Lateline and the Anatomy of An Islamophobic Stunt

Today’s Guest Poster is zorahzorah, who has written an outstanding analysis of Alberici’s disgraceful performance on Lateline. Hat tips to Gravel and Andrew Elder for bringing this piece to The Pub’s attention.

(Image Credit: Powerhouse Museum)

The clusterfuck of racism, hatred, and hysteria that embodies Islamophobia is still brewing in Australia and day-by-day is taken to newer heights. The past few weeks alone have seen anti-Muslim attacks even more rampant and growing, a plan to cage Muslim women in glass boxes in a horrifying level of racialised misogyny that is frankly dystopian, and one of the biggest newspapers in the country linking Hitler, a white, European, supporter of the Church, with Islam in a new ploy to demonise Muslims.

Amidst the toxic flames of racist hysteria, ABC’s Lateline decided to make their own contribution to the national Islamophobic frenzy. For those unaware,

Lateline is a current-affairs program on Australia’s national broadcaster, the ABC. It claims to be “challenging, intelligent, and provocative.”

Last Thursday, the host Emma Alberici decided to interview Wassim Doureihi, a member of Hizb ut-Tahrir. Now, I know absolutely nothing about Doureihi, nor Hizb ut-Tahrir, and nor am I accusing Lateline of being the sole purveyors of Islamophobia in this country. But in this Lateline episode, Alberici delivered an absolute masterclass on how to stage a classic dog-whistling Islamophobic stunt. It had every possible ingredient you would expect in an anti-Muslim spectacle: racism, orientalism, condescension, and outright contempt, delivered in the only ways mainstream white Australian “journalists” know how: smearing, obfuscating, and demonising.

From the onset of the interview, Alberici treated Doureihi with a truly exceptional level of hostility and condescension. Even for those who have regularly watched Alberici’s interviews with politicians, the hostility was stunning. The tone was set. It was clear what this was going to be: a staged set-up designed with the sole purpose to demonise.

It was clear that Alberici knew the value of playing the white woman standing up to the Scary Brown Man™ and it was beyond obvious that this was the narrative she was seeking to create for her White Australian audience, and thus, she was playing it hard.

The first half of the interview was dominated by her attempts to make Doureihi condemn the actions of ISIS. She pursued this line with a truly extraordinary level of pig-headedness, getting visibly animated in her determination to make Doureihi take her bait and condemn the group. Here we see Alberici peddling the pervasive “logic” that Muslims have some special responsibility to condemn ISIS. The argument of Alberici, and all those who peddle this claim, is predicated on the idea that Muslims are all by default inherent supporters of terrorism, unless they jump through hoops to prove otherwise to white people. Alberici pursued this racist narrative head-on, steely determined to push it onto Doureihi. The ferocious determination with which she pursues it is really something to behold.

Visibly furious that Doureihi refuses to play into her gutter game and be cornered by her, Alberici decides to change tack and deliberately attempts to work him up into the racist stereotype of the Angry Brown Man™ she knows White Australia all came to see her “take to task”. Alberici is determined to make this a spectacle and play the part that White Australia will go crazy for. To do this, she employs the type of contempt, condescension, and callous, wilful ignorance that all people of colour are all too familiar with receiving from white people.

See, in case you haven’t noticed, I’m angry. I’m angry because it was the sheer, brazen, and unremitting contempt that got to me about Alberici’s behaviour and that really hit home for me, because that is the type of contempt that I and other nonwhite people have to endure daily from White Australia. Unrelenting racism and gaslighting abounded throughout the segment. When Doureihi rightfully refused to accept the bait that he must condemn ISIS, her response was not to hear out why it was a racist question, but to push it even more belligerently. When he brought up Islamophobia, she dismissed it as “a so-called phobia”. When he tried to answer a question, she rolled her eyes dismissively, one of multiple times. And when he tried to bring up the fact of the Western invasion that slaughtered up to a million people in Iraq, she replied, “I don’t want to talk about context.” That said everything.

