Camille Paglia in Time on the collision of middle-class innocence, feminist theory and real-world evil:
'...Misled by the naive optimism and “You go, girl!” boosterism of their upbringing, young women do not see the animal eyes glowing at them in the dark. They assume that bared flesh and sexy clothes are just a fashion statement containing no messages that might be misread and twisted by a psychotic. They do not understand the fragility of civilization and the constant nearness of savage nature...'
Amanda Vanstone is one of those people it is hard not to like for herself, if not her every stance and opinion. She's jolly and good-humoured, blunt but non-threatening, and these attributes have defined a market niche she has grown to fill and dominate. At the ABC and Fairfax, they need a conservative from time to time to make some sort of pretense at balance, and the former Minister for Immigration serves that purpose admirably. She's the conservative you book -- for Q&A, to host Counterpoint or pen columns for The Age and SMH -- when what's required is a Liberal who won't scare the horses. This relieves the need to stack the audience with plants, shoe-throwers and class-strugglers, which Mark Scott should consider a boon to his budget in these hard times. Indeed, were it not for competition from John Hewson and Malcolm Fraser, the ACCC would surely have investigated her for operating a monopoly.
Today's airing of her latest insight, an exercise in multicultural outreach, could not have been better put had her words dripped from the oily lips of the late Al Grassby.
We must remember that Muslims are not the enemy, she writes, just radical Muslims, because Islam is the Religion of Peace and has done many favours for Australia over the years. Andrew Bolt deals with misguided notions of Turkish history and Kemal Ataturk's place in it, perhaps not realising his critique can only endear Vanstone, elevate her worth and market value, in the eyes of those who suspect they would not have to pinch their noses too hard if all conservatives were as amiable as she.
There is one element of her column, however, which plumbs a depth of error far beyond the plonk-plonk-plonk of predictable prose tumbling into the well of multi-culti wisdom.
"If your great or great-great grandfather returned from Gallipoli," she writes, "he may well have had his life saved directly or indirectly by one of the Indian Muslims. Your own life may not have come about but for them."
This is news indeed, as Britain's war leaders were eager to keep their Muslims as far from the Hun's Muslims as humanly possible, and for good reason.
Early in 1915, as whispers spread that Indian regiments would be sent to confront their fellow believers in the Middle East, the 5th Light Infantry mutinied in Singapore and spent the next five days burning, looting and butchering random Europeans. When the ring leaders had been subdued and executed, the entire forced moved to Egypt. There, as the Australian Sikh historian Pradeep Kanthan puts it,
"...except for the Gurkha battalions, all other units had equal components of Muslim troops. As the Ottoman Empire at that time held sway over the Islamic world and Indian troops were subject to Turkish propaganda, units with Muslim troops were quickly moved away to France, leaving mainly the Gurkhas to fight it out in Gallipoli."
There may have been a Muslim or two serving the Empire at Gallipoli, but it wouldn't have been more than that.
So perhaps Vanstone is more correct than she knows. The fact that the mutineers and jihadis of the Singapore insurrection were packed off to the Western Front before they could get anywhere near Gallipoli may indeed have saved Australian lives.
Yesterday on its front page, The Age published the photo of a teenager it identified as Numan Haider, the Muslim firebrand who set about two police officers with a knife, very nearly killing one of them before being shot dead for his troubles. At Fairfax Media's upcoming AGM a question to enlighten shareholders about the cost of this blunder might bring an interesting response, the only expiation of such editorial incompetence being that Melbourne's former broadsheet now sells only 113,000 copies on a typical weekday and, therefore, would not have done all that much harm to the innocent young man's reputation. Fairfax lawyers should try that argument when negotiating what will undoubtedly be a rather hefty settlement.
Today, the focus of embarrassment in Australia's most oblivious publication has receded to the inside, where favoured thinker Clementine Ford -- she of the 'F*** Abbott T-shirts', which Fairfax helped promote -- takes to the opinion page with a dribble of incoherence that seems to be about the sorry lot of women. Toward the end, this remarkable line:
"Women do not feature heavily in political leadership, despite evidence suggesting that female-led governance improves policy-making and community benefit."
