Archive for the ‘culture’ Category

Barrie Cassidy does not understand balance

February 20, 2011

Not quite crocodile tears … but nearly

Barrie Cassidy still does not understand what bias is. He complained last week in a letter to The Australian of being treated dishonestly, misleadingly and unfairly.

That he criticised the ALP at least as much as the Liberals is a common argument in the ABC. They hit the Liberals and they hit Labor. They hit the Liberals from the left and that is understood. But almost always, they hit the ALP from … err, the left of the ALP. And this is the game Barrie plays. This has been the game the ABC has been playing since Hawke took Australia to the first Gulf War.

Another instance is green policies. The ALP is never green enough for the ABC, just as refugee policies are never compassionate enough. Barrie was all for compassion for the nine year old boy in Sydney, but that compassion would never extend to questioning why the nine year old boy’s parents died in the first place, or how many millions of other potential refugees, who waste away in the vilest conditions in refugee camps throughout the world, will never get the chance to come to Australia … because of smuggled boat people. When, for instance, will the ABC commentators start insisting on questioning the Gillard government’s inability to stop the boats,  and the drownings?

A letter in reply to Cassidy’s dummy spit suggested that “when Barrie dares to have three conservatives on the same day to discuss politics, maybe then his feigned hurt at being called biased can be taken more seriously.”

That would be an interesting excercise, but more importantly, the ABC does not even understand what the important issues are, and so never really asks the right questions. Take for instance this morning on Insiders. They discussed multiculturalism, but as Andrew Bolt correctly points out, the media does not even understand the debate it is trying to stop, and refuses in effect to discuss the malaise and disquiet growing within Australia, or indeed why Chris Bowen is suddenly talking up multiculturalism.

However, with more genuinely representative journalists — by this I mean those that represent mainstream views — Barrie might just be confronted a little more with what it means to be balanced.

The National Curriculum: A Critique

February 16, 2011

How to deprive our children of their heritage

A timely and invaluable monograph, The National Curriculum: A critique, has just been released by the Institute of Public Affairs in the context of their ongoing Foundations of Western Civilization Program. As Chris Berg, the editor, says in his introduction,

The release of the federal government’s national curriculum gives us an opportunity to take stock of how Australia sees itself, its role in the world, and its position in the grand sweep of history – in other words, how it imagines itself not just as a nation, but as part of a civilisation.

Alas, the way Australia sees itself, according the analysis of the writers in this book, is pretty dismal. It would appear that almost all the conventional and traditional understanding that most of us have for the origins of the uniqueness of Western Civilisation and the qualities that Australia has inherited and shares with other western societies, is almost completely absent. Worse, this understanding and these qualities appear to be wilfully and deliberately ignored in this shiny new curriculum. Antonio Gramsci in his grave would be thrilled beyond belief. Conservatives should be horrified.

The book is organized as a set of six essays on particular areas of the syllabus by six writers.

Greg Melleuish takes a swipe at the history syllabus and concludes that it is a mishmash of disconnected study areas with no “organizing principle”, leaving the subject areas open to arbitrariness and prejudice. In this way, year nine students can choose in depth studies of the Ottoman Empire followed by Polynesian expansion, followed by a study of Spanish conquest. This leads, as Melleuish puts it, to human history of the past ten thousand years reaching its climax with AC/DC and Kylie Minogue.

Richard Allsop takes a closer look at Australian History, announcing the sad news that in less than 30 years Victorian students taking Year 12 history has declined from 42 percent to 5 percent. It seems students like facts. This syllabus wants to focus on “method rather than substance, on developing skills rather than imparting knowledge”. Australian exceptionalism is ignored, or avoided –– forget that Australia was, before Federation, one of the richest countries on Earth.

Augusto Zimmermann takes to task the way the syllabus ignores concepts like the separation of powers or the Westminster system, and only passingly touches on the Magna Carta, the 1688 Glorious Revolution or the American Revolution. Unsurprisingly, the curriculum will thus give students the impression that freedom and human rights only began with the United Nations.

