Most of us try to ignore what the people we can't stand are saying. Not me. I like to know what the enemy is up to. (And to be honest, if it wasn't for occasionally watching Fox News, I'd get no exercise at all). Australia doesn't have it's own Fox News...yet. But there's plenty of other right-wing sludge out there for anyone wanting to wade in it. So here's the first installment of our semi-regular Right Watch series; who are these people, what are they saying, and how the hell could anyone belive it? I'm starting at the top with my own personal nemesis, Piers Akerman.
According to his profile on News Corp's The Daily Telegraph, Piers is "One of the nation's most respected journalists". According to this collection of criticisms, the man's past is a lot more shady than that. These days, Akerman's main source of income is his blog on The Daily Telegraph website, where he foams at the mouth with his right-wing views on a regular basis. Some highlights:
"WHILE most Australians are enjoying the Christmas-New Year holiday and preparing for the countdown to 2007 at midnight tonight, Prime Minister John Howard isn’t easing up...Seasoned veteran that he is, Howard’s approach to politics remains extraordinarily enthusiastic - and uncompromising."
"SUPPORTERS of self-confessed Taliban warrior David (aka Abu Muslim Australia, aka Abu Muslim Astrailii, aka Abu Muslim Philippine, aka Muhammad Dawood) Hicks are either brainwashed or brainless."
"Alarmingly, the NSW Government has failed to take the smallest step toward preventing the spread of AIDS and syphilis, though still parading its support for the homosexual community’s annual orgy of self-celebration, the mardi gras...This at a time when a group within the homosexual community has been identified as promoting high-risk sex and actively pursuing infection or passing it on in a macabre practice known as “bug chasing”." (The step Akerman wanted the government to take? Routine neonatal cicumcision.)
"In fact, if one looks around the world and particularly at those states which nominate themselves as Islamic, one could draw the conclusion that followers of Islam are doomed to live in Third World poverty listening to hate-filled speeches from their religious leaders fuelled by envy of the comparatively successful nation of Israel, and with sufficient time on their hands to riot over almost nothing whenever someone gets to his feet in the local mosque."
[Commenting on a study that linked legalised abortion to reduced crime rates] "It’s a great theory and may impact on the numbers of the Left in the future"
The really amusing stuff comes, however, when Akerman descends from on high to respond to those who comment on his blog. Unlike Rush Limbaugh and his army of "dittoheads" (or Australian right-wing radio talk show hosts, whom I'll get to in later posts) the majority of comments of Akerman's blog are negative. Akerman would probably respond that his real fans, the True Believers, are very busy and hard working people who don't have time to leave comments. Maybe so, but I think he knows he'll never be well liked, and has decided to enjoy being well hated. It is amusing to see him twist himself into circles, such as when, following a post about the damage leftist governments do to a nation's economy, an astute reader left a comment pointing out that Bill Clinton presided over the largest economic growth period in world history. Akerman's reply? "[Clinton] should get down on his knees and thank Regan for setting up the economy."
By that token, I suppose John Howard should thank Paul Keating for setting up Australia's economic growth on his watch, by leaving Howard with a massive national debt, as Regan/Bush I did for Clinton. When I put this in a comment, it wasn't published, but others I wrote have been. Once, after a particularly virulent stream of bile directed at David Hicks, I said "[Hicks] allegedly signed up to kill for the Taliban. He has not been convicted of this. No matter how strong the evidence, it is not your place or mine to make these judgements."
And Piers said "I would suggest you stop being patronising and take him at his words."
Piers Akerman called me patronising. I'm sure he meant it as an insult, but frankly I took it as one of the greatest compliments I've ever been paid. And I'd like to return the favour. From now on Piers, I'm christening you Augustus Gloop, and your fevered rantings Gloopisms. You may be insulted, but I think it may be the greatest compliment you've ever been paid.