None so Blind as Those who Refuse to See

Swerving, deflecting and distracting are symptomatic of our current malaise in the West. No better examples are those which come via commentaries on the plight of Israel and on the persona of Donald Trump. I’ll give a couple of illustrations from The Weekend Australian. It wouldn’t be hard to find a legion more.

Gemma Tognini (“Progressives in lockstep with Hamas ideology”) writes, “This isn’t a conversation about Islam versus Christianity, or Judaism.”

Don’t get me wrong, Tognini is one of the good guys and her article is fine for the most part. But what is this ideology of which she speaks? It isn’t owned by Hamas. It’s called Islam. And while Tognini might not be having a conversation about competing religions. Islamic clerics are, and constantly. They make no bones about it. They want the ummah to predominate in every country. They make no secret of it; apropos.

Hitler made no secret of it. He wanted German hegemony in Eastern Europe. He laid it out clearly in Mein Kampf in 1925-26. Somehow or other, most commentators manage to swerve around the obvious, which would be to take would-be conquerors at face value and instead put issues into a transactional Western Judaeo-Christian framework. It doesn’t work.

Alfred Pennyworth in the movie The Dark Knight (2008) comes to mind: “Some men aren’t looking for anything logical … They can’t be bought, bullied, reasoned, or negotiated with. Some men just want to watch the world burn.”

Well, one religion wants to ride roughshod over all others. It can’t be bargained with. You can’t bargain with Allah. And the problem Israel has with its neighbours is Islam. Islam can’t abide Jews and, only to a little less extent, Christians and other non-believers; as I expanded on here. Yet we pretend it isn’t so.

While Islam prevails, and it is growing in adherents and power, Israel will need to keep its powder dry and lots of it. It doesn’t even have the European option of a gradual “strange death” (as Douglas Murray puts it); only an annihilating, bloody and savage one. Ergo, the only conversation worth having is, in fact, one about Islam versus Christianity and Judaism, all the rest is deflection.

Tom Switzer (“Instead of facing up to moral decline. We lower our standards”) writes tellingly, among other things, of children being increasingly born out of wedlock, of gangsterism, guns and drugs, of rising anti-Semitism, of racial, gender and identity politics, of cancel culture. All good stuff, except he avers that “the sort of serious political debate that might lead to such problems being tackled is increasingly prevented by the coarsening of political discourse.” Cue ‘Trump the Despicable’, of course.

One only has to think of his shameless lying…his disgraceful behaviour after the 2020 election… and his attempt to belittle and degrade his political opponents to see how drastically this [coarsening of debate] has evolved.

Switzer has to be kidding. First political debate has always thrown up coarse language. Trump didn’t invent it. He is just better at it than his opponents. Second, the idea that more refined debate will turn around the cultural Marxism which has now taken over all Western institutions is a distraction beyond parody. Third, Trump’s shameless lying is a beat-up. It would be nice if the critics who spew out this line were ever to cite just one or two consequential examples. And, personally, I don’t count his exaggeration of adoring crowds as a consequential lie. Also, if I were to call a person a liar in print, I would feel obliged to give numbers of serious examples; else I might be charged with coarsening public debate.

As to Trump’s “disgraceful behaviour” after the 2020 election, what to say? He could have graciously accepted the outcome, I suppose. But that simply ain’t the Trump who managed, against the odds, to bring about so much positive and substantive policy changes on both the domestic and foreign fronts. And, anyway, how in the world did Joe Biden get over 81 million genuine votes in 2020 when Barack Obama got under 66 million in 2012 — population up 6 per cent during the intervening years and voting for Joe up 23 per cent? Hmm? Just a thought, which no doubt passed across Trump’s fevered (at the time) mind.

My principal purpose is not to criticise either of the two articles which I reference. They are a lot better than most. At the same time, they dance on the surface. Tognini refers to the Hamas charter as the script guiding the carnage of October 7. But the most egregious passage in the original charter, since sanitised, is a canonical hadith:

The Day of Judgement will not come about until Moslems fight the Jews (killing the Jews), when the Jew will hide behind stones and trees. The stones and trees will say O Moslems, O Abdulla, there is a Jew behind me, come and kill him. Only the Gharkad tree, (evidently a certain kind of tree) would not do that because it is one of the trees of the Jews. (As related by al-Bukhari and Moslem.)

It’s Islam. Pure and simple. Nothing special; nothing untoward in the Muslim mind. The Muslim Brotherhood, Al-Qaeda, ISIS, Hizballah, Hamas, etc., might all fade away. Others will arise; fruits of Islam. To repeat, Islam is the intractable problem.