Barry Spurr shows how English has been corralled into po-mo gibberish. Spurr finds the mandated imperatives in the new English curriculum as “platitudinous, philosophically vacuous-unsubstantiated feel-good rhapsody”. He astutely observes that the academic study of English language and literature –– the discipline of English –– has been “transmuted into an agent of social change”. Discipline in the study of language is absent. Further, Spurr sees the gutting of the greatest poets as “cultural philistinism, indeed barbarism on a grand scale.”

David Daintree tackles the issue of our Christian heritage and the importance of the Bible as a reference point to our cultural literacy. The most perverse aspect of this new syllabus is that over the 2000 years of European history, Christianity and its contribution is not specifically mentioned; as Daintree observes, there is “deliberate, pointed, tendentious and outrageous silence”.

To finish off, Julie Novak gives us an analysis of the failure of the new curriculum to explain Australia’s prosperity by excluding any explanation that involves free markets, enterprise or the capitalistic system. It reminds this reviewer that this tendency has already happened with disastrous results in France and Germany. Novak finds the new curriculum does not recognise the role economics plays in our historical development and when mentioned is largely negative. She concludes that students will not be able to understand our economic achievements of the past, nor those of the present, and will be “unable to capitalise on the exciting economic opportunities that lie ahead”.

This book is important. Its aim is to look at the national curriculum and to see how much it explains the foundations of Western Civilisation to our children. Clearly, it fails. If it is not stopped or changed, we will fail our children utterly in developing their understanding of themselves and their society.

This review first appeared at  Quadrant Online

Buy The National Curriculum: A Critique here…


Christmas book reading

December 15, 2010

Some reading suggestions for the holidays

The Nature of Things, by the first century BC philosopher, Lucretius is a delightful, poetic and contemplative book, ideal for restoring the spirit over Christmas. It is a wonder to behold. Set out in rhyming couplets that capture the spirit of the original, Lucretius was able to effectively flag, one thousand years before the Enlightenment, the importance of disinterested observation in discovering the laws of nature and the nature of Man.

You can get check out some of my other suggestions here, and more ideas for books from from Quadrant Online contributors here.

Agora – a film review

November 25, 2010

A promising film spoilt by political correctness

The promises made about this limited release film Agora by director Alejandro Amenabar, showing in Australia at the moment, were intriguing. The subject, Alexandria in the forth century AD at the time of the destruction of the famous library — the “Axial Age”, or, in the words of Karl Jaspers, ‘the most deep cut dividing line in history’ — seemed pretty promising and ambitious. Central to this film is one of feminism’s archetypal historical heroines, Hypatia, a philosopher and mathematician, grappling with the movement of the orbs of the heavenly bodies.

The film, one imagined, was to deal with the complex sets of interactions between the Judaic tradition, the propagation of the Christian message of St Paul, the Roman world and its Law, the decline and virtual disappearance of Hellenism with the gradual withdrawal from Aristotelian thinking, and the eclipse of the Hellenistic values that accompanied the fall of Rome and the subsequent plunge into the ‘dark ages’. It was what the enthusiastic ABC film review Margaret Pomerantz hailed as, “a rare film about something”.

The portrayal of Alexandria was physically fascinating, with a wonderfully convincing mixture of the Roman and the Egyptian, and the collision of their cultural values. There were delightful insights into the liturgy, vestments and character of the early Pauline church. Nevertheless, there was something disconcertingly uninvolving and unconvincing about the texture and narrative. For instance, it contrasted poorly with the splendidly visceral portrayal of the city of Rome in the film Gladiator, and had a strangely total absence of dramatic tension in the plot development.

A predictable dread about the film, as promoted in its advertising, was the inevitable potential for political correctness. The ingredients were all there. There was the fashionable, anti-Christian sentiment that painted Bishop Cyril of Alexandria as an irresistibly self styled Taliban leader, and the inevitable temptation to portray Hypatia as an unyielding and archetypally smug feminista with a rampant and satisfying dose of congenital adrenal hyperplasia. So it came to pass. What could, with generosity, be considered to be a cunning allegorical warning against present day Islamic terrorism in Europe and America, wasn’t really the film’s intention, or the director’s.  The film safely fell on the side of reactionary Christian bashing, including a pointed quote from St Paul about the importance of silencing women. No attempt was made to suggest that these views would have had their origin in the prevalent Jewish Synagogue Regulations of the time. The film’s treatment seems to suggest that these 2000 year old Christian values are more reprehensible that those of current Islamic sharia values that the West is feebly yielding to today. This lack of clarity thus manages to portray a fatuous anachronism. The implications are nasty.

