Since 9/11 the Australian media has been filled with bad news stories. Gang rapes in Sydney, asylum seekers, the Tampa federal election, the war in Afghanistan, the first year of the Palestinian intifada, the Cronulla riots - all hit the headlines on a regular basis. One factor ran through all of these: Arabs and Muslims.
After the terrible anti-Muslim feeling after 9/11, Manning had the shocking realization that he hadn't fairly portrayed Muslims in the media, and had even used Australia's fear of Islam to sell stories.
His reaction to the media firestorm about one ethnicity and one religion was to prepare a fully-refereed academic study on how both had been portrayed in two newspapers - Sydney's two major dailies - in the year before and the year after September 11, 2001. The results horrified him, and he set out to redress the balance any way he could. Now Professor of Media Studies at the University of Technology, he launched himself into an undergraduate degree in Arabic studies, and immersed himself in the Arab world. His subsequent trip to the Middle East was one of the best times of his life.
US AND THEM is an attempt by a respected journalist and media commentator to address the public, government-led and media-driven hysteria about the group of Australians now known as 'people of Middle Eastern appearance'. A combination of memoir, travel, culture, history and religion, US AND THEM tells the story of one man's passionate quest to see justice done: to humanise rather than demonise the people our media - and us - tend to get so wrong.