Tim Blair


New Criterion



Saturday, February 15, 2003

Here is Orwell in 1942, in "Looking Back on the Spanish War," reflecting on the lies of wartime:

This kind of thing is frightening to me, because it often gives me the feeling that the very concept of objective truth is fading out of the world. ... I am willing to believe that history is for the most part inaccurate and biased, but what is peculiar to our age is the abandonment of the idea that history could be truthfully written. In the past people deliberately lied, or they unconsciously colored what they wrote, or they struggled after the truth, well knowing that they must make many mistakes; but in each case they believed that 'the facts' existed and were more or less discoverable.

Here is an Australian historian in 2003 justifying histories which use sheer fabrication, exaggeration, myth and hyper-interpretation that serve the cause of historical justice, as he sees it
Historians must embrace new ways of understanding the past and exercise historical imagination.

Friday, February 14, 2003
Acting Commissioner for Racial Discrimination
Human Rights and Equal Opportunity Commission.

I am taking up your invitation to comment on your proposal that “Islamophobia” should be made an offense punishable by your star chamber.
First, does your apostrophising of “Islamophobia” mean that you don’t know what the term means? You certainly haven’t defined it. I suppose that when you decide that it should be illegal you’ll tell us what it is.

In the meantime, and before you can force Uncle to sanitise his Website as you did the lamentable anti-Semite Frederick Toben, let me record some of my misgivings about political Islam.

I’m sure the worthy Professor Amin Saikal of the ANU, an expert on middle-eastern affairs, is right when he says that the great majority of Muslims are reasonable people who just want to live in peace and prosperity. Just like Uncle, except I want the occasional glass of claret as well.

But there are these other homicidal maniacs who call me an infidel and want to shred me if I get in the way of their plans for world domination. They hate most of the things I love, including claret, and there are times my feelings about them might be described quite fairly as phobic.

I know it’s hard to believe this could be a problem for us lucky Australians living south of Bali, and no-one to the left of John Howard seems to believe that it is.

But occasionally some journalist or other is indiscreet enough to report that Australia’s most senior Islamic cleric is a supporter of that pin-up of Islamic fanaticism, Osama bin Laden, and of his spiritual mentors. This Aussie leader of our Muslim fellow-citizens also believes that the culture of the society that hosts him is a load of crap. We tolerate non-believers. Our women provoke good young Muslim men to gang-rape. Our Jewish citizens are sexual perverts bent on world domination through US imperialism. According to his followers, the Indians and Chinese are just as evil. And these people run mosques, schools, kindergartens and host Bashir the bomber of Bali.

I am still waiting for all those good moderate Muslims to rise up and depose these friends of fanaticism.

Bill, it is all making me nervous. Point is, is it going to be illegal for me to say so?

Ridiculous idea. Looking for comfort I checked the list of determinations you made under the Racial Dscrimination Act before the judging business was taken away from you in 2001 and placed in the slightly less-flaky judicial hands of the Federal Court.

It seems racial vilification is a hard-to-prove offence. Almost the only person to succeed is a Mr Robert Brophy who has been, and still is, accused by people in his clan of being a multiple child-rapist. Someone on a Perth radio station made reference to this and you charged him $10 000 for it. That certainly makes me Freespeechaphobic.

If Mr Brophy did not have access to your services, I presume he would have been obliged to seek satisfaction through the laws relating to defamation. The accused could have tried a defence of public interest, I suppose. Do your laws require you to listen to arguments like that, Bill? Still, I guess that you, unlike those crass defamation lawyers, don’t charge for your services, provided one is a legally-defined victim.

Not hard to see why someone would want you to define him as a victim. Of Islamophobia, or, indeed, of anything at all.

You told Auntie’s Stephen Crittenden, when he indiscreetly (Islamophobically?) referred to the proliferation of anti-Semitic Islamic Websites, that you had done something or other about them. What was that, Bill? A quiet word to the Mufti? And he has foresworn the convictions on which his life to date has been based? I stand ready to be mightily impressed.

Oh dear! Having used my quota of free speech already, I now see from your press release that your enquiry is not really about “Islamophobia” at all. What you’re excited about is the idea of inventing the offence of religious vilification.