Her editor -- the word is used loosely -- might have asked for the source of that "evidence", but apparently did not. Could it be that Julia Gillard remains so revered in The Age newsroom that the claim was accepted as self-evident? Or might the editor have been thinking of Margaret Thatcher and Julie Bishop?
Think? Of course not! The key to a successful career as an Age editor, at least until the paper folds, is a steadfast refusal to think at all. That young man mis-identified as Haider will very shortly have many, many thousands -- perhaps hundreds of thousands -- of reasons to celebrate those deficiencies in competence and intelligence. The rest of Melbourne just gets Clementine Ford.
Now appearing semi-prominently on Fairfax Media websites:
One of the photographs run on this website, tablet and Fairfax papers in relation to the death of Numan Haider was published in error. The young man in a suit was not Mr Haider, and we unreservedly apologise to him for the error.
The young man has no connection whatsoever with any extremist or terrorist group and we deeply regret any such inference arising from the publication of the photograph. The picture has been withdrawn from circulation.
It is funny the things that get published when editors are no more than nameplates on doors.
UPDATE: Competence levels at Fairfax are dropping faster than human heads. First, the wrong man is identified as a knife-wielding Islamic radical. Now this Sydney Morning Herald announcement, via Twitter:
It's a funny thing, how the most confident expectations are sometimes put pay by the unexpected twist. Take Fairfax Media, for example, which has been quietly informing contributor columnists that their insights are no longer required. A matter of money, you see, and a manifestation of the board's policy of cutting overhead costs at a faster rate than the declines in the publisher's Three Rs: Reporting, Revenue and Readers. Also factor in the consultants' advice that paid journalism can be replaced by unpaid missives from no-cost outsiders, and if you have been wondering why plaintiffs' lawyers now get the run of the opinion pages to lament how their clients have been mistreated and deserve large payouts, that might explain it.
Then you open today's Age and, well, the jaw drops to the floor. There it is, a column by a bricklayer (!), a certain Mitchell Browne, lamenting the rubbish the ABC puts to air (!!!).
"...Here is my own efficiency review of the ABC: If you are broadcasting four ABC TV channels, when you barely have enough quality material for one, that is not efficient. If you're using taxpayers' money to distribute soft porn, you are duplicating a service the private sector willingly provides for free.
And if you are doing all this in the honest belief there are no possible cost savings to be found, you should be out on your arse.
Sorry. You'll have to excuse my language. Must have picked it up from my dirty Aunty."
It is inconceivable any standard-issue Fairfax hack could or would have written those words. With the company circling the drain, no semi-intelligent keyboard-tickler is going to risk alienating the national broadcaster, a potential employer where those with mates and spouses on the payroll have already found sanctuary. There can't be too many ABC slots left to fill, so why make enemies?
But positions for bricklayers are not likely to figure in Aunty's next wave of recruitments, so bricklayer Browne is free to speak his mind and, because Chairman Roger Corbett's company is the addled, rudderless and impecunious mess that it is, those very un-Fairfax thoughts get published.
The potential in this new approach is limitless. If one bricklayer can make so much sense, do so much better than a professional journalist, just imagine what untapped legions of plumbers, taxi drivers, manicurists and chicken-sexers might achieve.
Having previously dismissed terrorism as “an irritation” and, more recently, filed 500 words of studied vacuity in regard to the week's terror raids, Fairfax columnist Waleed Aly tackles the big issue dominating the attention of all Australians: Misogyny in America’s NFL.
Aly today writes (or, rather, should have written):
Rice’s misogynist Islamicists' brutality is enough to make worlds collide. Here’s hoping it will finally be perhaps the first extrinsic scandal that is so heinous, so suffocating, that it becomes an intrinsic, inseparable part of the way we talk about the game creed. Only this can force the NFL Muslims to understand the severity of its their failings and force sport the religion more generally, to understand its moral obligations.