Category Archives: Islam Today

From Ragged Centre to Flush Left

August 01st 2017 print


The Australian has largely resisted the smothering green/left orthodoxy that banished all dissenting perspectives from the Fairfax rags and ABC. When age or ailment sees Rupert Murdoch’s guiding hand lifted from his paper’s helm, don’t expect things to stay that way. The Weekend Review is the sad preview

australianThe Australian is normally a voice for sanity in this country’s political debate. But Editor-in-Chief Paul Whittaker really ought to  take a look at what goes into the Review magazine inside The Weekend Australian – editor Michelle Gunn.

On the same day the paper hit the streets on Saturday, July 29, Sydney counter-terror operatives were arresting four Islamists over an alleged plot to bring down a domestic airliner with an explosive device. This alleged plot was the thirteenth thwarted in the past three years. Had it succeeded, hundreds of deaths would have traumatised the country .

Now turn to page 22 of Review (editor Tim Douglas, and Literary Editor Stephen Romei, who staff say selects the book reviewers)), in which fantasy novelist and journalist Claire Corbett reviews three books on counter-terror units, including Sons of God about the Victorian Special Operations Group and two about the US Navy SEALS, The Killing School and The Operator.  She writes,

“As historian Yuval Noah Harari points out in his 2015 book Homo Deus terrorists have almost no capacity to threaten a functioning state. The danger comes most from our over-reactions.

‘Whereas in 2010 obesity and related illnesses killed about three million people,’ Harari writes,’ terrorists killed a total of 7697 people across the globe , most of them in developing countries.’[1] He notes that for the average person in the affluent West, soft drinks pose a far deadlier threat than terrorists.” (My emphases).

Thanks for that, Claire Corbett, and thanks for your second-hand imbecility about soft drinks’ deadly threat. But no thanks, Review editors, for allowing Corbett/Harari to trash The Australian’s reputation for intellectual rigor, let alone common sense.

Let’s see what else Harari’s on about (not mentioned by Corbett) besides deadly soft drinks. He’s a history professor of repute and celebrity at the Hebrew University,  Jerusalem, “probably the most fashionable thinker on the planet right now,” according to the Daily Mail.

Writing only a month ago, after the Manchester slaughter, he claims that  Britons need to accept that terrorists may kill a few people a year.

‘The most dangerous thing about terrorism is the over-reaction to it. I mean, the terrorist attacks themselves are of course horrific, and I don’t intend to minimise the tragedy of the people who are killed, but if you look at the big picture it’s a puny threat…

For every person who is killed by a terrorist in the UK there are at least 100 who die in car accidents. Nevertheless, terrorism manages to capture our imagination in a way that car accidents don’t. You kill 20 people and you have 60 million people frightened that there is a terrorist behind every tree. That causes them to over-react. To do things like persecute entire communities, invade countries, go to war, change our way of life in terms of human rights and privacy, because of a tiny threat…

We have to give up this idea that we can completely abolish terrorism and that even the tiniest attack is completely unacceptable. You have domestic violence or rape and we don’t say, “Let’s have a curfew: men are not allowed on the street after eight o’clock.” If we could have such an attitude towards terrorism – “OK, every year there are two, three or four incidents of terrorism, a couple of dozen people get killed, it’s terrible, but OK, we get on with our lives” – it will be a far more effective response.’

In 2015, he was saying “Most terrorist attacks kill only a handful of people.”

“In 2002, at the height of the Palestinian terror campaign against Israel, when buses and restaurants were hit every few days, the yearly toll reached 451 dead Israelis. In the same year, 542 Israelis were killed in car accidents. A few terrorist attacks, such as the bombing of Pan Am flight 103 over Lockerbie in 1988, kill hundreds. The 9/11 attacks set a new record, killing nearly 3,000 people. Yet even this is dwarfed by conventional warfare: if you add all the people killed and wounded in Europe by terrorist attacks since 1945 – including victims of nationalist, religious, leftist and rightist groups – it will still represent many fewer casualties than in any number of obscure First World War battles…”

If in 2050 the world is full of nuclear and bio-terrorists, Harari wonders, their victims will look back at the Western world of today with longing tinged with disbelief: how could people who lived such secure lives nevertheless have felt so threatened?

A vegan, Harari  considers “industrial farming is one of the worst crimes in history“  – an unusual claim by an Israeli. He lives with his husband, Itzik, in a co-op outside the city, is seriously into Vipassana meditation, and lacks a smart phone. He thinks superhuman cyborgs of the future will have the potential to live for ever – barring violent accidents, he says, but only the richest could afford the immortality treatment. People were happier in the Stone Age. Our biggest ever mistake was cultivating wheat, according to the professor.

