MyallCreek1Dave Andrews’ plea for religious tolerance in the Westender generated a lot of feedback and controversy – including this comment: “Okay Dave, So Much For Being Nice And Neighbourly, But How Can We Deal With Real Terrorists In Australia?”

Here’s Dave’s response:

If we treat our neighbours the way that we would like to be treated, in my experience, many of them, if not all, are more than happy to reciprocate.

But what do we do with those who have the darkness of ‘terror’ in their heart?

Like the alleged ‘Aussie terrorist’ we heard about yesterday who was devising a diabolical plan to scapegoat innocent people and callously decapitate them?

The fact is, in Australia, we have got a long history of having to deal with such people. Time and again we have had to learn to deal with people who have committed atrocities in the name of their civilization and/or religion – including ‘terror’-able atrocities such as rape, mutilation, decapitation and massacre.

According to the ‘Massacre at Myall Creek’, reported in The Sydney Morning Herald, on 10 June 1838 a group of Aussie settlers murdered 28 Aboriginal men, women and children near Myall Creek in northern New South Wales.

‘A group of stockmen, led by John Fleming, rode to Myall Creek Station where some Aboriginal people were preparing their evening meal. The stockmen herded the defenceless Aboriginal people together and tied their hands together with a long rope. Only two young boys escaped’.

Within twenty minutes of their arriving ‘they hauled their captives from their huts and over a rise’. There the Aussie settlers ‘hacked the defenceless Aboriginal people to death’. The perpetrators were ‘deaf to the cries of their victims’. ‘They were beheaded and their headless bodies were left where they fell’. The ‘stockmen set up camp, drinking and bragging about their killings’.

‘Two days after the Myall Creek Massacre the murderers returned and burned the bodies of their victims. They then set out to find other Aboriginal people. A woman was caught, her throat cut and was ‘allowed to run with blood spurting out of her cut throat’. She was then ‘thrown alive onto the fire’. Her infant child ‘was thrown alive onto the fire’. Two other ‘girls were raped and mutilated’.

These atrocities were rationalized in the name of a ‘civilization’ that treated Aboriginals as less than human, and a ‘religion’ that rationalized dominion through extermination. One observer said at the time ‘I look on the blacks as a set of monkeys, and the earlier they are exterminated from the face of the earth the better… I would never see a white man hanged for killing a black’.

Archetypal Aussie ‘terror’ – including brutal be-headings justified in terms of an extremist supremacist ideology – and not one single Aussie Muslim involved.

How did we deal with this ‘terror’- these ‘terror’-able crimes against humanity?

In spite of how ‘terror’-able these crimes were, we didn’t treat the perpetrators as ‘terrorists’, but as ‘criminals’. We didn’t declare a ‘war against terror’, which in turn, would ‘terrorise’ the ‘guilty’ and the ‘innocent’ – ‘guilty by association’ – alike. Instead we ordered the police to methodically investigate the crimes and arrest those responsible for the crimes. The perpetrators were then tried by their peers, in ‘open court’, according to ‘due process’, not on the basis of ‘paranoid rumours’, but on the basis of ‘hard evidence’. And thus, those who were guilty were punished and those who were not guilty were not punished.

This is how we have dealt with those who committed ‘terror’-able crimes against humanity in days gone by – and this is how we should do it today.