BOOKS: by John MorrisseyNews Weekly
THE BEST OF ANDREW BOLT: Australia's most controversial columnist
, September 30, 2006
THE BEST OF ANDREW BOLT:
Australia's most controversial columnist
by Andrew Bolt
Melbourne: News Custom Publishing
Paperback: 254 pages
Rec. retail price: $24.95Outspoken conservative columnist Andrew Bolt provokes fury among our self-proclaimed elites, as he slaughters their sacred cows one after the other. From the corruption of the arts grants racket to the lack of substance behind the "stolen generation" claims, and from the divisive effects of multiculturalism to the preposterous myths peddled by the green movement in the name of science, Bolt exposes the shams and scams perpetrated on ordinary Australians.
Many, many thousands of Victorians purchase their Herald Sun
on Wednesdays and Fridays, avid to read Andrew Bolt's latest contribution to public debate. This is generally a commonsense analysis of some nonsense foisted on them by those who control government, education, the arts and the media - especially the so-called "quality" press. He takes immense satisfaction in that, having "hit the spot" with so many of his readers, he has angered these self-proclaimed elites, and it is in this respect that he is "still not sorry".
This selection from his columns over the past seven years supplies readers with a formidable array of arguments and evidence on his favourite subjects, as well as some topical comments on particular events, such as the rise and fall of Mark Latham and the reporting of the war in Iraq.
His targets are regularly infuriated by his habit of suggesting the unthinkable, offending the dictates of political correctness, and supporting his contentions with irrefutable evidence.
Bolt shows up the members of the Australian Research Council as handing out grants to each other, such as the $800,000 given in 2003 "to write about 'the cultural history of the body in modern Japan', focusing on 'the classed, radicalised and ethnicised dimensions of the bodily experience'."
Claims of having been "stolen", made by both high-profile indigenous persons like Lowitja O'Donoghue and others like test-case subjects Lorna Cubillo and Peter Gunner, are exposed in detail as baseless. It is no wonder that the elites resort to attacks on Bolt himself.
Bolt's detractors accuse him of arrogance and insensitivity for questioning them and their values, but the collection contains ample evidence of his warm and part-nostalgic feelings for Australia, as well as his affection for his fellow Australians, his family and friends. Those whom he admires even include Prime Minister John Howard.
His scorn and ridicule are reserved for those who run down our nation and pin on Australians crude and unfair labels, such as "racist".
However, Bolt's emotions as a husband and father are displayed openly, as he draws on his own family life for his writing, while his empathy for a friend on the loss of a child is conveyed with a sensitivity which deeply moves the reader.
Bolt can even find compassion for some whose cause he opposes: he says: "Maybe the 'stolen generation' is not a historical fact but an emotional one - a measure of the unresolved pain caused by white settlement." Even greater is his sympathy for indigenous women and children, abused with impunity because of the indulgent judicial attitude to supposed "customary laws".
Bolt continues to puzzle his most ardent admirers by claiming not to be a religious believer but an agnostic. However, in the stances he takes on many social and moral issues, he identifies himself with the Judeo-Christian value system espoused by News Weekly
His stark description of how one doctor performs a late-term abortion - "stabs a baby's head before birth, and sucks out its brains to make it easier to deliver" - pulls no punches, while the lingering deaths of babies who survive for a time after induced miscarriages are treated with sorrowful compassion.
In a column called "The Death of Jessica Jane", he treats with disdain the euphemisms, such as "abortus", "non-viable fetus" and "live neonate", used to cloak the reality that babies capable of being born alive are being killed.
In another column, he praises Coalition politicians such as Tony Abbott, Christopher Pyne, Eric Abetz, De-Anne Kelly and Julian McGauran for standing up for the unborn, but notes that "not a single bishop has dared to say a word in public to back the politicians".
In his scathing attacks on poker machines and the state governments which fatten on them, Bolt's pro-family values are also on display: "foul machines [let] loose on our communities, to pick the pockets of the poor, rob their children and tempt the weak to crime."
Bolt has a journalist's way with words and uses them like a rapier to expose the follies and pretensions of his targets. Sometimes he lets their own words condemn them, as in actor Toni Collette's green raptures: "I had this overwhelming sensation I wanted to hug everything, love everybody. I felt so connected ... It's much more natural to be out there or in any kind of nature than live in cities."
Elsewhere he knocks down his quarry with ridicule such as he employs with "teacher-preachers" who impose their own ideology on children: "Never mind the facts. Learn the opinions."
But it is the question of the "stolen generation" which has aroused the most controversy around Andrew Bolt. His long-running dispute with Professor Robert Manne came to a head recently at the Age Writers' Festival.
Predictably, Bolt's column in the Herald Sun
recently carried his challenge for Manne to identify just 10 authentic "stolen" children, and recorded his demolition of his opponent's arguments.
Just as predictable was Manne's self-vindication in Melbourne's The Age
, under the title of "The cruelty of denial", which was both patronising and dismissive of Bolt for being "unacquainted with archival evidence".
He accused Bolt of being reluctant to debate him and of having disproved only a few of the many verifiable cases of "stolen" children with which he had been presented. Partisans of each speaker among the writers' festival audience were unable to agree on the outcome of this debate.
More politically correct bookshops decline to stock The Best of Andrew Bolt
, but News Weekly Books has ample supplies - all signed by Bolt himself.