Australia Could Make Everyone a Terrorist

Appears an initiative aimed at providing teachers with tools to identify potential radicalization went a bit too far with too broad a reach:

Last week the Australian government sparked public furor over a campaign to help teachers identify signs of the radicalization process in the classroom with a prepared pamphlet.

The 32-page document, known as the “radicalization awareness information kit,” provides warning signs to indicate whether a young person is on a path to violent extremism. The pamphlet paints outlandish examples of radicalized youth who range in character, including a student named Karen who was “involved in the alternative music scene, student politics and left-wing activism.” Local media lambasted the government for conflating activism with violent extremism, blurring the line between national security threats and political expression.

While the illustrations were exceptionally misguided, the greater concern lies with creating a simplified checklist to identify young people as potential terrorists. As the Guardian rightly pointed out, doling out a canned guideline of behaviors to identify extremism not only engenders intolerance, it creates a culture of profiling—akin to the one that led to the arrest in Texas of a 14-year-old Muslim student who wanted to impress his teachers with a homemade clock that was mistaken for a bomb. A similar program in the U.K. led to an at-risk radicalization list to include a three-year-old as a potential future extremist.

…Gary Bouma, a professor involved with the initiative, reportedly distanced himself from the report upon learning it was distributed to teachers. Bouma tells the Daily Beast he did not “distance himself” from the research, but was merely concerned that teachers would not be provided with training to complement the booklet. Bouma says he’s been assured that teachers will receive the proper training to use the manuals, but what type of training would that entail?

“There’s a difference between people who get involved in what you would call incidental violence as a result of a political protest,” Victoria University professor Michele Grossman told the Guardian, referring to the case study linking a student’s penchant for left-wing activism to extremism. “To me, that’s not what we mean when we talk about facing and tackling the very serious issues around violent extremism.”

Source: Australia Could Make Everyone a Terrorist – The Daily Beast

About Andrew
Andrew blogs and tweets public policy issues, particularly the relationship between the political and bureaucratic levels, citizenship and multiculturalism. His latest book, Policy Arrogance or Innocent Bias, recounts his experience as a senior public servant in this area.

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