The Q Society @ Victoria University : February 10, 2017

Update (February 14 2017) :

1) Kirralie Smith got a bit angwy:

2) Otherwise:

• On Monday the media pimps eventually reported the fact that Victoria University did indeed host The Q Society. See : Victoria University under fire for hosting Q Society fundraiser, Benjamin Millar, Star Weekly, February 13, 2017 | Q Society meeting: Victoria University apologises for ‘inadvertently’ hosting controversial group, Ben Knight, ABC, February 13, 2017 | Cory Bernardi and George Christensen’s Q Society event stirs anger at Victoria University, Tom McIlroy, The Sydney Morning Herald, February 13, 2017. Note that the SMH report incorrectly states that the ‘Q Society event attracted more than 100 anti-racism protesters outside Victoria University’s city convention centre’; the protest was actually in St Kilda (see below).

• Overland has published an open letter in which ‘We demand an apology from Victoria University’.

• The event attracted a glittering array of stars, from too-cray-cray-even-for-the-IPA Alan Moran to trollumnist for The Australian Jennifer Oriel to Kane ‘Smash cunts!’ Miller (below), putative leader of the now largely-defunct gang the ‘True Blue Crew’. See : How Reclaim Australia hid a ‘terrorist’, Martin McKenzie-Murray, The Saturday Paper, August 16, 2016.

Update (February 12, 2017) :

1) After being the subject of numerous complaints, VIC Uni has finally copped to having hosted The Q Society on Friday. It will be interesting to see what the response is from this point …

2) The Campaign Against Racism & Fascism (CARF) has published an open letter to Victoria University, republished below, detailing its concerns over VU’s decision to grant The Q Society use of its facilities to host the fund-raising dinner, and is urging concerned staff and students to add their names to it.

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SIGN ON TO THE OPEN LETTER BELOW – CONDEMN VICTORIA UNIVERSITY FOR ALLOWING THE RACIST Q SOCIETY TO MEET ON VU PROPERTY.

CARF urges both VU staff and other university students to sign onto the letter below. If you would like to – please Private Message the campaign group and we can organise to have your name added to the letter.

Melbourne, February 11, 2017

“Victory” not for VU students but far-right hate group Q Society

To Vice Chancellor Peter Dawkins and the Victoria University Council

It is with alarm and disappointment that we protest Victoria University’s decision to provide a platform to the far right anti Islam organisation Q Society.

On Friday February 10, the Q Society, hosted a fundraising dinner at Victoria University‘s city convention centre in Melbourne. The event, deceptively titled “defend freedom of speech”, was to raise funds for legal fees related to a defamation law suit by Mohamed El-Mouelhy, a Halal certifier. The Q Society is well known for associating Islam with terrorism and lobbying parliament to ban Halal certification.

In 2014 the Q Society toured far-right Dutch MP Geert Wilders, who advocates a total ban on Muslim migration. At the Q Society fundraising dinner held in Sydney on Thursday night, Larry Pickering, cartoonist and VIP guest said “Let’s be honest, I can’t stand Muslims.” Cory Bernardi, former Liberal Party senator, was a key note speaker at Friday night’s event in Melbourne. Bernardi has been a vocal opponent of Islam, opposes reproductive freedom for women and has linked same sex marriage to bestiality.

Victoria University has a very diverse student and staff population whose human rights and freedom to go about their daily lives are threatened by the repressive and reprehensible ideas of the Q Society.

Providing a venue for the Q Society contradicts the university’s vision of being “…open and excellent, creating exceptional value for any student from any background and uplifting the communities in which we operate.”

It also threatens Victoria University Safer Community strategy which is designed to foster an inclusive and safe environment for staff, students and the broader community.

Hosting the Q Society contravenes the University’s policy that clearly states that facilities will NOT be made available for:

a. Unlawful activities or activities that may be a breach of University policies.

b. Activities that are in conflict with or deemed incompatible with the University’s values or strategic direction.

We demand the university issue an apology and donate any money received from the Q Society or any affiliated institution to the Islamic Society of Victoria University or other related student and/or staff bodies.

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On Friday, February 10, 2017, Victoria University’s City Convention Centre played host to a fund-raising dinner, dubbed ‘Defending Freedom of Speech’, organised by The Q Society. According to reports, around 150 people attended the event, paying $150 each for the privilege. The event was intended to raise money to help Kirralie Smith of ‘Halal Choices’ and the Australian Liberty Alliance fight a defamation action brought against her by Mohamed El-Mouelhy of the Halal Certification Authority. The Society is reportedly hoping to raise $1 million to fund the defence — a gofundme campaign has to date raised over $75,000.