Most disappointing is that the ‘ideas’ part of the film end up being trite. The endless ruminations and discussions by Hypatia, played, incidentally, utterly unconvincingly and blandly by Rachel Weisz, about the movements of the planets, with ‘learned’ references to Aristarchus, sounded more like a polite and earnest discussion of a ‘dangerous idea’ on Jennifer Burns’ First Tuesday Book Club. Aristarchus, along with other remarkable figures like Eratosthenes, Hypparchus and Posidonius had nailed the actual physical dimensions and movements of our solar system accurately hundreds of years before.

We should have been forewarned. The Pomerstratton team gave the film four and four and a half stars respectively, so politically correct, safe and predictable it inevitably was. For all its admirable qualities and the attempts to deal with one of the most truly fascinating periods in history, it ended up, as one reviewer put it, as “an overlong school trip to the planetarium, followed by a Romans-in-togas play in the gym”. But worse, it failed to see itself, judging by the reviews and commentary, as a powerful allegory concerning the threat of Islamic fundamentalism on our own doorstep today. A truly wasted opportunity.

Muslim veil deceit earns six months prison

November 18, 2010

Dishonesty and identity

 

A Sydney Muslim who was pulled over when driving and then  claiming falsely that the police officer tried to forcefully remove her face veil, has been sentenced to six months jail.

At a time when there is a national groundswell of annoyance and  indignation at Muslim women hiding their faces in public and playing the ‘religious sensibility’ card, this is a timely outcome. However, it must be stressed that it is a sentence given for knowingly making a false declaration.

Apparently, the woman went to the police station to sign a statutory  declaration in which she made her false declaration. She then went on to claim that it was not she who had signed it — she was wearing a hijab at the time.  Her complaint was rejected with Magistrate Rabbidge who said the signature on the declaration was almost identical to that on her driver’s licence.

The incident nevertheless puts a focus on the silliness of our appeasement to religious sensibilities when it comes to identity, and the expectations almost all of us have of openness in our society. In a court case in Perth recently, the judge insisted that a Muslim woman, a key witness, had to appear without her veil. However, he accepted the humiliation of dhimmitude by banning male journalists from his court.

The absurdity of this reality is eloquently illustrated in this mock licence from New Jersey [above]. As is now being realized in Europe, even apart from legal considerations, we all like to know who we see in front of us. Covering up is nasty and makes no sense, and certainly ill serves the Muslim community.


The Left’s fantasy of hatred and violence

October 22, 2010

No Pressure

Many have now commented on the sicko advertising campaign ‘No Pressure’ by Richard Curtis [pictured right] for a greener more caring environment, notably Andrew Bolt, and the way the Left seem to be attracted to hatred and violence.

The big thing that jarred for me was that Curtis was the director of Love Actually, one of my all time favourite films that is clearly the polar opposite of ‘No Pressure’. I defend Love Actually against all comers who prefer violent films, and films that obsess about unhappy dysfunctional and neurotic anti-heroes; the sort of film one critic called social worker porn. But that is another story.

I raise this issue tardively, as I have just read James Delingpole’s very eloquent essay in the lastest Spectator on just why the latest Curtis effort was truly not funny. It is well worth reading. He emphasises the Green Left’s contempt for humans, which is generally well known. That this is true, does explain, by extrapolation, why the Murray–Darling Basin Authority’s recent report on water allocation for the river left out any consideration for our farmers and riverine communities. Delingpole concludes:

After all, when your movement’s key influences, from Rachel Carson through Teddy Goldsmith to James Lovelock, are telling you that the human species is a ‘cancer’ on the planet, what better solution could there possibly be than a spot of radical surgery?

Why does Morry Schwartz allow it?

October 3, 2010

Robert Manne does it again

I recently posted a blog saying that one has to feel sorry for poor old Robert Manne. He had been exposed for his shoddy history research concerning the stolen generations. After that, came his very public demonstration in The Australian of the way he uses morality, indignation and appeals to authority to cover for his lack of facts. I suggested at the time that it was perhaps time for him to retire.

