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Waleed Aly is the paternal TV figure we’ve waited 60 years for

Who would have thought that in a new century overloaded with information and innumerable ways to get it, that there would be a return to an avuncular television presence who can calm us before bedtime as he talks and makes sense of the terrible things we’ve seen and heard on the news?

Waleed Aly has emerged as Australia’s much, much belated answer to America’s Walter Cronkite. Smart, articulate, and concerned, Aly, like Cronkite, has the charisma to look down the barrel of the camera with sincerity and authority and talk directly to his audience sensibly about events that are far from sensible.

Cronkite was a CBS news anchor who earned the title “America’s Most Trusted Man” for his delivery and interpretation of events during the tumultuous 1960s and ’70s. His words, expression and body language told Americans about everything from the assassination of JFK through to the horrors of the Vietnam War, and so he told them how to feel.

Although Australia has had its share of kindly-eyed Father Knows Best nightly newsreaders since the 1950s, those men were as unlikely to venture into editorialising as they were likely to be seen hosting a telethon.

Everyone might have an opinion and a way to broadcast it these days, but Aly’s editorials on Channel Ten’s The Project, whether by accident or design, are a return to the paternalistic ways of 1950s when a TV host’s kind face comforted a populace discombobulated by the footage of terror that was brought into their living rooms.

Aly’s editorials appear to be serving the same function which is incredible given the diversity of news sources available now. His carefully chosen words addressing 21st century terror – Isis, the Paris attacks, and last night’s call for tolerance and forgiveness of those whose views you don’t agree with on social media — have become must watch television (although most of us watch it the next day on our devices).

Aly’s editorial “Isis is Weak” last year was watched more than 30 million times on Facebook and his defence of TV host Sonia Kruger (“Sonia isn’t Evil”) last night has been watched on Facebook 4.9 million times today.

It’s hard to imagine any other television host or public figure in Australia with such influence. Although The Project is entertainment first and its brand of news comes second, Aly’s ability to change minds – especially the large number of under 35s who watch the show – might put Aly on track to becoming Australia’s first “Most Trusted Man”.

Although Aly has his haters in the right wing media, it’s going to take some trickery for it to discredit a man asking for tolerance, forgiveness and telling it to turn the other cheek.

54 responses to “Waleed Aly is the paternal TV figure we’ve waited 60 years for

  1. Free Speech and tolerance? Westerners are being forced to accept a culture that is brutalizing the world over. We are forced to keep our mouths shut or be classed as “racists”. Yet Islam is not a race it is a Cult. Muslims are not a race it is a religion. They can say and do what they want in Australia and the world over. Yet if a “Right wing activist” says something against them, he is crucified, vilified and isolated. Rules are being changed daily to suit them. Foods are being changed to suit them. Because it “offends” them. Halal meat for example. A brutal and inhumane way of killing an animal. Yet moderate muslims have already said they do not need it killed this way because all they have to do is have the foods “blessed”. Sounds more like many muslims get off on torture of poor defenseless creatures. Well what about all the things they do that offends Australian citizens? Oh thats right, we are supposed to keep our mouths shut and just accept it as good citizens.

  2. Walled Aly is a very convincing orator, calm and measured in his delivery and carries an air of authority and right mindedness. He and his learned wife need to use their skills to explain the motivations of Islamic extremist for committing the atrocities they do. What is typical of their response is to lecture decent Australians on the need for education and tolerance. It’s all about how we should respond, no mention of how Islam in Australia should respond. Their rhetoric is all about what’s wrong with non Muslim Australians and how we should better ourselves. The fact that the pseudo educated in this forum are falling for it is no surprise. What we need fromWalled is why Muslims are killing people and what they are doing to fix it. And yes, Susan, the facts are being relegated in this debate, by you and your kind. Here’s one fact, Muslim kids in this country need education, the regular kind, not the primitive assertions of an archaic religion. This is the only way they can join and be respected by mainstream Australia, and avoid the last resorts of gangs and extremist ideology.

