Category Archives: Australian politics

Chicken Littles Clucking About Trump

TONY THOMAS

Swapping leftist absurdities over coffee is every fashionable nitwit’s democratic right, and fair enough too. What isn’t fair is that taxpayers must underwrite Geraldine Doogue’s faux profundities, not to mention those of her latest Saturday Extra guest

chicken microphone IIMirror, Mirror on the wall, who is the most ardent ABC Leftist of them all? What a tough question! Such a crowded field of candidates, parading their green-left credentials day and night!  The ABC Act (1983) does include the provision that our taxpayer-funded national broadcaster gather and present news and information impartially, but who cares about silly old legislation?

Anyway, I won’t keep you in suspense. My Captain’s Pick for ABC Leftist laurels is Geraldine Doogue, host of ABC Radio National’s Saturday Extra, who also hosts ABC TV’s Compass[1].

Her 15-minute 7.30am session last Saturday (Feb 25) was about what a fascist Donald Trump is.[2] Doogue’s interviewee was London University literature academic Sarah Churchwell[3], whose views of Trump-as-fascist were never contradicted and, indeed, sometimes topped by Doogue’s own hyperbolic contributions. In fact Doogue and Churchwell – billed by her university as “one of the UK’s most prominent academics” — spent their 15 minutes competing to paint Trump in direst hues.

Churchwell is still traumatised by the defeat of her idol, Hillary Clinton. As she wrote for the Guardian (UK), “Stop suggesting that Clinton failed us. The truth is, we failed her.”

Doogue sought out Churchwell because of another Guardian article headed, ‘It will be called Americanism’: the US writers who imagined a fascist future”. Churchwell had gone looking for literary references to fascist dictators (e.g. in Orwell’s 1984 and Arendt’s The Origins of Totalitarianism) and claimed they all presaged the arrival of fascist President Trump.

Doogue lauded Churchwell’s lame attempt at a knife-job as both “fresh” and “clever”. Inspired, Doogue went looking herself for literary allusions to fascists and regaled her radio audience with them, sometimes giggling about the parallels with certain recent events (the Trump presidency is now all of five weeks old, let it be remembered).

Here’s a sample from Doogue’s Saturday Extra interview:

Doogue:   You look at comments including Vice-President Henry Wallace quoted in a 1944 article, about American fascism. Quote, “…a Fascist  is someone whose lust for money and power is combined with such intensity of intolerance towards other races, parties, classes, regions or nations, as to make him ruthless in his use of deceit or violence to attain his ends.” 

It’s a pretty devastating old quote. You don’t think Trump is a fascist though really?

Churchwell: Yes actually I think he is. I do, I do.

Doogue: Oh you do! OK!

Churchwell:  That description is a very good description. I think Trump is a fascist in the strict sense of the term, a lot more like Mussolini than he is like Hitler.

Doogue: (enthusiastically) or Berlusconi, it  is a very interesting comparison actually.”[4]

Churchwell:  Absolutely! Elements of plutocracy, elements of corruption, he [Trump] is  authoritarian, he has no interest or respect for democracy as a democratic process. He thinks anyone who disagrees with him is not a real voter, and should be in jail. That is a pretty good litmus test for fascism.

Churchwell then cites a checklist by author Umberto Eco about what constituted Italian pre-war fascism, and continues, re Trump, “Yes, reading through it, Tick!  Tick! Tick! Tick!”

Later, Doogue quotes meaningfully from a 2004 novel The Plot Against America by Philip Roth:

To have enslaved America with this hocus-pocus! To have captured the mind of the world’s greatest nation without uttering a single word of truth! Oh, the pleasure we must be affording the most malevolent man on earth!” 

Doogue had a little simper at that, then continued to encourage Churchwell:

Doogue: “You have a few examples of writers imagining the future where alternative facts — what we are told is fake news — sometimes basically outright lying, is at the centre of the rise of the autocrat. Again you say  we should not be surprised.

Churchwell: Yes I think that is right; people recognised that was why this was always going to  work — propaganda was crucial.

Churchwell wafted along to an obscure 1942 Katherine Hepburn film, Keeper of the Flame, in which Hepburn’s character marries a popular politician who is a covert fascist. One of his plots for a US takeover is planting fake stories in newspapers to stir up revolts. Churchwell says, This is the media. It  will be central to any (inaudible – either ‘fashion of’ or ‘fascist’ )  project”.[5]

Doogue respondsAnd the point is these were a few private individuals to whom money didn’t mean anything anymore but who wanted political power. Gosh I wonder who that sounds like, heh heh heh!

In her introductory riff about Churchwell, Doogue incorrectly attributes to a New York Timesreporter a 1938 warning, “When and if fascism comes to America, it will not be labeled ‘made in Germany’, it will not be marked with a swastika, it will not even be called fascism. It will be called, of course, Americanism.”

Doogue: “Now whatever your view is, one thing is certainly under way, millions of Americans and those beyond  are trying to discern what is the true nature of current developments in the US. Can literature help?  

Well, people are voting with their feet to some extent — 1984, Sinclair Lewis, Hannah Arendt, all apparently are back on the top reading lists as people search for answers and solutions.”

Churchwell: You go back and you look at some of the things they said in America during the rise of European fascism, that are terrifyingly apt, they could have been written today.

Churchwell cites the 1935 Sinclair Lewis novel It Can‘t Happen Here, warning how American democracy could give way to a fascist leader:

And again it looks like a lot of what was said in the novel could be written about Trump…That is an aspect of American fascism that was really important;  it has a corporate tinge to it, about providing government of the profit, for the profit,  by the profit.”

Churchwell is really clever, isn’t she![6] She then again quotes Sinclair Lewis

Churchwell: ‘When fascism comes to America it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross’, and as I was re-reading these novels, I think that it will also have a dollar bill. It is religion, it is patriotism and it is about saying  this will be all about  everyone getting rich.”

Doogue is not to be outdone and has a quote of her own from some Der Spiegel journalist “in  a very big article”, she says.  This think-piece on Trump adviser Steve Bannon was, Doogue says, “deeper than a discussion about current politics,  with a real sense of worrying about  the state of the Judeo-Christian ethic in the US among the cosmopolitan elites,  and actually aligning  with elements of purity and orthodoxy in Russia! Can you see that deeper strand running through any of the literature you have examined?”

After some waffle, Churchwell says,

“Fascism in America has always been recognised as something  that would come with a religious  cast, have an evangelical  flavor to it, which a lot of Americans have responded to…”

The two ladies then make much of Trump posing by a big portrait of himself after winning the Republican nomination. They agree, using their unique psychic powers, that Trump had been inspired by his favorite film Citizen Kane (1941). Director Orson Welles in turn was showing that Kane was in sync with past European fascists who used similar posters.

“People were appalled; why on earth would he [Trump] set himself up to look like a fascist?”Churchwell exclaims. Apart from big portraits now being a mainstay of political campaigning, this doubly-extended analogy seems a stretch.[7]

Doogue, winding down, thinks their analysis of Trump “makes for an interesting way of trying to examine what  is under way. We have not even talked about McCarthyism or Margaret Atwood’s Handmaid’s Tale.”

This had me wondering to where Doogue would take an excursion into Trump and McCarthyism. As for the Handmaid’s Tale, it is “Set in a near-future New England, in a totalitarian theocracy which has overthrown the United States government. (The) dystopian novel explores themes of women in subjugation and the various means by which they gain agency.”

The ABC guidelines on impartiality run to a truly massive 4041 words. The bit I found eerily prescient (to use Doogue-speak) was the sub-head,  “Impartiality – what could possibly go wrong?”[8]

Tony Thomas’s new book of essays, That’s Debatable – 60 Years in Print, is available here.


[1] Doogue’s personal and subjective perspective is also a feature of Compass. As her September 4, 2016 show had it,

“Are the Brexit vote, the Trump phenomenon and the resurgence of One Nation all signs that democracy and capitalism are under pressure and failing to deliver? If so, what can we do to build a fairer more equitable system?” 

[2] The ABC blurbed it, “George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty Four; Sinclair Lewis’s It Can’t Happen Here and Hannah Arendt’s The Origins of Totalitarianism are back on the top reading lists as people seek insights into to Donald Trump’s America.”

[3]  Churchwell  is professor of American Literature and Public Understanding of the Humanities, and director of the Being Human festival at the University of London.

[4] Silvio Berlusconi was scandal-plagued Italian prime minister from 2008-11. He was convicted of soliciting a minor for sex but this was overturned on appeal.

[5] The transcript is my own

[6] Churchwell was not referring to “prophet” because she had also introduced the word “profiteering”

[7] Churchwell seems to have visions of Trump-style concentration camps for intellectuals like herself.  She has re-tweeted,

Sarah Churchwell Retweeted Arthur Goldhammer

“Funny how many academics, writers, and intellectuals the Trump administration has already encouraged CBP [Customs and Border Police) to ‘mistakenly detain.’ ‪#resist

[8] Sure, Doogue’s next respectful interview on Saturday Extra might be with a die-hard Trump fan who also elaborates on the numerous reasons why Clinton is nicknamed “Crooked Hillary”. But I doubt it.

Reporting Islam in the Approved Way

When I get ‘mindful’ about Islam, as urged by a think-tank at Griffith University, I recall the fire in a Mecca girls’ school that saw religious police force children back into the flames because they were deemed insufficiently modest to warrant rescue

beheaded corpsesWith help from lslamic community leaders, the Reporting Islam think-tank at Queensland’s Griffith University  re-educates journalists nationally to report Islamic issues “more mindfully” (whatever that means).  It’s not as though the ABC, SBS and Fairfax need any encouragement. 

The unit, billed as a world-first flagship in terms of educating journos about Islam,  got at least $445,000 grants for 2014-16 from the Attorney-General’s department in the Abbott government era. The AG’s top-level contractor for service delivery is the Queensland Police Force. Predictably, the unit won a Multicultural Award from the Queensland Government and SBS last year.

