Age cartoonist Michael Leunig addresses the court in defence of David Hicks:
There was an outside chance that he just may have, possibly, harmed American soldiers if he had the opportunity and happened to feel like it at the time, perhaps. Or so they say.
According to Hicks himself, he was delighted to shoot at Indian soldiers after he’d trained with Islamic fundamentalist gang Lashkar-e-Toiba: “I got to fire hundreds of bullets. Most Muslim countries impose hanging for civilians arming themselves for conflict. There are not many countries in the world where a tourist, according to his visa, can go to stay with the army and shoot across the border at its enemy, legally.” The guy just wanted to kill people. Back to Leunig:
They put him in a concentration camp for the crime of that possibility, and kept him there, a million miles from home for five terrible years without trial.
Hicks was placed in Gitmo because he’d also trained in urban warfare tactics with al-Qaeda, a group which killed nearly 3,000 non-soldiers on September 11, 2001.
When they had finished with him - when they had crushed and tormented him enough and weakened him sufficiently and driven him half-mad, and displayed him to the world as an example - they tied his hands behind his back and ordered him to defend himself against all their might and final fury.
When did this happen, exactly?
Defending oneself against American know-how, although a universal problem, is never easy. But when the delusional self-righteousness of the prosecution is so fierce and extreme, to defend oneself is only to face the final climactic round of torture.
Faced with Osama bin Laden’s delusional self-righteousness, Leunig wrote this, only months after 9/11: “Might we, can we, find a place in our heart for the humanity of Osama bin Laden and those others? On Christmas Day can we consider their suffering, their children and the possibility that they too have their goodness? It is a family day, and Osama is our relative.” Consider Leunig’s affection for a wealthy murderer of thousands during his following Hicks hymn:
How may a man explain his innocence to a culture hell-bent on war and conquest? How does a broken heart stand against the vindictive and merciless onslaught of a militarised state tangled in its blinding web of anger, hypocrisy and paranoia? What does the floundering soul of a common man mean beside the greatest array of advanced homicidal technology and expertise ever assembled in the world? And just how does an exhausted little David in chains defend himself against such a ferocious Goliath?
Hicks - innocent, broken-hearted, exhausted little David - in fact joined a group hell-bent, to use Leunig’s words, “on war and conquest”. He took extraordinary steps to do so. His aim was to end “the Western-Jewish domination ... so we live under Muslim law.”
The quiet, steady bearing of Terry Hicks as he speaks about the mad Goliath’s incarceration of his son, David, is sobering and profoundly touching - especially so to men who have sons, or affectionate memories of their fathers, or a sense that love and justice are like father and son.
What of the fathers and sons Hicks shot at in Kashmir?
Terry Hicks is a man of human scale in a political world that has all but eradicated or abandoned such a dimension. And by his measure we may see the extent to which our political system is losing its mind and our ethical system is collapsing.
It sure is, Mike. Well, yours in particular.
But his strength and equanimity are never more evident on that day than when an elderly man scuttles by half-hidden in the crowd and cries out, “Kill the bastard!” The crowd draws its breath and the scuttling man disappears like a ghost but his malignancy remains: an ancient dark curse against Terry Hicks’ unfortunate son who, according to law, is at this stage innocent of any harm to the world.
David Hicks was crying out “kill the bastards” for years. And attempting to do the same. No drawn breath then.
The savagery of the hit-and-run words hover like a foul revelation, reminding all present of why they had come to this street vigil and what it was they were upholding; and about the power of cruelty and ignorance, which would always be there like an incurable, archaic disease in human affairs.
Mostly evident in the likes of bin Laden and Hicks, whom Leunig adores.
When men stop believing in “Kill the bastard” the world as we know it will fall apart because raising armies of aggression and building empires of domination will become impossible. To perpetuate the systems of power and authority it has been necessary to encode “Kill the bastard” into sophisticated signals and transmit them to children from day one.
Should we blame Terry Hicks for his son’s “encoding”?
Without the scuttling man and his ilk there can be no great empire. Without him, the Prime Minister has no fear buttons to press and no hate votes to harvest. He would be forced to do some real man’s work and be a creative leader.
Leunig is moving into deep Leunig mode here. Next, our visionary pal goes undercover:
If you want to hear the secret personal views of the Prime Minister and cabinet go, if you dare, and eavesdrop for an hour or two in the smelly old toilet at the pub on a Saturday night after the football.
You may quickly be reminded of why the planet has been environmentally and emotionally screwed up - and how little political leaders have known or wanted to understand the consequences of their actions and failings while in power.
Those consequences being ... a shortage of air fresheners?
Just as the disastrous and irreversible consequences of environmental abuse take generations to come home to roost, so, too, do the complicated effects of war take time to spread across the face and psyche of humanity. The victors and the vanquished are equally ruined by war - in time we are all poisoned.
Leunig should’ve explained this to Hicks before the idiot began seeking out war zones for a chance to kill people.
It is difficult to comprehend that a president or a prime minister would not understand this vital psycho-ecological principle. It is hard, also, to accept that as one part of humanity seeks to heal the planet another part seeks to burn it up and ruin it with war - just as in the street one man calls for justice and mercy and the other man calls hatefully for death.
The other man’s name is Osama bin Laden. He’s part of Leunig’s family. Despite which, Osama’s followers want to kill Michael Leunig; “Allah’s wrath is on the way” is apparently an acceptable ethnic variant for “kill the bastard”.
UPDATE. The Age’s Tom Hyland on Hicks:
His record and his own words show him to be a military adventurer who embarked on terror tourism, who spouted the rankest racism, eagerly served as a soldier in a savage regime, and revelled in shooting at his perceived enemies ...
At the very least, from his own words, Hicks was a rabid anti-Semite who fought with fanatical nutcases and hoped to spread a global Islamic revolution.
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