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July 27th 2011 print

Merv Bendle

Defamed on The Drum

The ideological war conducted by the left and their Islamist allies has moved to a new level of aggression, with the media and the commentariat feeling free to intensify the vilification and victimization of their opponents, attacking them personally and professionally. These are becoming desperate and worrying times.


The near hysterical glee of the left at the Oslo atrocities reached fever-pitch yesterday on The Drum, the ABC’s organ of on-line opinion.


It had published my article ‘Explaining Oslo: suspicions & scenarios’, which had first appeared in Quadrant Online, on Monday. That article had warned that the ideological struggle over the atrocities had begun and that Islamist and left-wing political groups and their supporters would move quickly to exploit the tragedy in order to discredit and delegitimize their opponents.

Once it appeared on The Drum, the response from the left to the article was visceral and vicious. By this morning there were around 90 comments on The Drum to the article, comprising some 9000 words, with over 90% of the content constituting venomous and vitriolic attacks on me, largely for having written an article that dared to predict that the left would take advantage of the Oslo atrocities to besmirch and discredit their ideological enemies – that predicted, in other words, precisely the reaction recorded on The Drum.

Most of the comments on The Drum were clearly defamatory, and the comments section as a whole constituted a sustained attack on me and my reputation. For example, it indicated many times that I was not a fit person to hold my present position as a senior lecturer at a university, and this of course could do immeasurable harm to me.

Because of their defamatory nature I will not repeat these comments here. However, it is clear that The Drum fulfilled the three conditions required to prove that an act of defamation occurred.

Firstly, The Drum clearly published the relevant defamatory material, a massive amount of it, and this was obviously communicated to innumerable people via the Internet. Secondly, it clearly identified me as the person being held up to ridicule and infamy and virtually all of the material published was about and concerned me. Finally, the material published was clearly defamatory, insofar as it: (a) exposed me to ridicule; (b) lowered my reputation in the eyes of members of the community; and, (c) injured my professional reputation. It may also cause people (e.g., students and colleagues at my university) to shun or avoid me, providing another ground for finding the material defamatory.

This onslaught on me was only one of the attacks launched by the left against it enemies. Keith Windschuttle was forced to respond in The Australian today, refuting accusations that his work had somehow served as an ideological inspiration for Anders Breivik. Andrew Bolt also responded today in The Herald Sun to claims that Breivik was “the armed wing of hysterical Right commentary”. In America, Robert Spencer, a prominent and knowledgeable writer on Islamism and its activities in the West, was described in the Atlantic as a Jihadist (!) because Breivik had made reference to him, while the New York Times has smugly alleged that Breivik quoted Spencer 64 times in his long rambling manifesto. In all these cases, the implication is that these commentators have contributed to Breivik’s crimes, and therefore can be attacked and vilified with impunity.

Tragically, the ideological war conducted by the left and their Islamist allies has moved to a new level of aggression, with the media and the commentariat feeling free to intensify the vilification and victimization of their opponents, attacking them personally and professionally. These are becoming desperate and worrying times.

See also: Keith Windschuttle on the “Left’s blood games” here…