March 10th 2001

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Articles from this issue:

COVER STORY: Nationals: the last hurrah?

EDITORIAL: Government embraces the politics of panic

CANBERRA OBSERVED: Competition Policy the next to go?

INDONESIA: Borneo violence further weakens Wahid

NATIONAL AFFAIRS: Why refugees are a soft target

Help needed for North Queensland farmers

DRUGS: Drug policy criticised by international board

Straws in the Wind

Letter: Kim Beazley - look at the record

Senate inquiry attacks NZ apple import proposal

ECONOMICS: Trade blocs - where will Australia fit?


HUMAN RIGHTS: Amnesty Report may sink China's Olympic bid

HEALTH: Lessons of SA abortion experience

COMMENT: Paul Lyneham - Australia's H. L. Mencken

Teen books gone from "honest" to "offensive"

Letter: Refugees - coarsening of attitudes

Letter: Alice Springs - Darwin railway

Letter: One Nation

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Straws in the Wind

by Max Teichmann

News Weekly, March 10, 2001
The bigots return ...

We have had to endure a couple of quite remarkable outbursts of group anger and sectional gall over the last week or so, while at the same time watching the Bracks' Government twisting and turning to find a legal formula for truncating our rights to free speech, publication, and who knows what else.

This last enterprise, in true Orwellian New Speak, is being called "Racial and Religious Tolerance Legislation".

But firstly, Mary Kalantzis, a veteran pikeman from the multicultural wars, has, to the frenetic applause of the ABC and The Age, told us that our country was, from the beginning, conceived as a racist nation, with "more parallels to Nazi Germany than we dare admit even now".

Secondly, Andrew Bolt of the Herald Sun, by interviewing Aboriginal icon, Lois Lowitja O'Donohue, co-patron of the National Sorry Day Committee, and having her admit that, despite many previous pronouncements to the contrary, she had never been a stolen child, has provoked an extraordinary outburst of hysterical abuse, misrepresentations and threats, from the media spokesmen for the Aboriginal Industry.

Radio jock John Faine, of the ABC/3LO asked whether Bolt should be taken to the Press Council. That body of newspaper proprietors is usually comatose - complainants can die of old age waiting for redress - but, Faine may have a point.

Someone brought before them for telling the truth could be in for a hard time. Virginia Trioli, Faine's colleague, asked guests what Bolt's motive for writing his article could be? And what might Trioli's motive have been in asking such a question?

The normal explanation for Bolt's article would be a reason - that he wanted to tell the truth as he had discovered it, and to persuade Ms O'Donohue to do likewise.

Telling the truth is, for many contemporary media people, a relativist bourgeois notion, which simply wouldn't occur to them.

After which time a mighty cacophony of moaning, shouting and gnashing of teeth was emitted from The Age and The Australian, and possibly other places, abusing Bolt and questioning his right to uncover the facts, and then tell them.

There was no serious attempt to challenge his actual account, nor examine the Wilson report or the whole Stolen Generation story.

Wise - because both are totally discredited - except in the Melbourne Museum, and school syllabi. No, argument ad hominem, in this case professional character assassination ruled the day - and what a lifeless, puerile attempt at a pogrom it was! But some interesting points about our journalists' behaviour emerged.

Ours would have to be one of the very few medias in the Western world calling for restrictions on freedom of the press - in this case for a colleague who annoys them, and inadvertently exposes their collusion in spreading disinformation and burying the facts.

Further, one can imagine what kind of restrictions and penalties would fall on truth-tellers and whistle-blowers if the Bracks' legislation were law. Self-censorship would be an act of self-preservation; so heists and rackets of every kind, such as the one Bolt targeted, would go uncriticised and uncontrolled, as they did before Howard took office. Hence the past five years of media fury on behalf of the rorters.

None should be surprised if large sections of our media don't get in behind the Bracks' legislation, and try to bully our local Liberals to withdraw their opposition to this piece of illiberality - for our scribblers have firmly nailed their colours to the doors of the Church of Political Nepotism.

Victoria's Racial and Religious Tolerance Legislation, is proceeding through a series of public discussions, of which most of the public are unaware, before going to Cabinet, which will have a "summary" of these public discussions to assist it - Chomsky calls this "manufacturing consent".