However, it appears that Robert ‘No-Shame’ Manne continues in the same vein, this time in the September issue of The Monthly. According to Hal Colebatch in the latest Quadrant, Manne writes about the South Vietnamese refugee policy in Australia between 1976 and 1982, making the extraordinary claim that “With the boat arrivals, the Labor Opposition under Whitlam, and then Hayden, resisted the temptation to exploit underlying racist or anti-refugee sentiment for party political gain.”

Colebatch rightly wonders if Manne was on another planet. He quotes the infamous comment by Whitlam ,“I’m not having hundreds of fucking Vietnamese Balts coming into this country with their political and religious hatreds against us” … He then goes on to list the many examples of ALP bloodymindedness; Clyde Cameron himself advocating in the 1977 election campaign that “the only effective means of dealing with illegal immigrants would be to have them arrested and deported as soon as they land”, Hawke wanting the return of the bogus refugees, and Darwin waterside workers striking over the ship Entalina that rescued Vietnamese boat people, threatening any further shipping that was prepared to rescue boat people. The litany of racist and inhumane bigotry by the Left is documented in detail. The article thus reveals Manne’s strange delusional rewrite of history.

Colebatch concludes:

I could continue these quotes at considerable length (my PhD thesis on this subject occupies 489 pages exclusive of bibliography and appendices), but this is probably enough to make the point.

Far from being the beneficiaries of a bipartisan approach, Vietnamese refugees were attacked by virtually every group on the Left. I find it baffling that someone occupying Mr Manne’s position is either unaware of the well-documented history of the ALP and the Left regarding Vietnamese refugees or, if he is aware of it, that he should apparently seek to radically rewrite these facts.

Hal Colebatch’s article, The Left Rewrites Its History on Refugees is very worthwhile and is available in the October edition of Quadrant [no link available].

It is now incomprehensible just how Manne manages to get published with such falsehoods, except for the fact that he is Chairman of the Board of The Monthly. Morry Schwartz should sack him.

UPDATE

Quadrant has now made the link available to Hal Colebatch’s article.

The right wing drum beat on the ABC, yeah …

September 3, 2010

“And Tony Abbott isn’t even Prime Minister yet”

Just the other day I received a very belated comment by an Alan Knight on a post I wrote in May about the ABC failing in its charter for balance.

Alan Knight, it turns out, runs a blog and sent me a link to an article of his, The right wing Drum beat at ABC News 24, about how the new 24 Hour news service has lurched to the “booga booga” right.

The evidence? In a recent Drum, he reports the “thinly stretched” 24 hour news service had the audacity to have on two conservatives, Imre Salusinszki, from “the left leaning (not)” Australian — just in case we had forgotten — and Jessica Brown, from the CIS “right wing think tank” —just in case we had forgotten.  However, it turns out that the third panellist was an ABC journalist, and the presenter was, well, an ABC journalist. That seems like good balance to me.

The problem for Mr Knight apparently is that Maurice Newman, currently on the ABC Board, is “no friend of the Labor movement” — just in case we had forgotten — and is “calling the shots at the ABC”.  So there you have it. This conservative “infiltration” just goes to show you that the ABC is not operated by and for the left. And, he explains indignantly, “Tony Abbott isn’t even Prime Minister yet”.

Maybe Mr Knight could explain to us why the chirpy Annabel Crabb, formerly at the Sydney Morning Herald, is now the ABC Online’s chief political writer. She also makes regular appearances on the thinly stretched 24 hours news service. According to J F Beck, after her inaugural piece on Malcolm Turnball on the new Drum website in November last year, the subsequest fifteen had mentioned Tony Abbott.   Beck’s conclusion:

So the ABC’s number one political writer, its top political analyst, continually ridicules the Liberals but can find nothing about the left deserving so much as a mention. No bias here, folks, none whatsoever.

Mr Knight could perhaps explain to us, if Maurice Newman is indeed calling the shots, in addition to the appointment of Crabb, why almost all panels for Q&A still have three representatives of the left and only one and half  on the right (if we’re lucky), Tony “I’m sorry, I’m not meaning to interrupt your flow” Jones,  as well  7.30 Report’s “Blue Eyes”,  who is still shamelessly continuing the way he always does: rude and aggressive with the Liberals, smarmy and obsequious with the ALP.