Like most of our universities, Griffith swarms with Islam-friendly academics (except, maybe, in the LBGTI etc safe spaces).  Griffith University’s funding has also included $100,000 direct from Saudi Arabia, that bastion of academic freedom and respect for women, gays and Christians. This $100,000 a decade ago went to Griffith’s Islamic Research Unit (GIRU). Graham Perrett, Labor MHR for Moreton and a Griffith U fan, told Parliament, not altogether re-assuringly, that  “Griffith University is just one of many institutions throughout the world to receive funding from the Saudi government.”

When I get “mindful” about Islam, as urged by Reporting Islam, I recall the episode in 2002 when a girls’ school in Mecca caught fire. The religious police, instead of helping the young girls to escape, locked them in or forced them back into the blaze. Why? Because the girls weren’t in proper Islamic dress; were not necessarily escorted by male guardians; and might create sexual frissons with the firemen. Fifteen girls burned to death.[1] Saudi’s public beheadings and all that? Watch if you dare.GRAPHIC material

However, nothing the Saudis get up to is as horrific as the deeds of the self-described Islamic State, which are nothing to do with Islam. There was an (STRONG CAUTION: GRAPHIC MATERIAL) ISIS video published a month ago showing a prisoner hog-tied to playground equipment. A boy of about six years is given a large knife and saws the live prisoner’s head half off.[2]

Close to home, nothing-to-do-with-Islam incidents have included

  • In 2006 Shaykh Taj El-Din Hamid Hilaly, Mufti (or Grand Mufti) of Australia, gave a sermon in Arabic to a 500-strong crowd in the Lakemba Mosque describing  immodestly-dressed women as ‘cat’s meat’  inciting rapists. [3]  Hilaly also quoted approvingly an Islamic scholar who said women who were raped should be arrested and jailed for life for provoking males. Hilaly, who was appointed Mufti by the Australian Federation of Islamic Councils in 1988, had a subsequent history of anti-Semitic and pro-terrorist statements.
  • Melbourne Muslim cleric and terror cell leader Abdul Benbrika was convicted in 2008 of leading a terrorist network which wanted to blow up the 2005 MCG Grand Final crowd and blow up Crown casino on Grand Prix weekend.
  • The late Farhad Jabar, 15,  in 2015 was allegedly handed the gun which he used to kill Parramatta police worker Curtis Cheng, in the female section of the Parramatta mosque. Jabar shortly before had listened to a sermon in the mosque from extremist Islamist group Hizb ut-Tahrir.
  • Four men are under arrest in Melbourne for allegedly planning a Christmas Day attack on St Paul’s Cathedral,   Flinders Street Station, and Federation Square.

These sorts of things make it hard for earnest reporters to keep up the positive spin on Islam. But Griffith’s Reporting Islam unit will be their coach, with the backing of the journos’ union, the MEAA. Key people on the team include   leader Associate Professor Jacqui Ewart,  and Professor Mark Pearson, a one-time reporter for The Australian.[4] They are supported by manager Dr Abdi Hersi, and other Muslim researchers and trainers.

Ewart says the unit started in 2014 after research showed routine negative stereotyping of Muslims in the media.  The team laments that anti-Islamist reporting not only isolates Muslims but inspires “ violence and vitriol against law-abiding Australians who are Muslim, and encourag(es) youth radicalization.”

The unit’s main message is that the great majority of Australian Muslims are decent, law-abiding and worthy citizens. Hersi puts it, “Muslims are not terrorists. Islam is not a religion of terrorism. We need to be very responsible in the way in which we cover stories of certain individuals engaging in criminal activities.” (My emphasis).[5]

Reporters need to promote inter-cultural harmony, the team says, so that fewer Muslims will get annoyed at negative media coverage and “become radicalised” – and we know what that can lead to.

Among the questions journos are meant to ask themselves are, “Does my proposed angle make the basic error of portraying Islam and Muslims as a threat to national identity and a particular way of life?” (My emphasis). It might not be such a “basic error” had the alleged Christmas triple-bomb plot in Melbourne succeeded.

The Reporting Islam philosophy had its apotheosis in Cologne on New Year’s Eve a year ago, when police reported the night had been “relaxed”, notwithstanding mass sexual assaults on German women by asylum entrants. The public broadcaster ZDF had the sensitivity to put a news blackout on the assaults for four days, until that strategy of suppression by omission became unworkable.

A local equivalent for sensitivity came during the 2014  Lindt café siege. NSW Deputy Police Commissioner Cath Burn later explained she had been concerned about community harmony and conveying tolerance “so as not to fuel anger which might have led to bias-motivated crime” [ie hypothetical anti-Muslim backlash]. Interesting priorities while an actual maniac with a shotgun held 18 hostages.

Griffith’s Mark Pearson concedes that local bomb plots, outrages and the like have to be covered, but journos should handle them “fairly and accurately, and perhaps even offer solutions that might actually help heal wounds in a community, rather than exacerbate or inflame community tensions.” Note the elitism here. The hallmarks of poor reporting, he says, include a tendency to link terrorism to Islam and focus on negative stories creating community alienation – a known risk factor for radicalisation.

One improvement, the team believes, would be for media to employ more Muslim reporters who will provide the Islamic perspective, as well as using more Muslim sources and writing up “the good stuff” going on in the Muslim community. The team’s materials make passing mention of sharia law but I could find no details there about its Dark Ages mindset and misogynist aspects.

The site does, however, warn reporters covering Islamic issues about not just violations of the “offend, insult etc” provisions of Section 18C, but also reminds them of eight sets of state-based anti-discrimination legislation. Be nice, reverential and choose you words with the utmost care.

The team’s handbook projects Islam becoming the world’s largest religion by 2070. By 2050, one million more Australian Muslims will have lifted today’s proportion of the population from 2.2% (about half a million) to 4.9%. Globally, Muslim numbers will rise from 23% to 30% — some or 2.76 billion adherents — and by 2070 Islam will be the world’s largest religion, it says.

Politicians, academics and Muslim leaders in Australia and the UK have argued (without evidence) that extremists are only a tiny minority of the Muslim population. But a detailed UK poll presented on Channel 4 last April — “What British Muslims Really Think” – showed radical views are in fact widespread among Britain’s 3.5 million Muslims (5.5%; cf Australia 500,000 and 2.2%). In other words and put simply, Britain’s 30-year experiment with multiculturalism has created a chasm dividing religion, one religion in particular, and democracy. The same disturbing results have appeared in earlier, less rigorous polls in the UK and in polls in Germany and Western Europe.

No equivalent poll has been run in Australia, where a few small-scale exercises have instead focused on Muslims’ experience of racism and other victim-narratives. Australia’s Muslim population may be a completely different set of liberal and tolerant citizens compared with Europe, although that possibility has not stayed local authorities from forewarning of much the same terror incidents here that afflict the EU.

UK pollster ICM  in mid-2015 surveyed 1081 Muslims at home in face-to-face talks with Muslim interviewers, plus a control survey of 1008 non-Muslims by phone. The Channel 4 presenter was Trevor Phillips, a Guyana–born black man and former head of Britain’s Equality and Human Rights Commission.[6]  That made it hard for bien pensants to shoot the messenger.

The UK survey’s findings include:

  • Only 34% would inform the police if they thought somebody they knew was getting involved with people who support terrorism in Syria.[7]
  •  4% (i.e. an indicative 100,000 UK Muslims) sympathise with people who take part in suicide bombings
  • 4% (100,000) sympathise with people who commit terrorist actions as a form of political protest
  • 32% refuse to condemn those who take part in violence against those who mock the Prophet
  • 23% support the introduction of Sharia Law.
  • 66% completely condemn   people who stone those who commit adultery, but 5% are sympathetic with the stoners
  • 31% think it’s acceptable for a man to have more than one wife (illegal in the West)
  • 39% agree that “wives should always obey their husbands”
  • 52% do not believe that homosexuality should be legal in Britain.

The results also showed what Jewish lobbies called “shocking and thriving” anti-Semitism, and a very low prevalence of social mixing with non-Muslims outside work.[8]

Young Muslims showed little difference in non-liberalism compared with older Muslims. Phillips interviewed a female Muslim primary school teacher who said the small boys were acting as thought police and hitting girls on the head if their heads were not well covered.  The teacher said, “I even had one boy, one nine-year-old boy, say to me, ‘Why haven’t you covered your head? It is only slags who don’t cover their head’.”

Liberal-minded Muslims were only about 20% and dwindling. These Muslims wanted Western values on women, gays and democracy to be enforced nationwide, said Phillips, who told the Daily Mail,

“There is one truly terrifying finding. Muslims who have separatist views about how they want to live in Britain are far more likely to support terrorism than those who do not. 

Liberal-minded Muslims have been saying for some time that our live-and-let-live attitudes have allowed a climate to grow in which extremist ideas have flourished within Britain’s Muslim communities. Our politicians have tried to reassure us that only a tiny minority hold dangerous views.

All the while, girls are shipped off to have their genitals mutilated, young women and men are being pressured into marriages they do not want, and teenagers are being seduced into donning suicide vests or becoming jihadi brides.

We have ‘understood’ too much, and challenged too little — and in doing so are in danger of sacrificing a generation of young British people to values that are antithetical to the beliefs of most of us, including many Muslims.

In my view, we have to adopt a far more muscular approach to integration than ever, replacing the failed policy of multiculturalism.”

The survey does show that 88% of British Muslims believe Britain is a good place for Muslims to live. According to Philips, this is because the tolerance they enjoy allows them to practice their religion however they want.

“For centuries we have managed to absorb people of many different
backgrounds. But the integration of Muslims will probably be the hardest
 task we’ve ever faced,” Phillips said. He urged halting the growth and expanding influence of Sharia courts, placing them under regulation, and opening them to public scrutiny: “It will mean an end to the silence-for-votes understanding between local politicians and Muslim leaders,” he said, “the sort of Pontius Pilate deal that had such catastrophic outcomes in Rotherham and Rochdale.”[9]

A BBC survey of 1000 British Muslims in February, 2015, found that 93% believed they should follow British laws. But 27% said they had some sympathy for the motives behind the attacks on Charlie Hebdo in Paris. A  quarter thought violence against those who published images of the Prophet could be justified, and 11% were sympathetic to Muslim fighters against Western interests.  Nearly half  (45%) had sympathy for Muslim clerics preaching  violence, and did not consider the preachers were out of touch with mainstream Muslim opinion.

