The Dunning-Kruger two-step

By June 8, 2017Australian Politics

You know that Duncan Lewis, Director-General of the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO), is doing something right if he upsets the One Nation Party and some of the far right nutters in the coalition, and their mouthpiece Andrew Bolt. He stated that the refugee program is not a source of terrorism in Australia, and defended his position by stating that tens of thousands of refugees have come to Australia over the last decade or so, and that “very few of them have become subjects of interest for ASIO and have been involved in terrorist planning”. He did concede that three fatal terrorist attacks in Australia in recent years have involved either refugees or the children of refugees. However, he thought that context was very important and that the reason these people were terrorists is not because they are refugees but because of the violent extremist version of Sunni Islam they have adopted. They had been radicalised while young, often by viewing online material1.

He defended Australia’s refugee program and stated that screening measures are adequate, but he warned that it was not possible to prevent all attacks. Although four attacks had succeeded, 12 attacks had been thwarted since late 2014. Of these, 11 were being planned by Sunni extremists, and one by a right wing extremist who had nothing to do with Islam1.

This fracas started as a reply to Pauline Hanson in a senate estimates hearing, but it is perhaps worth noting that at the same hearing, he declined to comment on radicalisation in Australian mosques for security reasons2. This is because ASIO depends significantly on the Muslim community and its anti-radicalisation programs.

Attorney-General George Brandis supported Lewis’ statements, which was a bit of a surprise, given his propensity for stuffing things up. However, members of the One Nation brains trust soon swung into action, if not thought; Malcolm Roberts started foaming at the mouth and tweeted “If ASIO can’t see a link between refugees and terrorism we are in far greater danger that I thought”, while Brian Burston demanded Duncan Lewis be sacked.

Of course the former Prime Minister, Tony Abbott came out, presumably just to irk the current Prime Minister, as is his wont, and stated that too many people “pussyfoot around the fact that just about every terrorist incident of recent times involves someone killing in the name of Islam”. I don’t know about others, but I have not seen any pussyfooting. I would have thought the phrases ‘Islamists’, ‘Islamic extremism’ and ‘Islamic State’ would have demonstrated a distinct lack of pussyfooting.

Perhaps one of the most hilarious responses to come out of this was from suspected creationist, Andrew Hastie who said “I’ve read the Quran from cover to cover and I think, on the face of it, there are some issues there to do with violence”. It makes you wonder if he has ever read the Bible. Perhaps, like most modern christians, he hasn’t. If he had read the Old Testament he would see that it is far more violent than the Quran, by any measure3.

One other thing which seems to escape notice by the mentally challenged is that there were Catholic terrorists who detonated bombs and assassinated people, all through the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s, all over England and Northern Ireland. As someone said recently in response to the current Islamophobia: ‘we didn’t try to ban all Irish people, or all Catholics, because we knew at the time this was caused by a bunch of murderous dickheads’.

While it is clear that Malcolm Roberts epitomises the Dunning-Kruger effect4, it is a phenomenon that seems more widespread in parliament than hitherto suspected.




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