Oh, and by the way, Alan Knight was elected national spokesperson for Friends of the ABC in 2007 — just in case you didn’t know.

A delusion about Muslims

September 1, 2010

Moderate Islam. What exactly is it?

The debate over the mosque near Ground Zero in New York is taking wings. Largely a local concern for New Yorkers, it has ramifications for all of us. The dominant issue is about competing notions of tolerance and the centrality of  the concept of what exactly constitutes  a  “moderate”, and therefore tollerant Muslim.

A short piece by Malaysian Opposition Leader Anwar Ibrahim appeared in The Australian today, extracted from a Wall Street Journal symposium on the question: What Is Moderate Islam?

Anwar made some very reasonable points; that “the quest for the moderate Muslim in the 21st century is akin to the search for the Holy Grail,” given that the association between Islam and terrorism is so wide spread and so constantly being reinforced by the fact of so many atrocities. He feels for ordinary Muslims, “whose identities have been drowned by events beyond their control.”

But some feel you cannot have the one without the other. Rod Liddle in last week’s UK Spectator, commented on the Ground Zero mosque debate. He dares to believe that there is a lot delusion on both sides when discussing issues of moderation and tolerance. Quoting from the illuminating 2006 Pew Research Centre study into Muslim attitudes throughout the world, he concludes rather pessimistically about those whom we in the West are eager to call mostly moderate;

The Pew study discovered that there was not a single Muslim country in the world where the majority of the population was able to accept that the 9/11 terrorists were Muslim, Arabic or anything other than part of the George W. Bush CIA-filthy Jew alliance. There is epic delusion on every side, in other words.

The burka again: contempt for our openess

August 5, 2010

Burka is legal, but it’s about manners

A PERTH Muslim woman is now waiting for Perth District Court judge Shauna Deane to decide whether she can wear a burka while giving evidence in a case brought against Anwar Sayed, director of the Muslim Ladies College of Australia for fraud. Again, much ink and air time has been expended on this persistent, and very strongly felt issue.

Hugo Rifkind, a columnist for the British Spectator, recently wrote the best, most common sense, opinion about what should be done with the burka in Western countries in relation to the tricky problem of “rights”. Conjuring up the idea of wearing underpants on his head — any, his own, porn-star panties, Victorian bloomers — he explains that he has the right go into a Post Office, a Jobcentre, a school, a church or a mosque. “Such is my right, as a freeborn Brit, and nobody has the right to force me to take them off.”

But I don’t have the right to not be told by people who see me that I look like an idiot. I don’t have the right not to be asked if I wouldn’t perhaps mind growing the hell up, and taking them off.

When did the world suddenly decide that the right to do something necessarily entailed the right not to be politely asked to stop doing it? It’s a dangerous nonsense. None of this is about ‘rights’ at all. It’s about manners. Security concerns aside, of course, women should have the right to wear the burka, anywhere they like. But that doesn’t mean it’s not an inherently repellent garment, the wearing of which, in Britain, is basically just rude. So stop it.

So, getting back to the Perth woman; she was reported as saying “I’d like to make it very clear that … it’s a personal choice and we lead a very normal active life just like everyone else.”

Well I say that this is plain silly. How can she claim to lead a normal, active life with a sack covering her head? In Western countries it is simply not normal to cover your face and deprive everyone in public of seeing who you are, and then to expect to interact with you in a normal way. It is not normal to be an Australian women and feel uncomfortable showing your face in front of men other than your immediate family because you believe “intermingling” between the sexes encourages adultery.

Perth District Court judge Shauna Deane clearly has the judicial power to maintain her own standards of conduct and respect in her own court. Let us hope she has the courage, or the conviction, that to be hidden from view for personal reasons might just be considered to hold the court, the judge, the jury and the public in contempt.

The beauty of our system is that, in this case, the witness has the right to refuse to attend.

UPDATE

The Prime Minister has worked out which side her electoral bread is buttered.

BURQAS should be removed when the public interest overrides personal choice, Prime Minister Julia Gillard says.


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