Tim Blair


New Criterion



Saturday, October 26, 2002
DEFYING GRAVITY by the dextrous use of mere twigs of support is the characteristic talent of the arboreal primates, and Primate Peter Carnley has proved himself a worthy member of his genus.

On yesterday evening's PM news program, reporter Mark Colvin caught Carnley between trees and brought us the following fruits from the forest:

The Archbishop's not expanded on his views since the Foreign Minister Alexander Downer asked him in response whether he had evidence that hadn't been made known to the Government. Others have attacked the Archbishop for even assuming that the bombing was aimed at Australia.

I spoke to Archbishop Carnley today and asked him first about Mr Downer's demands for evidence of his assertions.

Unfortunately, Colvin found Carnley still digesting last week's over-ripe dinner, and unable to come to grips with the fruit of Alexander Downer's not-excessively-rich wit.

I don't know what he had in mind about what I was saying. I think he might have been told by a journalist that I had been critical of the Government or something like that.

MARK COLVIN: But I think Mr Downer was talking about your statement that most of us now believe that such a well planned and strategic placing of a bomb speaks clearly enough for itself, retaliation against America's allies has been verbally threatened for some months. Now, that was very clearly interpreted as meaning that the bomb was in retaliation for us being America's allies.

PETER CARNLEY: I think I've still that view. I think the fact that we are seen as allies of America means that we are a natural target, and we have to hear what the terrorists themselves are saying.

Uncle thought that the terrorists, whoever they may be, had spoken with explosive clarity. Not clear enough for our pendular Primate. What he didn't want to hear, from Colvin, was a reminder that the Capo of the Islamofascist crusaders, bin Laden, had put Australia on the murder and mayhem party guest list on account of our support for the East Timorese.

PETER CARNLEY: Yes, well, that theory has been promoted about East Timor and also the fact that Bali's very close to Australia, and it just happened to be an accident that there were a lot of Australians there. But I think in the world context, terrorists are targeting America, the allies of America and also Western culture, I think. It's clear that Western culture is hated.

Hang on that branch there a minute, Peter, were Australians targets or weren't they?

Then there is this exchange, as entertaining as watching a Primate scratch his armpits and fart at the same time:

MARK COLVIN: Well, if that is the case, if it's about hating us because we're part of Western culture, is it up to us to change ourselves because of that?

PETER CARNLEY: No, I think we've got to enter into dialogue with Islam to try and identify those parts of Western culture that are undervalued in the Islamic world. I think we have to talk about freedom of speech, and freedom of religious practice in our kind of culture and that's the kind of thing that Australian Muslims benefit from, and I think we want to hold before Islam the possibility that there should reciprocal arrangements with Christians in places where Islam persecutes. I think that's the kind of dialogue we've got to have with Islam.

MARK COLVIN: But if this is being done, as some Islamic scholars say it is, by people who are essentially Islamo-fascists, that's the phrase, then what use is telling them that we've got freedom of speech and freedom of religion?

And then Primate Pete just hopes that shaking the branches a bit more will produce a rain of reason upon his wilting argument. It doesn't:

PETER CARNLEY: Yes, it's an attempt to try and understand the motivations of terrorists generally.

MARK COLVIN: What's your argument for understanding them?

PETER CARNLEY: We have to understand them. I think, naturally when we're grieving, when we're broken and upset and grieving because of what has been inflicted on us, and see it as being inflicted on all of us, I think when we're grieving we naturally ask questions. Why could this happen? Why are people so hating of us that they will go to these lengths? I think that this question naturally arises.

Indeed it does. And it's answered in the voluminous writings of and about these critics of "decadent" Western culture. By the way, the "d" word seems to have fallen from our Primate's vocabulary. It's been replaced by "undervalued in the Muslim world". Feel better about that.

In case you thought that tree-dwelling vegetarians were pacifist, Pete assures us: I think governments must pursue the war on terrorism, there's no doubt about that, but that doesn't mean we can't try and understand what it's all about.

Keep trying Pete. Don't bother leaving the tree again until you have.

Here's a little plum to pop in your gob when you've recovered from today's purging.

Don't you think the Muslims of Indonesia, and the terrorists of that place and beyond, realise that Australia's support for East Timor would have had less influence on the Indonesian military than a monkey's piss if it weren't for the threat of US force that lay behind it? Do you really believe the Australian army frightens the Indonesians?

Fact is, Carnley and all the anti-Yank supporters of East Timorese independence are seen by the Islamists as just as much clients of Uncle Sam as John Howard and his Government. If we're paying a price in Bali it's more likely to be for their "compassionate" foreign policy than Howard's pro-American sentiments.