Context is the last thing that professional jingoistic race-baiters like Emma Alberici want because it upturns their agenda completely. To take context into account would ruin the agendas of those like Alberici who seek to demonise Muslims and Islam as the sole, unique purveyors of violence. To take into account the reality of constant Western atrocities wrought against the non-Western world for the last thousand years hinders those who desire more war, and more imperialism. And to take context into account means having to acknowledge blame and responsibility instead of shifting it onto others, namely, Muslims. It was clear Alberici was nowhere near ready to do that, and indeed when asked why she didn’t condemn Western atrocities, she comically, nervously declared “ok, we’re out of time”. You simply couldn’t make up something so self-satirising if you tried.

The thing about Alberici’s episode was that she was not only ready to have a Muslim on her show to treat him with utter contempt, but she was determined to make a spectacle out of it for the voyeuristic viewing pleasure of White Australia, for frothing-at-the-mouth bigots around the country, the types that have been terrorizing Muslim women on the streets. To watch a white woman try and put a Scary Non-White Man™ in his place on TV is simply racist pornography for racists, and Alberici knew it, and she was working hard at it. The next day proved her efforts. Despite it being clear from the interview that Alberici was the one taken to task, she became an overnight sensation in White Australia’s eyes, having given them the White Woman vs. Mean Non-White Man™ story they go crazy for. Media framing portrayed Alberici as a hero for treating a nonwhite person with the contempt we apparently so deserve.

However, not content with the smug, self-congratulatory spectacle of racism and Islamophobia she had purveyed in that interview, Alberici had this galling statement to make the next day:

“In his caliphate, in his ideal Islamic state would I, as a woman, have the opportunity to sit opposite him as an equal and engage in a robust discussion about these issues on the public broadcaster?”

Alberici realised that no Islamophobic stunt is complete without pulling out that well-known racist line that Muslims are inherently misogynists. Here in the West, and here in Australia, where rape culture abounds, where I and every other female I know have stories of harassment by men on the street, and where an even more alarming number of women have stories of sexual violence, according to these racist faux-feminists, it is apparently Muslims who are the real misogynists. In Australia, where the biggest risk to a woman is her own partner, it is apparently Islamic culture that is uniquely misogynistic. And here in Australia, where one woman is killed every week by her own male partner, apparently the Islamic world is the true bulwark of misogyny. If there was one single sentence that encapsulated so completely the cartoonishly simplistic and breathtakingly bigoted worldviews of Western media puppets like Alberici, this would be it, and they should all be ashamed. There are truly no real differences between these “elite” poseurs and the average raving bigot on the street that the white middle class loves to admonish for a sense of superiority.

This Lateline episode didn’t only embody every classic element of anti-Muslim propaganda; it also embodied everything that is wrong with mainstream media. Instead of being a mechanism for speaking truth to power, it is all too eager to be a cheerleader for power. See, Lateline has built up a reputation for itself in this regard. Five years ago, Lateline decided to smear Australian Aboriginal men, and more specifically, the Aboriginal community of Mutitjulu in the most grotesquely racist way imaginable, and in doing so, did PR for the racist abomination known as the Northern Territory Intervention. Since then, it has never apologised for the reprehensible manner I which it smeared Aboriginal men based on entirely fabricated and unsubstantiated reports.

Lateline has developed a pattern of perpetuating racism and refusing to be accountable for it, and for this reason, I am not holding my breath waiting for either the ABC, Lateline, or Emma Alberici herself to grow a spine, take responsibility, and apologise for spouting reprehensible bigotry. It is all part of their agenda.

In the same way that Lateline smeared Indigenous people to sell a racist government policy, Lateline again deployed racism against Muslims to cheer on the new Australian bombing of Iraq. And for this, Alberici has earned a pat on the head from Prime Minister Tony Abbott.

I hope Alberici enjoys her 15 minutes of fame while us non-white folk remain dealing with the frenzy of racist hysteria running rampant in the nation. In the meantime, I hope she one day finds it in herself to apply the same level of intense scrutiny to white politicians as she did to Doureihi. Wishful thinking, perhaps.