Speakers lending their support to the cause on this occasion were LNP MP George Christensen, former Tory now doublelplusConservative MP Cory Bernardi and Christian theologian Mark Durie. Christensen is a supporter of Reclaim Australia while in 2015 Bernardi spearheaded a rather farcical inquiry into food certification (see : Cory Bernardi’s anti-halal crusade unleashes torrent of hate, Adam Gartrell, The Sydney Morning Herald, June 20, 2015; Cory Bernardi And The Little Halal Truther Campaign That Couldn’t, Michael Brull, New Matilda, December 3, 2015).

The decision by VU to host The Q Society is a questionable one, not least because some of its staff have identified the risks associated with granting legitimacy to the far-right, and in particular to fringe discourses propounded by the likes of Q. Indeed, the article below explicitly identifies Reclaim Australia, the Australian Liberty Alliance and United Patriots Front as fringe actors whose ‘radical’ messages have received direct and indirect support from more ‘mainstream’ sources; a category which now includes their employer:

Anti-Muslim agenda drags discourse to political right
Mario Peucker and Debra Smith
June 16, 2016

Fringe parties that spread racist or anti-Muslim propaganda are subtly shifting public discourse to the political right in the lead up to the federal election, say two Victoria University researchers.

Dr Mario Peucker and Dr Debra Smith say the process of ‘mainstreaming’ the far-right agenda is reaching new dimensions as a growing number of local and national politicians, directly or indirectly endorse the messages of groups such as Reclaim Australia, the Australian Liberty Alliance or even the United Patriot[s] Front.

“Most people disregard these groups as extremists who represent only a small and electorally marginal minority of Australians, but their radical messages are not as disconnected from some mainstream politicians and opinion leaders as we’d like to think,” says Dr Peucker.

He says the process of shifting discourse and moving social norms to the political right is most palpable in the public discourse around the place of Islam and Muslims in Australia.

Dr Peucker points to a recent Senate inquiry set up to investigate links between halal food certification as a conduit for funding terrorism.

Although the link was completely unfounded by the inquiry, Dr Peucker says it remains part of the “Islamaphobia tool kit” used not only by unelected extremist groups but also by elected politicians such as Cory Bernardi and Jacqui Lambi[e].

Recent conflicts about mosque-building in Bendigo and Narre Warren that involved local councillors taking up the cause of anti-Islam movements reflect a logic, according to the researchers, that Islam has an inherent problem that needs fixing to fit into Australia’s liberal society.

A very similar message was sent by former Prime Minister Tony Abbott when he called for “a Reformation, an Enlightenment” within Islam.

Fringe groups can gain a certain degree of legitimacy through these public statements of leading politicians, and by protesting in support of government policies such as off-shore detention centres, as evidenced by recent protests in Coburg, Dr Peucker points out.

“A dangerously self-reinforcing circle allows electorally marginal movements into a space from where their agenda around equality, multiculturalism and religious freedom doesn’t look so extreme anymore.”

As it happens, the dinner didn’t go very smoothly for the Society …

While the venue for the event was kept secret — or at least, the Society did its best to ensure this was the case — a number of attendees, around 40, were instructed to meet at St Kilda Marina at 5.30pm in order to catch a bus to the Convention Centre. As a result of obtaining this information, which was relayed to the public by the Campaign Against Racism & Fascism, a group of around 100 or so anti-racists assembled at the rendezvous point to protest Q. As the bus was elsewhere, the group marched the brief distance to where it was parked, on Marine Parade, a hundred or so metres away from the Marina entrance. The bus, chartered by Bayside Coaches, was then surrounded, and effectively prevented from leaving at its scheduled departure time (6pm).

In the end, the bus was delayed from leaving St Kilda for an hour, before being allowed to go on its way at 7pm: kick-off time for the fund-raiser. There was some minor argy-bargy when a handful of younger patrons tried and failed to make their way onto the bus, but the picket was otherwise uneventful, with many passing motorists expressing support for the action.

St Kilda is indeed a long way from Mackay.

See : Anti-Islam group Q Society dinner disrupted by protesters in Melbourne, ABC, February 10, 2017; Protesters obstruct people going to anti-Islam event attended by Bernardi, Christensen, SBS (AAP), February 10, 2017; Anti-racism protesters clash with far-right Q Society supporters at St Kilda Marina, Marika Dobbin Thomas, Bianca Hall, The Age, February 10, 2017.

The Q Society dinner in Melbourne on Friday was preceded by another in Sydney on Thursday night, at which the very special guest speakers included cartoonist Larry Pickering and former Tory MP Ross Cameron, now the host of a batshit show on Uncle Rupert’s Sky. Hosted by North Ryde RSL, The Sydney Morning Herald published an account of the speechifying which made a lot of people angry, as well as mildly embarrassed some of Cameron’s colleagues at Sky. Larry Pickering’s hilarious quip that, while he hatesss the nasssty Muslims, ‘They are not all bad, they do chuck pillow-biters off buildings’, both badly-tarnished the respectable face that Q hopes to present to the world but also brought to mind Australia’s history of murderous homophobia.

