Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Last drinks in Murdoch la la land, along with a heartfelt apology to bears, octopi and reptiles ...

The chattering classes' lips are full of the marvels of the buffoon, who let loose on a show which has a format designed to reveal the inner buffoon, much heat and never any light.

Worse, the buffoon was joined by his Tasmanian partner in incoherence, but from the sorry mess, from the chatter, the pond would like to take two themes for the day - consistency and racism.

The reptiles this morning have been making merry hay with the buffoon's inconsistency, but the danger is that this might result in Margaret Simons' piece in the Graudian, News Corporation's marriage of convenience with the Press Council looks shaky being overlooked.

Simons has herself been victim of reptile jihads, so her discussion of the current jihad by the reptiles against Julian Disney takes on an extra piquancy and flavor.

First there's the question of consistency, and Simons points to an exquisite folly by the Daily Terror's Paul Whittaker, Proud to be accountable, to be responsible and ever to be free. How the hapless lad must yearn to take it down ...

Then there was the jihad by the reptiles around the subject of attending funerals - in which the reptiles broke the jihad on Fairfax to mount a jihad on Disney, the enemy of my enemy yadda yadda - which sees Simons link to the Oz's own guidelines here, and to point to item 9:

It's a nonsense of course. If the Murdoch press were to even think about following that sort of guideline, they'd shut up shop overnight. 

But it is a wondrous example of piety mated to hypocrisy.

Simons spends some time examining the hypocrisy and the inconsistency of the reptiles, who loved Disney when he was a convenient stick with which to beat Conroy, Finkelstein et al, and have now turned the stick on Disney in a relentless jihad of a kind only the reptiles know how to do.

It's hard to disagree with Simons' conclusion, with Disney due to leave the Press Council in January:

Even if the News Corporation doesn’t leave the press council (and for a number of reasons I think it unlikely) those considering taking on the task of chair have been put on notice they can expect any non-compliance with The Australian’s view of the world to be greeted with front page attacks and an undermining of process.

So there's inconsistency and hypocrisy right up there with the buffoon, but you won't find any examination of it at jihad central. They're too busy with their jihads.

And so to racism.

Now the pond wasn't going to mention little Timmie Bleagh and his epic journey into the wilds of Lakemba.

The pond has always thought that Bleagh, as a jihadist, always came across as a bear with very little brain.

Indeed, if you bother to read Last drinks in Lakemba: Tim Blair takes a look inside Sydney's Muslim Land, you might be appalled by the way the pond so casually traduces bears, who are creatures of some intelligence.

Indeed if you overlook the defamations introduced by Milne's Pooh, you might get to reading PBS's Nature on the subject of bears' intelligence, cunning and resourcefulness here.

Bleagh's outing in the wild was more Pooh than bear, but if it might be decoded, it seems that Bleagh favours fierce drinking, because Islamics don't drink, and is a wild-eyed feminist horrified by Islamic fundamentalism and misogyny, which helps explain why every second day he spends a column or a blog item attacking the angry Sydney Anglicans for their complementarian attitude to women.

Yes, at any other day of the week, the Terror would be in an uproar and in a rage about Sydney's drinking culture and king hit killings in the streets and young people out of control and pissed as parrots and making fools of themselves, but all Bleagh could see was tragedy and despair:

Back at the pub, a staffer mentions rare moments of cultural overlap. “Sometimes the young blokes will come in here to buy Scotch,” she says. “They try to hide themselves under hoodies.” 
But when the staffer sees them later in the street, they don’t return her greeting. The hotel is haram — sinful and forbidden. Those early closing hours will eventually become permanent.

Now you might just as easily do a nostalgic piece on the passing of the tiled vomitoriums once labelled public bars, done down by filthy, dirty yuppies, rather than Islamics - and before we go any further, yes the pond is aware of the real meaning of the word, which you can Greg Hunt here, but the pond has always loved the word "vomitorium", and always adopts Humpty Dumpty's rules when it comes to using a word.

