Thursday, June 28, 2012

A Q&A Journey

Well, Monday night's Q&A has led me on quite a journey. I hope you enjoy the ride:

It began with well-rambammed (2009 & 2010) Liberal Senator George Brandis reflecting thus:

"I think the future [of journalism] lies with quality because... regardless of the variety of platforms that are open I think there will always be a premium for the writers who can go beyond... the popular line... deep into the story, the specialist writers, the analytical writers... I think it's interesting [that] of the 3 Fairfax titles, the one that has suffered the least relative decline in its circulation is the Fin[ancial] Review, which is the most specialist [sic] of the [three], and which, I think, probably has more deep and analytical writing in it than either of the other two."

Er... could he mean deep and analytical like this:

"The Israeli-Palestinian conflict is an example of a clash of competing and legitimate nationalisms; justice demands that each be represented in a territorial accommodation." (The case for intervention, Oliver Kamm, Prospect/The AFR, 8/6/12)

IOW, the so-called I-P conflict is somehow akin to a married couple quarrelling over just how much of the marital bed each should occupy. (Alas, as an obese Israel grows ever more obese, and a near-anorexic Palestine grows ever more anorexic, the latter is always on the verge of falling out of the bed onto the floor.)

The problem with this kind of deep and analytical is that it is neither:

There never was a marriage. Palestine was living in her own home when Israel and his then mate, Britain, came knocking. The always hospitable Palestine at first welcomed them, but sure enough these bastards began to throw their combined weight around, treating her home as if it were their own. Israel, in particular, began making the most outrageous demands (Listen up, bitch, God gave your home to me, OK?). Palestine protested and asked them to leave. To no avail. She fought back, again and again. It nearly killed her. But they were stronger. One day, Israel and his mate, Britain, had a falling out and the latter stormed out of the house, leaving Palestine alone with the more psychotic of the two. With Britain gone, Israel proceeded to rape and beat Palestine at will, reducing her to the pitiful but still defiant creature we see before us now.

But, hey, I've never seen that sort of deep and analytical in the Fin. Review.

Then there was this, also from Brandis:

"You're making the mistake... Louise, of assuming that a single masthead can't embrace a variety of opinions. Take The Australian. They publish Phillip Adams and they publish Christopher Pearson and all points of view in between."

So there you have it. Straight from the horse's mouth. Phillip Adams is the figleaf which enables The Australian to pretend that it's an organ of full spectrum free speech. But what a pathetic, withered, beyond-autumnal figleaf Adams is on the subject matter of this particular blog. For the full story of Adam's deep and analytical, not approach to Palestine/Israel, simply click on the 'Flip Adams' label below and check out his record.

But it was Melbourne University Publishing's Louise Adler's all-too-revealing anecdote on her visit to the Hancock mansion of yore that really had me thinking deeply and analytically, namely about the horrors that lurk within the minds of the born-to-rule brigade known as the Liberal/ Nationalist Party and their corporate backers. Here's Louise:

"I have my own sort of very special experience of the family Hancock. I had a sleepover at the Hancock home - let's call it a home or hacienda or estate - some years ago when Lang Hancock was still alive and I remember there was an evening. I stayed over in the villa in the Rose Garden (underline Rose) and I slept upstairs. My husband is very keen on me not saying I slept on top of Joh Bjelke-Petersen, but I was upstairs and he was downstairs. And over dinner, Joh Bjelke-Petersen and Lang Hancock and his wife at the time and someone from the National Party, whose name I can't remember, actually talked about the strong leadership that was missing in Australia today and they mused about the strong leaders they knew and loved and admired and thought that we needed them. The first name that came up was the Shah of Iran and the second name that came up was a chap called Nicky and I really couldn't figure out who Nicky was until a bolt of lightning hit me and I realised that they were talking about Nicolae Ceausescu, the Romanian dictator with whom Lang was trying to do a mining deal. And so I agree with you that we should be very worried [about Gina Rinehart]. We should be deeply worried."

Now this took me back to the same night's Four Corners profile of Gina Rinehart, and this bit in particular:

MARIAN WILKINSON: Michael Yabsley and a group of Young Turks in the Liberal Party first met Gina Rinehart back in the 1970s.
MICHAEL YABSLEY: There were half a dozen of us who were heavily involved in student politics. Lang Hancock had made no secret of the fact that he was pretty disenchanted with the generation of politicians at the time and Lang and Gina were keen to develop some relationships. So within that group there were people like Peter Costello, Michael Kroger, Eric Abetz and a number of others, and I was part of that group.

And that took me off, as these things will, back to a speech of Costello's to the Australian Christian Lobby on 23 September 2006. Then Treasurer and PMinesterial wannabe Costello was angsting about the coming March of the Mooslims from Mecca on Canberra (because Mooslims, as you know, unlike the good folk of the ACL, can't seem to separate church (mosque?) and state:

"This does not mean there is no experience of a secular state separate from the religious domain in the Muslim world. The most outstanding example would be the establishment of modern Turkey out of the old Ottoman Empire. Mustafa Kemal Attaturk, well known in Australia as the commander of the Turkish victory at Gallipoli in 1915, went on to found modern Turkey as a secular state: a path he believed would lead to modernity. In my opinion he is one of the great leaders of the 20th century. He should be held out as a model of leadership for the modern Islamic world." (Attaturk's stirling record in smashing the Turkish trade union movement and reducing parliament to a mere adjunct of his Republican Peoples Party would only have added to his allure for Costello.)

Do you see where all this has taken me? I now know that which before I had only guessed: what really turns our Coalition politicians and their corporate backers on, what really gets their juices flowing, is strong leaders... like the Shah of Iran, Nicolae Ceausescu, Kemal Attaturk.

And knowing that, I just can't help wondering now whether this penchant for strongmen might not  stretch  back in time to the likes of ...

Yes, Louise, I agree. We should be deeply worried.

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