You seem to be worried that someone might call you a fool if, in the interests of making them all vilifiable as Muslims, you ascribed a single ethnicity, as a Muslim, to a Pakistani, a Kosovar, an Indonesian and a Uighur herdsman. I would, Bill, I would.

Now “religious vilification” is a very interesting idea and not without merit. If someone had been smart enough to think of it in the sixteenth century, Europeans might have been spared centuries of very beastly behaviour in the name of the Protestant revolution.

But would we have “human rights” today? And would you have such a cushy job?

Sorry to rave on so, but your questions are really too big for me to handle in a tidy way. And I don’t think you’re up to it either, Bill.



WHEN THE GOING GETS PASSIONATE all Auntie's bad habits return.

Like unusually blatant manipulation of the talent supply, as Geoff M observes. I missed it, to the great benefit of my blood-pressure.

Old Max-weird McCutcheon has dragged Robert Springborg out of limbo-land, dusted him off, and, hey-presto, an expert on Iraq!

Now many of us, but not everyone, will recall that during the Gulf War, this guy was invited onto ABC to comment, adversely re US and Australia, such that RJHawke became quite irate. It transpired that Springborg was a senior guy, or perhaps the boss, of the Australia-Iraq Friendship Society. (He was at Macquarie Pretend University at the time)

No mention of this was made on ATB..... It may be that he has quit this post now he is in UK, but I think it still would have been appropriate to mention it.

Even more appropriate to leave him in the cupboard.

MILITARY SERVICE in the age of Victims'R'Us is a problematic business.

First, the enemy wants to make you a victim. By definition.

But so do your commanders. They ask you to to have injections to stop the enemy making you a victim of Anthrax.

But some anti-immunisation victimologists say that will make you a victim of water on the scapula and testicular rotation and lots more. You could be claiming compensation before the enemy even gets a shot at you.

And some commanders are making you victims of pressure to conform. Imagine that! Military leaders exerting pressure! So are your comrades who feel discommoded by your jumping ship in mid-ocean. Bastards!

The nation's top medical adviser says you have the same risk of any serious consequence as if you didn't have the injection. What would he know? The publicity-addict in charge of the doctors' union, Kerryn Phelps, says he can't prove it. She must be right. Doctors see lots of victims.

Perhaps the pacifists are the real winners in all this.

The only acceptable way to become a victim is by letting the enemy do it.

THE "HISTORIANS' SIGH" with which the historians of the left (can you see any others around these days) greeted Keith Windschuttle's exposure of shonky work on Tasmanian history has turned into that more fundamental kind of flatulence with the launch on Monday of the book of the conference of December 2001 on "Frontier Conflict".

At that conference Windschuttle revealed some of the errors or inventions he had found in the highly-esteemed work of Professor Lyndall Ryan, who had published the second edition of her book only five years before.

And now, fourteen months later, in her paper in these conference proceedings, she has so little regard for the ethical or academic standards of her professional historian colleagues that she doesn't bother even addressing the embarrassment. Her "minor errors", she said last December, "can easily be rectified" but she hasn't attempted to do so.

And her colleagues? Well, those quoted in the Australian on Tuesday all agree with her: it's just so long ago, sigh, and how, sigh, could a poor historian be expected to even remember, sigh, what she did in 1996, sigh, let alone check its accuracy?

As for one hundred and fifty years ago, sigh, well, you just have to use your historical imagination.

Georgette Heyer does it much better, but.

Joint editor of the book, and chief attack dog for the Marxist left of historians, Bain Attwood, who informed Uncle of the historians' sigh, wants us to believe that he and his colleagues have walked away from crude assertions of nineteenth century genocidal policies into more local, nuanced, versions of twentieth century quasi-genocidal social policies.

Other historians still believe what Ryan still says in print, and will continue to teach genocide history to their students until "professional" historians produce a truthful version of Tasmanian history that doesn't bear the name of the hated Keith Windschuttle. Sigh.

And as for the rest of Australian frontier history?


Let's give Windschuttle the last word. For now.

Wednesday, February 12, 2003
BILL JONAS doesn’t know what he thinks – and neither does Uncle – but he knows there should be legislation to control it.

If Judaism is also an ethnicity and covered by the laws against racial discrimination, should a universal religion like Islam also be covered by those laws and should Islamophobia – meaning the view that Islamism is not compatible with liberal democratic values – also be legislated against, and does that mean that those preaching intolerance of other religions and none, like a couple of people close to the Lakemba mosque that Uncle could mention, also get protection of the law from any criticism from those who hold such views about them, or should we give it all up as a bad joke?

