Force of circumstance: siege ends in grief

Situation at LINDT Café in Sydney

Message from Lindt management (Monday night 15 Dec 2014) — “We would like to thank everyone for their thoughts and kind support over the current situation at the Lindt Café at Martin Place. We are deeply concerned over this serious incident and our thoughts and prayers are with the staff and customers involved and all their friends and families. The matter is being dealt with by the authorities and we are waiting for any updates from them”.

[Publisher’s Note:  ISIS recruitment is effective in the the poorest villages of Syria and Iraq – where repression is greatest. The US (supported by the Australian government) consistently provides arms to such places and when bloody conflict grows, they provide aid to the victims in an endless cycle. I add these two quotes to Chris G’s piece.

The colonized, underdeveloped man is a political creature 
in the most global sense of the term.
                — Frantz Fanon: The Wretched of the Earth
 And once, when Sartre had made some comment, 
he [Fanon] gave an explanation of his egocentricity: 
a member of a colonised people must be constantly aware 
of his position, his image; he is being threatened from 
all sides; impossible to forget for an instant the need 
to keep up one's defences.
           — Simone de Beauvoir, The Force of Circumstance

kkk and isilAs a siege that is being watched around the world unfolds at the Lindt chocolate store in Martin Place, Sydney, little is known about what is actually going on. But that doesn’t mean we can’t speculate. Wildly.

We don’t actually know anything about what is going on at the Lindt Shop in Martin Place, beyond the fact there’s a siege, some hostages, and a flag in the window.

But why should that stop us from bringing you the news?

So, in the spirit of Australian mainstream news reporting, New Matilda brings you 10 predictions (which we’re parading as fact) that will either definitely, probably, possibly, or possibly not unfold over the next few days.

Stand by for the Muslim bashing
1. Across Australia, but particularly in Sydney, there will be an immediate spike in the number of reports of abuse and violence directed against Muslims, in particular Muslim women.

A boost in the polls
2. Tony Abbott will enjoy an immediate lift in the polls. There’s nothing like a little fear and loathing to bring the punters back on side. But it will likely only be a brief boost – you can only make sausages look like rib fillet for so long.

Small targets, smaller minds
3. Bill Shorten and Labor will agree with everything that the government says -small target strategy from the self-proclaimed big thinkers.

When in doubt, make it up
4. Countless media identities and journalists will disgrace themselves and their profession by reporting wild speculation as fact. When you’re reporting a big story on a 24 hours news cycle, and you have no idea what’s
going on, you need to fill the gaps. Anything that moves is news, and if it doesn’t move, give it a push.

The rules are there are no rules!
5. Fairfax’s reporting will be as sensationalist and Islamophobic as News Corporation’s. ABC will only be a heartbeat behind (having already broadcast an interview this morning with a former adviser to Joh Bjelke-Petersen who speculated – or in his words used ‘deductive reasoning’ – that the hostage-takers had not planned on ending up at the Lindt store, but were trapped there). During big news stories, the rules of journalism are seen more as ‘broad guidelines’.

Find me a nutter!
6. Media (and not just the Daily Telegraph) will find some lone nut Muslim extremist somewhere to say something short of condemning the violence, and then portray that as the view of the broader Muslim population. Eventually, Australian media will start demanding that all Muslim leaders everywhere condemn the violence. even though Muslim leaders everywhere will have already condemned the violence.

More Muslim bashing
7. Just as Christian churches all over the nation were attacked in the immediate aftermath of the 1996 Port Arthur siege, Mosques around Australia will be vandalized. Because, naturally, if the siege is in fact being
perpetrated by Muslim extremists, then all Muslims (and all symbols of Islam) are fair game.

It’s all about Lakemba
8. Google News mentions of the suburb of ‘Lakemba’ will skyrocket over the next 48 hours, regardless of whether there are any links to the suburb.

Thank goodness for our leaders
9. Corey Bernardi will say something bone-jarringly stupid and offensive about the burqa. Jacquie Lambie will join him. Meanwhile women wearing the Hijab will be the ones targeted for actual violence.

And thanks to the coppers
10. The NSW Police – for all their occasional failings – will distinguish themselves throughout this incident, and lead the call for community calm.

Bonus prediction: Headbands will now be ‘a thing’.

And a bonus Christmas wish
11. New Matilda sincerely hopes that NO victims emerge from this incident. Both from inside the Lindt store, and from outside it.

Chris Graham The Siege That Has Stopped A Nation: 10 Predictions From Martin Place

Simone de Beauvoir, The Force of Circumstance, Vol. II: The Autobiog­raphy of Simone de Beauvoir, trans. Peter Green (New York: Paragon House, 1992),317.