  3. this is a pew study based on 2013 and make up your own mind
    moralcompassblog.com/2013/05/03/pew/
    in a nut shell there are 1.6 billion Muslims out of that 350 Million that believe in jihad .
    I believe 350 Million people if they want can do a lot of damage to good people inducing good Muslims there is enough of them .
    This fact is based on a independent study and is not some media driven bull shit Australia should look at its immigration and application of Sharia in our country this is not fear this is not a phobia this is real numbers .

  4. YELEPT, check the meaning of radical.

    Bill, Churchill was warning the west about Hitler’s military expansion which he said would be used to conquer Europe. He warned of the votaries of Islam… which we are seeing now.
    Right on both counts.

    Barry you are living in a society which still adheres to the tenets of western philosophy. We are not ‘going through it again’. The underlying thought is that the development and growth of western is why we are the way we are, today.

    I don’t agree with you that we need to tolerate intolerance. If I have to tolerate it, then don’t you it’s a bit like protecting the rights of a bloke who is threatening to shoot you in the back of the head.

    We are living in the thoughts of Voltaire… well most of us anyway.

    Have you actually read the three prominent thinkers from the 20th century western world? Your comments seem to show an ignorance of their work.

    And finally Barry why don’t you tell us all, what you think it is that I don’t like.

  5. They are not terrorists but Muslims who are passionately following the commands of Allah in Quran. Read it to verify . 99.99% who don’t are not Muslims according to Allah in Quran.I am relieved 99.99% dont .condoning of killing of infidels proves that it’s not written by a God but by evil people

  6. I respect Waleed Aly. However on the Sonia Kruger issue he is wrong. Appeasement of the bigot may soothe the symptoms (and temporarily silence the outbursts) but it doesn’t touch the underlying irrational fear that drives the bigotry. His wife Susan Carland wrote a piece in The Guardian drawing attention to the scariest aspect of the current epidemic of Muslim bashing – that FACTS have become irrelevant. The implication that I draw from Carland’s piece is that constant presentation of fact is necessary as a means of countering the spread of this contagion. Neither appeasement – there, there Sonia we recognize that you are frightened and that your fear deserves to be honored – nor presentation of fact will alter the views of the bigot but constant exposure to the truth will restrict the spread of ignorant bigotry. To me, Carland seems to understand the problem better than hubby.

    1. Sonia Kruger’s outburst wasn’t bigotry but irrational fear since the terrorism that is occurring in France and elsewhere is carried out by Muslim extremists; so naturally she feels if Muslims are denied entry into Australia that will curtail any terrorism here. She ignores the fact that one of the terrorist recruiters is a Catholic convert to Islam and that the vast majority of Muslims here and throughout the world are peaceful and cherish peace.

  7. Excellent piece by Waleed. I’m more than willing to start by smiling and saying ‘Gidday’ to the next Muslim woman I meet. But it would be a bit difficult to do that if she was wearing a burqa.

    1. Why would it be difficult? She’s wearing a burqua. It will allow you to see that she has her head at the top of her body, and her face will be pretty much on the front of her head. Same as usual.

  8. I am proud and happy to acknowledge Waleed Aly as the pre-eminent public intellectual in Australia today. I would be surprised if Anne Summers, Hugh Stretton, Chris Puplick, Fiona Stanley, Barry Jones, Raymond Gaita or Robert Manne would dispute this ( if they were available to do so).

  9. If only it was all so simple! Waleed Aly is certainly getting a high profile out his ‘Editorials’ but he comes with too much baggage to be taken seriously. Both he and his wife advocate an adherence to fundamental teachings of Islam. He wears a beard and his wife (an Anglo Monash Academic) always covers up with a hijab. Both of them spent time on the TV program “Salam Cafe” on C31 & SBS promoting their version of Islam. (see them on YouTube). Recently in a ‘Foreign Correspondent’ report on the ABC about the resurgence of music in Iran, every young woman wanted to go without the hijab but they had to contend with the police. Here where all these women are free they choose to wear the hijab. Now we don’t particularly care about what people wear but it says something about the thinking and the voluntary adherence to archaic Islamic rules. Why? If they adhere to the hijab what other archaic rules do they adhere to? We know Saudi Arabia spends $70 billion a year in promoting Wahhabi Islam around the world by funding schools, Mosques and other cultural institutions. This is the problem. At the PMs Iftar dinner ALL the young Muslim women wore hijabs. Are there any secular Muslims around?

