"Ross Cameron, the brilliant but creepy Liberal Member for Parramatta, has talked me into participating in his youth leadership forum in Canberra. I rather suspect it's a front for mobilising young Christian soldiers, plus some quality box for Ross." (The Latham Diaries, 14/2/97, p 57)
Every so often the corporate press publishes an opinion piece of such surpassing silliness as to leave you shaking your head in disbelief.
Iran versus Israel: more oil on troubled waters, by Howard-era politician, seriously sexy evangelical and occasional Sydney Morning Herald columnist Ross Cameron, is as fine an example of the What the f..k! genre as you could ever hope to read. It appeared in Saturday's issue.
"For many Australians the name Iran conjures images of bearded and severe Ayatollahs and a wide-eyed President Ahmadinejad occupying the no-man's land between sanity and fanaticism."
Yes, an Islamophobic, Iranophobic and Ziophilic press that serves up flummery such as this certainly has a lot to answer for.
"Since this country could easily become the biggest, cataclysmic news story of the year, it is worth spending a few minutes trying to understand its pathology."
Iran's pathology? I rest my case.
"The Shiites are the Pentecostals of Islam - true believers on an evangelical mission."
Wide-eyed happy slappers?
"While Sunnis are largely resigned to a Jewish homeland, the Shiite diaspora can't utter 'Israel' and 'legitimate' in the same sentence."
Try telling that to Sunni Palestinians and Egyptians. Shiite diaspora? The Shiites of Lebanon and Iraq are a diaspora? And here's me (and they) thinking they're Lebanese and Iraqis all along. Silly me (and them)!
"Ironically in the current tension, Persians and Jews share the most ancient bond of affection of any two surviving cultures."
But of course! The evidence is just sooo compelling:
"Unlike Sunnis, Shiites and Jews share the idea that edible creatures of the sea must have fins or scales."
Man, you should see those Sunnis tucking into whale and dolphin. Incontrovertible evidence, no doubt about it, of the ancient bond of affection between Sunnis and Japanese.
"The Iranian Bahais have their pilgrimage shrine in Israel."
Err... but it dates back to when the place was still called P-a-l-e-s-t-i-n-e, like in the 2nd half of the nineteenth century. Israel only ethnically cleansed its way into being in 1948. Go figure!
"Neither side are Arabs."
Except for the roughly 60% of Israel consisting of Arab Jews.
"History tells us that Israel and Iran can be friends but Iran's resolve to follow its own course seems as intense as Israel's determination to survive. Iran's leaders believe they are following a righteous path. That moral conviction, combined with oil and gas, Hamas and Hezbollah, is a volatile force."
Israel's determination to survive? Oh yes, and on just a few hundred nukes a day too! And BTW - how did Sunni Hamas get into the picture? Weren't Sunnis supposed to be resigned to a Jewish homeland?
What really puzzles me is why a bloke who clearly knows nothing about the Middle East gets prime space on the opinion pages to demonstrate this. This is not to say, however, that a piece from Cameron is entirely devoid of interest. After all, anyone whose Wikipedia entry reads like the plot of a soap opera definitely has something to offer. I'm just not sure it belongs in a paper that has pretensions to quality journalism.