A 2008 study by Ruud Koopmans,  director of Germany’s WZB Berlín Social Science Centre, surveyed 9000 Europeans in Germany, France, the Netherlands, Belgium, Austria and Sweden, to compare Muslim and non-Muslim religious fundamentalism.[10]  Koopmans found 40-45% of the European Muslims were fundamentalists, compared with 4% of Christians. Almost 60% of Muslims surveyed would return to the roots of Islam, 75% thought Muslims should heed only the one interpretation of the Koran, and 65% said that religious rules over-rode the legal framework of their adopted state.  There was marked hostility towards gays, Jews and Westerners among 70% of Muslim fundamentalists. The study found that in Germany, 47% of Muslims considered the Koran over-rode German law.

Other studies claim that between 10% and 15% of EU Muslims are prepared to use violence to defend their faith.

Dutch Party for Freedom leader Geert Wilders, under serious beheading threat from jihadis for the past half-decade, quotes Koopmans as telling the Dutch media that “of a billion Muslims worldwide, between ten and twenty percent are willing to accept violence, even against civilians, to defend Islam.” I was unable to verify the Koopmans quote, which is likely in Dutch.[11]

A study from the German Interior Ministry in March 2012 found nearly a quarter of non-German Muslims there rejected integration, questioned Western values and tended to accept violence.

The survey showed 48% sought separation from mainstream German culture, or 22% if those who had gained citizenship were included.

The survey also exposed a 24% subgroup of 13-32 year old non-German Muslims who were extremists holding anti-West and pro-violence views (15% including German Muslim citizens). With 2 million Muslim non-Germans, the 24% suggested 100,000+ young extremists.

A study of Salafi-jihadism propaganda in 2015 for the Tony Blair Foundation by the Centre on Religion and Geopolitics, cited polls that:

  •  Over two thirds of the populations of three large Muslim-majority countries agreed with the need for a caliphate.
  •  Three-quarters of respondents in four large Muslim-majority countries agreed that there was a need to ‘stand up to America and affirm the dignity of the Islamic people’. Today, jihadis fight the West and its allies to ‘deliver’ the ‘Muslim world’ from a ‘Zionist-Shia-Crusader’ conspiracy, it said.

The study said that the broader Muslim culture and jihadi ideology overlapped significantly, but the broader culture was not necessarily extreme or condoning violence.

Nearly two-thirds (62%) of the jihadist propaganda studied involved Islamic creedal values. The authors said,

“We know that this does not make for comfortable reading…  Unless we are honest about the nature and appeal of the jihadi ideology, we cannot uproot it… Political leaders must not shy away from identifying ideology and warped understanding of theology as a cause of modern terrorism.”

Many overt government responses have been particularly weak.  They are at best mocked by jihadis and at worse, used by them to back up their own messages, it said.

It can be argued that Western critics of Islam are in more danger than Western Muslims, with state apparatus in many Western countries eager to suppress criticism of both immigration and Islam per se. As a local example, know that The Australian’s  cartoonist, Bill Leak, has been forced to secretly relocate his family residence after death threats.

In Germany, authorities are prosecuting critics of Merkel’s  immigration free-for-all by labeling them with “hate speech”. A married couple, Peter and Melanie M., were prosecuted and convicted in July, 2016, for criticizing  online the government’s migration policy. Their page stated, “The war and economic refugees are flooding our country. They bring terror, fear, sorrow. They rape our women and put our children at risk. Make this end!” Last July, 60 homes of such allegedly hate-speaking people were raided by German police.

But other parties who had anti-Semitic views were not merely left unchecked, but at times officially facilitated. In July, 2014, Frankfurt police let mainly Muslim “protesters” use the police van’s megaphone to shout in Arabic that Jews were “child murderers”.  Two German Arabs who firebombed a Wuppertal synagogue in July, 2014, were given suspended 15-month sentences (i.e. no jail time) for arson. The judge ruled the fire-bombing was not anti-Semitism, but  a mere “act of protest” against Israeli’s response to attacks from Gaza.  As if anyone firebombing a Western mosque would get comparable leniency.

German officials, according to a leaked memo, have been urging their federal government to act fast to enforce “authentic political communication” before the upcoming elections. The government, of course, would define what is “authentic” and what is “fake” news, especially about its immigration policy.

In an interview with Deutschlandfunk public radio, retired public media personality Wolfgang Herles admitted that public broadcasters receive “instructions from above” when it comes to reporting the news:

“We must report in such a way that serves Europe and the common good, as it pleases Mrs. Merkel. There are written instructions … today we are not allowed to say anything negative about the refugees. This is government journalism, and this leads to a situation in which the public loses their trust in us. This is scandalous.”

In Finland, Finns Party politician Terhi Kiemunki was fined 450 euros last November  for writing of a “culture and law based on a violent, intolerant and oppressive religion.” Finns are  now legally required to make a distinction, whether real or fictitious, between “Islam” and “radical Islam,” to avoid fines for “slandering and insulting adherents of the Islamic faith.”

In Holland, a hotline run by the state-funded anti-discrimination bureau MiND refused late last year to act on a complaint about death threats to gays. A Muslim commenter online called for gays to be “burned, decapitated and slaughtered”. The supposed watch-dog group said it couldn’t intervene, arguing, “The remarks must be seen in the context of religious beliefs in Islam, which juridicially takes away the insulting character.”  Outraged Dutch MPs called for MiND to be defunded, at which point MiND’s bureaucrats changed their collective mind about the case. In contrast to MiND’s initial ruling, Party for Freedom leader Geert Wilders was fined last December merely for saying Holland was admitting too many Moroccans.

I agree that most Western Muslims are upright people and worthy citizens. It’s the minority (how large?) who aren’t nice that are the problem. Plus politicians, officials and academics who don’t see any problem.

Tony Thomas new book of essays, That’s Debatable – 60 Years in Print, is available here.

________________________________________________________

[1] As of now, Saudi adult women must obtain permission from a male guardian—usually a husband, father, brother, or son—to travel, marry, or exit prison. They may be required to provide guardian consent in order to work or access healthcare. Women regularly face difficulty conducting a range of transactions without a male relative, from renting an apartment to filing legal claims. All women remain banned from driving cars in Saudi Arabia.

[2] As if no horror can be great enough, another ISIS video shows boys aged about 10 armed with pistols hunting a dozen ‘bad guys’ in an abandoned building, except that it’s not a computer game. The bad guys are prisoners with bound wrists but able to move about clumsily.   When cornered or trapped, the prisoners cry and moan until the children shoot them down, sometimes shooting the legs first. On the roof, a terrified prisoner backs away and then chooses to throw himself down six-storeys.

[3] In the translated text of Hilaly’s full sermon, which I can no longer locate on internet,  he had a broader definition of women as ‘cat’s meat’ inviting rape. They were not just immodestly-clad women but women who go outside the home without a male escort.

[4] He wrote that the Abbott government’s anti-terror laws “represent the greatest attack on the Fourth Estate function of journalism in the modern era. They are worse than the Gillard government’s failed attempts to regulate the press.”        

[5] Pro-refugee, Islamic-friendly academic centres have a bad habit of getting things wrong. For example, in October, 2015, “terrorism expert” Peter Neumann, director of the International Centre for the Study of Radicalisation and Political Violence at King’s College in London, said that there was not a shred of evidence of ISIS people smuggling themselves to Europe among refugees, and that ISIS had prohibited this form of infiltration. Within weeks, exactly such ISIS people killed 137 in the Paris massacres.

[6] In 1997 as commissioner, Phillips wrote a  report, “Islamaphobia: A Challenge for Us All”,  which brought the term “Islamaphobia” into the language.

[7] Critics of the survey note that even in the control group of all Britons, only 30% would inform police. But 57% of the control group thought the hypothetical situation was irrelevant to them (Muslims, 27%). Muddles could have resulted.

[8]  For example, 35% of British Muslims – compared to 8 per cent of others – believe Jewish people have too much power in Britain.

[9] In 2014, the government’s Jay report found that more than 1,200 girls from Rotherham had been raped, trafficked, and abused by mostly Muslim gangs. The abuse was allowed to go on for a decade because authorities were scared of accusations of racism, the report found. In Rochdale,  an Asian grooming gang  preyed on girls as young as 13.

Despite destroying the lives of dozens of young girls, paedophile Shabir Ahmed claimed he was the victim of a conspiracy to scapegoat Muslims.

[10] WZB, with 160 researchers, was founded by all-party German parliamentarians and is federally and Berlin state-funded.

[11] Australian Muslim preacher Feiz Mohammad in an internet chat room in September, 2010, called for the beheading of Wilders for insulting Islam.

Teach ‘em Green, Raise ‘em Stupid

According to the latest international comparison, Australian kids are falling further behind, despite ever-larger sums of taxpayer cash being poured into the Chalk-Industrial Complex. One reason we’re raising another generation of dolts: propaganda passed off as wisdom

green teacherGreen/Left lobby Cool Australia, backed by Labor’s teacher unions and Bendigo Bank, is achieving massive success in brainwashing school students about the inhumanity of the federal government’s asylum-seeker policies, the evils of capitalism, and our imminent climate peril. The Cool Australia’s teaching templates are now being used by 52,540 teachers in 6,676 primary and high schools (71% of total schools). The courses have  impacted just over a million students via 140,000 lessons downloaded for classes this year alone. Students’ uptake of Cool Australia materials has doubled in the past three years.

Teachers are mostly flummoxed about how to prioritise “sustainability” throughout their primary and secondary school lessons, as required by the national curriculum.[1]  Cool Australia has marshaled a team of 19 professional curriculum writers who offer teachers and pupils easy templates for lessons that  include the sustainability mantra along with green and anti-government propaganda.

