Tim Blair


New Criterion



Saturday, February 08, 2003
ON A MORE CONSTRUCTIVE NOTE ABCwatch has been invited, in complete confidence of course, to advise Simon Crean on what occupation might be found for an incognito Saddam Hussein after the axis of morality throws him out of Baghdad. The Labor Party is keen to show that it's prepared to make a conscientious objector's contribution to the war.

Once again, Uncle is calling on his readers to join in a deliberative poll to help Simon choose from some carefully-constructed, pre-validated options.

Here they are:

1. Night-shift slaughterman at the Cooma abbatoir.

This facility is located in a marginal seat Simon is keen to win, and hasn't seen a drop of rain in five years, so our Iraqi refugee will feel right at home.The smell of blood, and the rhythmic, relaxing thud of the killing bolt as it smashes the brains of his victims will help him sleep soundly during the day.

OK, I know productivity will suffer, as Saddam carefully twists off the testIcles and udders of the doomed beasts, but Simon has promised to make sure the abbatoir gets a subsidy.

2. Replacement presenter of Australia Talks Back

Who wouldn't welcome the vast improvement in the intellectual standard of this sad program? And Saddam has already shown his skill at consensus building exceeds Max-weird McCutcheon's. But only slightly.

If, at the end of six months, there were any calls to ATB supporting any policies of the Howard Government or the Bush administration, Saddam would, naturally, be sacked.

3. Lead Anti-Yank scripter at Radio National

This could save millions! By centralising the production of the anti-American sentiments now produced in such a disorganised way, we could not only save dozens of communard salaries but also improve consistency and intensify the rhetorical highlighting.

The whole operation could be out-sourced to the Lakemba Mosque.

4. Adviser to Peter Costello on leadership strategies.

Costello's going to have to do something drastic. His use-by date approaches. Who remembers who preceded Saddam in Iraq?

And, just so you heartless, vicious, right-wing wretches don't feel left out:

5. Shoot the bastard.

This would be very very cheap.

Over to you.

FREE WILLY AND SILLY PHILLY combine in this weekend's glossy life-style supplement to the Australian.

While a bunch of animal-sentimentalisers throw millions of dollars at a vicious, whale-drowning killer-whale that munches seal pups like cocktail frankfurters and just happens to look like an obese penguin straight out of a tub of lip gloss, The Australian, assisted by Auntie ABC, continue to pour tens of thousands of dollars into their favourite tub of fatuousness, Philip Gastropod Adams.

Just a little stomach-churning sample:

Bush’s bullyboys are not hesitant to talk about the pre-emptive use of nuclear weapons, if only to bury Saddam in his reinforced concrete bunker.

This is either a deliberate lie, or the Gastropod's yank-hate word-generator is on automatic, and Phil just doesn't care what comes out.

Have you the stomach for more?

There’s every chance we’ll see a regional catastrophe far greater in scale and in hideousness than what we’ve recently witnessed in the Balkans. And what possible help will this be for Washington’s client state, Israel? Will they use the opportunity while the world is otherwise engaged for some ethnic cleansing of unwanted Palestinians?

And another invention:

Perhaps the rest of the Arab world will, as Bush apologists suggest, break into grateful applause as a new democratic government takes over in Baghdad.

So Bush and his advisors are such idiots they think that Arab dictators welcome democratic neighbours.

At least Phil finishes with an absoute truth:

Only to fools are the issues so simple.

Thursday, February 06, 2003
NEPOTISM rarely rates in ABCwatch, but not because Uncle doesn't care.

When you see who fills the journalistic hole left in Saturday's Australian by the departing bulk of Gastropod Adams, just think back to the source of the early newsflash that sped around blogville.

Clue: he is an arithmetic-challenged journalistic powerhouse located in that detached scab of the festering metropolis of Melbourne that may be found by fleeing south west from the airport, as any sane person would.

Genes do not always prevail, for which my children daily thank their spiritual maker.

MORE ON THE ANTI-YANKS. Greg Sheridan has a go at explaining the origins of anti-Yank obsessiveness in todays Australian.

Tuesday, February 04, 2003

We all think we know what a just war is when we see one. Some of us think we have it straight from God.

In recent weeks the Anglican Primate – Archbishop Carnley, the Anglican Bishop of the Canberra region - Bishop Browning - and the Catholic Bishop of Canberra – Bishop Power (speaking for the Pope) have all declared an attack on Iraq to be immoral.