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796 thoughts on “Lateline and the Anatomy of An Islamophobic Stunt

  1. Very good review of Julia Gillard’s book, from Anne Summers Reports.

    I’ve almost finished The Book, and this is a fair critique. I’ve often wondered about FPMJG’s awful taste in men, I’m glad I’m not the only one. As for the advice she was given – whoever thought turning her into a Maggie Thatcher clone for the 2010 election campaign, complete with power suits and pearls, should have been hung, drawn and quartered for treason. In this household there were frequent comments at the time about ‘WTF are they doing to her!’ That mistake gave us the announcement of the return of the ‘real Julia’ during that campaign, another thing that was used to Gillard-bash from then on.
    http://annesummers.com.au/pdf/asr10/gillardsway.pdf?utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=ASR10+17+October+2014&utm_content=ASR10+17+October+2014+CID_7631ac3147a9e2f612b7f1ebec75b21e&utm_source=&utm_term=Read%20now

  2. leonetwo

    I think the problem is the conspiracy people are looking for Abbott “renouncing/” his UK citizenship when he never actually had to so. During the last bout of this some paperwork popped up showing his parents had belatedly applied (successfully) to register him as an Australian born in London. At the time Abbott was getting ready for his run at the Rhodes Scholarship and so would have to be a “colonial” of some type to be eligible.. This being so then Abbott would not have to have done a thing to be A Strayan.. Kids born here of kiwi citizens also have/had options for choosing which citizenship to take up at a later date .

  3. The problem with pursuing this “issue” with Abbott’s citizenship is not only does it sound like a conspiracy theory that rivals the one about Barack Obama’s birth certificate, it also makes the left look desperate and lets the right say “they know they can’t beat Abbott so they’re using smear and dirty tricks to get him out.”

  4. More on stupid theories and fools who make the left look desperate – this time involving Abbott, cars and residences.

    Let’s get something sorted first – the cars used by our PM and others are ageing and no longer meet international standards for VIP cars. Prime ministers do not suddenly say ‘I want new cars’. A government department is responsible for purchase and maintenance of cars and if they decide a fleet is getting old and needs replacing then that’s what will happen. Julia Gillard realised that purchasing new vehicles just before an election was not going to be a good idea and postponed the purchase. Nevertheless the tender process was begun. Had Labor won last years election the car purchase would have gone ahead, as it has under Abbott.

    Some things have to be done as part of normal up-grading and maintenance. The renovations to The Lodge are another example, work that had to be done before the building collapsed into rubble. Abbott did not order the work and he is not having The Lodge rebuilt to his taste. Ditto for Kirribilli House – whatever money has been spent this year has been for normal maintenance and grounds work, with one exception. That expensive rug chosen for the family room. It seems a designer chose it, not Margie herself and not Tony.

    Which brings us to the stupid conspiracy theories. Please excuse the lack of links to back all this up – they would fill a page.

    First theory- Abbott decided BMWs would be better for the new government fleet rather than Holdens, allegedly because his daughter had a job with BMW. That one won’t fly. Bridget Abbott worked as a racing ambassador for a few days at a Sydney racing carnival a few years ago, when Abbott was LOTO. The event happened to be sponsored by BMW but Miss Abbott’s job was organised by the AJC and Peta Credlin, not BMW, who had nothing to do with it. The BMWs were chosen because it was a cheaper deal.

    Second – the Twitter furore about Abbott allegedly spending over $6 million on cars for the G20. It’s rubbish. The government is spending $2 million to leased extra cars for that event, plus about $4 million on the new fleet cars which, if ready, will also be used at the G20.
    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2738840/Tony-Abbotts-new-car-bomb-tested-BMW-four-wheel-drive-does-compare-Camerons-Jag-Obamas-Beast.html

    These things keep coming up, although it’s very easy to find the truth about the issues. Almost every day someone will tweet stale old allegations. It makes us lefties look like dills and I wish it would stop.

  5. FPMJG’s awful taste in men

    It seems pointless to me to discuss someone’s choice of men. It’s a personal thing. Looking back at Bruce Wilson, I could see some qualities in him, and also in Tim. They both seem to show loyalty towards her. Craig Emerson was once her partner. I have nothing but admiration for him. She also made a good choice in choosing her colleagues, Windsor and Oakeshott. There were problems with Slipper and Thomson but they served a good purpose, that of keeping the Labor govt going.

