One Nation’s second incarnation reflects a global mood of concern with Islamism and jihadism. Pollsters from the major parties have confirmed that its support is grounded in a hardening of attitudes towards Islam.
Growing levels of support for One Nation and other parties of its ilk are amplified by the infuriating determination of major party leaders to deny the link between religious belief and Islamism. This failure to make even the most elementary distinctions about Islam underpins the stunning rise of far Right parties globally.
Barack Obama was fond of saying more people die from falls in the bathtub than from Islamic terrorism. Studiously avoiding using the word “Islam” in relation to incidents of terror, he somehow even contrived to ascribe blame for the Orlando shooting not on the Islamist perpetrator, but on general attitudes to the LGBTI community.
In a telling footnote from the presidential campaign, an email from Hillary Clinton acknowledged Saudi Arabia’s efforts in exporting fundamentalist Islam to all points on the globe, while banking millions of Saudi dollars into the Clinton Foundation.
Mentioning or criticising Islam supposedly “feeds the narrative” and “plays into the hands” of terrorists.
But, on the contrary, the “nothing to see here” narrative actually plays into the hands of right wing opportunists and populists. Refusing to acknowledge what is so obvious and in plain view fuels an ardent desire to hear someone talk honestly about it.
Surely, we can acknowledge the influence of the Islamic fundamentalism in groups such as ISIS and Boko Haram, while calmly recognising that these extreme views are held by only a minority of Muslims. Concepts such as jihadism, martyrdom, hard-line sharia law and Dar al-Harb (House of War) are central to Salafi jihadism, and inseparable from Islamic terrorism.
With the signature of Islam written all over these crimes, it’s false and counter-productive to insist they have nothing to do with Islam. Just as it would be false and counter-productive to claim horrors such as the Inquisitions, Crusades and witch burnings were unrelated to Christianity.
Such admissions impugn neither Christianity or Islam, they only highlight the importance of identifying and defeating ideas at the extreme ends of the spectrum.
Failing to isolate and place Islamic terror as a fundamentalist strain of Islam, allows the hard Right to promulgate the culture war narrative, Islam versus the West, reinforcing negative cultural stereotypes and impugning Muslims as a whole.
Promoting social cohesion and tolerance is admirable, but requires stating the facts as they are, not by re-cooking them in more digestible form.
Just as moderate Christians are easily distinguished from their fundamentalist forebears and counterparts, so too are moderate Muslims.
The outstanding success of our Federal and State police and security agencies in foiling home grown terror plots could not have been achieved without a specific focus on the locations, groups and individuals seeking to proselytise Islamic fundamentalism.
Only western arrogance gives no credence or utility to the jihadist ideology, obscuring the unpalatable truth that terrorism is undertaken by rational actors pursuing an explicit religio-political ideology. By ignoring and underestimating the ideology, we ignore the problem, we close our eyes, we cover our ears, and we give a political free kick to anyone willing to honestly name it.
Islamic fundamentalism will not disappear with the defeat of ISIS: watch for the inevitable phoenixes rising out of the ashes promoting the same Islamist ideology. Observe the growth of Islamic fundamentalism close to home, demonstrated by recent terror attacks, public demonstrations, and an insistence on Islam dominating politics.
Support for ISIS registers 11 per cent in Malaysia and 4 per cent in Indonesia, according to a 2016 Pew poll — add to this the return of battle-hardened jihadists from Syria and Iraq.
Note also the harsh sharia law punishments in Aceh and the blasphemy trial of Christian presidential contender Basuki Tjahaja Purnama (known as Ahok), for commenting on a Koranic verse saying Muslims must not elect non-Muslims.
Meanwhile, a review of 2016’s list of terrorist atrocities reads like a gruesome travel itinerary, stamped in the blood of citizens from Paris, Nice, Berlin, Orlando, Ankara, Ohio, Rouen, Java, Marseilles, Kashmir, Bagdad, Quetta, and many more.
And so, while the “nothing to do with Islam” mantra prevails, One Nation and other right wing parties’ candles burn bright.
But, in the main, the Pauline Hansons and their parties are long on articulating grievances and short on sensible solutions.
Leaders of the mainstream parties therefore have the opportunity to better articulate the rise of fundamentalist Islam and offer balanced and sensible policy positions on immigration and counter-terrorism.
They can supplant vacuous appeals to nationalism with unapologetic reassertions of our society’s secular, liberal and democratic values which are simultaneously anathema and an antidote to Islamism.
The continued rise of One Nation and others is contingent on their continued failure to do so.