Yesterday, at the joint Christian ceremony to mark the opening of Federal Parliament, Prime Minister John Howard made some heart-felt observations to Bishop Power as the episcopal powerhouses lined up in their frocks to shake the hand of the “immoral” Prime Minister.

He thought he was talking man-to-man, but the hounds of the media recorded his words. Tomorrow they should be recorded on the website of the 7.30 Report and elsewhere.

In Uncle’s paraphrase, Howard pointed out to Power that no-one had a monopoly on morality, and that he had anguished as much about the issue of Australia being involved in war as they had.

He might have asked Browning, but didn’t, how the agreement of Chirac and Putin to a war turned immorality into morality. Bishop Power at least deferred to a more respectable authority in the Pope.

Auntie’s Life Matters, which serves the role of the old Church women’s groups combined with the confessional, was confidently tackling the morality of war on Monday morning.

Geraldine Doogue read out the minders' script, telling us that George W., unlike his father, had not discussed the merits of attacking Iraq in terms of the theology of the just war.

What did this say about George W.? speculated Geraldine. Did it tell us about his policies (It’s all about oil!)? Did it tell us about the man? (Cowboy! Warmonger!).

Sad to say, it told us nothing. The first guest pointed out that George W., like his father, had dealt with the theology of the matter.

Once again, Auntie’s presenters’ minders found their ideology secure and their knowledge deficient.

To make it worse, both guests think that, in Iraq’s case, the conditions of a just war have been met.

Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear.

The emails from outraged Communards at large have been flooding into Life Matters ever since. There will need to be some re-balancing.

Bishops with morals that depend on the politics of foreign politicians; broadcasters whose stories are slave to their ideologies.

None of them, on this issue, worth a cracker.


The noose is finally closing around the neck of Abu Bakar Bashir.

“According to the man in charge of the Bali bombing investigation, General I-Made Pastika, suspects have told police that the Muslim cleric meet with the bombers in his home both before and after the attack.

General Pastika says Abu Bakar Bashir both inspired and conspired with the bombers.”

The plot was hatched in Bangkok, with technical input from Malaysian, Dr Azhari.

"We are still hunting Dr Azhari", General Bachtiar says. "He is an expert in physics and strategy. To be able to know his role in the Bali bombings we need to check with the Malaysian police."

FOLLOWING UNCLE'S LEAD, as he sometimes so wisely does, Henny Herald columnist Gerard Henderson explores the nature of anti-Americanism among writers and film-makers.

He focuses on film-maker Phil Noyce whose illustration of Graham Greene's The Quiet American represents Greene's anti-Americanism, without its occasional nuance. Noyce again demonstrates that his films, when they purport to report political actuality, as did Rabbit-proof fence, are caricatures. As most films are.

But why are political films always left-wing caricatures?

But can you imagine the uproar if someone made a film in which the hero/ine was expected to retain our sympathy while admitting to idolatory of Adolph Hitler, as the sainted Frida Kahlo, also the subject of a recent depiction, worshipped the monstrous Joseph Stalin? Or even cordial relations with Albert Speer?

Fascists! Beyond salvation by Art. Kiss that investment goodbye.

Gerard Henderson has trouble explaining what he describes so clearly. Like the rest of us.

Uncle wishes to point Gerard in the direction of a powerful fountain of anti-Americanism that has great force in Australia. It's operation can be seen in the life of Graham Greene, a convert to Roman Catholicism who nonetheless claimed he would rather live in Stalin's Soviet Union than capitalism's USA. He failed to do either.

This fountain, source and bog of anti-Americanism is pure snobbery.

Graham Greene was the son of English parents who, like many of their class, thought those engaged in commerce were, by definition, vulgar and disgraceful. Gentlemen lived on capital or salaries from government. The young Greene and his wife, struggling to write a first novel, without the funds to buy food for the table, still employed a woman to do the housework. That, too, was beneath middle-class English people.

The Americans, my dear, are in trade. And their tastes are so, well, popular.

You think that couldn't be a force in modern, egalitarian Australia?

Examine that city at Australia's fundament, Melbourne. Read the life stories of those blessed with middle-class Melbourne mothers. Like the jazz musician Richard Hughes. Talk to Melbourne girls of the post-WWII period. When you've recovered, take a look at less benighted parts of our ex-British continent.

When you hear one of Auntie's Communards dismissing any product of the profit motive as morally-tainted, you will know where to look for the source of their sentiment.

