OPINION: Social media hate will not stop terrorists

BARELY minutes after gunmen opened fire on a crowd of concertgoers enjoying their Parisian Friday night, Twitter feeds lit up across the world.

First there was confusion: Are the reports true? Are my loved ones safe?

Then came speculation.

Pretty soon my social media feeds were saturated with messages of hope, grief and threats of retribution.

The Paris attacks have once again proved adversity brings out the best, the worst and the downright hysterical in people.

Opportunistic anti-Islam campaigner Shermon "The Great Aussie Patriot" Burgess capitalised on the catastrophe to spruik this weekend's nation-wide Reclaim Australia rallies - public demonstrations aimed squarely at keeping Muslims out.

Spruiking his newly-coined term "conheads" - people whose heads have apparently been contaminated by populist opinion - he took to Facebook to market the grand parade.

"I can't wait to come face to face with those snivelling, traitorous, Aussie flag-burning, Anzac-hating conhead left wing grubs," he screeched.

Other social media crusaders downplayed the tragedy of 129 (mostly) white people being slaughtered, as stealing the spotlight away from other massacres around the world.

Hundreds of thousands of civilians have been killed in Syria's civil war, they argued, so who cares about France's measly death toll?

It is sickening to consider all those lives lost, those innocent men, women and children tortured and raped before being sent to shallow graves when they had served their purpose.

But Syria is locked in a civil war, and has been for four joyless years.

Paris is not, and the expectation of public butchery did not exist a fortnight ago.

Skimming through a few Al Jazeera articles and signing a petition or two does not give you the right to belittle someone else's genuine grief and accuse them of racist hypocrisy.

In an open Facebook message to Malcolm Turnbull, NSW Nationals MP Andrew Fraser called for Australia to immediately "close our borders" because we "do not need Middle Eastern refugees or Islamic boat people".

The state's Multiculturalism Minister John Ajaka has denounced the view, but Fraser maintained in a subsequent radio interview he had the support of members of his party he had spoken to.

Even acquaintances of mine called for the genocide of anyone with dark skin and a beard, their beliefs deafeningly emblazoned for all to see.

Fortunately, not all reactions were so belligerent and divisive.

I was moved to see Waleed Aly's editorial on The Project being shared far and wide, as he spoke of Australians promoting messages of hate only fortifying terrorists' resolve and their means to flourish.

STRANGE POLITICS with Chris Calcino
STRANGE POLITICS with Chris Calcino

"If you're just someone with a Facebook or Twitter account firing off misguided missives of hate, you are helping ISIL," he said.

"They have told us that.

"And I am pretty sure that right now none of us wants to help these bastards."

Could not have said it better myself.



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