See : Inside the far-right Q Society’s explosive dinner, where Muslims are fair game, Jacqueline Maley, February 10, 2017; Ross Cameron defends claim New South Wales Liberal party is ‘basically a gay club’, Chistopher Knaus, The Guardian, February 10, 2017; Transcript: Ross Cameron’s full remarks at controversial Q Society dinner, Georgina Mitchell, The Sydney Morning Herald, February 10, 2017.

Bonus Latham!

In The Guardian, Jason Wilson writes (Australians are worried about Trump. But there’s a lot to be worried about at home, February 10, 2017):

Last week, for the second time, former Labor leader Mark Latham appeared on The Convict Report, aka The Dingoes, an Australian “alt-right” podcast. It’s part of the network of podcasts hosted by The Right Stuff, a major international far right hub. That’s the same website whose major players have been recently doxxed by the left, and whose unmasking as promoters of fascist ideology has, in some cases brought suitably ruinous consequences.

In previous episodes, the pseudonymous hosts of the show have aligned themselves with Richard Spencer and other alt-right figures.

The Dingoes attempt to produce the same edgy fare as The Right Stuff flagships like The Daily Shoah, but they sound a little too much like chinless Young Liberal nerds to bring any real menace.

It’s significant, though, that Latham is prepared to go on their show more than once. Apparently, a show with previous episode titles like “I never want to see your race again”, which regularly spouts casual antisemitism and undergraduate race theory, and which has open fascist links, is not beyond the pale for a Sky News commentator. Despite the fact that disclaimers were offered about opinions not necessarily aligning, Latham was happy to be there.

As a former Labor leader turned trollumnist, Latham is obviously a bit of a wanker, but appearing on a neo-Nazi podcast suggests that he may have well and truly jumped the shark by this stage. As noted above, a number of podcast hosts on The Right Stuff (TRS) were recently doxed — seemingly in collaboration with some of the site’s critics on the far-right. (See : Meet Mike Enoch &/Or Mike Peinovich : They’ve got ‘The Right Stuff’, January 14, 2017.) Note that TRS obtained its semi-popularity on the AltRight, in part, by its willingness to address The Jewish Question, ie, to Name The Jew as being responsible for All The (Bad) Things. In any case, the revelation that the founder of TRS and host of The Daily Shoah, Mike Peinovich, was married to a Jewish woman caused some turmoil among its audience, with some podcasts — for example, Fash The Nation — being abandoned. (See : Pool Party’s Closed: A Timeline of The Right Stuff’s Meltdown, Eyes on the Right, January 18, 2017.) One neo-Nazi who did come out in defence of Peinovich was Andrew Anglin, founder of the Daily Stormer website. The latest issue of the SPLC’s Intelligence Report contains an essay on Anglin, and names his site as now being ‘the top hate site in America’, having recently eclipsed the veteran Stormfront:

On July 4, 2013, Anglin started what would become his main project, The Daily Stormer. The site took its name from Der Stürmer, an astoundingly vile and pornographic Nazi newspaper started by Julius Streicher and specializing in attacking Jews. Streicher was later hanged for war crimes at Nuremberg.

The new site, created from the ashes of Total Fascism, specialized in punchy, image-heavy stories that often rely heavily on quoted material. It used hyperbolic headlines — “All Intelligent People in History Disliked the Jews,” for instance, or “SS Auschwitz Guard Dies Days Before Scheduled Lynching by Kikes” — to grab readers’ attention, build up participation and shift people’s thinking.

Anglin relied heavily on the daily news, although it was news poisoned by his particular views, to drive his message home. “You make a very simple message, where you hit the same points over and over and over again and you repeat them,” he explained in a podcast on his site last year. “That’s been my style. That’s why I do the news. Because it can be new information all the time while still repeating the same points over and over again. … It’s about creating a gigantic spectacle — a media spectacle, which desensitizes people to these ideas.”

One of those who seems to have been “desensitized” to ideas like genocide and race war was Dylann Storm Roof, the young man who murdered nine black churchgoers in South Carolina in 2015 in a bid to start a race war. Posting under the moniker of AryanBlood1488 (the numbers are references to white supremacist slogans), Roof wrote about black-on-white crime — a central topic on The Daily Stormer and Roof’s self-described motive for mass murder.

See : Eye of the Stormer, February 9, 2017.

About @ndy

I live in Melbourne, Australia. I like anarchy. I don't like nazis. I enjoy eating pizza and drinking beer. I barrack for the greatest football team on Earth: Collingwood Magpies. The 2018 premiership's a cakewalk for the good old Collingwood.
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