Switzer provides an observer’s commentary on the moral problems of the day – though, strangely, he misses abortion at scale – without offering a solution. That’s fine, who knows what the solution is? But why even hint that less coarse political debate would solve anything. Would it get Chris Bowen to be less fanatical about renewable energy? Make Penny Wong more fair-minded about Israel? Bring back objectivity into the federal and state public services. Give us back universities of integrity and stature? Reacquaint mainstream Anglican churches with Christianity? It seems to me that the only reason this non-solution rates a mention is to provide a pretext to dump on Trump. It’s a distraction which takes us away from a serious inquiry about the failings which have led to the pernicious cultural decay at the heart of our civilisation.

42 thoughts on “None so Blind as Those who Refuse to See

  • young bill says:

    Spot on, Peter

  • Older and Wiser says:

    Absolutely correct.

  • Gordon Cheyne says:

    While the contest, Islam versus Christianity and Judaism continues, atheists look on with dismay.
    To what extent did those religions themselves lead to “the pernicious cultural decay at the heart of our civilisation”?

    • Daffy says:

      The decay’ always seems to accelerate when the banality of materialism and its companion solipsistic moralism (what’s right is what I feel is right), takes centre stage.

  • Katzenjammer says:

    The lies were about Trump, and still are.

  • Peter Marriott says:

    Exactly Peter. I agree, and my only comment is simply to keep up your clear concise analysis of these things….including economics.
    Also I should add that you couldn’t have used a better picture to illustrate it , maybe some equal……… but not better I think.

  • Daffy says:

    I like the line “Reacquaint mainstream Anglican churches with Christianity”. Reminds me of an old ‘Yes Minister’ episode, or was it ‘Yes, Prime Minister”? Where the appointment of a new Bishop was being discussed, with one candidate a surprise as he believed in God!
    We seem to have a similar charade in Australia, with Anglican churches now using the ‘acknowledgment of country’ as their call to prayer and the existential epigraph on their web-sites: and there I was, thinking that the whole point of the church was the acknowledgement of Christ!

  • lbloveday says:

    I particularly liked this comment from “wife” on the Switzer article:
    Of all the people you could have chosen to embody the decline of the west you choose Trump, a loving father and that rare thing, a patriot and a champion of the America’s forgotten people. So he is brash with an ill disciplined big mouth. It is a shame that is all people see and respond to.
    “Tognini is one of the good guys”. Indeed, a must read for me.

  • Ceres says:

    Peter, the clarity with which you write is just so refreshing.
    Islam is the elephant in the room whose name must be skirted around, obfuscated or minimised as just a ‘small minority’ of mentally deranged even by those who usually get it right. Have been following Robert Spencer of jihadwatch.org, for years who has been spelling Islam out for decades.
    As for Tom Switzer, I read his full article and he got the moral decline right. Then downhill from there as he launched into Trump derangement syndrome with all the usual cliches and no examples – just get aboard the Trump bashing train.
    Peter please keep up your wonderful contributions, I so look forward to reading them. Talk about moral clarity, you have it!

  • vickisanderson says:

    I love reading your work, Peter – because you don’t swerve from the truth of the matter.

    In defence of Gemma, I guess it is one thing to write for Quadrant, and another, for a general audience. Nevertheless, on the issue of 7 October and the Israeli response we cannot hide behind niceties. In so many ways, the savage attack on Israeli families and their workers announced a redirection of the world order. It is a time to choose either to protect evil at all costs – as many non Islamists in our own community are doing. Or to stand for recognised rules of conduct amongst civilised human beings.

  • Tezza says:

    Exactly correct, Peter.

    Ayaan Hirsi Aly’s recent essay on her path from Islam through agnosticism to (at least) cultural Christianity, ‘Why I am now a Christian’ is very telling also on your central points.

  • john mac says:

    Thank you, thank you Peter for this article . TDS is alive and well for most of “The Australian” writers who think trashing Trump gets them an invite to the cool parties . What I am tired of though is the anti-semitism prism so many conservative writers use when denouncing Hamas , or Islam in general . Call it what it is – anti-western ! Israel is the canary in the coal mine , and Palestinians are the tip of the Arab(Muslim) spear .

  • David Isaac says:

    We are talking about three religions, the oldest of which has long since ceased to proselytise and is essentially synonymous with a strongly ethnocentric worlwide network. Of its two offshoots, the younger is essentially a heresy of the elder, a more extreme version of the Church of Latter Day Saints in the nineteenth century, designed for territorial conquest. Christianity too was once more or less synonymous with a worldwide ethnic European network whose often warring members, nevertheless had a strong sense of themselves as a separate people with separate interests from non-Europeans. If we don’t recapture that sense very soon European Christianity and even Europeans themselves, other than a minuscule elite perhaps, are doomed. Will Jews use their influence in media, entertainment and academia to help us Europeans back to health? One can only hope. If enough of them think it’s in their interests they probably will but it will be at a price.

