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.

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

  1. janice / jaycee

    I’m no natural born rider. My siblings were.

    Horses are very domesticated and feel entitled (as they should) to be naughty sometimes.

    Being the youngest I fed them very often and the last of them long after my siblings had disappeared off to boarding school.

    If I turned up with a saddle on shoulder they understood that work was to be done rather than a flog around the block just for the hell of it.

    I got on with them well on that basis.

  2. jaycee@jaycee ‏@trulyjaycee 1m1 minute ago

    ABC. doing the govt’s dirty work on unions..AGAIN!!….Go on , Tony, Malcolm…”sucker-punch” them again!…They’ll learn one day..maybe.

  3. The PUP is registered with the VEC for elections in Victoria, but they haven’t announced any candidates yet. They’ll probably do so in the final week of nominations or something, but I expect they’ll only put up candidates in the upper house with maybe around 5 trying for the lower house.

    I’m surprised by that news in Queensland and I doubt it to be true, might be Alex Douglas being weird or something. It’d be great if it was true though, it might give Labor a better shot at majority government. Also I’m surprised that they didn’t register for elections in NSW, their upper house is so easy to get into.

  4. Janice CTar’ …it’s true, some people do have the knack…..I don’t !…although I do get on ok, I think it is more of a case of sympathetic toleration on their part.

  5. janice

    dear old dad had it

    One of my fondest memories is my dad riding ‘Trixie’ every day except Sunday – ‘checking’ sheep.

    (Every now and again a spare duck or two were bounty if they were near the river).

  6. I remember several years ago, when the OH. was on one of those long-distance trail rides over a week or so. We’d camp (about twenty or so riders and their crew) at some northern town on the way…at one stop, there was a “Pensioner-bus” outing there….I was chatting (as one does) to an old bloke with a walking stick when a lady led this horse up to us …the old man bulked a little..the lady asked him in this sort of patronising way..; ” do you like horses?” which he replied (in a Joe6pak style)..:” Only when they are leading in the last furlong” .

  7. Kirsdarke – In NSW the law states you have to register as a Party a very long time before the State election (see below, its a year, with submissions needed 3 months before that) in order to have your party on a ballot, and PUP didn’t quite get their act together in time. Last I heard, Clive was still going to back some independents as a stop gap.

  8. 6Pack

    I think have a knack with horses but it usually costs me.

    If it’s less than a nip on the arse you’re possibly getting somewhere.

  9. My grandfather was a horse whisperer.

    When I was about 10 and fed up with playing games with the horse so I guided my blind grandfather into the centre of the home paddock to call the horse, the horse walked straight up to get the bridle, worked a treat but mum arced up. Next day she watched the ritual 20 minute dance between the horse and me and was most unimpressed when the horse charged at me, veering at the last minute as per ritual. Mum her brother to show me how to catch the horse – he took 30 minutes and used a whip.

  10. good article This is the article that first announced JK was leaving the Libs. A local paper.

    Click to access CCARprint.pdf

  11. NSW Liberal MP Robyn Parker has announced she will not recontest the seat of Maitland in next year’s election.

    Ms Parker had her day at ICAC and came out better than the blokes.

    Ms Parker has been useless as an MP. It was she who famously said logging protects koalas.

    Shw also stuffed up on Orica’s spills of toxic chemicals.

  12. You’ll have to copy this into the url

    [video src="" /]

  13. I thought the CDC’s guidelines seemed a bit lax. Particularly the fairly confusing bit about handling potentially infected garments as you disrobe. Turns out the guidelines were all wrong. It seems to be a case of “American know-how” not wanting to learn from the cheese-eating surrender monkeys at Medecins Sans Frontiers.

    From the NYT:

    Many American hospitals have improperly trained their staffs to deal with Ebola patients because they were following federal guidelines that were too lax, infection control experts said on Wednesday.

    Federal health officials effectively acknowledged the problems with their procedures for protecting health care workers by abruptly changing them. At 8 p.m. Tuesday, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued stricter guidelines for American hospitals with Ebola patients.

    They are now closer to the procedures of Doctors Without Borders, which has decades of experience in fighting Ebola in Africa. In issuing the new guidelines, the C.D.C. acknowledged that its experts had learned by working alongside that medical charity.

    The agency’s new voluntary guidelines include full-body suits covering the head and neck, supervision of the risky process of taking off protective gear, and the use of hand disinfectant as each item is removed.

    While not working in an infectious environment, I spend half my life in and out of clean-room areas in my optics work. When I saw some of the procedures I said, “Eh?” to myself. You could drive a truck through them.