Teachers have grasped at the organisation’s labor-saving advantages. As one teacher enthused, “I love the fact they take some of the leg work out of my lessons and allow me to spend more time working on the outdoor gardens etc.” A coordinator (hopefully not of English courses) wrote that the lessons gave her “piece of mind”.

Much of the  Cool material, such as lessons advocating recycling and energy-saving, is largely harmless, even beneficial. But material on hot-button political topics is designed to turn students into green activists and anti-conservative bigots.

Kevin Donnelly: Why Johnny Can’t Count, Spell or Think

On asylum seekers, the basic “text” is the film “Chasing Asylum” by activist Eva Orner, whose intention is to shame Australia and mobilise international pressure against the Pacific solution. At least eleven different lessons for Years 9-10 feature her cinematic agitprop,  billed as a “documentary”. The film hardly conforms to the professed “apolitical” nature of Cool Australia courses.  The film’s descriptor reads:

Chasing Asylum exposes the real impact of Australia’s offshore detention policies and explores how ‘The Lucky Country’ became a country where leaders choose detention over compassion and governments deprive the desperate of their basic human rights. The film features never before seen footage from inside Australia’s offshore detention camps, revealing the personal impact of sending those in search of a safe home to languish in limbo. Chasing Asylum explores the mental, physical and fiscal consequences of Australia’s decision to lock away families in unsanitary conditions hidden from media scrutiny, destroying their lives under the pretext of saving them.

Emphasising that the coalition government is the main target, the film’s trailer plays the Abbott government’s ad featuring Lt-General Angus Campbell and Operation Sovereign Borders.

The title’s introduction says it’s “the film the Australian government doesn’t want you to see” and promises inside inspection to “the places the Australian Government doesn’t want you to go”. The commentary says, “There is sickness, disease, infection. It feels militarized … staff would have to be trained how to use a Hoffman’s knife. The knife would be used to cut people down when they are found hanging.”

A depressed boat person says, “I heard Australia is a safe country, a humane country,  it respects people and refugees”. Another says, “I have to forget my dreams here”  and “Please don’t forget about us, please don’t leave us here”.  A group of boat people chant, “We want our freedom!”. For added music-themed emotional impact, we see children’s drawings of themselves crying behind bars, with commentary: “They are growing up on white phosphate rock in mouldy, damp tents. They have no privacy and no space.”  Director Orner claimed last June that “we are the only people in the world that keeps children in indefinite detention.”

Cool Australia, which boasts that its material is kept up to datedoesn’t enlighten teachers that the number of children detained on Nauru has fallen from 167 in October 2014 to only 45 last October. That sort of data might spoil the narrative. Nor does the lesson explain that the only choice is having the children on Nauru with their parents, or off Nauru without their parents.

Ever politically correct, Cool Australia says teachers should ensure their classes have a safe space before seeing Orner’s confronting propaganda. Teachers should first pre-discuss it with “students, staff, family members and the local community”, and negotiate “classroom agreements” to ensure ownership and agreement that create a safe space for engagement with the learning stimulus and activities.

A whole course for Years 9-10, involving ten lessons,  is devoted to the book “This Changes Everything”, an anti-capitalism, anti-fossil-fuel polemic by Canadian activist Naomi Klein.[2] She advocates populist uprisings – “Blockadia” — against fossil-energy developments, and for gigantic dollar transfers to (mostly corrupt) Third World governments to repay the West’s (mythical) “climate debt”. She attacks even the major green groups such as WWF and Nature Conservancy as sell-outs to the fossil-fuel industry.[3]

One Cool Australia lesson about Klein’s book is titled, Climate Changes vs Capitalism.[4] It decries the impact on the environment of “our economic system’s push for continual growth”  and the “quality of life for all people”.[5] [6] In an unintentionally revealing disclosure, Cool Australia’s Teacher Notes describe the supposed climate crisis as “an opportunity for a new economic modelthat accounts for both people and the planet in a just and sustainable way…  After all, it will be young people who will inherit the world we have created… and who will reinvent a different future.” (My emphasis). This echoes similar sentiments by Christiana Figueres, when a top UN climate official: “This is  probably the most difficult task we have ever given ourselves, which is to intentionally transform the economic development model, for the first time in human history.”[7]

It is a shock to realize that 50,000 teachers are taking in their stride this sort of officially-endorsed green loopiness:

“Students will then analyse a proposed plan for wealthy countries to pay Ecuador not to sell its oil, and write arguments to explain their position on the strategy of having wealthy countries compensate poorer countries for not exploiting their oil reserves.”

Worth noting is that Ecuador vainly sought from the West a total $US3.5b to refrain from oil production in the Yasuni basin. Having reneged on various Western loans, Ecuador is now dependent on Chinese aid, to be repaid by stepped-up oil production. Ecuador now risks becoming one of China’s client states. One can only wonder if or how teachers convey such real-world complexities to their 16-year-olds.

To demonstrate the inhumanity of Western capitalism, the course falls back on the Exxon Valdez oil spill of nearly 30 years ago and Shell’s oil exploitation and pollution in the Niger delta.[8] Shell’s worst spill was in fact nearly 50 years ago. The Niger Delta this century has degenerated into civil wars, while most of the oil-spill pollution involves breaking of pipelines to steal oil. The course, however, hectors students with questions like, “How would Australians react if, every year, an Exxon Valdez-worth of oil spilled into waterways in one of their communities? Why do you think so much oil has been allowed to spill in the Niger Delta for more than fifty years?”

Klein, awardee last month of the “tremendous honor” of the lunar-Left’s Sydney Peace Prize, gives Venezuela a big tick for poverty reduction and independence from Western oil barons. Back in the real world, oil-rich but socialist Venezuela is now barely staving off bankruptcy.

Students are served up extracts from the book and tested on how well they have grasped Klein’s message. One case study is Indian villagers’ protests against a new coal-fired power station. Teacher notes include:

Explore alternatives to economic growth that serve human needs and minimise the impact on the environment. Begin by having students read the This Changes Everything book excerpt…List the strategies described in the text.

The notes do not mention that energy poverty – chiefly, the lack of cheap and reliable electricity — is the main force consigning the Third World’s poor to destitution. Instead, teachers provide students with Cool’s inane questions. A typical asininity: “How do you think climate change would be affected if the global economy collapsed?” And here’s another leading question:

“What impacts is (sic) coal having on our environment? (Suggested answer: Coal mining activities are having a devastating effect on the Great Barrier Reef, and is affecting food production, water security and communities across the nation.)”

No material contrary to the dark-Green’s shtick is provided, other than several quotes including a supposedly tainted one from a Western Fuels US spokesman.[9]

Similarly, Cool Australia takes pains, despite its profession to “highest-quality” science, to screen out any peer-reviewed science sceptical of the IPCC conclusion that man-made CO2 has caused more than half the past 60 years’ warming, relative to natural forces. One unit indeed is titled, “Who is a climate sceptic?” This lumps sceptic science output with pro-smoking studies, anti-vaccination, vested fossil-fuel interests, creationism, and alien visitors. By posing the issue as accepters versus  non-accepters of “the climate science” Cool Australia disappears the hundreds of peer-reviewed science studies per annum (more than 250 in 2015 alone) rejecting the IPCC’s line.

To ensure students aren’t influenced by several quoted sceptic statements, the lesson gives students two “resources” to consult, the Skeptical Science blog, and The Consensus Project. Both, despite the first’s misleading title, are entities of John  Cook of Queensland University, who runs “myth-busting” courses on how to  combat what he calls Climate Denialism. Cook knows quite a bit more about promoting myths, as he is the man responsible for siring and propagating the furphy that 97% of scientists believe in man-made global warming.

There is no reference in Cool’s lesson on sceptics about what is now the 20-year absence of significant global warming, contrary to almost all orthodox climate models[10]; the steady downgrading in peer-reviewed work of climate sensitivity to CO2; and importance to climate of natural ocean, cloud and solar effects.

The final Klein-based lesson involves students designing and implementing a “community action” project, such as a public screening of This Changes Everything. Parents may not be aware that the national curriculum now wants “young people to design action that will lead to a more equitable, respectful and sustainable future.”

Cool Australia enjoys tax-deductible donations as a charity. [11] Its schools campaigns launched  in 2008 as the brainchild of Jason Kimberley, one of the Just Jeans’ Kimberley family, which grossed $64m from the group’s sale in 2001.

The sustainability requirement is acting as a Trojan Horse for sly green groups like Cool Australia to brainwash pupils. Why conservative state and federal governments have gone along with the conversion of schoolkids to Tiny Trots is a mystery. With half of parents voting conservative, it’s time for their own uprising against Left/green indoctrination in schools. Keep in mind that Cool Australia is just one of at least half a dozen green lobby groups — the Youth Climate Coalition is another peddler of pernicious propaganda — that have acquired carte blanche to harangue the classrooms.

Tony Thomas’s previous essay on Cool Australia is here. His new book of essays, That’s Debatable – 60 Years in Print, is available here


[1] Aboriginality and Asian engagement are likewise required as cross-curriculum topics, even in mathematics.

[2] The courses also proffer a film on the topics by Klein’s husband Avi Lewis. The trailer mainly consists of street protests dramas. Nine lessons focus on Tim Flannery’s ridiculous 2006 book, We Are the Weather Makers.

[3] Klein, a Jew, is an avid supporter of the boycott, divestment and sanctions campaign against Israel – a cause she adopted at the height of the Gaza war in 2009. She is now campaigning for international sanctions against the US if Trump dumps the Paris climate accord.

[4] “ Use some of these keywords to initiate conversation (about capitalism): profit, money, private wealth, rich, poor, winners, loser, consumption, stuff, resources, economic systems, private ownership, humans.”

[5] Skeptic blogger Paul Homewood comments on Klein, “In reality, emissions in the West have declined substantially since 1990. Most of the increase she refers to has come from communist China. But it seems that communist emissions are good.”

