando attack? Who can keep up?) on the Spectator’s “Coffee House” blog: “Back in the Eighties it would have been a fair bet that a bomb attack on soldiers in Britain would have been carried out by the IRA, by Irishmen and women. I don’t recall any fastidiousness back then about saying so.”
Nor should there be any fastidiousness about stating the obvious in Australia in 2016. Back in the Eighties, identity politics was not the popular pastime it is today, and so the assumption that London car bombers were Irish republicans was seen as common sense, rather than some pathologised Feinaphobia. “Not all Irishmen” went without saying, because even those parts of the Left which were perversely sympathetic to the Republican cause would never have dared to set up such a preposterous straw man contriving that anyone thought all Irishmen – or even all Sinn Fein supporters – were murderous terrorists.
And so far from making my assumptions of an Islamic angle to last week’s attack seem like bigotry or Islamophobia, it’s actually the exception that proves the rule.
We’re even being told that the police station attack was not, properly speaking, an act of terrorism. I would have thought that it was intended to terrorise rather than, say, comfort, and that technical distinctions are lost on most people, but the categories are evidently very confusing. In any case, it only serves to decrease the percentage of non-Islamic terrorism.
Since the attack on Merrylands Police Station – which again, I’m happy to say was not an Islamic terror plot, contrary to my first instincts – there have been at least four major reported instances of Islamic terrorism (including yesterday’s beheading of an 85-year-old French Catholic priest by a man prevented by the French government from traveling to Syria). Of course, when I say “Islamic” I mean that which is conducted by a Muslim who claims an Islamic motivation, not that that satisfies our politicians or public broadcasters whose knowledge of Islam is infinitely better.
In the case of the Munich attack, the BBC was caught out redacting the Islamic portion of the murderer’s name. It forgot to mention that child-killing terrorist David Sonboly’s middle name was actually Ali. And that, according to its own now amended reports, he was often referred to just as Ali. As details emerged of the Saint-Etienne-du-Rouvray attack it appears the mainstream media have been anxious – or were at least initially – to avoid any reference to the rather Mohammedan method of execution and the premortem preaching of an Arabic sermon. It appears that not only are we back to right thinking and sensible assumptions about Islam and terror attacks, but the mainstream media has resumed regular programming as well.