Let me preface this post with the following clarifying statement:
The whole situation was abhorrent, and this post does not diminish the horror, fear and sadness inflicted on the hostages and their families, along with the brave Police .
Was the Sydney siege terrifying? Yes.
But was it a terror attack? No.
Two innocent people who were just going about their daily business are now dead, their last hours spent in torment and abject horror. The survivors will bear the scars, both physical and mental, for the rest of their lives.
All because of the actions of one unhinged, attention-seeking lunatic. To label him a Muslim is unfair on honest, peace-loving Muslims.
Man Haron Monis was a scumbag. A human scumbag. A scourge on our species. Nothing more, nothing less.
Forget his religious persuasion. This was a nutball who transcended all faith. In fact he used his faith as a guise to commit heinous sexual assaults on trusting women. He treated his faith, like he treated everything in life, to suit his own selfish, self-indulgent ends.
Yet the media networks gave him everything he wanted – 24 hour rolling coverage across every available channel – fuelled by the need to fill up dead air space or to beat out the competition in the race for taps, clicks and ratings.
The media’s handling of this event was quite frankly deplorable, and they put hostages’ lives at risk by telecasting updates on Police positions and tactics. Yet they are quite unapologetic about it.
The Daily Telegraph’s spin was arguably the most atrocious:
While Police spokespersons continuously referred to the situation as a “Siege”, the media kept referring to it as a “Terrorist Attack”.
Tori Johnson – the man who died, reportedly executed, after grappling with the madman to give fellow hostages time to flee – was an out-and-out hero. He was also gay, although mainstream media are tip-toeing around that, and I’m not sure why.
The Prime Minister Tony Abbott labelled Kate Dawson, the other civilian casualty who selflessly died shielding a pregnant fellow hostage, and Tori as “good people”. Not good enough to marry his partner of 14 years, according to Tony, but good nonetheless. But I digress.
This was not a terror attack orchestrated by the Islamic State. Yes, an Islamic State flag was listed as one of this demands. But if he truly was representing the Islamic State, surely they could have FedExed him a flag, and a couple of bumper stickers.
No this was not about religion. It was not about culture.
This was a last stand by a man who felt (wrongly) persecuted by a society that had handed him endless second chances. At least a few too many, it would appear. Bail for being an accessory before and after the fact for the murder of his ex-wife? Heads will roll, and spin will be spun on this one in the coming weeks.
But the bottom line was, this was an isolated act undertaken by a crazed individual. He may have held extremist views, but at the helm, he was just plain unstable.
Therefore it should not have necessitated the #illridewithyou campaign. That being said, I have no objection to the sentiment, especially in light of the way the media portrayed the events. And regarding those hand-wringers who are trying to turn this into an intellectual debate by saying “Doesn’t this just potentially label, and therefore further fuel ostracism of Muslims?”, “Isn’t this just ego-driven patronising by attention-seeking hashtaggers?”
No. I don’t think so. I think the sentiment is positive. And it’s an offer, not an order. The Jews could certainly have benefited from more people standing alongside them, or speaking up in their defence. I don’t see this campaign as a bad thing, in light of recent events.
But while these tragedies bring out the best in people. It also brings out the worst.
I hate people who take selfies at the best of times, but taking a selfie of a hostage drama as your backdrop? Give yourself an uppercut.
I hope these narcissistic twerps are named and shamed.
And while I am a massive supporter of Uber, the stories that drivers were using the drama as an opportunity to charge markedly ramped up fees to ferry people out of the city centre was a blight on humanity.
So what have we learned from this tragic event?
These things bring out the worst in human nature.
The selfies and the Uber drivers. Abhorrent.
Politicians love waxing lyrical, and milking every last self-serving minute out of the tragedy.
Mainstream media are a throng of rats, fighting over every scrap of market share they can get their nasty, gnawing teeth into.
But then these events bring out the best in people. By all reports, the Police were exceptional. Calm and courageous. Selfless and brave.
We’ve also learned time and time again that events like this also throw forth heroes, who bravely step up when life throws them in the midst of turmoil – making the ultimate sacrifice.
I know who I want to focus my attention on…