Society must bear the blame
There is little danger that Martin McKenzie-Murray might have been “too quick, or confident, in understanding” Adam Dahman or Jake Bilardi (“Suburban extremists”, April 25-May 1). He makes much of the anomie of youth and the lure of Islam, against the backdrop of a “peaceful Melbourne”, but fails to locate some very obvious likely causes for radicalisation. For young people, particularly those for whom sport does not offer any sense of fulfilment, urban Australia can be a wasteland that offers few answers to the youthful search for meaning. Our current political discourse seems to promote intolerance. Inequality is rising, visibly. In the past young people feeling out of tune with popular culture might lose themselves in books or music, but now they can turn to the depthless dark pool of the internet, where online video offers limitless vicarious experiences. If there are few limits to what can be learnt from the internet, there are few prejudices that cannot be immediately and vividly reinforced by it. We have cast young people into a situation without any historical precedent. Raising children against this backdrop is more challenging than ever and involves careful attention and delicate but firm direction in nurturing positive open values. At some point Jake Bilardi and Adam Dahman were vulnerable young boys, not faces of evil. They did not receive the strong support they needed. If we fail to admit that our society failed them, if we treat radicalisation as essentially a security issue, or an issue for the Muslim community, we will not address its causes.
– Peter Stroud, Keilor East, Vic
Terrorism response over the top
Ivan Milat murdered seven young adults, whereas since federation only three people have been murdered by terrorists in Australia (two in the 1978 Hilton bombing, and one in the Lindt cafe). I cannot recall laws being altered, religious and ethnic communities being asked to step up, “show” raids and “show” trials being conducted because of the murderous spree of Milat. Character profiles of serial killers were undoubtedly refined after his murderous acts, which apparently is only now being contemplated with respect to radicalised Australian youths. It appears that for serial killers we should not be afraid to walk the streets nor try to alter our society, but for the lesser problem in Australia – terrorism – we need to curb our fundamental rights for privacy and be jailed for 90 days without trial, and what is even more pathetic, scapegoat a non-existent “monolithic” Muslim society in Australia for failing to de-radicalise their youth. I can’t recall any law enforcement officers or politicians asking the parents and communities of Reclaim members to do any heavy lifting in order to de-radicalise that group.
– Dr Ellak I. von Nagy-Felsobuki, Arcadia Vale, NSW
Nepal deserving of more aid
Nothing quite illustrates the deep ugliness of this Coalition government as its readiness to throw away $4 million to trot out Bjørn Lomborg, and yet only scrape up $5 million towards the disaster in Nepal (“Pact pressure hotting up”, April 25-May 1). Of course, if the Nepalese government would be prepared to ignore the worrying evidence of rising temperatures and retreating glaciers in the Himalayas, and dispute the science of climate change, well then, Mr Abbott could be much more generous. Mr Abbott, the denier, has got money for pretty well anyone who professes support for his senseless rejection of the science.
– David Payne, Bermagui, NSW
A sustainable lifestyle
Lisa Pryor (“Comforts of home”, April 25-May 1) could have listed another important advantage in living in the country of her birth: she can thus visit her family without contributing the several tonnes of CO2 per person produced by intercontinental flight.
– Joe Wolfe, Coogee, NSW
Not worth revisiting discredited study
Oh sure, Ian Haig (Letters, April 25-May 1). And while they’re at it, perhaps The Saturday Paper could also open a “balanced discussion” on the ridiculous assertion that the earth is not flat. Let’s be honest. The “real concerns” of which you speak stem from an utterly fictitious paper linking vaccinations with autism and bowel disease penned by a proven charlatan subsequently struck off the medical register. It is for this very basic reason that “the conversation is simply shut down”.
– Seamus Williams, Cremorne, NSW
Beckett fan begs to differ
Peter Craven described the recent production of Endgame by the Melbourne Theatre Company as “alarmingly awful” and savaged Colin Friels as being a “berserk ocker Hamm” (“Cast of character”, April 18-24). The theatre critic of your paper has spoken. What are we, specifically I, a mere theatre lover, to do? I took my chances and paid my $80, and I am very glad I did. Having seen a number of Endgame productions, including a renowned 1996 New York one, Friels compared very well to the best. In my AA front row seat, in the Sumner Theatre, I rarely took my eyes off Friels. In my opinion he gave a riveting, nuanced, deeply felt interpretation of this classic. I suspect Craven has little time for our accent and suffers cultural cringe of the most appalling type. The lighting, design and sound were all world class and Friels’ fellow actors all did credit to Samuel Beckett in this quite outstanding theatrical experience. Or did Craven merely lower my expectations? That rationalisation insults my intelligence and my theatrical experience. Friels was wonderful. This Endgame production was wonderful. You can take it from me.
– Ian Muldoon, Coffs Harbour, NSW
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This article was first published in the print edition of The Saturday Paper on May 2, 2015. Subscribe here.