  • Tony Thomas says:

    Re Trump claims the election was “stolen”:
    First, although I’m not aware of conclusive evidence that Democrat cheating was sufficient in votes to swing the election, the Deep State/media connivance to conceal the Hunter Biden laptop scandal might have had sufficient impact.
    Second, a poll by Heartland/Rasmussen last month found
    ” One-in-Five Mail-In Voters Admit to Committing at Least One Kind of Voter Fraud During 2020 Election.”
    Either way, Trump’s electoral defeat involved some murky business.

  • JH says:


    You are wrong about Donald Trump. While there is much to admire about Trump we should not be blind to his shortcomings.
    Trump was probably America’s best president after Ronald Reagan but his ego created enemies from those who should have been friends and almost certainly cost him the 2020 election. People do not like a loudmouth.
    Clearly the institutional forces lined up against him played a crucial role in his defeat but he made it easy for them by his behaviour.
    People should reflect upon the fact that those same institutional forces were defeated in our own Voice referendum without resort to invective or hyperbole.
    Rather than abusing or belittling those who urged a Yes vote – as Trump would have done – the No campaign, including Quadrant, met the facile arguments of the other side with clear and disciplined arguments of its own.
    Jacinta Price, in particular, was a standout with her dignified and intelligent campaigning.
    If Trump could rein in his vulgarity and behave similarly he would storm to victory in 2024 as he ought to have done in 2020. Unfortunately he will not.
    He will continue to behave coarsely and will give evermore succour to his enemies. He will lose to anyone except Joe Biden and possibly even to him.

  • Andrew L Urban says:

    As you say, Peter: “how in the world did Joe Biden get over 81 million genuine votes in 2020 when Barack Obama got under 66 million in 2012 — population up 6 per cent during the intervening years and voting for Joe up 23 per cent?”

    I’ll quote one relevant item of interest:
    According to the court-ordered forensic audit of the Dominion servers in Antrim County, Michigan, Dominion software experienced an astounding 68.05 % error rate in electronic tabulation log events. The Election Assistance Commission (originally the Federal Election Commission) allows a maximum error rate of just 0.0008 percent. The errors in electronic tabulation log events were ‘adjudicated’ manually. (chuckle, chuckle)

    And just one odd voting outcome:
    In 2012, Barack Obama won 1,773,827 votes in Georgia. We are told Biden won 2,473,633. Trump got 2,461,854 Georgia votes.

    In time, the truth will out…

    • Brian Boru says:

      “In time, the truth will out”. Yes but the question is what is the better way to determine election truth in a peaceful democracy?
      After Trump beat Obama, there were mobs on the streets burning. After Biden beat Trump there was a mob invasion of the Capital.
      In my humble opinion it is better to rely on the courts. Anything else is revolution and that smashes everything. That is only a last resort to be justified in the most extreme of circumstances. Americans of the extreme left and right should be careful of the consequences of their actions.
      People like us in our armchairs should be able to understand these things before we put pen to paper.

  • Rebekah Meredith says:

    January 1, 2023
    Trump Derangement Syndrome is indeed alive and well, but it works in both directions. Peter Smith refers to an article on moral decline and lowering our standards, then criticizes the author for criticizing Trump. There was a time that the morals and behaviour of our leaders were important to Christians. Yet hordes of them (and I speak more specifically of those in the US) justify Trump because–well–he’s Trump. One conservative pastor friend, who preaches hard against sin, dismissed my dad’s concerns about Trump by saying, “We’re not voting for him to become pastor of” the church. If someone had used that reasoning about Bill Clinton, I’m sure this pastor would not have accepted it.
    Trump is a serial adulterer–and I’m talking simply about the actions to which HE has admitted, including his two failed marriages. As JH pointed out above, his coarseness hurts his own cause and is unnecessary–besides being utterly un-Christian. As an example, in a recent rambling post, Trump expressed the desire that his political enemies would “rot in hell.” He followed that up with “Merry Christmas.” Christmas is a merry time because it gives us a special chance to remember the One Who came so that He could die to give His ENEMIES–all of us as sinners, according to Romans 5:10–the opportunity to be saved from sin and hell.
    For anyone, including Trump, to put two such statements together is surely bordering on blasphemy.