It's hard to abuse Bleagh for racism, when it's really a burst of Dawkins' style Islamophobia:

Lakemba may be only 30 minutes from the centre of Sydney, yet it is remarkably distinct from the rest of the city. You can walk the length of crowded Haldon St and not hear a single phrase in English. On this main shopping strip the ethnic mix seems similar to what you’d find in any Arabic city. Australia may be multicultural, but Haldon St is a monoculture.

That's about the level of Bleagh's breath-taking stupidity. (And yes, while in Melbourne, the pond did head off to Richmond for a pho. What of it?)

So what's the point of Bleagh's piece? Well it's lazy cultural abuse, with ethnicity and religion and fear and loathing and paranoia as the keys, with signs in strange languages and much talk of Islam, and it produced the titillation, the anticipated, expected and hoped for fear and loathing in response.

Which only allowed Bleagh to double down with Tim Blair replies to his detractors, which allowed him to strut out a repeat dose of hysteria:

Frightened people on Twitter reacted with a storm of furious denial to my article yesterday, which revealed an Islamic store is selling books praising Hitler, describing women as inferior and encouraging hostility towards Christians and other Australians.

Which is of course why Bleagh is famous for his regular, routine attacks on Angry Sydney Anglicans and their attitude to women and gays ...

It is of course an old and desperate meme - the pond could just as easily get profoundly disturbed by the anarchist shop in Newtown.

Blair seems most agitated about the absence of pork and alcohol. He'll need the long absent lord's help when he heads off to a Jewish wedding in the search for lashings of bacon ...

Never mind, there's the rub. You see, while the reptiles are conducting their jihads against Clive's racism, here's a reporter who heads out to the wilds of Lakemba to whip up fear and loathing, based on appearance (eek, Arabs in the street), and religion, and the presence of fundamentalists, offering fundamentalist literature.

And it just seems like a jolly good way to score a few easy hits.

In the good old days, it used to be the Chinatown, with communists everywhere, but these days it's Islamics, and the fear of the different and the others. Here's how it's done. You just need a photo to lather up the fear and loathing:

Uh huh. That's like the pond getting agitated and doing a chicken little flapdoodle and expecting instant paranoia and hysteria by running this sort of photo:

Shocking, disturbing, offensive, outrageous.

In the end of course there has to be another reason for reading Bleagh, and the best the pond could work out was the chance to read Overland editor Jeff Sparrow in Crikey.

Sparrow found other examples of the Bleagh genre, most notably National Review sending Kevin Williamson into East St. Louis, Illinois, a predominantly black area:

Behold the genre we might call “White Man on Safari”, where the story consists as much of the writer’s bravery in briefly mingling with brown people (he’s in the territory of the primates, don’t you know?!) as anything he actually reveals (hold the front page: “Child is rude!”). 
Yesterday, The Daily Telegraph ran its own ”Explorer in the Jungle” piece, when it sent right-wing provocateur Tim Blair to — gasp! — visit Lakemba. 
As expeditions go, it was a doozy. 
“We’re for Sydney,” boasts the Tele (and it is all for a “Fair Go For The West”) — but its sometime opinion editor seems to have never previously encountered a suburb just 30 minutes from the CBD. When he makes the hazardous trek to (as the headline put it) “take a look inside Sydney’s Muslim Land”, our correspondent installs himself in the Lakemba Hotel, where unnamed locals and the pub staff voice the usual barroom complaints about Muslims, who — get this! — don’t drink enough to keep the place running. 
Earlier this year, the Tele was hyperventilating about alcohol-fuelled violence. In Lakemba, however, the absence of boozers signifies an Attack on Our Way of Life. 
Across the road from the pub, Blair finds an Islamic bookshop (possibly visible from the bar window), where he’s shocked — shocked! — to uncover some prejudiced and sexist religious tracts. 
Maybe for another scoop, he could check out the Bible — say, Deuteronomy 25:11-12, where the foundation text of Western culture explains: “When men fight with one another, and the wife of the one draws near to rescue her husband from the hand of him who is beating him, and puts out her hand and seizes him by the private parts, then you shall cut off her hand.” 
Christianity, you so crazy! 
And that’s it. A pub closing, a few nutty pamphlets and some photos of signs in Arabic: clearly, the caliphate’s upon us.

