Monday, April 15, 2013

Speaking of that very small minority attracted to extremism in Murdoch la la land ...

It's something of a red letter day, with the pond agreeing with Greg Sheridan for the first time in yonks.

He presents an insight staggering in its simplicity and accuracy:

Australian need only have a very small minority attracted to extremism for the consequences to be quite grave.

Indeed. Wise words, as you can read in Carr is right to sound alarm on extremists, though it's behind the paywall to save your cash and your sanity.

You only have to think of the very small minority attracted to extremism in The Australian to observe the way the paper has been ruined, with quite grave consequences.

You only have to note the way the Bolter has ruined the HUN, or the way the extremist Piers "AC/DC" Akerman and Miranda the Devine and Tim "the gadfly Blair" have ruined the Daily Terror with quite grave consequences.

You only have to see the way the Bolter has ruined the Ten network on a Sunday, though fortunately the contagion has  been contained of late to a 10am slot.

You only have to note the way shock jocks ruin the radio experience on a large number of talk back stations.

You only have to note the way the appearance of rabid right wing ratbags on QandA have produced quite grave consequences, like hysteria in audiences and on twitter.

You only have to note the way that Amanda Vanstone has mourned the suffering of a crazed Mussolini-loving fascist to realise that even on Counterpoint you can find a very small minority attracted to alarming extremism ...

Which leads us to Sheridan's profound insight:

The number of Australians fighting with al-Qa'ida-affiliated jihadist groups in Syria is a deep concern because they will eventually return home, equipped with training in explosives and weapons. Furthermore, their jihadist ideology will have been greatly deepened.

Indeed. Now you might have been tempted to tweak it a little:

The number of Australians fighting with the Israeli army and Israeli intelligence in the Middle East is a deep concern because they will eventually return home, equipped with training in explosives and weapons. 
Furthermore, their deeply right wing zionist Netanyahu ideology will have been greatly deepened.

But you can't kick that can down the road, not in Australia, not when there are Syrians there for the kicking.

You might even have wanted to tweak the insight another way, especially if you'd just been reading Paul McGeough's story Isn't it time we saw the light?, regarding Kajaki, a large hydro-electric scheme in the south of Afghanistan, and the complete failure of much that has been attempted in Afghanistan:

The number of Australians who have fought with the Australian army in Afghanistan is a deep concern because they will eventually return home, equipped with training in explosives and weapons. Furthermore, their sense of alienation, the lack of support for the stresses their war experiences have produced, and their sense of futility at the failure of policies in Afghanistan to produce results will have been greatly deepened. They are primary targets for recruitment by bikie gangs and might well become the drug overlords of the future ...

Hey, if you're going to produce mindless speculation about future uncertain fears, in the style of a Carr and a Sheridan, why not go the full stupid hog?

As for the rest, Sheridan produces a very lightweight piece, and after defaming Syrians generally - without pausing to produce any evidence, or any understanding or consideration of the Syrian community in Australia - he moves on to other fear-mongering, in relation to North Korea.

It's much of a muchness to the defamation of the Lebanese community practised after some members of that community decided to participate in that country's civil war, and in Sheridan's case the evidence offered is remarkably flimsy:

With a big and growing Muslim population, Australia need have only a very small minority attracted to extremism for the consequences to be quite grave.

Actually this could do with a tweak too:

With a big and growing population of right wing ratbags, Australia need have only a very small minority attracted to wars and colonial adventures for the consequences to be quite grave. Like John Howard, still denying he went to war on a lie or Alexander Downer popping up all over the place explaining what a genius he is when all the evidence suggests he's of the genus Adelaide prat.

As for the rest of Sheridan's piece, it consists of channeling Bob Carr - Carr said, and He also pointed to, and He thought any ...

Sheridan was positively uxorious - Carr was rich and full of substance and nuance and detail - which says more about Sheridan and Carr than you need to know, since the "Sheridan channeling Carr" observations about Syria and Syrians are immensely short on detail, and without any supporting evidence whatsover - say at least one Syrian doing actual dirty deeds, or planning to do actual dirty deeds with their new-found war skills on actual Australian soil.

And as for that fear mongering about the big and growing Muslim population? According to the ABS, Muslims make up a puny 2.2% of the population. That's behind the Buddhists on 2.5% and the Eastern Orthodox on 2.6% (and the rest of the data here).

About the only thing Sheridan channeling Carr got right?

He thought any attempt by a future Abbott government to turn around asylum boats and return them to Indonesia would produce an "instant crisis" in Canberra's diplomacy with Jakarta.

Let's re-phrase that insight one more time:

Australian need only have a very small minority of dumb politicians like Tony Abbott attracted to extremism for the consequences to be quite grave.