It contradicts their consumption behaviour, of course. None of them acquired a Trabant, even when, in the late 1980s and early 1990s, these pestilential bureaucratic approximations of motor vehicles could be picked up free on the sides of the roads leading to the holes in the Iron Curtain.

But they probably made kindly documentaries about them.

It helps us understand why Greene's preference for Stalinist societies did not extend to Stalinist living or to Marxism. And why he so appreciated American films, music and the US version of Freud.

And so, it is not just the alienated youth of deep-green and anti-global movements who resort automatically to anti-American attitudes when the US is involved in a conflict. It is good, solid, middle-class men and women of property and social standing, or with a drip feed from other tax-payers' funds.

It also helps explain why the ordinary Aussie, who cannot avoid the labour and vulgarity of ordinary life, does not support anti-Americanism as a rule.

And why Simon Crean risks handing over more and more of what was once Labor's constituency the more he panders to the middle-class leftism of Labor leftists like Carmenangoin Lawrence.

Monday, February 03, 2003

Another demonstration of Auntie's Saddamitic talent for consensus building can be found in the results of the ABC poll on the question, "Should Australia take part in a war against Iraq [under any circumstances]?"

90% against.

Don't panic; they're working on the recalcitrants.

Later Moving beyond those who call the talk-back Tsars, Newspoll has sampled the broader population among whom are many more of impeccable sanity, and found that, under the same conditions applying to the Rehame count, 57% favour Australia's involvement in military action.

This tells us that a. the anti-yanks are, as usual, more excited than the population in general, and b. when the Security Council votes in favour of military action Opposition Leader Simon Crean is a dead political duck. Unless the war drags on, as Uncle does not expect.


The Australian's Media supplement is a rare beast among supplements. It does in fact supplement what the main news sections offer with information and comment on matters of public importance.

The January 23 issue, now invisible on the Australian's website, covers the politics behind the short life, to date, of Muslim community broadcast station 2mfm, now broadcasting to an audience the Australian estimates at 50 000.

The president of 2mfm, Mohammed Mehio, tells us "We believe Osama bin Laden is an extremist and should not be a role model for any Muslim. But some people were not impressed with these views."

Among those unimpressed with 2mfm is our old friend and ethnic vilifier, Mr Keysar Trad, spokesman for the Imam of the Lakemba Mosque, hangout of the Lebanese Muslim Association. Trad says they're not representative.

Trad's boss, Mufti al Hilali, is blunter. "These people don't like their fellow Muslims and have attacked respected Muslim scholars". I wonder who he's talking about.

According to Mehio, the attacks date back to "defamatory" remarks he, Mehio, made during the licence hearings about a couple of obscure scholars. He called them "extremists".

And the targets of Mehio's attack? One Osama bin Laden and a Sayed Qutb. Beyond criticism as far as the Lakemba Mosque is concerned.

We've heard of bin Laden since as the operator of airliners that don't bother to land on their wheels.

Qutb, apart from being vowel-challenged, is one of bin Laden's spiritual and political guides.

This is how the BBC described Qutb's contribution to modern Islamism and its politicised version of Jihad.

In the 1950s Sayed Qutb, a prominent member of Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood, took the arguments of al-Banna and Maududi [who advocated jihad against imperial powers] a stage further.

For Qutb, all non-Muslims were infidels - even the so-called "people of the book", the Christians and Jews - and he predicted an eventual clash of civilisations between Islam and the west.

Qutb was executed by Egyptian President Gamal Abdel Nasser in 1966.

According to Dr Azzam Tamimi, director of the Institute of Islamic Political Thought in London, Qutb's writings in response to Nasser's persecution of the Muslim Brotherhood, "acquired wide acceptance throughout the Arab world, especially after his execution and more so following the defeat of the Arabs in the 1967 war with Israel".

Qutb and Maududi inspired a whole generation of Islamists, including Ayatollah Khomeini, who developed a Persian version of their works in the 1970s.

The works of al-Banna, Qutb and Maududi were also to become the main sources of reference for the Arabs who fought alongside the Afghan mujahideen in the 1980s.

One of these was the Palestinian scholar, Abdullah Azzam, who had fought with the PLO in the 1970s but became disillusioned with the Palestinian leadership because of its secular outlook.

Azzam studied Islamic law at Cairo's Al-Azhar, where he met the family of Sayed Qutb, and went on to teach at university in Saudi Arabia, where one of his students was Osama Bin Laden

And so to Afghanistan, then the world.

When a man has heroes like these, you'd want to check him for hardware before getting too close.