Getting back to author Corbett’s page  last weekend, Review arts content over the years has stuck in my craw for its relentless ABC-style green/Left slant and selections.

Corbett manages to fill her page with 32 paragraphs about “the secretive world of special ops” without once mentioning the “I” (Islam) word. But by para three she’s saying, “No matter how stressful, no training can truly prepare soldiers for combat or police for shootouts with neo-Nazis”(my emphasis). Well, it was news to me that neo-Nazis (undefined by Corbett) are a shootout problem, but has this woman ever compared the threat of our ‘neo-Nazis’ with, say, ISIS?  I suppose she’s more concerned with  soft drinks’ deadly threat.

She ticks all the boxes: Abbott derangement syndrome, feminist, environmentalist, and drowning-city catastrophist (coached by one of Al Gore’s myrmidons/ambassadors).[2]

Corbett says she had been a policy adviser to a NSW Premier – cross-checking dates[3] indicates this was under Bob Carr, circa 2003. She’s dabbled in film-crew work, published two well-received novels and many short stories and done four or five long-form features for  Morry Schwartz’s The Monthly, the last in mid-2015.

Her first book When We Have Wings (2011) is yet another future dystopia where a malign regime has everyone under surveillance (maybe it’s a parable about Obama, who sooled the most advanced surveillance agencies onto his harmless opponents, even sympathetic journalists).[4]

Corbett’s plot twist is that elite people can acquire wings and fly like birds. But ominously, “only the rich and powerful can afford the surgery, drugs, and gene manipulation to become fliers.”  The down-trodden poor people remain non-fliers. No wonder  Bill Shorten is campaigning on inequality. Naturally the book was hailed by the literary set, and was even named “Highlight of the Year” by writer Lisa Jacobsen. [5]

In my office career, I was in plenty of flaps but not of  Corbett’s literal kind. She starts with heroine Peri doing circuits over Salt Grass Bay in a future climate-changed world. My first thought was that Peri was scavenging for discarded fish and chips. But instead she spies her shot-down winged pal Luisa dead in the surf. Peri lands and makes sure her own feathers don’t get wet. “No time to dry them, not now,” Peri thinks, bringing cormorants to my mind.

However, Peri’s take-off technique seems more pelican-like. “She starts her run along the sand, gulping air. It takes all her strength to run fast enough to get off the ground…  Peri’s flying now… Peri flies higher, banks, turning for home.”[6]

Peri should wear aviators’ L-plates. On landing on a clifftop house platform she bangs into the rock wall and beats her wings and rattles her feathers to recover. Once she’s inside the house, in a welcome touch of   realism, her wings tend to knock stuff over when she turns around.

I’d tell you more  but I only got a free read of  Chapter One. With a bit of further cribbing I found the nearest city was Sydney-like but rather taken over by Buddhists.  I couldn’t discover if these monks were also blowing up airliners and scheming to inflict megadeath on Grand Final crowds.[7]

Corbett’s avian expertise would suit her  for Review book reviews on the RAAF. But how has   she has morphed into Weekend Australian’s special-ops expert who thinks soft drinks are far deadlier than terrorists?

Turns out that from 2014-15 she did four features in The Monthly on the RAN,  the last in mid-2015. Three were about what was then the ‘which-submarine’ choice. Like some other fiction-writers, she can bring original touches. Her public service experience helped her winkle out some information.  And she commendably sat through two high level open conferences on the choice. Her features on subs are reasonable, although hindsight does not treat them kindly.

Her overview on perceptions of the RAN starts well and degenerates into an ABC/Fairfax-style rant about the Abbott iniquities of (successful) Operation Sovereign Borders and how navy people tortured African asylum seekers during tow-back  by forcing their hands onto hot engine pipes. I could find on-line in The Monthly no later clarification that the torture claims were fake, not even after the ABC’s then-boss Mark Scott said, “We regret if our reporting led anyone to mistakenly assume that the ABC supported the asylum seekers’ claims.”

Corbett also managed to condemn our intelligence people’s listening-in on the Indonesian President’s wife’s mobile, without mentioning it was done in the Rudd-Gillard era. “Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s handling of the fallout rubs salt into the wound,” she grouched.

None of this makes her much of a choice on special ops expertise, and she writes some really strange stuff – deadly soft drink consumption included. As the details emerge daily about the alleged  horrific airliner bombing plot, the Australian’s Review standards look increasingly tawdry. What’s up, Whittaker?