[6] Klein, asked if one could fight climate change without fighting capitalism, replied, “No, I don’t think there is a way. We’ve been trying that for a long time…So the need for another economic model is urgent, and if the climate justice movement can show that responding to climate change is the best chance for a more just economic system, that creates more and better jobs, greater social equality, more and better social services, public transit, all these things that improve peoples daily lives, people will be ready to fight for those policies.”

[7]  See also,    “Climate policy has almost nothing to do any more with environmental protection. The next world climate summit is actually an economy summit, during which the distribution of the world’s resources will be negotiated.” Ottmar Edenhofer, IPCC stalwart, 14/11/2010.

[8] “Keywords: Climate debt, climate justice, social inequality, legacy of colonialism, economic development, This Changes Everything.”

[9] Klein has an apocalyptic impression of Australia, writing last June: “In recent months, the world’s gaze has landed again and again on a hellish Australian terrain of climate-related disaster.” She views the Pacific solution as a “monstrous” and as a racist attack on black and brown lives.

[10] The IPCC itself says 111 of 114 model runs over-estimated the warming trend.

[11] Prahran-based Cool Australia last year had revenue of $923,000 ($45,000 from government grants)  and posted a $73,000 loss, leading to a net liability of $282,000. It reported having 11 full and part-time workers. It creates a huge national impact for an under $1m organization.

COMMENTS [8]

  1. Bran Dee

    “Why conservative state and federal governments have gone along – – -”. An appropriate question posed by Tony Thomas and it could be asked of Conservatives in government during the last 40 years and on many topics.
    Working back from the present time:
    Why did Malcolm Turnbull appoint a Green as an advisor? Why appoint a progressive judge such as James Edelman to the High Court?
    Why did Tony Abbott appoint the former Democrat, Natasha Stott-Despoya? Why did Abbott allow and fund, the [Notso]Safe Schools program? Why does Mike Baird put up with NSW Education Minister Picoli and his gender bending? Why did we not oppose James Spigelman to become Chair of the ABC board in 2012 as he had been an advisor to Whitlam in 1972 when they purged the ABC board of conservatives. Why was Mark Scott, formerly of Fairfax Press, allowed 2 terms of hands-off management in the worker’s collective? Why did Mike Baird appoint him to NSW Education when he has been proven to be shy of conservative reform [remember he was Fairfax compatible? etc.

    • Warty

      All very good questions Bran. I might ask further: why have a bunch of deplorables voted for Donald Trump to be their president? Why have 1.7 million Australian voters abandoned the major parties in favour of a few minor parties? Why are there moves afoot in Europe to elect yet more conservative presidents and governments? Why is Francois Hollande on the nose, and Sarkozy cast aside along with Alain Juppe, the latter electing to pursue a ‘business as usual’ course with regards to the problem of Islam, and thereby losing pre-selection to the more decisive Francoise Fillon?
      My feeling is that we have not as yet drunk our fill of the Green bucket of fermented swill; nor have we put aside our tendency towards a ‘she’ll be right’ Australian complacency. But the time will come when it will all be too much to stomach, and our own ‘unwashed’ will want their time at the helm. We simply lack the leader with the degree of vision to lead us out of our own swamp.

    • Rob Brighton

      Because we let them.

  2. Bill Martin

    Contemplating the effects of the stupefying nature of the school curricula is more than a little alarming. Will the next generation of Australians consist mainly of largely illiterate/innumerate, far-left green freaks? Besides the fact that my advanced years will save me from having to endure such calamity, I am also heartened by my childhood experience of growing up in Hungary under Soviet communist domination. Most of us kids knew from our elders that what we were taught in schools – apart from the three r’s – was simply not true and most often reality was exactly the opposite. I do suspect, however, that the understanding of reality by the adults in that community was probably more robust than it is here in present day Australia. Still, I do hope that it still counts for something.

    • Warty

      Oh yes, it does count for something. I fact, I think you’ll have to extend your stay at least another 10 – 20 years Monsieur Bill, just so that you can persuade the adults in Australia that some particularly untoward things are going on under their noses. I have read a few accounts, recently, of life in Hungary during Soviet times, and it was quite a different ‘reality’ altogether.

  3. gray_rm

    I can only agree. Last week my daughter had someone come into school and talk to her Year 8 group about how the Barrier Reef is dying because of developments, mining, and man’s impact. Then she had an Aboriginal group talk about how they were dispossessed from their lands, and watched Rabbit Proof Fence to convince them of their guilt.
    It’s brainwashing.
    And the faux-Liberals do not care.
    Where’s our Trump?

  4. Bran Dee

    I am thinking Gray that in Australia’s game of chance our trump is Pauline Hanson and One Nation.

Sex Pistils at the Oz Council Bathhouse

The planet is sliding toward a climate-change cataclysm, so why not have some good old-fashioned fun with amorous slugs and carnal cuttlefish, not to mention those wanton waratahs? It’s all at the Ecosexual Bathhouse, where grant-fed artists turn tax dollars into compost

green orgyDrat! I’m LGBTQI2-S friendly[i], as everyone knows, but I missed the chance to visit the taxpayer-supported Ecosexual Bathhouse at Sydney’s Liveworks Festival a fortnight ago. The Bathhouse is intended to help save the planet from climate catastrophe by enabling people like me to have erotic experiences with earth-borne creatures such as slugs.

The Ecosexual Bathhouse is the queer/environmental creation of Perth art group Pony Express, comprising US expatriate academic Loren Kronemyer and playwright Ian Sinclair. It was also a feature of Melbourne’s Next Wave Festival  in the Botanic Gardens last May. The Australia Council gave Sinclair a $29,998 development grant  for the Bathhouse in May last year and a further $26,999 last November (total $56,997).

sinclair 1

 

sinclair 2

The Bathhouse also got $20,000 from the WA Department of Culture and the Arts, and $4000 from the federal government-supported Creative Partnerships Australia.

The Bathhouse attendants wear towels and lingerie. In the “Pollination Hall” friends, sometimes called “fronds”, pollinate orchids by hand, using a finger condom given to them by the maître d’.

The dark room in the installation, according to the grant application, has a “shape- shifting dominatrix [who] inhabits this room, a sort of dungeon where she performs the seduction dances of various animals.  Throughout the night, the [dominatrix] leaves her room and selects audience members one by one, whom she blindfolds and brings to her room. Other audiences can voyeuristically peer through the translucent wall to watch the dances.”

The dances include:

Slug Sex: The dominatrix uses UV light “to illuminate a trail of goo, which she produces in a graceful, entwining dance. Music is a lugubrious, downbeat, sensual song. Projector displays video of 
the phenomenal slug copulatory behavior.” 


Cuttlefish: The dominatrix slowly approaches audience “and fans them with undersea-like 
movements, before encircling them in her wings then darting away. Music is gentle and sweeping; projection shows microscope video of a cuttlefish’s color-changing skin.”

In the Exploration Area, there’s a   “composting glory hole” [ii], in which audiences can dip their hands through a living grass cover to feel and hear the amplified sensation of a worm farm below.” There is also a “devolution tub”, where participants sit in front of a pond growing in a tub and trigger a phone- sex conversation with the pond itself.

Sex-toy accessories include the “Squirter”— a strap-on spray bottle that permits the wearer to moisten plant and human species alike. If you’re wearing the “Paw” (a restricting glove), the dominatrix will tie you to a rock

“and, clad in a snakeskin bodysuit and a ring-gag, perform her slithering dance and drool all over you: a snake preparing to digest her prey.”

I could also have enjoyed “bespoke ‘ecoporno’ films that apply pornographic conventions to footage of the environment”. In one clip (below), a naked woman rolls around with an enormous WA banksia flower until it rains pollen over her face.

pistil packin' mama

The Bathhouse offers a route for surviving the Anthropocene from the “devastating forces unleashed by global capital”.  Pony Express’s Kronemyer explains, “Everything is crashing down around us, and our response is orgiastic decadence, rather than increasing austerity and self-containment.” It’s a “palliative strategy” that will help us make our apocalypse “more mutual, comfortable, maybe even pleasurable.”

The venture also protests at the “literal rape of nonhumans” involved in genetically-modified cropping and artificial insemination.

The Pony Express duo’s  inspiration for the work was a text by two Californian performance art theorists, Dr Annie Sprinkle and Dr Elizabeth Stevens, titled The Ecosex Manifesto.

Ex-porn star Dr Sprinkle on her last Melbourne theatre show had audience members inspecting her cervix with a speculum. She pushes stranger boundaries than that:

“Like when I ate some peyote buttons in the Arizona desert and made love with a big, erect, suaro cactus. There was no touching of the cactus for obvious reasons, but I swear, that cactus and I exchanged our sexual energies.”

Sprinkle describes herself as “a sybaritic cougar with ecosexual tendencies…I am new bride, recently married to the Earth, the Sky and the Sea, and engaged to marry the Moon.”

Her partner Dr Stephens developed her ecosexuality as a boarder at swanky Chatham Hall school in Virginia.  With the aid of marijuana, MD 20/20, a few Quaaludes, and a little acid,  she and friends created visions of an ecosexual revolution: “We econuns loved nothing better than to go out into the hay fields, strip naked and commune with the earth, the sky and the water.” She followed up with cocaine-fuelled alcoholism in Boston.

Obviously, ecosexuality has an impeccable pedigree, is climate-friendly and is deserving of taxpayer support. It can’t be long before ecosexuality is included in the Safe Schools Curriculum.

Tony Thomas’s book of essays, That’s Debatable – 60 Years in Print, is available here


[i] Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, transsexual, queer, questioning, and 2-Spirit.