You think I’m exaggerating? Go here (after the Christians have had their say).

Stephen Crittenden: I wonder if we’re also perhaps inclined in Australia to let Muslims off the hook sometimes. You don’t have to look very hard to be astonished by the number of Muslim websites which really are hate sites, particularly in relation to Jews. Do we have a role, perhaps, in an exercise like this, to draw the attention of the Muslim community to things like that?

Bill Jonas: Yes, we do – and we have. We’ve also got another exercise going on at the moment, which is to do with race hate on the internet. And that’s a whole big complex issue, which is really bigger than Australia, because it is the internet, and it is truly international. But we are working with communities, and we are talking with people like the Australian Broadcasting Authority – we’re actually currently talking with the CSIRO, about filtering out, getting mechanisms for filtering out race hate on the internet. I think that’s a much bigger one than the straight-out religious discrimination or religious vilification that we’re talking about here”

I’ll say it is Bill.

You’re talking about automated censorship. And I’m paying you to do it.

With bin Laden we at least know who to aim at.

One thing is clear. This Jonas fellow should be let nowhere near the legislative arm of government.

In fact, Uncle would feel a whole lot more comfortable about the future of liberty in this society if we just wound HREOC up, and put the funds to some useful purpose.


The trouble with being a rational Christian, rather than a Christian pacifist, is that you have to think.

Too hard, brother, too hard.

Take this example:

It’s not a question of whether it is a just or unjust war, the question is whether it is an appropriate response, because right now we are in a time of history when the states are so interwoven, the global community is forming, then is it really a war that’s going to solve? Take Iraq. OK, let’s go to war with Iraq: whether we win or whether we lose, as far as a conflict is concerned, does that really solve any of the problems? And I’m not sure I know. I know I don’t know what all the problems in Iraq might be, I don’t understand that, but will a war solve it? And we are, perhaps, at a time when neither just nor unjust war is any longer appropriate.

Well, Uncle is just going to keep praying for them.


You don't have to be a cynic to get a chuckle over the antics of the pacifists.

Perhaps because their argument is so threadbare their political tactics, in response to those who shoulder our common obligation to defend ourselves, are based on nakedness.

And so we have Pubes for Peace.

You have to admire the hardiness of the 30 women who exposed themselves to the snow and cameras in Central Park, New York. And marvel at the effectiveness of exposed perinea in turning the opinions of 30 people into world-wide news.

As to their slogan, "No bush", this is the first time Uncle has seen pubic shaving presented as a political cause. I still can't see why.

By contrast, the "more than 750" women who disrobed at Hippy Central near Byron Bay must have been hard to distinguish from the usual summer tourist traffic.

"I was completely overwhelmed," Australian jazz and blues singer Grace Knight, who led organisational efforts for today's protest, told AAP.

"I needed at the very least 67 women and I prayed for 250, and we got more than 750

Perhaps there were a couple of tour buses going past at the time.

Time to balance the debate with a wankathon from those of us who don't expect someone else to clean our toilets.

Welcome to Dicks for Doing It.

Join Uncle on the front lawns of our national Parliament. I want you to get your gear off and form the image of a bullet with Saddam's name on it.

You'll have no trouble finding me. I'll be the one with the trousers on.

Tuesday, February 11, 2003
I HAD RESOLVED to avoid listening to the Late Night Live debates on the issue of Iraq, repeated by popular Communard demand. But a poorly-timed car-journey brought me an experience more distasteful than jogging past a week-dead kangaroo.

Never leave your car radio on and tuned to the ABC.

I knew what to expect. With a room packed with anti-war hysterics, the Gastropod would exceed his usual lack of objectivity and become a cheer-leader from the Chair.

As indeed he did. It was a debate in which the contenders strove for reasonableness and the Chair worked the audience for easy cheers.

How many dead children will it take before you withdraw your support for this war? he challenged those who had failed to deny themselves in favour of the Gastropodian view.

Bishop Carroll responded mildly that it was an unfair (not to say outrageous) question.

I know, responded silly Philly. That's why I asked it.

That's why Russell Balding needn't bother asking for an extra $250 mill this year. Or ever.