And so on. It's a great smackdown, which is available here, though subject to Crikey paywall.

And Sparrow draws the obvious conclusion, which reminds the pond of the themes for the day,  - consistency, hypocrisy and racism, not so closet:

The bigotry of all this goes without saying. Every newspaper in Australia would quite rightfully run a mile rather than send some old white guy to take photos of shops and interview local barflies for a feature on the “Judeification” of, say, Melbourne’s St Kilda. 
Muslims, though, seem to be fair game.

At which point, the pond has to make yet another apology. Routinely the pond refers to Murdoch hacks as reptiles, but this is really shockingly unfair to reptiles at large, and reflects the presentation of serpents in the Old Testament.

In reality, in the bush, the pond always found that if you made enough noise, reptiles were always content to allow you to go your way, while they went theirs. Sadly, there's absolutely no chance of this happening with a Murdoch reptile ...

And so to the ultimate irony.

Yes, there it is again today, the plea for help to make the reptiles at the lizard Oz do better, smack bang up against their ongoing jihad against Clive.

It doesn't occur to them that maintaining the rage against a buffoon makes the rag look buffoonish and this day's makeover is a classic bit of jihadist buffoonery, of the basest tabloid kind:

Help them improve the rag?

It's the pond's experience that you can never get fundamentalist jihadists in the grip of hypocrisy and memory loss to improve their behaviour ...

Oh wait, it seems Dame Groan has at last had a reality check ...

Oh dear.

And so to the humour of the day, if the sight of Dame Groan flip flopping like a trout out of water isn't humorous enough for you, and as always David Rowe is in top form, and puts the sadly lost Bill Leak in his place, on the front page of a buffoonish jihad tabloid growing more buffonish by the day  (as always more Rowe here):

Rowe acknowledges a debt to Phil May, but of course the AFR display format for Rowe's cartoons don't allow for a direct comparison with May's The Mongolian Octopus - His Grip on Australia, published in The Bulletin on 21st August 1886. So here it is:

The pond found it for sale here, at a tidy price, with this commentary:

The octopus has been demonised in cartoon for as long as the threatening foreigner and I believe there is now a movement by 'cephalofans' objecting to this defamation and seeking to redeem the animal's reputation. Phil May's Mongolian Octopus is one of the most ferocious racist icons ever published but the Chinese immigrant in Australia probably had fewer champions then than the octopus does now. This is merely one of hundreds of drawings and tens of thousands of poisonously xenophobic words that appeared in that most Australian of Australian journals, The Bulletin ("Australia for the White Man" remained on their masthead until 1961), but it was and remains the most potent distillation of white Australia's racial fear, the summation of The Bulletin's rabid campaign and success with the legal entrenchment of a white Australia with Federation in 1901. It has been reprinted, copied and reworked countless times since this original appearance but it has not lost a speck of power; even if the object of the revulsion it provokes has shifted.

Is there an irony here, beyond the casual defamation of octopi, bears, reptiles and serpents?

Of course there is.

Just think Tim Bleagh and the Daily Terror still doing Australia for the white man all these years later ...

And now - with the note that the pond has never been a team player, generally dislikes team sports, and loathes all that rugger bugger boofhead behaviour loved by the team leader - go stick your finger up another clacker - please allow the pond to celebrate by closing with a David Pope cartoon, and more Pope here.

Team Australia? Not the game that the Murdochians and little Timmie Bleagh are playing ...

Oh and please, no correspondence about octopi must take your octopuses as you find them ...


  1. I notice on twitter that Sharri Markson has been trying to contact Margaret Simons (presumably to restart the jihad) and seems somewhat pissed off that Margaret isn't responding to her numerous messages. I wonder why?