[ii] A ‘glory hole’ permits sex between two men separated by a wall

The HRC Welshes on My Rights

As someone who identifies as a leak-garlanded son of Wales, the Australian newspaper’s Leak-garlanded editorial page caused me so much distress that only an apology (and a lavish financial settlement) will assuage my hurt feelings. Alas, I’m out of luck

hrcA Welsh curse upon you, Bill Leak, cartoonist of The Australian, you drewgi siffilitig (in the Queen’s English, you syphilitic stink-dog). As a dark-skinned whitish person identifying as Welsh, I  lodged a race-hatred complaint to the Human Rights Commission on September 6 about your cartoon showing an obviously Welsh mother and father neglecting their child, thus offending, insulting, humiliating and intimidating me as a member of the Welsh race. [i]

Your  race-hate cartoon showed parents who have dumped their squalling toddler in 24/7 child care while they twiddle with their smartphones and ipads . The child-care staffer says the parents should talk to their son about personal responsibility, and the Welsh father replies, “Yeah, righto. What’s his name then?”

Bill Leak has form with all this stuff, especially with his earlier cartoon about an Aboriginal copper rebuking an Aboriginal lout about his errant son. The lout says, “Yeah, Righto, what’s his name then?” I hope Melissa Dinnison’s complaint to the HRC, solicited by Race Discrimination Commissioner Tim Soutphommasane, fares better than mine.

My shtick was that I had been grossly defamed as a white Welsh father by Leak’s imputation that I neglect my children. “I have been a model parent to my children,” I wrote to the HRC, not very truthfully. “I want right of reply in The Australian, an apology from Leak and compensation for offence, hurt, vilification and humiliation.”

leak welsh

I have in mind a payment from Leak and The Australian similar to Cindy Prior’s sought-after $250,000 from those QUT students she kicked out of the Indigenes-only Oodgeroo computer room. I feel an urge to go on stress leave, but I retired 15 years ago.

Today I got a letter  back from the HRC saying they had not “formed a concluded view”. But’ as in Mordy Bromberg’s ruling in the Andrew Bolt case,  I could tell by  the letter’s tone, and reading between the lines, that  the HRC felt my complaint was dim gwerth rhech dafad (not worth a sheep’s fart) and as far as they were concerned, I could twll dy din (bugger off) unless I can make my complaint more persuasively.

The HRC letter runs to six single-spaced pages, and must have taken the HRC many hours of consultation and investigation, as befits a make-work organisation on a $24-million budget.

According to the HRC, I have until November 11 to embellish my complaint. On this significant Armistice Day,  President Gillian Triggs’ delegate will decide whether to terminate my hostilities. I can then  move to the federal courts for relief of my hurt Welsh feelings.

I must say that during these proceedings, I have got along fine by phone and email with  my opposite number in the HRC, Investigator/Conciliator Natalie Greenfield,  who has been helpful, courteous and prompt. Madam Triggs, please note this for Natalie’s next performance review.

Natalie explained that the Racial Discrimination Act “seeks  to strike a balance between the right to live free from racial hatred and the right to communicate freely – ‘freedom of speech’.” [So the HRC has certainly  come across the ‘freedom of speech’ idea somewhere or other].

Natalie’s first quandary was whether the Leak cartoon was “done because of your race, colour or national or ethnic origin or the race, colour or national or ethnic origin of some or all of the people in the same group as you.”

She quoted legal precedents including a spat among Orthodox Jews and someone cranky with the Toowoomba Sports Ground. Her key precedent was a finding in McLeod v Power, Brown FM, that the term ‘white’ did not itself encompass a specific race or national or ethnic group, being too wide a term, and that “claims under s18C made on this basis may be ‘drawing a long bow’.”As a result my Welsh-based complaint was not persuasive.

Natalie: “While the people in the cartoon have fair skin, the race, national or ethnic origin of the people drawn in the cartoon is not at all clear.  The cartoon appears to depict parents who are at a long day care centre and seem to be more concerned with the electronic devices they are holding than interacting with their child who appears upset.” [He certainly does, he’s any parent’s nightmare].

But there wasn’t really a causal connection from the cartoon to my Welsh race “or that of other white people of Welsh national or ethnic origin.”

From this letter I also found out lots of curious things. For example, my one-time employer The West Australian got away with publishing a cartoon in 1997 showing the head of long-deceased Aboriginal warrior Yagan in a cardboard box “expressing a desire to go back to England”.

This talking-head exercise, as they say on TV, was a comment on an unseemly spat among Perth’s Nyungar about who of them deserved a taxpayer-funded trip to the Old Dart to reclaim Yagan’s head; who of them was an authentic Aborigine; and which leader had frivolously frightened a child who was skeptical about the UK trip by using the menace of a dreamtime serpent.

Getting back to the letter, Natalie then went into whether the cartoon involved offending, insulting etc. Actually, she said, the issue wasn’t whether I’d been personally offended, insulted etc. That was irrelevant. The objective issue was “rather, whether the acts complained of were reasonably likely to have that effect on a person of that race, color or national or ethnic origin”.

Natalie didn’t write the law, so don’t blame her for it. But what a stupid law to create such a rubbery yardstick about hypothetical group racial reaction to a cartoon. It’s just a lot of Cachu hwch, or pig’s poo.

Tony Thomas’s book of 40 Quadrant essays, That’s Debatable – 60 Years in Print, is available here

 

 

 

 


[i] I also identify as Cornish, but Welsh will do for now.

COMMENTS [12]

  1. Rob Brighton

    What a pity Mr Leak did not dress those in his offending cartoon in a national costume that would clearly identify them as both lacking in melanin and specific group, a kilt would have served admirably.
    A quick crowd funding for the legal fee’s and you would have been rolling in free money….or not, either way the HRC could have been mercilessly ridiculed out of existence.

    • ianl

      > … the HRC could have been mercilessly ridiculed out of existence

      I used to think that – a humourless and wowserish bureaucracy could be ridiculed into changing. I still think that laughing at them is the best response.

      But I’ve come to realise that authority, while not much liking being ridiculed, will put up with being lampooned as long as in the end it WINS. The recent census/ABS imbroglio serves as a current example – the entire country and beyond laughed and laughed, but the ABS persisted in asserting they would fine us because their incompetence had made our task impossible within the required timeframe. Monty Python could not better that.

      • Rob Brighton

        You are likely correct Ian, still cant hurt to hope.
        Unless our political masters start listening and acting in accordance with our wishes laughter is the only response left. That and our vote, a point I have made to the local federal member.
        Not that he cares, he has the better part of his term to run, plenty of time to demonise and finger wag his way back for another term at the trough.

  2. Lacebug

    Good luck with that boyo

  3. en passant

    Rob,
    I am a Lowland Scot and not a member of those barbarian tribes north of the Highland Line, so I find your reference to ‘kilts’ offensive. Contact me for bank account details as to where you can deposit the $250,000 that would make me feel better …
    Erk, delete “Lowland Scot” as that may be a form of racism.
    Umm, could you forget the inadvertent reference to “those barbarian tribes” as it is just a matter of cultural relativity that they often used to raid, murder and pillage their Lowland neighbours.
    Look, can we skip the intermediate step and just send me the $250,000? Consider it a precutionary principle payment just in case you mat have offended me.
    Now to trawl through the Welsh gits article for further offences. Shouldn’t be too hard as the say the Welsh not only pray on their knees, but they also prey on their neighbours …
    The possibilities are endless and I see a new career ahead for the permanently offended moi (though the market may have been cornered already).

  4. ianl

    The HRC has apparently demanded that Bill Leak provide evidence within two weeks to show he was not being racist in drawing that cartoon. (It is also reported that Triggsie has requested The Australian to decease from reporting her daily developments – obviously she is feeling the angst of being continually laughed at, which gives me some satisfaction).

    BUT – Leak has to prove he’s NOT guilty ? The HRC does not have to prove he IS guilty ? This reversal of the assumption of innocence is well luvved by the luvvies, it shows up everywhere they drop one.

    So where are the bewigged, righteous QC’s, SC’s and very honourable Judges, marching 5 abreast with fervent, burning indignation along the Canberra Circle, protesting at the unscrupulous dumping of a hard-won common law pillar of the earth ? What’s that you say … they’re in the counting house ?

    [Yes, we do know the HRC is not a Court of Law, but a Court of Kangaroos]

  5. Rob Brighton

    I probably should read up on the procedures they use at the HRC but who can face that?
    Seems that someone has got an atom of sense over there as the case against the young blokes has been tossed out.
    Two questions, perhaps someone can help me.
    Those that gave the HRC $5K at the beginning….do they get their money back? and secondly who paid for the costs to defend the young blokes who defended themselves?
    I have a uninformed suspicion that like employment law you cant get costs awarded.

    I hope the Australian ignores the old cow. She needs to hear unrestrained laughter at her every utterance.

  6. mags of Queensland

    Thanks should go to the lawyer and barrister who defended these young men free of charge. If justice were to be served,however, the HRC and the claimant should pay the court costs. QUT should also be hauled over the coals for not nipping this i the bud from the beginning. Pandering to these whining ‘offended” over trivia has become a magnet for those who want their 15 minutes of fame. Like the woman who claims that Bill Leak’s cartoon shows racial hatred. Why is every criticism of anything aboriginal deemed to be hatred?

    A very succinct description of the timeline of the complaint against the QUT students is to be seen on Andrew Bolt’s blog. It shows in graphic detail just how outrageous the behaviour of the HRC and Madam Triggs in particular has been and still is.

  7. Meniscus

    It’s simply incredible that the average salary at the HRC is over $140K:

    https://themarcusreview.com/2016/10/26/they-get-how-much-at-the-human-rights-commission/

  8. padraic

    All this kerfuffle trigg ered (sorry, I couldn’t hold back)by the Leak cartoon has apparently impacted on the progressive media. I read the other day in a Fairfax publication in an article on the ABC that the “programming team, however, had already been working to create new dramas, comedies and factual shows that aren’t about – or driven by – straight white guys.” Apart from being inaccurate – ABC programming appears to have had little to do with straight white guys for some years now – this statement was not qualified by “old anglo-celtic” which in the past was de rigeur in such articles. Perhaps 18C is blowing back in their faces. A great article, but did the author have tongue in cheek and was punning when he spelt the Welsh national emblem “leak” instead of “leek”?

