June 30th 2018

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COVER STORY NSW electricity grid now at 'crisis point'

EDITORIAL China's pivotal role in Trump-Kim summit

CANBERRA OBSERVED Throwing our 8ยข in the ring over sale of ABC

OPINION Why populism has become popular among the populace

MEDIA Ramsay Centre gets all that' left from ABC's Drum

ENERGY Solar panels leave hidden carbon footprint

NATIONAL AFFAIRS Adelaide Archbishop Philip Wilson conviction conundrum

ENERGY Don't let our waste go to waste: energise it

OPINION We've moved from low standards to no standards

LITERATURE AND CULTURE Christian humour through the ages: Dante, Chaucer and Cervantes

ECONOMICS Trump, China, the WTO and world trade

WHY BREXIT? A tight little island


MUSIC Contrary emotions: Following and leading the beat

CINEMA Incredibles 2: Just the average family of superheroes

BOOK REVIEW The main driver of our foreign policy

BOOK REVIEW Commitment at risk of obliteration



EDITORIAL By-elections a trial run for next federal election

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Ramsay Centre gets all that' left from ABC's Drum

by Dr Kevin Donnelly

News Weekly, June 30, 2018

According to Commonwealth legislation, it is the duty of the ABC board “to ensure that the gathering and presentation by the Corporation of news and information is accurate and impartial according to the recognised standards of objective journalism”.

Based on the ABC’s coverage of the fallout between the Australian National University (ANU) and the Ramsay Centre for Western Civilisation, the board is clearly failing in its duty to ensure even a semblance of balance and impartiality.

The fact that Professor Dirk Moses on the ABC’s Religion and Ethics webpage can equate Greg Sheridan’s views about the ANU affair with those of the Norwegian mass murder, Anders Breivik, provides a startling example.

Even though the reference has been removed with a note, “This article has been edited to remove a reference to Anders Breivik”, given that there is no apology and the fact that it even appeared is evidence of lapsed editorial control and cultural-left groupthink.

A recent episode of ABC TV current affairs program The Drum provides another striking example of the ABC’s bias and its inability to reflect a diversity of opinions and arguments.

Three of the four panel members were clearly chosen to support the ANU’s spurious argument that it rejected Ramsay to protect academic independence and freedom.

Dr Hannah McGlade, a Senior Indi­genous Research Fellow at Curtin University, argues the ANU is correct to reject the Ramsay millions as two of its board members, John Howard and Tony Abbott, are guilty of ignoring the stolen generation report and failing to apologise for what she describes as “genocide”.

While it is doubtful whether McGlade has even sighted the proposed Western civilisation curriculum, she expresses no doubt it is guilty of emphasising “the superiority of the white race and not the devastation of the Aboriginal people”.

As to evidence, McGlade refers to what she describes as “Darwinism”, defined as a “scientific theory” that led to “the dispossession and mistreatment and abuse of indigenous people”. That the British Empire embraced slavery and genocide, McGlade concludes, would be ignored by any course funded by Ramsay.

Van Badham, a writer for The Guardian who describes herself as a “radical Marxist”, also argues that the ANU has every justification to knock back the Ramsay Centre. Based on the argument that John Howard closed two universities and that Paul Ramsay is “just a dead billionaire”, Badham concludes that the plan to establish Western civilisation centres is “just disgusting”.

Badham’s argument that universities already teach English Literature, implying all is well, is undermined when she endorses deconstructing Shakespeare’s works given he lived is a society “where people are owned, where people are property, where women have no rights”.

Inadvertently confirming the conservative critique that teaching the moral and aesthetic value of literature has long since disappeared, Badham argues that offering a social critical view of literature is the “point of doing an arts degree”.

The third member of the panel obviously chosen to present an “impartial” and “objective” view is Malcolm Farr from News.com.au, and again he supports the ANU’s case.

After criticising John Howard when Prime Minister for supposedly never setting foot on the ANU campus, thus denying his ability to judge the issue, Farr suggests that arguments critical of the ANU’s decision are “fallacious”.

Fallacious because it is ridiculous to question the argument put by the ANU Vice-Chancellor and Chancellor that they are acting to protect the university’s “academic integrity and freedom and autonomy”.

While Farr agrees with Badham and Badham agrees with McGlade, the Australian Catholic University’s Gary Marks provides one speaker prepared to offer a counter case. While acknowledging that Western civilisation must be taught “warts and all”, Marks argues it is also vital to recognise its strengths.

Democracy, freedom, and a high standard of living are results of Western civilisation, and it is wrong, Marks suggests, to present only a “Neo-Marxist, postmodern perspective on things”.

Unfortunately, not only is Marks often interrupted mid-sentence, the program’s compere, Julia Baird, also proves less than impartial. Baird frames the debate around the ANU’s rejection of Ramsay, after last year entering negotiations and appearing to be happy with their progress, as one of academic integrity and independence.

Ignored is that the ANU’s rejection occurred at the same time that the university’s Tertiary Education Union branch president, Matthew King, condemned the proposed centre as promulgating the “alleged superiority of Western culture and civilisation”.

King was joined by the ANU’s Student Association president, who also opposed the Ramsay Centre on the basis that “Western civilisation is often used as a rhetorical tool to continue the racist prioritisation of Western history over other cultures”.

In response to Mark’s argument that the benefits of Western civilisation should be taught, Baird, without citing any evidence, states that “all these things are currently taught at Australian universities”.

So much for the ABC’s impartiality.

Kevin Donnelly is a Senior Research Fellow at the ACU and author of How Political Correctness Is Destroying Australia (Wilkinson Press).

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