    1. My wife wears a bra. Doesn’t that ” says something about the thinking and the voluntary adherence to archaic “Christian” rules?”

  10. How is it that the most intelligent, cultivated and, well, humanist media person in Australia happens to be a Muslim man; meanwhile our silliest, most ignorant and Fascist media person is an allegedly ‘Christian’ woman?

  11. Must be tongue in cheek article. Anyone hanging out for 60 years just to get this numpty on his/her wish list has to live a pretty vapid existence. He’s just a smiling apologist for his militant ideology, taqiyya at its most blatant.

  12. I think Aly is a smart rheorician who should be using his skill to speak out against All extremist views; and when he does that, including his own crazy mob, I might be interested in his call for calm.

    1. Very uncharitable comment Gershon. Waleed extremist? Get bloody real. That’s about as rational and generous as saying that YOU, on the basis of your name, would happily shoot a 10 year old throwing stones. What are you Gershon, doing for peace, tolerance, understanding? I think on that score Waleed leaves you, me and most Aussies in his dust.

      1. Where exactly did Dr Maller call Waleed an extremist? All he said is Waleed should “speak out against All extremist views”. Simon its your blind folded views that are helping cause trouble and oppress Australians. You dont see what you read. You see what you want to see to act as the moral superior.

  13. Walked,
    A dynamic and great moment of poise, on television even!
    She is a pitiful creature but you are onto something.
    Your offer of relevance and empathy is noble.
    BTW, you’re no way paternalistic. I wonder what word they mean?

  14. Hi Anonymous Holding your own unicorn.

    No Helen Razors article was aimed at simpletons who ignore the link between the predominately Sunni religion of violence and its targets i.e. the non secular westerners or Shite muslims.

    What

    What Helen Razor and the others who are at a loss and who don’t know (self admitted by Helen) miss is that the west no longer adheres to Canon Law. It hasn’t since the Enlightenment a couple hundred years ago. Which of course is the basis of the development and advanced west.

    They also fail to recognise all of the great atrocities of modern civilisation were fostered by the deviate socialists Stalin, Mao, and Hitler.

    They also fail to recognise the wests colonisation of much of the world has lead to the least deprivation and suffering the world has ever known.

    While at times brutal in its practise and involving murder mayhem and atrocities, atonement and reconciliation has and is occurring.

    What Helen and her cadre do is despicable in that they really only have a black arm band view of the west. It is inspired by the ongoing failure of the chronic dysfunction of their preferred socialist beliefs.

    cheers and mate if you thinkI’m a bigot you are in a minority. Your are also a coward by hiding behind a non deplume. Show your name and I will sue you

    1. Oh dear Keith. Tut tut. Now that was really a mad, saliva -spitting rant. But you probably can’t read this now cos you punched and shattered the screen, too

  15. I admit that after sending Sonia Kruger a furious tweet critical of her astonishing lack of common sense after siding with perhaps one of the most obnoxious creatures in public media, Andrew Bolt, I was shocked when I saw this lady’s face on television. Pale, bags under her eyes, shell shocked by unrelenting criticism. Bolt, super fan of Tony Abbott, a true racist who hasn’t yet recovered from losing a racial vilification court case some time ago, is poison to everyone who deals with him.Waleed Aly showed last night an admirable determination to allow us to dig deep into our reserves of clear, thoughtful thinking, free of hatred or misplaced horror. I’m not a muslim….I feel, therefore, “safe” from silly remarks like Sonia’s. Waleed Aly is afraid for himself, his religion and his family and friends….still, he finds in his heart, room for a compassionate assestment of a careless, selfish TV comment.
    Yeap, I like the guy.