Meanwhile, speaking of quite grave consequences, news of a different kind has come through:

Summer ice melt in the Antarctic Peninsula has increased almost 10-fold in the last 600 years, weakening the area’s large ice shelves and reducing glacier size, scientists have discovered. 
The findings explain a series of sudden collapses of ice shelves in the last 20 years, which scientists studying them had not expected. 
Researchers say the melting that is now occurring could lead to further dramatic events, making the loss of large quantities of ice on the Peninsula more likely, and adding to sea level rise.

You can read more in Antarctic summer ice melt accelerating - report, or in New evidence of Antarctic ice melts:

''Today, we see almost 10 times as much of the annual snowfall melting each year. Whilst temperatures at this site increased gradually in phases over many hundreds of years, most of the intensification of melting has happened since the mid-20th century.'' 
Dr Abram said the Antarctic Peninsula had warmed faster than anywhere in the Southern Hemisphere over the last half century, and scientific assessments attribute this partly to human causes. 
The melting was starting to cause ice shelves to collapse and mountain glaciers to lose ice into the ocean.

This creates a profound dilemma for the pond.

Should we accept the findings of actual scientists conducting actual experiments and observations actually on the spot and in situ, or should we accept the ranting of people like Andrew Bolt staring into the mirror of self-esteem and writing denialist stuff for the Murdoch press?

Do we need to tweak Sheridan's words one more time?

The number of Australians writing nonsense for Murdoch la la land using faux statistics and data is a deep concern because they resolutely stay at home to scribble their nonsense, only equipped with training in though bubbles and verbal weapons and mind explosions and brain snaps.
Furthermore, their sense of scientific certainty, hubris and pomposity will have been greatly deepened by this failure to engage with the real world.

Now it's not as if Dr. Nerilie Abram hasn't pointed out some awkward insights before, as you can read in Crikey back in August 2012 in Antarctic melt alarm as scientist find 'very unusual' warming.

Which brings us back to that prescient Sheridan warning:

Australian need only have a very small minority attracted to extremism, rabid climate denialism and scribbling ratbag thoughts for Murdoch top of the faraway tree land for the consequences to be quite grave.

In terms of destruction of the polity and a danger to community and society, the pond will back the Bolter against a platoon of Syrians coming back from the war ...

But you won't find that sort of insight in the thoughts of Greg Sheridan.

Sorry, did we oxymoronically link insight with Sheridan? Apologies to the word, it shouldn't have to stand that sort of abuse ...

(Below: speaking of word games, as we often do on the pond)


  1. Seriously, stop bagging Downer as an Adelaide prat. He's an Adelaide *Hills* prat. That is, from outside of the Adelaide metropolitan area. The rarefied air gives them a different outlook to us plebs on the plains.

  2. off topic Dorothy i know, but La Devine has pinched your Kool Aid reference, as in

  3. When it comes to the irrational and the superstitious, and a grasp of a profound unreality, nothing beats the irrationality of Miranda "the burning bush' 'walk on water' 'wine into blood' 'bread into flesh' thoughts of Catholic Miranda Devine, who is always off topic, and off in la la land. Conversely, anything she has to say is therefore on topic, since this after all is a pond for rolled gold loons ... and 24 carat loons as well ...

  4. Sheridan gets a gig on the ABC with Faine to espouse his thoughts of the world why should citizens be subjected to this Abbott planner and plotter we do not need him to spread his fear and loathing when if we wanted to read his and Murdochs thoughts all we would need to do is purchase their rags.
    He was on the Faine show stating how the murder rate in Caracas was such and such and how violent a city it is because of Hugo Chavez.You see they cannot bring themselves to tell the stories of the interference the the USA has perpetrated on South America to assassinate and remove from office leaders who they disagree with or they cannot bully into submission.
    How can the ABC justify using journalists from Murdoch organisation when we know they will distort and mislead the listeners with their ideology of right wing political beliefs.

  5. Well said as usual. Been coming to the pond every day for several months and love your articles.

    I stopped listening to ABC Counterpoint when Amanda Vandstone took over. Pity, because I was always willing to listen to what the political right had to offer. Amanda was just a bridge too far for me.

    Have not bought newspapers for many years now for the same reason. Their business model is broken and they are only preaching to a small minority ( I hope) Social media is the 5th estate taking over from the tired, old 4th estate which was supposed to hold the Govt./ Big business to account.

    Keep up the good work !

    Cheers, Mark

    1. Happened to catch some Counterpoint without realising a couple of weeks ago: There was this woman host who was totally bamboozling her guest by interrupting with non sequitur self-aggrandising anecdotes... I realised later that it was Amanda


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