Tony Thomas, who has a UWA Master of Arts in Australian literature, has a book of essays That’s Debatable – 60 Years in Print, available here

[1] The Religion of Peace register says that in 2010 there were 2023 Islamic attacks in 48 countries, in which 9233 people were killed and 17461 injured.

[2] For example, she quotes a tweet, “Climate Change Could Lead to Disappearance 
of 1500 Indonesian Islands”

[3] Her name is on a 2003 NSW Health document

[4] See NYT best seller  Stonewalled by Sharyl Attkinson, ex-CBS investigative reporter.

[5]  Corbett short stories also made Best Australian Stories 2014 and ditto, 2015.

[6] “There is no magic in my book. I don’t ask the reader to believe anything that I haven’t researched. There’s nothing that breaks the laws of physics,” Corbett says. I don’t believe her.

[7] Her latest novel is Watch Over Me (2017), which is yet another  fantasy yarn about people under oppression by a malign regime.


Trigger Warning: A Story Not Quite True

Trigger Warning: A Story Not Quite True

You might have seen reports that Sweden is instructing Muslim refugees in the fine art of sniping, and you might further have wondered what officials could be thinking. Well, rest easy. Marksmanship is being taught, but the designated targets are bullseyes, not infidels

swede burka smallSo the Swedish government is arranging courses on sniping for its young Islamic  arrivals, to help them mingle on the range with locals and boost their Swedish language skills. This is the story doing the rounds on the blogophere. True? False? Crazy nonsense? You be the judge. Please remember Quadrant Online always provides nuanced coverage and does not regurgitate internet hoaxes.

The original story about the sniper-training is a nicely-illustrated spread in the Swedish newspaper  Allehanda. This is a real newspaper, circulation around 70,000. It previously gained some éclat in the West for publishing a cartoon of  Mohammad as a “roundabout dog”, a form of public art which Swedes seem to enjoy. This caused much Islamic offence and the standard reaction of Religion of Peace adherents: protests, threats, bombings, attempted assassination of the artist etc.

sniper storyThe Allehanda story (right) about the “sniper training” for happy-go-lucky Islamic teens is dated June 2, 2013. It’s  an oddity that it laid doggo (no pun) all this time. The headline is “Laddade för prickskytte”, the first word google-translating as “charged (up)” and the third word, “sniping”. It is more precise than the word for “shooting”  (skytte) or “target practice” (tävlingsskytt).

But because of the recent fuss, the Allehanda news editor has now issued this clarification:

“Because of the recent international citations of the 2013 Allehanda article ‘Laddad för prickskytte’, I as News Editor feel that a few clarifications are in order. Several websites refers to the immigration project in Sollefteå as ‘sniper training’. This is not a correct description. The word sniper training implies military combat education which is something completely different from this.

Although the refugees in the pictures can be seen holding what looks like sniper rifles, it is in fact biathlon sports equipment. Biathlon is since the 1960s recognised as an Olympic discipline, and the Sollefteå Ski High School runs an international upper secondary school programme for elite competitors. This is where the refugees were invited to try rifle shooting, the only element of biathlon possible in the summer. It was done by the authorities as part of their work with local immigration. I hope this clarifies the circumstances surrounding this article.”

So really, the Swedish government has only been training young Muslims to aim well at inanimate targets and miss as few times as possible. This is not the same as actually training them to be military-grade snipers a la Chris Kyle of American Sniper fame.

By now you’re wanting to know how the newspaper’s body (no pun) text runs. Here goes, via google translate:

 “It began on a small scale in the fall. But in the spring, interest exploded. Now more than 50 immigrant youths shoot dot [target] on the biathlon course in Sollefteå. [Central Sweden]

Maria Ibrahim loading rifle and lies down on the green rubber mat. She is aiming carefully and long before she pushes against the classical target of five black dots.

The white caps fall into place one by one. Five hits out of five possible.

– ‘I think this is a good activity,’ she says.

– ‘It’s fun to learn how to shoot, and we have fun together. We laugh a lot. If this continues into the fall, I will certainly be with [it]!’

Over 50 young immigrants have found the biathlon track at Hallstaberget. His Nauclér, which holds the course together with Björn Lindblom and Birgit Höglin, is very satisfied.

– Already at the sample meeting in March, more than 50 young people from all over the world – Syria, Afghanistan, Africa, South America. And it has persisted. They are interested and very talented, and some come from war-torn areas [but have?] never been a problem.

All the young people go to the individual program in upper secondary school, focusing on languages. Teacher Birgit Höglin points out several advantages.