    1. Great fun. Markson seems determined to become the Queen of the Jihadists, a most peculiar ambition.

  2. A song for little Timmeh, featuring the eternally brilliant Bonzos.

  3. A great piece again, and thank you for citing the allusion by Rowe, missed at first by me, to an earlier dash at racism and xenophobia. Rowe and Pope bring two very different perspectives but continue a very great Australian tradition of producing brilliant cartoonists.

    The highlight for me today was the viewing of The Australian's front page, most notably the superimposed "HELP US IMPROVE THEAUSTRALIAN.COM.AU". Such superb irony alongside all their other stuff, and conveniently covering a sermon lead from Pompous Paul. I guess shielding us a little from Paul was a good start.

    Racism and xenophobia has been an unfortunate part of our history and not just from the usual suspects. As workers became organised, employers sought to stymie them with cheap scab labour from the islands, and from China as the early cartoon makes clear. The more things change, the more they stay the same. Now 457 visas are being used for the same purpose. The job insecurity does feed into those fears so that Labor has always had to accommodate.

    The great work of Whitlam and Dunstan in the 60s helped eradicate White Australia and fears of foreigners. The multiculturalism they (and the moderate Liberals, who were prominent then) encouraged in the 70s, culminating in the successful integration of Indochinese refugees (our first wave of Boat People) seemed to encourage a new age of enlightenment, even if occasional discontent simmered just below the surface in some places.

    It was not to last. The Reagan-Thatcher era led to deregulation and the destruction of Keynesian/New Deal economics. The bankers and brokers were back in charge, along with an extortionate wave of corporate executives. Wages and benefits had to be controlled to afford the asset-stripping and bonuses that occurred with mergers.

    Job insecurity, even the basics of shelter/housing, were suddenly thrust back on the individual. It is understandable that resentment would fester, as the first wave of Hansonism here showed. It might not have come to much, except that someone as skilled as Howard was able to exploit it. It's not holding up quite as well now simply because Abbott and Morrison are too crude to be believed.

    But News Ltd does its best to egg it all along. Timmy's efforts show that it is a very weak candle, however, and I doubt xenophobia's ability to turn Abbott into a leader in the New Crusade. Which is just as well, with the two largest Muslim (albeit secular) nations on our doorstep.

    I am still hoping that, having still not got their Budget up, this government will tear itself apart before it does too much more damage. Subsequent to that, there is a good chance of putting Fear and Loathing aside for a while.

    1. The pond can't argue, GD, which is a great relief, given how much the Murdochians and this government provoke ...

  4. The new Supabru Outback could be a bit of a goer for Beyond Lakembadome.

    1. Totally hilarious.Thanks.

  5. Hi Dorothy,

    A rather ineffectual attempt by little Timmy to observe the dark underbelly of the Lakembites. Hanging about in an empty pub is hardly intrepid reporting.

    He should have donned the local mufti and gone undercover in the manner of Richard Burton (not the actor) who entered Mecca disguised as Haji Abdullah in 1853, one of the first non-muslims ever to do so.

    Burton of course was a skilled linguist, prolific and erudite author, ethnologist, poet, diplomat, explorer and pastry chef (abilities I suspect that little Timmy might not possess).

    You can ghunt the rest here including Burtons fascination with penile measurement.


  6. DiddyWrote - he was also an avid collector of Victorian porn which had a flourishing underground trade in the 19th c. as "Gentlemen's literature".

    Interesting character.

    1. The pond came to know Ruffian Dick through a watered down version of his Arabian Nights - later picked up the 16 volume uncensored version from Max Harris's store in Adelaide to see what the fuss was about, and found it to be respectably dull like his other erotic translations. But he was a great Victorian adventurer of the kind that makes little Timmeh look and sound like a sook, or a sock with a hole where the big toe goes...

    2. Have you heard of The Pearl?

      Don't know if I should link to this (NSFW), but then the Pond isn't shy.

  7. I confess an interest. I lived in Lakemba for a year in 1976 (MacDonald St) just down the road from the mosque. It was a fascinating place, and our landlord was orthodox Jewish. And as RN pointed out, it is genuinely multicultural.



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