  16. It’s consistent with Aly’s previous positions to take pity on lesser citizens who refuse to downplay the danger that radical Islam poses mainstream Australia. Aly was notably silent during the Man Monis siege and equally mute when Curtis Cheng was shot dead for walking out of his office. It serves no purpose to claim that Islam is a religion of peace and that’s what the Quran preaches. The stark reality faced by all of us tells a different story, Nice tells a different story. It serves no purpose to preach that Australians are misguided in their judgement of Islam and need education. What serves a purpose is for Muslim Australia to recognise they have a problem and to weed out the radical elements in their midst. They, after all, are the ones doing the killing.

  17. Waleed has certainly taken like a duck to water at Ch 10. And that water is little more than tepid reasonableness which, while generally in short supply in the Oz MSM, is still a whole lot of talking about not very much, at all.
    It is symptomatic of most sops to ‘balance’, and the never ending resort to the lesser controversial (as a response to what Razer rightly identified yesterday as the inability of those in the shill and shrill commentariat to actually FORM an opinion, before broadcasting it).
    I can’t, and won’t, be bothered with the tepid. Give me the hard nosed anytime, such as those @ Counterpunch’.org. Globalisation does have its benefits.
    As the now deceased co-founder of Counterpunch, the great Alexander Cockburn, used to ask so many – “Is your hate pure?

  18. To Ian Carr, perhaps he is not wasted on the young. Channel 10 is largely a younger audience, however it is the young with impressionable minds that need this sort of analysis and dissection. Old buggers like me have largely made up their minds, one way or the other, and are mostly immune to appeals to common sense, kindness, charity and tolerance (or have already instilled them).

    Our hope is the young. The old buggers, a generation of which I am part, have largely failed either by intent or lack thereof.

  19. Who would have thought that Channel 10, whose audience is mostly teenagers, would find a commentator who not only makes sense, but is articulate and measured. He is wasted on that station, of course, but really shows the likes of Alan Jones and Andrew Bolt what sensible, ADULT, non-hysterical reporting is all about. And he’s not even white or middle-aged…….go figure!

  20. Brilliant summation of Waleed ALY’s place in our public commentary, Raymond. And it makes the case for accepting that the Qur’an is essentially a book of peace – as indeed most Muslims entering the public space to deny that their religion is a warlike terrorist organisation have been trying to tell us. I recall reading it nearly a half-century ago and finding it more-or-less a version of the Bible -same characters and stories. Anyway – back to Waleed – if only one could clone the man – and put him on every political commentary program with his messages of compassion and arguments for kindness in our society.

    1. well you better go read it again. it is as much a book of peace as the old testament is a book of peace. both books relating to warring tribes, history, genealogy, warfare. the koran in particular extremely well know in historical fact we can even point to different times when mohammed was upset and angry etc., with certain people/events and quite clearly starts writing things to incite violence as a way of getting revenge.

      it is a book from a time of warring tribes and only calls for peace between those who join together to battle the rest – of course, that’s how all such political manoevres work.

      when is all this nonsense going to stop? everyone mouthing off and no one bothering to check it out. don’t believe me, check it out for yourself. it is an incredibly tedious read, really terrible, but you can force yourself to do it. read the koran and see the incitements to violence and hatred and then read the hadith that reinforce it all.

      or just go to a website like for instance: http://www.thereligionofpeace.com/pages/quran/violence.aspx

      and then, of course, check for yourself every reference it makes.

      it is simple: thousands, millions of muslims can be found who are people of peace. no problem. but the book is not a book of peace except between, as i said, those who share the same belief – meaning a distinct sect of muslims, i.e. not wahhabi or other.

      the whole thing is a garbage argument.

      if you want to get down to brass tacks all abrahamic religious are a bit loony.
      and all those millions of ‘peaceful’ muslims are not actually, according to the letter of their law, muslims. simple as that.

      1. Neither is the bible which is the Christians’ handbook. Of course, you could also believe that believing what the sky fairy has told you is a sign something is wrong with your reasoning powers.