– ‘It’s much more than the sport itself,’ she says.

– ‘Here they talk Swedish in other social contexts, meet new people and hang out in other forms. It is good especially for the vocabulary. Moreover, it is sure discipline and security, and is also a useful experience.’

His Nauclér agrees.

–   ‘Safety is very important. We take that very seriously, he says.”

It is heart-warming to think of how interested and talented these teens are in putting bullets into targets as a purely sporting recreation, learning Swedish phrases like, “Bang on, good show!”

The course – which may or may not be   on-going – is/was funded by Sweden’s Migration Agency. There are no details of subsequent careers of the shooting-course graduates. Leftist bloggers pooh-pooh the implications of the story.  As one Lev Raphael put it on HuffPost,

It does not mean learning to be assassins, snipers or terrorists. I’ve taken target practice and that’s hugely different from training to be a sniper, which is immensely more complicated and involves a lot more than aiming at a paper target.

Would a story like this be kept quiet by the major European media? Not one European news site like Der Spiegel, Le Monde, or The Guardian has reported it.

Because it’s bogus… that, of course, isn’t dramatic or scary at all.”

Given that the German press, for example, could avert its eyes from 500 sexual and other assaults on Cologne’s New Year’s Eve, I don’t think the mainstream media’s avoidance of the sharp-shooting training story is all that remarkable.

The internet is riddled with illogical, crazy material that sane person would believe for one instant. However, sometimes this stuff is true.

Tony Thomas blogs at No B-S Here, I Hope


[i] Roundabout dogs, involving some sort of Swedish pun, are improvised and vaguely ironic  dog sculptures that Swedes like to decorate roundabouts with.



  1. Rob Brighton

    Just read Steyn’s book America alone apparently written in 2006 it looks like he has Nostradamus covered, pity those from the regressive left don’t seem to see it.

  2. Ken

    Mr Raphael is correct, of course. Just because someone can hit a square of paper 500 metres away doesn’t mean they have the ability to walk up to people strolling through that nice little rosenbadsparken in central Stockholm and gun them down. As he says, the training requirements are different. That’s just common sense.

    The reason that Australian soldiers have such high levels of marksmanship in battle is that they train on live targets. How else can they learn?

  3. Ian MacDougall

    Bomb making and remote detonation would be a useful follow-on activity. Lev Raphael might shortly say:

    It does not mean learning to be jihadists, IED planters or terrorists. I’ve taken bomb making and that’s hugely different from training to be a jihadist, which is immensely more complicated and involves a lot more than just letting off an experimental blast.

    Yeah, right.

  4. gardner.peter.d

    ‘Moreover, it is sure discipline and security, and is also a useful experience.’’

    Very useful, as the terrorists who trained as pilots in the USA and were subsequently responsible for 9/11, would no doubt attest.

    I was, once upon a time, a marksman with a variety of weapons. It doesn’t matter much with which one you start. An air rifle or compressed gas rifle is as good as anything to learn the basics. If you have the basic skills right you can then go on to more specialist areas and greater capabilities.

  5. en passant

    Sometimes I wonder at the mindset of my fellow commenters. Let’s say 100 of these nice people learn to shoot a paper target, but only x% go on to use that skill in killing strangers. Well, the commentariat cry, it just goes to show that 100-x% did not murder us therefore the programme was a success and it just goes to show that we can expect no more than (pick a number) of us to be randomly killed by a stranger calling out that their sociopathic god is the greatest. How good can the news get?
    My question is: of all the activities available, why is it necessary, advisable or even a good thing to teach these people to shoot at all? Would they not be better learning how to compute, work with wood, read, play football, cook, speak the language of their country, behead sheep or other fun activity.
    Just think how much better the Parramatta scumbag could have performed if he had just had a few lessons on pistol-shooting accuracy? He would not have had to approach so closely for a shot in the back of an innocent stranger’s head. Instead, it was the policeman who had just requalified on the range who achieved the better outcome and sent him to his grave.
    Encouraging a potentially dangerous element of society shooting skills is simply madness. If not, why have we not made such training available to criminal prisoners, bikies, migrants and asylum inmates? Shotgun modification and conversion courses would be very popular, especially if subsidized by the taxpayer. Mugging for Beginners & the Etiquette King-hitting would round off the degree of criminals before release and greatly improve their inclusion in society.
    Ken’s comment I accept was just a complete joke as he could not possibly mean what he said.

    • Ken

      Oh, but I did mean it, en passant. irony should give the reader a choice of meanings. My attempt has failed. Mea culpa.