    • Peter Smith says:

      Not really Rebekah, I didn’t criticise Switzer for criticising Trump. I criticised him for imagining that a less coarse political debate would help turn around the moral decline in Western civilisation. I thought he wrote that simply to bring Trump into the firing line. At the same time, as you probably realise, I am a fan of Trump because of his policies which may, in fact, do something to turn the tide; optimistically speaking. As for his personal life, his children seem to love him and so he can’t be without some good points. Incidentally, I enjoyed your informative letter in the Jan / Feb issue of Quadrant. Required reading for those who want to understand why Israel is where Israel is.

    • lbloveday says:

      I hope there is no after-life, but if there is, surely whoever goes to hell could be said to rot there. I’ve heard “Go to hell” or variations thereof, hundreds, more likely thousands, of times (often enough directed at me), but never before have I seen it linked to blasphemy.
      Did you take umbrage at Madeleine Albright saying “There is a special place in hell for women who don’t help other women”?

      • David Isaac says:

        Given Albright’s infamous ‘Sixty Minutes’ interview in which she said of the deaths, during the Iraq blockade, of five hundred thousand children, half or more would-be women, that she thought ‘it was worth it’, she ought by her own specious argument to be in hell right now.

      • Rebekah Meredith says:

        I was previously unaware of it, but yes, I do object to such a statement. However, that is still not the same as a man’s wishing Merry Christmas to all, including his named enemies, then saying he wants them to rot in hell. A man who says that shows that he either does not believe in hell or has no idea what it really is. And if I’m wrong on both those counts, the statement was even more wicked.

        • lbloveday says:

          If I take something in the Bible literally, like presuming “a sword” means “a sword”, say it’s is not meant literally.
          Trump may have been speaking metaphorically/figuratively, just as some of those who have told me to “go to hell” were, and that you should at least give him the benefit of the doubt as to whether he was referring to the Biblically-referenced “Hell” unless you have an insight into his thinking similar to those who “know” which words in the Bible are not to be taken literally and which stories are just parables.

  • Rebekah Meredith says:

    “Righteousness exalteth a nation: but sin is a reproach to any people.” (Proverbs 14:34). How much more does that apply when the evil is in the leader?
    And, to clarify, I do think that Biden is a worse leader (or whatever he is). That does not mean that I have to justify and admire Trump.

  • pmprociv says:

    While I agree with much of what Peter writes here, and with many of the intelligent comments on this and other subjects, it staggers my belief system to find such enthusiastic support of Trump in these pages (not that it matters, for we won’t be voting). Instead of following mindless, and baseless, conspiracy theories about “stolen elections”, we really should support a free and independent judicial system, as exemplified by the USA — which has found, repeatedly, no evidence of serious rigging in their 2020 election (just look at that recent Rudy Giuliani court fiasco, which isn’t over yet, of course). If we can’t accept this, then we must go along with the claims of Putin and Xi, that their systems are superior to ours; democracy is useless (and so we’ll see the end of “Quadrant”!). Trump is a reckless menace, a classic example of the “dark triad” personality disorder; had he been able to write, and wasn’t so lazy, he’d have given Hitler’s “Mein Kampf” a run for its money. If you don’t believe me, then I’d strongly suggest you read this chilling piece (paywalled, but well worth the trouble): https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2023/11/general-mark-milley-trump-coup/675375/

    • lbloveday says:

      “had he been able to write, and wasn’t so lazy”.
      A quick, incomplete selection of books with Trump as the accredited author or co-author. I’ve not checked them – maybe some audio books amongst them, maybe some “ghost writers” involved, but to claim he was not able to write is ridiculous.

      The Art of the Deal
      Our Journey Together
      Think Like a Billionaire: Everything You Need to Know about Success, Real Estate, and Life
      How to Get Rich: Big Deals from the Star of The Apprentice
      Think Like a Champion: An Informal Education In Business and Life
      Midas Touch: Why Some Entrepreneurs Get Rich – and Why Most Don’t
      Think Big: Make It Happen in Business and Life
      Great Again: How to Fix Our Crippled America
      Think BIG and Kick Ass in Business and Life
      Time to Get Tough: Make America Great Again!
      Never Give Up: How I Turned My Biggest Challenges into Success
      The America We Deserve
      Trump 101: The Way to Success
      The World According to Trump: Humble Words from the Man who would be King, President, Ruler of the World
      Trump: The Best Golf Advice I Ever Received
      The Way to the Top: The Best Business Advice I Ever Received
      Why We Want You To Be Rich

    • David Isaac says:

      ‘…mindless and baseless conspiracy theories…’ Any time I see this phrase I know someone is trying to pull the wool over my eyes
      ‘The Atlantic Monthly’ is a middle-brow journal which is designed for people who wish to have the correct opinions required to prosper in the swamp. Anyone who proffers it as evidence is either deluded or selling something. Given that person is commenting at QoL I know which one I think is more likely.

