When the ABC allowed Zaky Mallah on its Q&A program, it prompted a visceral response from the Prime Minister.
“A lefty lynch mob” was the way he described the ABC. He has continued his inflammatory rhetoric against the national broadcaster demanding that “heads must roll.” This is his idea of the “war on terror.”
What is informative about the Prime Minister’s response is that he has chosen to attack the ABC. He has not uttered a word to refute the views that Mallah expressed on the programme. Mallah’s views are easy to refute and the leader of a strong, democratic nation would have no difficulty in doing so. Yet Abbott chooses to attack one of our national and most respected institutions instead.
Many people would probably agree with Malcolm Turnbull’s assessment that allowing Mallah to appear was “a grave error of judgement.” But many would not agree with Tony Abbott that it was “a betrayal of Australia”. The biggest mistake that the ABC made was giving Tony Abbott ammunition and consequently giving Zaky Mallah greater national visibility then he would have been able to achieve on his our own.
When a free and democratic society is confronted with the ideas that Zaky Mallah and his ilk promulgate, it is necessary to refute them with better ideas.
The approach that Liberal MP Steve Ciobo, also a program guest, took in telling Mallah he would be happy to see him lose his citizenship is not the answer. You don’t counter seditious ideas by banishing the people who think and express them. You counter them with better ideas: Ideas about the nature of a just and fair society, about the rule of law, about freedom from fear and about religious freedom.
This is what we need our political leaders to do. Abbott has been a singular failure in this respect but at least he has been a failure of commission. Opposition leader Bill Shorten has been a failure of omission.