    (And – as Andrew Bolt might say – I’m no scientist).

  14. Update – but first some necessary information.

    When me mum moved to Melbourne I asked whether she would be okay with having a metal disc on her keyring engraved with her name and my telephone numbers. She thought it was a good idea, so it was done.

    This evening, just before 6pm, there was a call to my mobile. The caller asked, “Is that Heather *******?” My reply: “No, it’s her daughter – are you phoning about my mum’s keys?”

    The upshot was that he was in a business suite on my mother’s route home. Someone had handed the keys in – I was there in 2 minutes and told him how grateful I was for his phone call.

    The now-spare set of keys (with name and phone tag) are at our next-door neighbours, in case keys are lost when moi and OH aren’t around.

    The restored keys, plus name and phone tag, and Raffles Hotel medallion (much sentimental value), are now firmly attached to a lanyard hanging on the front door handle. Me mum has agreed she will put it on before opening the door to leave the flat – even if only for a few moments – and that she won’t remove the lanyard until she’s back inside.

    We’ll see how that goes.

  15. Nothing, and i mean nothing, else Tony Abbot has done so much proves his shallow deceitful base nature than that inglorious truck driving stunt, the falsehood of which was uncovered by our esteemed truckie, Joe6pack,

    Whom I might add did a far superior job of uncovering the crass scheming lying behaviour of a low grub standing for office than all of the lazy, treasonous, dimwitted MSM ‘journalists’ put together.

    And they might wonder why I read The PUB every morning and not their noxious rags.,

  16. A 75-minute video conference call between British Prime Minister David Cameron, French President Francois Hollande, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, Italian Prime Minister Matteo Renzi and US President Barack Obama focused on cooperation to fight the outbreak, a spokesman for Cameron said.
    “Leaders agreed that this was the most serious international public health emergency in recent years and that the international community needed to do much more and faster to halt the rise of the disease in the region,” the prime minister’s office said in a statement.

    “Each leader set out what they are doing to help the countries affected and then discussions focused on how to improve coordination of the international effort.”

  17. Good morning Dawn Patrollers.

    Bad luck Bronny. All of Australia was behind you!
    More incontrovertible facts about the health effects of smoking.
    This article on bedrock education by Ken Boston is well worth reading.
    The insidiousness of the drug culture.
    The police have been asked to delve into Victoria’s porngate.
    Welcome home you mongrel!
    We have reason to be afraid of the US free trade agreement.
    DFAT has warned Aussies in Iraq to get out.
    Abbott’s deadly dilemma with our ebola response.
    The parliamentary burqa ban is still unresolved. I wonder what frame of mind Bronny will be in when she gets back from being tossed overseas.

  18. Section 2 . . .

    Goran Roos ups the ante in the submarine debate.
    Mark Kenny on Abbott’s increasingly isolationist stance on climate change.
    Coles behaving badly towards its suppliers? Who would have thought?
    Kathy Jackson’s “Get out of Jail Free” plan.
    Meet the man who Pyne appointed to review our English curriculum.
    This is a good piece from Barnaby Joyce. Perhaps he can be level headed.
    The ANU’s divestment of certain shares highlights the need for more transparent reporting by companies of sustainability.
    How many more times will the shared services experience be repeated with invariably bad results?

  19. Section 3 . . .

    Andrew Dyson gives us a glossary of Abbott’s sporting confrontational manoeuvres.
    Alan Moir on the NSW Coalition’s woes.
    David Pope on Kevin McLoud’s visit.
    Nice work from John Spooner on Abbott’s G20 preparations.
    Whack! Ron Tandberg gets Abbott a beauty on g\his coal comments.
    Rod Clement with a taste of air travel during the ebola scare.

  20. gigilene

    I was a bit worried the Abbott Clowns had cruelled Antipodean chances of another seat for a while.

  21. That pic of Abbott “contemplating” the sheep…you see Credlin in the background….jeez!…she’s either his puppet-master, or his bunion!…she’s always lurking about.

  22. Fiona

    Glad the keys have turned up, there are some great people around, takes something like that to remind us.


    I didn’t understand the Pope cartoon. I have no ‘context’ to put it in ‘context’.


    Well done Kiwi’s, most people with brains would not assume all Aussie are idiots, like our leaders are at the moment, and the Kiwis seem to be doing very sensible things.

  23. Puffy

    I remember very clearly joe6packs rage at the idiot when all that happened. Our joe6pack showed up every journalist in Australia with his facts. I have admired him ever since.

  24. Kaffeeklatscher,

    Congratulations to New Zealand. I’m particularly relieved the Australian government’s buffoonery didn’t mess things up for them.

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