There seems a real danger of the Liberals, who earlier had said they would block this Bill in the Upper House, starting to cave in. Most churches, for whom part of the legislation was hypocritically designed, are against it; Liberty Australia is against it, while private polls show most voters are against it. Why then should the Liberals give ground?

One can only surmise that some MPs are being lobbied by generous souls from the big end of town - or a part of it. Rather in a way the Clintons were. I can think of no other reason for individual Liberal MPs rocking the boat.

Bracks has threatened in the past to hold a referendum on the fate of the Upper House - at least its future shape, if the Legislative Council defies him. I doubt if he'd use this particular Bill as a pretext. But the conservatives in the Upper House should pass a Bill calling for a referendum on this disputed Racial and Religious Tolerance Legislation, and send it to the Lower House, meanwhile throwing out Bracks' legislation.

If Bracks really thinks Victorians want this vilification legislation, then he will have his chance. Otherwise, he should drop the idea. This referendum couldn't cost more than the payback inquiry into ambulance services.

I have been told that the passing of Bracks' legislation would initiate a campaign at the Federal level to force Howard to accept a more draconian version of the existing Federal legislation.

If he had lost his nerve by then, he too, could cave in. But he and the Victorian conservatives should make Labor do its own dirty work.

As to Kalantzis and her Barton Lecture (poor Barton) - it only underlines the anxiety of Gobbo, Zubrzycki, and Lopez, that multiculturalism put a distance between itself and the Vulgar Marxists who have, almost deliberately, created so many opponents to mainstream multiculturalism.

They have done this by using multiculturalism, Aboriginal history or whatever comes to hand, to denigrate Australians and parody their history. I don't think they like us.

Thus, "when we tell this second, more difficult story of Federation" (viz. the Kalantzis version) "it is in its fundamental shape not dissimilar to Germany's. The Big Picture ideas are no different from those in Germany in the 1930s and 1940s; of the necessity to create 'One people, without admixture of races'."

As I understand it that has been Israel's long term policy - a Homeland for Jews. There is no question of any other race or denomination gaining dominance, or even a powerful influence.

I find that desire quite understandable, and as Mr Isi Leibler said when last here, "multiculturalism is not suitable for Israel." He is right - considering the goals Zionists have set themselves. Does that make Israel racist - or "not dissimilar to Germany in the '30s?" Ms Kalantzis might care to say so, but few others would.

The way people seek to piggy back on the Holocaust, or failing that, genocide, in order to rewrite a country's history, is profoundly insulting to those who have suffered in such mass atrocities, and strangely enough, it reduces our sensitivity to the real turpitude of the genuine genocidists.

She thinks we had "concentration camps not so dissimilar from those of the Nazis". Who were the Australian Mengeles or Himmlers or Kochs? Were our Aborigines worked to death, experimented on, gassed, or beaten to death? What kind of Australian history is this?

Of course The Australian has taken to calling our centres for illegal immigrants "gulags". Where are our local Berias, Dzerzhinskys?

Kalantzis talks of 19th Century colonialism and our unquestioning place in the British Empire, and of how progressive the British were compared to Australians on matters of race. Maybe.

But the proper comparison with Australia's relations with indigenous people might be with 19th Century colonial governments dealing with Indigenes. Belgian Congo, where nearly half the population of 20 millions perished through slavery, forced labour and beatings; German South West Africa where one rebellious tribe of one million was reduced to two hundred thousand by being marched into the desert to die; French Congo, where forced labour, (there was forced labour all over Africa) and oppressive treatment was seen as a major scandal; South America, with its Amazon rubber slaves and lethal exploitation of miners, and so on.

These were going on contemporaneously with our settlement process, and few observers then and few colonial historians now could see any comparison between our efforts and attitudes, and those of the ugly Europeans.

The term genocide is only used by a minority in this country - many of these self-serving.

Very few serious foreign observers have used this appellation - for they know what a real genocide is, a real concentration camp, a real gulag. Simply disingenuous agit propaganda, trifling with words - albeit important ones. A piece of shoddy and unhelpful demagogy.

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