Friday, October 18, 2002


Well-fed public thinker Hilary McPhee is worried:
How do we think straight after this? Is there any way back to the kind of place we thought we were building here?

Hilary, as befits a member of the Yarts Establishment, is not affected by any sort of woolly thinking. She goes straight to the source:
Kids and families and friends are paying for the politics of hatred and lunatic fanaticism - but also for the decisions of politicians, in Indonesia, in the United States and in Australia.

How did she miss Israel?

McPhee speculates on Prime Minister John Howard’s state of mind:
Was there not a moment, on being woken by the phone call at 6.40 on Sunday morning with the first news of the outrage, when he permitted himself the thought that occurred to large numbers of his fellow Australians - that the bombings in Bali might have been in some way connected to words uttered and actions taken by the Australian Government?
Did it not cross his mind that the suggestion that Australia might play US deputy in the region did no one any good? That this, along with certain other politically astute departures from our engagement in the region, just when the scars of White Australia were starting to heal, might have reaped a whirlwind?

Not grief, mind you. Not anger, resolve, revulsion, determination, sadness, fear, or any other reaction. The proper reaction, straight away, is “why do they hate us? Where is our fault?” BTW, the White Australia policy was ditched in 1970, and Australia has the highest rate of foreign-born nationals in the world.
The key is having an “independent” foreign policy. Here independent means “anti-US”. In McPhee Land, all it takes is a bit of thought and the Government will see the error of their ways. The idea that anyone who can actually think coming to the conclusion that the US alliance might be a good idea, is beyond the pale.

Hilary wants us to follow the example of Prime Minister Ben Chifley, leader at the end of WW2.
Our leaders rightly seek a "measured response". We need not doubt their sincerity, yet I would feel more confident if I had heard them say: we will fight terrorism with iron in our souls, but we will recognise, as Ben Chifley did with communism, that this includes fighting the conditions that allow it to flourish.

I wonder which Ben Chifley policies on communism Hilary is advocating. Is it the one about using troops to break strikers? Is it the US-Australia alliance, started by Chifley’s predecessor, which Chifley never veered from? Who knows? Maybe she wants to nationalise the banks. I thinks we can assume that Hilary want ssiome distance between herself and Chifley, who supported the White Australia Policy.
McPhee wants to “fight terrorism with iron in our souls”, but offers no ideas beyond not wanting to have
demands for increased defence expenditure and troop commitment, for evermore draconian detention and counterterrorism legislation, in the climate of propaganda, misinformation and lies we have inhabited during the past year

Because after all, the real cause of mass slaughter of civilians is easy to spot:
the insults that breed in Western hegemony, hubris and triumphalism.

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