Sometimes you get the publicity you deserve. For David Hicks the decision to pose up with a rocket launcher perched on his shoulder was somewhat regrettable in the PR department.
I’m not saying of course that posing with an RPG of itself justifies being thrown in the clink at Guantanamo Bay for several years and then incarcerated with some of South Australia’s most accomplished scumbags and weirdos at the Yatala Correctional Facility. But, you know, people will draw their own conclusions.
Especially when coupled with the fact that you did it because you were being trained by al-Qaeda. And happened to meet Osama bin Laden four times. Once is an accident, twice a zany coincidence, but three or more suggests you’ve fallen in with a bad crowd.
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Just for a minute, imagine if David Hicks was charismatic, brilliant, eloquent, and truly, truly remorseful. He came across as precisely none of those things on ABC TV’s David Hicks special on Australian Story last night. But if he had, would Australia forgive him?
We’ll never know. Because what we saw was an unconvincing charade. And some irrelevant shots of Hicks on a motorbike, his wife in soft focus, and his mate making a cup of tea.
The former Guantanamo Bay detainee, by blaming his childhood and talking about his way forward, seems to be seeking some sort of forgiveness. ‘Closure’, even.
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In her excoriating review of David Hicks’ memoir My Journey, ABC reporter and author Leigh Sales begins with the following assessment of the blame-shifting psychology of the former Taliban recruit:
“A sentence near the end of this controversial book encapsulates David Hicks’s attitude to his stay at Guantanamo Bay on terrorism-related charges:‘Any and all inconvenience . . . was brought about due to my incarceration and treatment and that was at the hands of others.’
“In other words, Hicks eschews personal responsibility. Guantanamo: My Journey is a flawed memoir, chiefly because of an astonishing lack of self-reflection.”
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Late Sunday night it was revealed on Twitter - by a well-known TV presenter whom I assume approved - that David Hicks had just received a standing ovation at the Sydney Writers’ Festival.
I wanted to know what they were cheering and tweeted: “Fact he abandoned wife and kids? Fact he thought OBL terrific bloke?”
There was no answer, but soon after another tweet arrived, from a complete stranger, saying: “God I am so glad you said that… I am no right wing jerk BUT I draw the line.”
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Just a hunch, but if a mate ever asks you to snap a pic of them with their favourite high-powered weapon, you might want to reassess your friendship - and possibly call the police.
As give aways go, snaps such as this one of Daniel Cowart, who’s just pleaded guilty to plotting to kill Barack Obama, are a bit of a no brainer.
Just in case no-one was alarmed by the enormous great gun he’s holding, Cowart helpfully had a Swastika tattooed on his upper arm and shaved his head.
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I keep waiting for the traditional church to launch its campaign against the government’s treatment of boat people.
After all, boats carrying asylum seekers keep entering Australian waters in greater numbers, there are allegations that boats are left to drift and, worst of all, some have perished along the way.
I glance skyward in Melbourne, looking for the immense banner hanging from the spire St Paul’s Cathedral, like there was a few years ago. Instead of “Justice for David Hicks”, it will read “Justice for SIEV 624”.
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He may be known as the Ruddbot, but when it comes to his much vaunted specialist skills on China, it would seem that batteries were not included.
As the Prime Minister plays catch up on being caught flat footed on the Stern Hu case, he needs to demonstrate that his special China skills are not just a party trick, but can genuinely be used in Australia’s interests.
When in Opposition, Kevin Rudd was quick to criticise John Howard, claiming he was “dragging his feet on providing Mr Hicks with a fair trial”. These were his exact words in a door stop he gave almost four years ago on August 2.
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