  • Farnswort says:

    “And while Tognini might not be having a conversation about competing religions. Islamic clerics are, and constantly. They make no bones about it. They want the ummah to predominate in every country.”

    Such Islamists are emboldened by Western weakness and permissiveness. They take advantage of liberal immigration and multicultural policies that encourage the growth of non-Western cultures and diasporas inside Western countries like Australia.

    Matthew Goodwin:

    “From public expressions of anti-Semitism on Western streets to open support for the Islamist terrorists Hamas, from continuing radical Islamist attacks on Western societies to a growing awareness among Jews they are no longer safe in Western cities, 2023 has pulled back the curtain for everybody to see what happens when you combine mass, uncontrolled, unassimilated immigration with a failure to integrate newcomers and a radicalised cultural left which is now, very clearly, paving the way for the rise of radical Islamism…

    Increasingly, all those commentators who recite the pseudo-religious mantra ‘diversity is our strength’ and who insist multiculturalism is only ever an unalloyed success story look out-of-touch with the world that is now rapidly emerging around us —a world where Western states are rapidly importing tribal grievances from abroad, are importing rising numbers of people who, to be blunt, hate Western values, culture, ways of life, and who we are, and where elites show remarkably little interest in pushing back against these threats.”


  • pmprociv says:

    So sad to read such shallow responses to my comment. That is similar to what my friends tell me about Quadrant, which they refuse to read, claiming it’s an echo-chamber for rabid right-wingers; I have trouble trying to convince them that it actually does contain some intelligent material. Instead of shooting the messenger (The Atlantic), which employs a wide range of very smart, careful and thoughtful writers, how about first reading its article, before making your judgment? Otherwise, you’re just another of those blind folk who “refuse to see”, that Peter Smith is castigating here, It’s actually good for one’s mind, and understanding of the world, to read a wide range of opinions, some of which might happen to be based on facts, real ones rather than fake. From all I know of the man, Trump represents the lowest form of Washington swamp life — instead of draining it, he’s making it deeper and murkier, while sucking a fortune out of it.

    • john mac says:

      If you think Trump represents the worst of the swamp dwellers, then you are refusing to see, consonant boy. Worse than the Clintons, Obama, Bidens !? Not to mention the whole of the American destroying Democrat party. Sure Trump has his flaws, but they were public knowledge and he was still elected , ushering in the worst , most criminal persecution of any politician in history. All because he had the nerve to beat Shrillary. As Trump said. “They’re not after me, they’re after you !”.

      • pmprociv says:

        Well, JM, there’s no question they’re all flawed (an essential requirement for political survival these days), and maybe working to hidden agendas, but Trump is the only one who’s flagrantly deranged (OK, Biden’s getting senile, not quite the same thing, although Trump’s at risk of that, too), and who clearly fomented an insurrection that could have seriously disrupted a functioning society. There is simply no evidence that election was rigged; in fact, all subsequent inquiries repeatedly show it was run legitimately and fairly, despite all the predictable conspiracy idiocy. Narcissist Trump simply can’t grasp the fact that he’s not as popular as he thinks, won’t accept the referee’s decision, and is prepared to destroy a functioning super-power to feed his egotism. Imagine if Pence had acceded to Trump’s instructions, and then the military were called in by Trump under martial law; it was on the cards. Such a coup d’etat would have triggered a civil war in the USA, a country that’s pretty good at staging civil wars, with a suitably armed populace. And Trump repeatedly makes it clear that, if elected again, he will go for all those folk who spoke out against him; that sort of stuff is not meant to happen in liberal democracies.

        The big problem here is the deficiency of suitable candidates for high office, which seems an almost worldwide issue. Would any normal person want to get involved in this business? As I said above, you’d have to be mad . . .

    • Brian Boru says:

      It’s hard to be objective when you are a member of a tribe. If someone is a member or leader of our tribe, then what they say is right. If they are not of our tribe, then what they say is wrong.
      We all suffer from tribalism to a greater or lesser degree. Quadrant is a venue for intellectual articles and comment but as in all human endeavor, it is not perfect. Thankfully though, space is given to all so that objectivity at least has a chance.

      • pmprociv says:

        Fully agree, BB. Tribalism accounts for all of humanity’s great successes, as well as its greatest woes. And it creeps into all levels of social interaction, including these pages. We’re a paradoxical animal.

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