    2. Clearly you haven’t heard of or read the writings of ISIS C-in-C Abu Bakr Al-Baghdadi. He mocks the very notion of Islam being ‘a religion of peace’ arguing that it’s fulfilling Mohammed’s promise of establishing a global caliphate ‘by word or by sword’. I think our daily news feed from around the world lends the lie to your ‘religion of pesce’ fantasy.

  21. Thanks Waleed. I’m with you. I’ve been very worried about the demonising of Pauline Hanson this time round. Not because she is any less terrible, but because, as you say, she speaks for a certain fraction of frightened people who will only cement their positions as the well meaning urban middle class sling off at their hero. So how do we go about doing what we need to do.?

    Thanks again and best wishes.

  22. Unlike most commentators who thrust themselves at the viewer/listener with the intention of being bigger than the comment they are seeking to express, Waleed Aly takes a secondary position behind his comments which has the impact of making what he says that more believable.

  23. Yes, it’s a terrific piece, but I do wonder whether so many are watching it because The Project used the editorial as an excuse to show every frightening and disturbing piece of footage it could find. Waleed is telling us to transcend our fears while the imagery says “be scared”.

  24. I like the man, I admire his beautiful wife and if ever there was someone to remind people that other Aussies of the Muslim Faith are no different from the main-stream population than Anglicans or Roman Catholics or Buddhists or even Calathumpians! Perhaps he needs to have a good, long talk with the Pauline Hanson’s of this country as well .. she seemed bemused by sitting next to a Muslim on the ABC’s “Q & A” the other night when Sam Dastyari set her back on her heels for quite a while. Of course, once she realised he was a human as the other people she let fly again, but it was nice while it lasted!

  25. Congratulations Waleed for showing compassion, leadership and intelligence. The world would be a much finer – and safer – place if we practiced what he suggests.

  26. The voice of reason and compassion is the best weapon against the craziness of social media (not to forget the shockjocks and Murdoch’s papers). The guy, a moslem psychologist, in the last Q&A session, who invited Pauline Hanson to have a meal with him and his family, had the same effect. Pauline Hanson was dumbfounded, because there was nothing to vilify or to react to, no wonder she could not bring herself to accept the invitation. Ignorance is the worst enemy of reason and compassion, so maybe we can try to invite others, we do not always agree with, to break bread with us and get to know each other.

  27. I fully believe that Waleed is amazing. Always speaks with understanding and knowledge of the subject and when required shows compassion for some people’s ignorance. How fortunate are we that we have our own Walter!

  28. Waleed Aly always talks sense, but he left one thing out of his piece on racists, and that is the main stream media’s love of anything that rates. I agree that by attacking racists in capital letters and with a viciousness that equals their vile rants, we give them a legitimacy they do not deserve. The people we should be complaining to and at, are the television executives and newspaper editors who don’t care who is vilified, as long as they get ratings to entice advertising.

  29. Aly is not frank and open. While his sophistry is appealing his contradictions cannot be ignored. His religion is the religion of justifying and excusing terror, mostly through transference.

    We westerners need radical thought not sophistry.
    Radical in a return to our roots. We should heed the warnings about Islam from the great western leaders and thinkers of the 20th century. Ie. Voltaire, Churchill, Chesterton and Russell. They spoke as they witnessed. That’s our cultural heritage. The sophistry of the likes Aly and the socialist cadre in our midst is not our culture.

    Keith Kennelly

    1. Sorry but your comment suggests unfamiliarity with the roots of western thinking, which are far less attractive than you might expect, but why on earth would we want to go through all that again? Your use of the term ‘sophistry’ to disparage something you don’t like is hardly a great example of toleration.
      Even if we stick to C20, Voltaire is out of place by a few centuries but why pick out Churchill, Chesterton and Russell – all writing in English – as thinkers? Churchill was an effective political leader and a great reactionary, but this does not make him a great thinker. As for Chesterton, he was clearly an interesting writer but hardly a thinker to follow. Russell, which did important early work on mathematics but thereafter moved on to being a popular, but not always serious, philosopher

    2. Keith, you appear to be trying to win the argument with the use of sophistry. Real facts work better. And we westerners don’t wish to be radicalised – that attracts the AFP, doncha know!

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