Following Margo Kingston's advice, Uncle tried to pacify his churning gut by visualising.

What came to mind was an image of the porky Gastropodian face surrounded by a cloud of blow-flies, back-lit like a halo.

It fits.

DON'T MISS THIS ONE. Auntie's Religion Report consorts with the Sheikh of HREOC, Bill Jonas, to nut out ways in which Islam can be brought under the umbrella of HREOC's thought police.

You know what this means.

Anyone criticising the bin Laden admirers at the Lakemba mosque could be taken to Court and gaoled.

The Communards hate freedom, when it is in conflict with their freedom to hate our liberal culture.

Monday, February 10, 2003

But if the conflict is between extremists who hate the West and want to destroy it and the political and cultural values that all Western nations claim to share, why is it so wrong? And what, Jacques Chirac and Gerhard Schroeder, is the alternative?


Why why why does the poor old Bunyip insist on taking the Gastropod seriously?.

Especially after his first glossy embodiment.

It's all true, mind you.


they lie through their teeth if they think it will spin support for the ALP. Prior to the last election, staff were told we were "working for the forces of goodness" in handling the ALP account.

According to Laurie Oakes in the latest Bulletin, even Liberal supporters are pushing their Members against the war in Iraq. (don't click unless you want to pay).

Hang in there, little Johnny.


Even Senators are reduced to frustrated rage by Auntie's favourite expert on world affairs.

Australia’s most embarrassing literary export: far Left journalist John Pilger.fumes Senator Hutchens (via Meyer).

According to Auntie's Media Report: Investigative journalist John Pilger has devoted much of his professional life to exposing abuses of power. He's a relentless critic of the moves to war, and of the failure of the media to expose the distortions that justify it and the excesses that characterise it.

Well, the man has a point of view. It is: democracies bad, dictatorships good (provided they're anti-American).

Also: the media are a conspiracy against the truth. Everyone, apart from John Pilger, is a liar.

That's all you need to get a gig on Auntie these days.


I've had a gutful of helping to fund this mean spirited garbage!

What can I do? Please help. My wife is worried about my violent screaming rages directed at our new LG flatscreen.

Turn it off, Rod, turn it off.

One day we'll get a government with the elbow-room to deal with it.

In the meantime, copy your email to your local MP.

I HAVE GROWN TOO CYNICAL to write anything as good as this.

This probably isn't available on transcript yet but I heard an absolute ABC beauty this morning from Peter Thompson on the Breakfast program.
Peter decides to make things interesting during the weather report by giving us the details from some "hotspots" - he tells that the expected maximum in Pyongyang is XX and the forecast for Baghdad is XX. He then tells us that in Washington "... a place where they really need some clear thinking...." it is XX degrees.

I almost choked on my coffee!

On our national broadcaster, three capitals are mentioned - Baghdad, Pyongyang and Washington. Two of these cities are home to governments headed by murderous despots who own or are constructing weapons of mass destruction contrary to international agreements. These leaders torture and starve their populations, brutally repress all dissent, do not allow freedom of the press, do not conduct democratic elections and constantly threaten their neighbours with invasion/destruction.

The other capital mentioned, houses a democratically elected government which upholds the rule of law, freedom of the press, full democratic participation by it's citizens, provides the bulk of the world food aid, does not threaten its neighbours, welcomes migrants from around the world and occasionally, (like all nations) stuffs up and makes mistakes.

Which of the these should be singled out for a plea for some "clear thinking"??

If there were clear thinking in Pyongyang and Baghdad there would be no international crisis whatsoever of any proportions at all.

Tell me Uncle ( this is an argument I have had with so many people and have still not arrived at any satisfactory conclusion) is the ABC intentionally biased or does it not perceive its own bias or does it think it doesn't matter?

What is your view?

A Despairing Taxpayer

Jim, I wish I knew.

If I thought it didn't matter I would cease blogging.

Sunday, February 09, 2003

And the theologically liberal can swallow it.

Can you believe a religious program on our national broadcaster that takes the pathetic maunderings of Michael Leunig's Vasco Pyjama and Mr Curly as serious guides to the moral life?

"In response to your question, 'What is worth doing and what is worth having?', I would like to say simply this. It is worth doing nothing and having a rest."

Don't wait, there's more.