  9. denandsel@optusnet.com.au

    To me it seems that18c and many other social engineering bits of legislation were only ever introduced to give unproductive lawyers a well paying job. Thus far it has been very ‘successful’, that is if you think Gillian Triggs is gainfully employed. However like most government created ‘jobs’ the end result was/is always far from what was intended and it is now a very expensive and harmful disaster. It’s time to axe the HRC and 18c before civil society is crushed by the impossibility of trying to ‘obey’ such hypocritical laws and restrictions.

At the ABC, Pantsdown and Proud of It

As Pauline Hanson’s return to Canberra became clear, the national broadcaster whipped up a faux ‘news’ story to promote its favourite academic drag queen’s sexist denigration of One Nation’s leader. The complaints department says this is a fair use of taxpayer money

“I will call out misogyny wherever I see it”
–  Julia Gillard, defending the mussel-averse Peter Slipper in Parliament by attacking Tony Abbott

pantsdownThe ABC complaints department chief, Denise Musto,  thought it was OK for the ABC to depict The Australian’s Chris Kenny raping a dog  under the caption “Chris ‘Dog Fucker’ Kenny”.[1]  No surprise, perhaps, to learn she also thinks it’s fine for the ABC to fawn on an LGBTI activist  Simon Hunt (left), the drag queen and academic who satirizes Pauline Hanson as “Pauline Pantsdown”. No surprise, either, that Hunt has been a University of New South Wales media lecturer for 15 years. [2]

On July 3, a day after the election, the ABC TV News website ran a story by ABC reporter Kristian Silva: “Election 2016: Will Pauline Pantsdown return after Pauline Hanson’s success in the Senate?”

Silva’s story was an industrial-strength beat-up that speculated  Hunt might or might not resurrect his Pauline Pantsdown sexual satires of Hanson, circa 1997-2000. [3]    These had involved the ABC itself heavily promoting two songs, Back Door Man and I Don’t Like It, which Hunt created by splicing Hanson voice clips. Based on Hunt’s non-response to the question, Silva and the ABC were able to post , and revel in, side-by-side pics of Hanson and her drag-queen simulacrum along with a YouTube of Hunt and I Don’t Like It.[4]

I complained to the ABC on July 4  as follows:

Baseless sexual innuendo about a woman politician by ABC news staff
:  This photo montage falsely implies that Ms Pauline Hanson is promiscuous or in other ways operates with “pants down”. There is no basis whatsoever for such a smear and for such disrespect to a female.

Could you please let me know what are the ABC guidelines on respectful treatment of females, especially avoidance of gratuitous references to sexual behaviour (in this case, also false). Can you also tell me whether the pic montage above complies with such ABC guidelines, and if not, what remedy you intend, and whether the ABC will make a public apology to this female politician.

On August 25 the ABC’s Musto replied, after apologizing for the delay:

High profile public figures such as politicians are frequently the target of satire.   As explained in the ABC News online story, in the late 1990s the satirical character Pauline Pantsdown achieved some popularity with the release of two satirical songs about Pauline Hanson.  There was some speculation in the Australian media on whether Simon Hunt, a media lecturer and LGBTI activist who created ‘Pauline Pantsdown’, would reprise the satirical character following Ms Hanson’s successful return to Canberra.

Audience and Consumer Affairs are satisfied that the image was not in contravention of ABC editorial standards.  There was news value to this story, ABC News Online readers would recognise the satirical nature of image, and many would remember the character ‘Pauline Pantsdown’: they would not interpret the name of this character as  being a direct comment on the Ms Hanson’s sexual behaviour as you suggest. Nonetheless, please be assured that your concerns are noted.

Musto is arguing that the non-story had legitimate news value, that it was only satire, and “Pantsdown” has no sexual connotation (much as the assassin’s shout of  “Allahu Akhbar!” has no religious connotation).[5]

Musto’s boss and ABC supremo, Michelle Guthrie, is also a public figure, as is, say, ex-GG Quentin Bryce AC, ex-PM Julia Gillard and Labor MP Penny Wong. If it’s ABC-newsworthy for a drag queen to parody (or even  to consider parodying) Hanson as “Pauline Pantsdown”, is it also  ABC-newsworthy  if I, as an LGBTI activist, made up popular parodies about “Michelle Pantsdown”, “Quentin Pantsdown”, “Julia Pantsdown” and “Penny Pantsdown”?

Musto is being disingenuous to talk of “some speculation in the Australian media” about a return of the Pantsdown character, since the ABC’s July 3 story ran barely 24 hours after Hanson’s re-election was knowable. If there was indeed “some speculation” about a Pantsdown redux, Musto notably failed to provide a link that might support her bald assertion. Without that evidence, one is left with the suspicion that the ABC was whipping up the speculation to cue other media outlets. If so, it worked. The very next day, July 4, the SMH repeated the ABC’s non-story, of course with drag-queen pics and a YouTube link to the Simon Hunt, er, song.

The ABC’s love-in with Simon Hunt goes back all of two decades. ABC Triple-J repeatedly aired the Back Door Man parody of Hanson over 11 days, until Hanson successfully obtained an injunction in Brisbane on September 1, 1997 pending a defamation suit. She was then MHR for Oxley.

Here’s some of the  ABC-promoted snippets from Back Door Man quoted in the judicial findings:

Backdoor, clean up our own back door. We need to get behind and we’ll do trade with you. I still work and I worked the other night. I’m rostered on I think for next week. Now a gentleman came up and told me he said that other people don’t receive, they’ve got to accept it here inside… Yes it’s a little bit country of course… I’m a backdoor man for the Klu Klux Klan with a very horrendous plan. I’m a very caring potato.  [A ‘potato’ is gay argot for a receiving male partner, according to Hanson’s lawyers]… You must come out and be one of us. As long as children come across,
 I’m a happy person. 

Justice Ambrose commented,

There’s a political overtone to the whole exercise which seems to denigrate her personally by making assertions as to her sexual preference and her abnormal sexual attraction with respect to children and so on…I can’t imagine anybody listening to that production would not conclude that the assertion was that Pauline Hanson was a paedophile … or that she was a homosexual and rejoiced in the fact… I can’t imagine that one can avoid liability for injury to reputation… by simply prefacing it by saying, `Well, this is satirical, don’t take this seriously,’ and then playing it over and over and over again.

The ABC then spent more taxpayer funds appealing, only to lose again on September 28, 1998.

Chief Justice De Jersey  (now Queensland’s Governor) said,

Before the Chamber Judge, [Hanson] contended that the broadcast material gave rise to imputations that she is a homosexual, a prostitute, involved in unnatural sexual practices, associated with the Ku Klux Klan, a man and/or a transvestite and involved in or party to sexual activities with children. The [ABC] essentially contended that the material amounted merely to vulgar abuse and was not defamatory.

Interesting, that the ABC condoned and defended its “vulgar abuse” of politicians it dislikes. That abuse involved gratuitous sexual  aspersions as bad or worse than any taunts thrown at Julia Gillard by foul-mouthed bloggers. Remember, this is the taxpayer-funded ABC airing the sexual abuse, not some nutter on the internet.

De Jersey J continued,

These were grossly offensive imputations relating to the sexual orientation and preference of a Member of Parliament and her performance which the appellant in no degree supports as accurate and which were paraded as part of an apparently fairly mindless effort at cheap denigration.

But maybe Simon Hunt is some sort of comedic/literary giant whose output, though edgy, is worth the ABC’s sustained and dedicated attention? Here’s some material from Hunt’s own “Pauline Pantsdown story” listed among his academic credentials. This item is described as, wait for it, “an essay for the Australian Broadcasting Corporation”[6] to help it produce a documentary feature on himself.[7] The documentary was not completed. (Lately, Hunt has been working  on social media campaigns against homophobia):

At one night, I did a guest performance with [name redacted] of the organisers.  After getting ‘out of it’, she pretended to ‘fuck’ me with a dildo. I then ‘woke up’, pulled a dildo out of my mushroom, and ‘fucked’ her. This was all fully-clothed (albeit in drag), pantomime sex. The next year, she became one of my sound students at the College Of Fine Arts, and played a video of the performance as part of her work. The sight of the lecturer, in full little-girl drag, pretending to fuck one of the female students up the arse with a dildo, proved a little too much for one of the mature-age students, but it led to a vigorous class discussion.” 

As for Back Door Man, Hunt says Triple-J listeners voted it No. 92 on the “Hottest 100 [Songs] of all time”, an instance of faint praise.[8]

Hunt is particularly proud that 8-14 year-old-children enjoyed Back Door Man, to the evident satisfaction of their teachers.

Time and time again, school teachers and parents would tell me that their kids knew all the words to the song. I hadn’t counted on the nursery- rhyme factor — I had also become some sort of alternative Ronald McDonald for the 8-14 year olds.

In all seriousness, Hunt repeatedly compares Hanson with Hitler, but generously concedes that Hanson has not so far advocated use of gas ovens.[9] Hunt continues to castigate Hanson for her anti-Islamic views. He seems unaware that sharia-minded Islamists like to throw gays off high buildings.

Hanson has suffered other forms of  misogynist abuse. On March 15, 2009, while she was in her final week’s campaign as an independent for the Queensland state election, News Corp’s Sunday Telegraph, together with four other Murdoch tabloids, published nude photographs purporting to be of Hanson in 1975. The papers paid a paparazzo $15,000 for them. Hanson’s election bid was defeated amid taunts and mockery, but the pictures of “Hanson” were manifestly fakes. In May, Sunday Telegraph editor Neil Breen published a signed, three-paragraph apology to her saying, “We have learnt a valuable lesson”. She obtained an out of court settlement.

 

Tony Thomas’s new book of essays, That’s Debatable – 60 Years in Print, is available here .


[1] Musto: “We note that the editorial purpose was comic and intended to satirise Mr Kenny’s criticism of the ABC, in particular his view given in the immediate aftermath of the election result that the Corporation’s funding should be reviewed.”