5 thoughts on “Force of circumstance: siege ends in grief

  1. State of 'seige': exclusion, prevarication, and 'Dutch Disease' says:
    A siege is a military blockade of a city 
    or fortress with the intent of conquering 
    by attrition or assault - the term derives 
    from sedere, Latin for "to sit"

    Government concern for people?

    Residents of Brisbane became familiar with exclusion zones during the recent G20 leaders meeting here on 12-14 November 2014 … and we experienced first-hand the orchestrated hype by government and police around G20. Plus traffic chaos that accompanies the exclusion. It was interesting that police asked one of the hostages in Sydney’s Martin Place to lie on the concrete while they searched him. This was after police went into the Lindt Cafe shooting. Who shot who inside Lindt Cafe? The ‘worlds best negotiators’, to quote Police Commissioner Scipione from a few hours before, suddenly became deadly shooters in a few brief moments – why?

    Police and government ministers assure all citizens this is as being necessary but give precious little information is given why. They assure people that we are a free democratic society yet continue to sponsor bloody wars in Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan.

    In the case of Brisbane exclusion from the CBD was to allow 20 leaders of the world’s richest countries to navigate the city unhindered.

    From Dutch Disease to …
    Our government is hiding one (at least) issue behind the hype of the ‘siege’ in Sydney – there is a $40 billion black hole in government revenue because of failure by government to deal with the ongoing financial crisis and lower commodity prices. But then perhaps Hockey and Abbott have a security led recovery in mind … with security forces on every street corner to help boost an ailing economy with Dutch disease*.

    Black hole Economy
    The mining sector has overwhelmed other parts of the economy and driven up the value of the Australian dollar so that other parts of the economy (manufacturing and agriculture) can’t keep up. They can’t compete on overseas markets because the mining boom has driven the dollar so high. Add to this the ridiculously high prices paid for housing in the capital cities the bust and Hockey’s black hole in the budget had to come now that commodity prices have fallen. So what is the government’s response – reduce the aged pension? More austerity? The word from the bottom is being passed around, but the message at the top is blurred.

    The Media is having a sad time sensationalising the blurred message from the top … Last week it was the death of a potential cricket captain at the mercy of a bouncer and this week packaging up the response of a cleric who was tortured by refugee detention and jail. Someone suffering from mental health issues and danger to those around him and to himself out on bail. The lone racist Australian Defence League could see through the window of despair shouting anti-muslim slogans in Martin Place until even the coppers had had enough and arrested the hate monger.

    But then, none of this is where elections are fought, let alone won or lost. And so this is democracy where not only some win but where others must fail.

    Ian Curr
    16 December 2014

    Exclusion – here is the latest map of the Sydney CBD exclusion zone (15 Dec 2014)…

    *In economics, the Dutch disease is the apparent relationship between the increase in the economic development of natural resources and a decline in the manufacturing sector (or agriculture). The term was coined in 1977 by The Economist to describe the decline of the manufacturing sector in the Netherlands after the discovery of a large natural gas field in 1959.

    Sydney Exclusion Zone
    Warning: after boom it’ll be Dutch and go

  2. Abbott & Islam says:

    Chris Uhlmann failed in his attempt
    Tony Abbott has refused to link Sydney hostage taker Man Haron Monis withIslam, pointing out: “We don’t blame the pope for the IRA and we don’t blamethe Catholics living next door for the folly and madness of some people whomay claim Christian motivations.”
    The prime minister was repeatedly asked by the ABC AM presenter ChrisUhlmann whether it was necessary to have a more “honest” discussion withIslamic community leaders about the “significant minority” in theircommunity attracted to extremism.
    But Abbott replied he had not “heard anyone talking about the Sydney attackas some kind of justifiable response to something Australia might have doneand frankly anyone who does even think that is dead wrong”.

  3. Harsha Walia says:

    In condemning the killings at Charlie Hebdo, can we please not forget that it’s a racist publication, that attacks on certain religions are racialized (and hence are racist attacks), that free speech/satire is not a sacred cow (especially when it becomes violent, hate speech), and that the backlash that will ensue will disproportionately target certain communities for scrutiny and surveillance (in the context of ever-rising anti-Muslim backlash in Europe under the guise of state/racialized secularism and anti-migrant sentiment).

    This is not to justify the murders (obviously), but this publication should continue to be condemned and not suddenly be let off the hook (like how the hell is there suddenly social license to reproduce their racist images as some kind of gesture of ‘solidarity’?), and to be vigilant about the rationale that the state will deploy for further enacting violence …

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