We owe David Hicks no apology

by on 23 February, 2015

By John Slater11004220_10153074719993794_467850264_n

David Hick’s recent demands for an apology and compensation following the setting aside of his terrorism conviction by a US military court shows that while he may be innocent in the eyes of the law, he is yet to learn his lesson.

To examine Hicks’ case as a question of legal guilt is to totally misapprehend the real nature of the situation. Hicks’ innocence was not because there was a lack of demonstrated links with the Taliban, Osama Bin Laden or for a want of intent to carry out violent attacks (albeit unrealised). It was because at the particular time Hicks joined the Taliban, the law was not calibrated to deal with the issue of foreign fighters joining overseas terror groups and training to commit pre-meditated mass murders. This does nothing to diminish that Hicks sought to aid and abet the Taliban – an organisation single-mindedly focused on the destruction of Western Civilization – immediately after it had carried out the most deadly attack on the American mainland since Pearl Harbour. After the events of 9/11, America went to war with the Taliban. By any standard, this made Hicks an enemy combatant.

To speak in legal semantics, Hicks may have been found not guilty. Nevertheless, in national security terms, he revelled in an ideology antithetical to not only Australia, but the values underpinning the entire Western world.

Despite all this, the Howard Government expended considerable diplomatic capital appealing to the US to secure his return Australia. Claims that more should have been done to have Hicks’ released earlier overlook the sensitivities of persuading the United States to essentially grant preferential treatment to an Australian national at a time of war. In truth, the steps taken by Australian authorities were generous in light of Hicks’ actions.

In this light, having the audacity to demand compensation for injuries like teeth decay suggests Hicks’ is either delusional, or wilfully ignorant of the seriousness of his conduct.

It is equally astounding that Hicks’ continues to be lionised by the counter-culture left.  In December last year, Greens Senator Sarah Hanson-Young remarked that “David Hicks has a hell of a lot more guts than George Brandis and all the other government ministers who stayed silent and turned a blind eye.” Filmaker and far left polemicist John Pilger went further, describing Hicks as a “courageous Australian citizen” who had suffered from “Australia’s silence on the denigration of [his] basic liberties such as freedom of speech and the presumption of innocence.”

In the real world, ‘basic liberties’ and ‘human rights’ exist only to the extent that sovereign nation states are willing to protect them. Not coincidentally, the nation states with the greatest will to safeguard such rights – North America, the Anglosphere and Continental Europe – also happen to be the major targets of Jihadist groups like the one that Hicks signed himself up for. In the end, human rights mean nothing if they aren’t supported by the most basic right of all; the right to life.  One seriously wonders why the left are so fixated upon the purported injustices suffered by Hicks, yet have little energy when it comes to standing up for the rights of the real victims of terrorism: innocent people who have lost their lives.

Similar delusions appear to affect those who spend their time apologising or making excuses for Hicks. Just last week Bill Shorten said that while Hicks’ decision to fight with Al Qaeda after the 9/11 terrorist attacks was ‘foolish’, he had nonetheless suffered an ‘injustice.’ This habit of using distractions and weak language to downplay individual wrongdoing has also been seen in recent suggestions that a lack of social inclusion is to blame for Australian citizens flying overseas to join forces with ISIS. The key feature of this mindset is that it deflects blame away from terrorists by raising the question of whether our own values and culture may be partly responsible for inciting groups like the Taliban. Such ideas are alarming, to say the least. We cannot expect to defeat radical Islam if we are left apologising for the values and way of life that are the very reason Australia and its allies have become targets for terrorism in the first place.

Make no mistake, wavering in our resolve about what sets the West apart from the barbarism of radical Islam would be gifting terrorists a home goal. Apologising to David Hicks would amount to doing exactly that.

[Editor’s note: Shorten later commented that “There’s no doubt Mr Hicks was associating with known terrorists, and that’s absolutely deplorable.”]

John Slater is the current President of the University of Queensland Liberal National Club and is in the third year of his Law/Arts degree. John’s main ambition is to lift the profile of classical liberal ideas in Australian political debate. In particular, he is interested in exposing the failings of left wing economic policy, fighting state paternalism and changing the perception of right-of-centre political thought. John has also been involved in grass roots campaigns against curfew laws limiting night time trading hours for pubs and clubs and the former Labor Government’s SSAF tax on students.

14 thoughts on “We owe David Hicks no apology

  1. Hopefully the military have learned their lesson, and to avoid similar situations in the future, will SHOOT ON SIGHT!

  2. “at the particular time … the law was not calibrated to deal with the issue”

    I doubt they’re teaching you that at UQ Law School. If the government finds a tax loophole that people have been legally exploiting, and decides to change the law to close it, are you happy to have that “calibration” applied retrospectively?

    Surely “what sets the West apart from the barbarism of radical Islam” is the rule of law? We don’t persecute people because we don’t agree with their beliefs or because we don’t like their behaviour. We elect people to pass laws on our behalf and we have independent courts to test whether people have broken those laws. ISIS aren’t big on any of that process, and in that case of David Hicks, nor was GWB or John Howard.

  3. Ummmmmmmmmm, the point being made was the fact that hicks was able to sneak through on a “loophole” does NOT automatically make him innocent. Duh.

  4. “They hate us for our freedom”. Delusional nonsense spouted by cowards like war criminal GWB. The facts of the Hicks case have been known for more than a decade

    The insurgency prevailed and the Taliban government, for which Hicks was fighting, fell. Hicks was captured by Northern Alliance troops. He can fairly claim that at the time of capture he was under arms as a foreign volunteer for a sovereign government which he supported. In what ways does this differ from the foreign volunteers who fought for the losing Republican government in the Spanish Civil War against the successful Francoist insurgency?

  5. Hopefully the military have learned their lesson, and to avoid similar situations in the future, will SHOOT ON SIGHT!

  6. Hicks is a very lucky person. Lucky to have survived his time working with the bad guys who are obviously committed to death as a certainty, and very lucky not to have been handed to the interim government in Afghanistan to be dealt with as a POW. His luck to have been brought back to Australia is something he should be eternally grateful for. If he is not happy here, let him go back to Pakistan and retrace his steps.

  7. Hicks is a classic example of the mess that some people get into.

    Not a murderer, not a total nutter, just sucked into a maelstrom of his own making.

    He even seems to think that he “could make a difference”!

    First involved in the Balkans war – does anyone seriously think the Muslim/Orthox/Catholic centuries long hatred and conflict could be resolved by joining the fight.

    The classic photo of Hicks with the bazooka was taken in the Balkans, even though it is regularly used as a backdrop to his activities in Afghanistan/Pakistan.

    He has done Hard time in Guantanamo Bay, ultimately did a plea bargain to get out, then it turns out that the so called offence he was convicted of was not an offence at the time he committed it!

    Now back home, all he has asked for is some dental work. Seems that toothbrushes were not allowed in Guantanamo because they could be sharpened and used as a weapon.

    Might just be about time to let him drift into obscurity – but he will probably write a book, if he has’t already.

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