It's always interesting to learn about the backgrounds of those who toil on our behalf on the parliamentary leather. So thanks must go to Greg Bearup for his illuminating profile of Senator Cory Bernardi in this week's Weekend Australian Magazine. Some highlights:
"You'll be chatting amiably and he'll come out with something inflammatory, like: 'According to the Islamic texts and doctrines, Mohammed was the perfect Muslim; Mohammed was a person that, no question, did a lot of acts that are similar to what ISIS is doing today.' Kaboom! Can't you see how divisive that is, I say, and that most Muslims, even the most moderate Muslims would find that statement offensive? 'It's the truth,' he says. 'Islam needs reform. What was seen as acceptable in the seventh century is not acceptable today.' There's no nuance. He's not trying to appeal to the centre. His method is to spark debate with a hand grenade. At times, he's blown off his own arm. 'I'm just a big ball of scar tissue now,' he says. 'They can't draw any more blood.' Sometimes, listening to him, I am reminded of Pauline Hanson..." (Regrets, I have just one)
Boy, Cory sure can join the dots! Breathtaking!
"[H]is political epiphany came to him when he was about 25 and he was lying in an isolation ward in an Adelaide hospital, suffering from tuberculosis. Until then he had led a fairly blessed existence. His immigrant father had done well; Leon opened a succession of inner-city restaurants and bars in Adelaide. Cory had attended one of Adelaide's establishment schools, Prince Alfred College, where he was a popular kid and a champion rower. At the age of 18 he was chosen to row for Australia... He won a scholarship to the Australian Institute of Sport... but his promising career was cut short by a back injury at the age of 19. He was bitterly disappointed but he dusted himself off and headed overseas... He travelled all over Europe and then found himself working for a German construction company that won a contract in Libya, where he lived for 9 months. It was not a happy experience and seems to have left him with a grim view of Islam. He was isolated and working with 25 Turks, 'none of whom spoke English'."
Rude bastards! That's Islam for you, I guess.
"When one of his colleagues, an Englishman, was injured and taken to hospital, Bernardi says they had to wait until a goat was treated before they tended to the Brit."
How dare those bloody wogs treat a white man in this fashion! Where's a NATO bombing raid when you need one?
"'There was another time when we saw some burqa-clad ladies and we went to talk to them and the men came and started abusing us, shushing us away... you don't want to accuse all Muslims but there are substantial parts of the Muslim teachings that shouldn't apply in the modern age'."
Jeez! How's a white man supposed to liberate a brown woman with all these bloody brown blokes getting in the way?
Thank God for the local sheilas:
"He came back to Adelaide and... bought into the family business, Bernardi's, an inner city pub. Sinead Sheehy, a beautiful and feisty young Irish woman... was working behind the bar. 'My first impression of him was that he was a very strong individual,' she says. 'Oh, and handsome.' Both of them were going out with other people. That soon changed."
OK, so Cory knows all about Islam and ISIS, but has he ever heard of ISIL - Italian State in Libya - and what it got up to at the Mechiya Oasis in Libya in October, 1911? Rhetorical question, of course.
Here are some correspondents' reports* from the time:
"Tripoli has been the scene of one of the reddest dramas in the history of wars. It was a week of atrocities, a mad rush of assassins, a hecatomb of aged people, women and children - executions in groups." (Correspondent of Excelsior, Paris)
"A perfect nightmare of horror... a veritable carnival of carnage." (Correspondent of the Daily Express)
"The Italians having set themselves to cow the Arabs, the floodgates of blood and lust were opened... One hardly knows to what limits the elasticity of the phrase 'military exigencies' will be stretched in the 20th century." (Correspondent of The Times)
"For 3 days the butchery went on... cripples and blind beggars have been deliberately shot; sick people whose houses were burned were left on the ground and refused even a drop of water. The Arab quarter was overrun by crazy soldiers armed with revolvers, who were shooting every man and woman they met. (Francis McCullagn, Correspondent for the Daily News, Westminster Gazette, and New York World)
*Quoted in Libya & the West: From Independence to Lockerbie, Geoff Simons, 2003