  6. gigilene
    I should have phrased that better – Julia Gillard’s appalling support for all the wrong men – men in politics that is. It’s likely her support for Slipper, Rudd, Latham and others, support that was never returned when she herself needed it, came from a desire to see the best in people and to overlook their faults.

    I don’t think Wilson was the ideal boyfriend, he was married and shifty, but as the lady has said, she was young and naive. We have all made mistakes in that line, I would think, for the same reason.

    But later, in her personal life, she chose well. Who wouldn’t fall for Craig Emerson? And she seems to have struck gold with Tim.

  7. It’s a fairly simple proposition.

    If Abbott has not renounced his UK citizenship he was ineligible to be elected as member for Warringah in 2013, and is not that member now.

    It may be of particular importance in the context of losing votes (by tie) in the Gillard government. Or it may not be. But if he hasn’t renounced his citizenship he’s not eligible to be the Prime Minister.

    Sure, hold a by-election and re-elect him, that shouldn’t be too hard, but in the meantime…

  8. Has anyone asked Abbott the simple question: when did you renounce your British citizenship and will you provide us the evidence?

  9. The Russians have one ready to roll out as do the Americans. Hmm I wonder if having vaccines so quickly indicates a bit of germ warfare research using ebola had been going on ?

  10. Oh well, when Latika told us breathlessly that Julie Bishop was warming up the Death Stare for Vladdy I though maybe it’ll get hot, shirt-front-wize, but no luck, it seems.

    And let’s not forget Mr Putin likes Bare Wrestling… or did I read that wrong?

    Instead Our Jules confined her bodice-ripping to the Russkie Foreign Minister.

    Milan: Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop appears to have missed an opportunity to “shirt-front” Vladimir Putin over Russia’s role in the MH17 tragedy.

    There had been speculation that Ms Bishop could confront Mr Putin at a meeting in Italy on Thursday, in a preview of his encounter with Prime Minister Tony Abbott at the G20 meeting next month in Brisbane.

    Video evidence suggests Ms Bishop and Mr Putin were in the same room on Thursday night – but an Australian diplomatic source said she “never saw him”.

    Read more: http://www.smh.com.au/world/shirtfront-postponed-julie-bishop-nears-vladimir-putin-at-summit-in-milan-but-fails-to-make-contact-20141017-117f5t.html#ixzz3GNItqGnb

    Probably a good idea, seeing as you never know when you’ll need Presidents and the like to be your new Best Friends.

    Now all we have to look forward to is the whirling Dervish landing a haymaker on the Karate Kid’s mush (no coward punches from our Tony), or maybe chucking a Wobbly with his chin all jutted out and the spit flecking off the end of his thin, cruel lips &etc.

    Or, maybe not.

    Perhaps there’ll be more important things to discuss at the G20 – like global financial meltdowns in-the-making, Climate Change, or Existential Pestilences and the like – rather than what our Schoolboy Prime Minister sees as impressing the Ray Hadleys of this world.

  11. Re his citizenship; the MSM have been silent, so I presume he has renounced, as he said. But it was alleged Credlin was brought into the FOI request, and prevented disclosure. IF true, that should be big news.

    I would have thought it would be UK authorities who should be approached re his renunciation. In fact I would think that wherever UK passports are issued, they would have access to a database for renounced citizens.

    Just a thought – maybe the sensitivity does not relate to his actual renunciation, but possibly corners were cut re his police check, given he had been charged with sexual assault, and no conviction recorded in relation to damaging street sign. It was a VERY late registration of birth – he was an adult – so the rush was probably to be eligible for the Rhodes scholarship.

    IMO it should be resolved. It is not a conspiracy akin to the birthed question.

  12. Also I presume he had voted in elections prior to that, and declared himself as a UK citizen. Someone should check old electoral rolls.

  13. For Street Photographers out there, this looks like a must. These images are truly inspired…and completely unknown until just a few years ago…

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