[2] “Since 2000 he has been working as a full-time lecturer at UNSW Art & Design, developing undergraduate and postgraduate Digital Media degrees while continuing to work as a sound designer and composer. His research interests are focused on global visions of sound practice that extend beyond traditional eurocentric visions to incorporate other centres of practice.”

[3] The author of the ABC’s non-story on Pantsdown, Kristian Silva, is also comfortable with vulgarity, retweeting another ABC reporter about some police scandal, “What a bunch of power-tripping jerk offs.”‪ Silva, judging by his tweets, also has a fixation about Cardinal Pell as an alleged child-abuser.

[4] “I Don’t Like It” was recently incorporated into a permanent exhibition at the Museum of Australian Democracy at ‘old Parliament House’, Canberra.

[5] ABC guidelines include that  “regardless of justification, it’s important to be aware of the power and 6 effect of discriminatory language. Even if there’s a reason to include it in our content,
doing so can normalise it, convey that it’s acceptable, or bring it to the attention of
audience members who might not have been familiar with it.”

[6] Journal Articles: Hunt SD, 2000, ‘I`m a Back Door Man: An Essay for the Australian Broadcasting Corporation’, Perfect Beat: the Pacific journal of research into contemporary music and popular culture, pp. 34 – 44

[7] Hunt happens to be the son of former NSW Supreme Court judge and defamation expert David Hunt.

[8] According to the ABC’s Silva, Hunt “shot to fame in the 1990s” on the strength of the two songs. Silva sets his “fame” bar quite low.

[9]  Hunt: “While there are some differences between the politics of Adolf Hitler and Pauline Hanson — the latter has, for example, yet to present a comprehensive economic program — the two politicians share two areas of major focus…”

COMMENTS [2]

  1. en passant

    Tony,
    Shame on you for listening or watching their ABC at all!

    But don’t worry, Senator Mitch Fifield will soon be all over this and will defund their ABC once it starts criticizing Mal the Munificent.

    Alternatively, Pauline & Co. could vote down the ABC budget and the superannuation grab from the thrifty productive people so that there is no longer enough to pay Pollie Waffler Pensions.

    I have a dream ….

  2. Jody

    Actually, I found it offensive when the ABC aired a so-called ‘comedy’ called “At Home With Julia” during the Gillard government’s tenure. Not only was this personally insulting to the PM it also brought the office of the Prime Minister into disrepute. All for the sake of a laugh. Well, I never laughed because I found it shocking to see ‘Julia’ copulating with Tim under the Australian flag which was wholly demeaning to our first female PM and emasculating to the image of the ‘first bloke’. This went FAR BEYOND mere satire, which is historically clever, witty and powerful. “At Home with Julia” was none of those things, apart from misogynistic, sexist and humiliating to a female. I wonder why there weren’t people running with their pants on fire (cough) to the Discrimination Commissioner. I would have done so but I was busy living in Vienna at the time.

    ABC – shorthand for “Absolutely Bullying and Craven”.

The Maoist Malady Lingers On

Butchering millions of one’s countrymen should be achievement enough for one despot’s lifetime, but admirers of the Great Helmsman know better. When they gather in Melbourne and Sydney to hail their hero, medical miracles should not be forgotten

mao headphonesSydney’s mayor, Clover Moore, and her Melbourne counterpart, Robert Doyle, are being petitioned about September town hall concerts next month to honor the late Mao Zedong. China’s late leader, perhaps the greatest mass murderer since Ghengis Khan, will be so honoured to mark the 40th anniversary of his death on September 9, 1976.

The concerts’ promotional material says that Mao led China’s democratic revolution  and brought 76 years of peace and development to his nation, recovering its international status as a great country: “The concert will commemorate the great leader, as well as (inspire us) to further glorify the Chinese spirit, and expand our dreams. It will illustrate Mao Zedong’s humanitarian personality.”

The two cities’ councils each insist they are doing no more than hiring out their town halls, which they swear are available to all comers. If people don’t like them being used for Mao-worship, they can just suck it up.[i]

The Mao concerts are sponsored by developer Peter Zhu, who came to Australia from China in 1989. He would doubtless argue that Mao was truly loved by his subjects, as proved by contemporary records from the Chinese media. I have a sample from China Reconstructs, published somewhere around October, 1968, which certainly suggests that all criticism of Mao is misplaced.

The first-hand report is by Mr Liu Jun-Hua, a layman who enabled a deaf-mute boy not only to hear but to  shout, “Long live Chairman Mao!” The full story is heart-warming. Mr Liu was leading a village in the singing of a Chairman Mao quotation set to music when he noticed a 14-year-old boy staring straight ahead without opening his mouth.

“The meeting started and everybody was talking enthusiastically about what they had learned in studying Chairman Mao’s works. But I just couldn’t get this boy out of my mind. How he must feel!  How he must long to sing Chairman Mao’s quotations and cheer, ‘Long live Chairman Mao!’ with everyone else!”

Mr Liu was determined to cure the unfortunate lad. The chief problem was that he didn’t know anything about deafness. So he turned to a relevant “thought” of Chairman Mao for inspiration, and discovered thereby, “We can learn what we did not know.”

He rushed off to the doctors who did acupuncture. He found there was a tiny spot in the ear worth jabbing, but it could only be found by trial and error. But deaf-mutes wouldn’t be able to tell him he’d found the right spot. It looked like he’d have to experiment on his own ear. That would hurt!

“Did I have the proletarian feelings to undergo all this for my class brother? This was a test for me,” Mr Liu wrote. Gritting his teeth, he got a friendly comrade to wield the needle.

“I felt a sharp pain, my head seemed to burn like fire, and I broke into a sweat. He chose another point, and a third, without success. By then I was in such pain that everything was going dark  before my eyes. I knew my body couldn’t take it much longer, so I stopped.”

He arranged another jabbing session next day, and the next, but his hearing seemed unaffected and his ear was getting mighty sore. Should he give up? Did he have the ear-marks of a quitter? But then he thought of that deaf boy, staring straight ahead while all the swingers at the commune were crooning numbers such as Sailing the Seas Depends on the Helmsman. The lyrics of Helmsman go,

Fish can’t leave the water,
Nor melons leave the vines.
The revolutionary masses can’t do without the Communist Party.
Mao Zedong Thought is the sun that forever shines.

Alas, those few lines don’t convey the loving gusto with which the communards toom up their hymn to the Helmsman. The clip below might better convey their adoration.

But back to the story of Mr Lui’s unique approach to Mao-inspired medical research. Thirty more ear-raids followed, until poor Mr Liu’s ear was looking like a cheese grater. Then…

“A comrade stuck in the needle. I felt a sudden numbness, a sharp tingling, an ache and a swelling sensation. I had found the right point. I was so happy, I forgot all the pain of the tests completely.”

He seized the deaf boy, Chiang Pao-chuan, by the ear and without hesitation got in four jabs.

“A smile suddenly lit up his face as I put my watch beside his ear. He gestured happily – he could hear for the first time!”

The reader will now be inclined to sit back, bathed in a warm glow and imbued with hope for the betterment of all mankind. But this is premature. Worse agonies are in store. To make a newly-cured deaf person speak, you have to also jab at the right spot in his neck.

“If the needle is not administered correctly, or if it goes a fraction of an inch too deep, it could kill a person. Faced with this, I suddenly thought of the rotten revisionist philosophy of China’s Khruschev – ‘Save your own skin, think only of your own life’.[ii] But Chairman Mao’s words broke through: ‘Whereever there is struggle there is sacrifice, and death is a common occurrence’.

If I were in Mr Liu’s shoes, I’d settle for the rotten revisionist philosophy of China’s Khrushchev, and lay down the needle while my neck was still whole, even at the expense of being labeled “Melbourne’s Khrushchev”. But back to the story as Mr Liu experiments on his own neck…

“The needle in one hand, feeling for the right acupuncture point with the other, I inserted the sharp point. I kept pushing it slowly. Nothing happened at the ‘danger’ point. I pushed it deeper and deeper. All the while, I kept repeating to myself Chairman Mao’s quotation: ‘Be resolute, fear no sacrifice and surmount every difficulty to win victory’.  I administered the needle two more times at the back of my neck.”

Mr Liu spares us an account of his agonies on these occasions. Enough that his self-experiment succeeded and then he needle-necked the 14-year-old mute. Here’s the climax of Mr Liu’s tale:

Chiang Pao-chuan looked up one day at the portrait of Chairman Mao on the wall and with a thumbs-up gesture, cried, ‘Long live Chairman Mao!’ Peasants and other patients all crowded around, tears of joy in their eyes. An elderly woman exclaimed, ‘I’ve lived for over sixty years but I’ve never heard of a deaf-mute being able to speak! It is our beloved Chairman Mao who has given such happiness! Only an army led by Chairman Mao could serve us former poor and lower-middle peasants so whole-heartedly!”

But a terrible thought strikes me. What if young Chiang Pao-chuan was merely feigning deafness to get out of singing Our Hope is Placed on You and other catchy Maoist anthems? In that case, would his famous ‘thumbs-up gesture’ to the portrait on the wall have been a complimentary one? If so, and were he to have found his way in the interim to Sydney or Melbourne, we can only imagine the curses and imprecations he will be carolling with other disgusted protesters outside those town hall galas.

Tony Thomas’s new book That’s Debatable – 60 Years in Print, is available here


[i] Strange, but when Dutch anti-Islamic politician Geert Wilders came to Australia in 2013 and 2015 for  speaking tours – Wilders himself being long subject to Islamist death fatwas – councils and state governments fell over themselves to deny him civic halls for meetings. In Melbourne he was able to speak in 2013 only at the privately-owned Mirage Reception Centre at Somerton, 30km north of the city.

[ii] “Liu Shao-chi, the Number 1 capitalist reader in China until he was yanked down from his throne during the great storms of the Cultural Revolution. Saboteur of socialist revolution and socialist construction. Mortal enemy of Chairman Mao Tsetung and everything he stood for and fought for.”