Sunday, August 27, 2006

'A' is for Appeasement - and Absurd Analogies

For a paper that champions the integrity of history-teaching, The Australian plays fast with the past. Last Monday, the Age published a long-overdue piece on how the War on Terror has sent abuse of historical analogies into overdrive. Right on cue, the Oz devoted nearly 1200 words in its Friday editorial to tarring former ambassador to Israel Ross Burns as a new Chamberlain, eager to sacrifice Israel to "anti-semitic fascists" for the sake of Indonesian goodwill. It joins a long list of right-leaning broadsheets competing to prove that Godwin's Law applies to the print media as well as the internet.

So why is thinking twice about bombing Muslim populations equivalent to offering up Czechoskolovakia on a plate? You wouldn't know from the Oz editorial, which seesaws from the usual waffle about 'appeasement' to Iran's nuclear program and then back to the Nazis. Like them, Iran and its Hezbollah clients hate Jews and preach violence, so our response must be the same. Never mind that the Hitlerite threat was confined to a nation-state and its military assets, while the Islamist one spreads like a virus through neutral populations. We know there's no room for moral ambiguity or tactical subtlety with either, because they both won support from - wait for it - 'progressives', 'elites' and 'the Left', or so The Australian tells us.

And we haven't even got to Mr Burns' argument, supposedly the subject of the editorial. It's hard to make out amidst the ad honimem attacks beloved of the Murdoch press (apparently Mr Burns' diplomatic career has been "undistinguished", so we needn't respect his opinions). You might wonder why this paper's editors think they can convince readers that they're more qualified to analyse Middle East politics than a man who was ambassador to both Syria and Israel, until you realise you're not supposed to think when reading it. But since the Oz is such a fan of telling the past As It Was, let's have a look at what Mr Burns actually said on the 7:30 report -

'it's been a very common and most prominent theme in government responses for some years now... the first reaction is to say, "Well, doesn't this represent Israel's legitimate right to defend itself?" When I think there are many other complexities in the situation.'
'[There] should be more to our policy than just simply one of uncritical defence of Israel... we 're only emphasising a very small range of points, most of which are very much echoing points made by Israeli politicians and they don't see us as trying to maintain a more balanced attitude to a crisis...'
'...the Indonesians are not necessarily going to be impressed that we have such an uncritical attitude towards Israel and... in particular, at the very great challenge to the future viability of Lebanon, which has been posed by events in recent weeks.'

'the debate is impoverished... it's getting to a point now where our whole standing in the wider context of the Middle East, including the Arab world, is starting to suffer... we identify with one side and that stops us being able to play a more constructive role when and hopefully if such a context develops in the future.'

Ah, now I see how Burns is "offering up Israel to Hezbollah"; how he wants to see "Australia turn its back on a Kadima government"; how he's really trying to aid the terrorists.

How blind I was...


Ross Burns' character assassination has been drowned out by the hysteria over 'Jihad Jack' Thomas, with our favourite right-wing rag again leading the charge.

Meanwhile, the Herald Sun has revived another cause celebre of local 'conservatives' - valourising the two pastors panned for preaching a Muslim conspiracy to take over Australia, by completely misrepresenting what they (and the judge who ruled against them) said. You can listen to Andrew Bolt, or if you're the thinking type, you can read this dissection by a friend of mine over at Boltwatch.


John Lee said...

Of course, appeasement starts at home.
Or rather, the culture wars do.

Jeremy said...

heh, I think the link to my post didn't work :).

John Lee said...

fixed. Trackback at Boltwatch didn't work, though.